Mission Competition

Top Money Saving and Comping Tips from a 21 year-old Student keen to make my limited budget stretch the semester!

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Luck and love!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Take Surveys, Get Money! The Best Survey Sites Tested by Me!

As I sit here typing away on my brand new tablet I marvel at the fact that I didn't pay a single penny for it. I didn't steal it, and I didn't win it. I worked for it, without doing a 9-5. I surveyed for it.

After doing about 2 months of surveys on a variety of sites, I built up £145 worth of amazon vouchers and got myself a tablet with £5 to spare to put towards a pretty pink case. However, it was 2 months of trial and error (which wasted much time), but now I know what I'm doing, the points are adding up fast. So to save you lovely lot the effort of trial and error, I will share my secrets with you today. I would recommend being a member of at least 2 or 3 of survey sites so that you can combine all your vouchers to get something big you've been wanting for ages, or to help out during the festive period. And so we begin with my personal favourite:

1) SWAGBUCKS  - for those with lots of time

If you are willing to put the time and loyalty in, Swagbucks is a great bet. There are so many ways to earn points, just from doing things you might do anyway. For example, I changed my search engine to Swagbucks, (you can also download the Swagbucks toolbar for extra points) and every so often I will win points (from 8 to 17 ish) just for searching for something! You won't win on every search and it is totally random. I have found you win swagbucks every 3 - 4 hours and, if you have just won, you won't win again for a while. Try to use it to search for things you would be searching for anyway, rather than just random words, as it will notice if your searches are fake, repeated or unnatural.

You can also watch videos, play games and take part in deals but BE CAREFUL!! I never enter any of the deals that ask for money, because then you are spending money to earn money which defeats the point. The videos are in playlist form and watching a playlist usually gets you 1 or 2 swagbucks. There are so many to choose from so there will be something worth watching in there for you. I personally like to do the yoga along with the yoga playlists in the 'Fitness' section. What better way to encourage you to get fit than to get points for doing it?!

The main way in which I earn Swagbucks is through surveys. This took me a while to realise, but there are 3 survey sections in the one site, all under the general heading of 'Swagbucks Answer' - Gold Surveys (run by Swagbucks), Partner Surveys (from their trusted partners) and Peanut Labs Surveys. Don't give up hope when you are screened out of surveys, this happens to all of us. Just stick with it and answer as many as you can and you will see the points will come rolling in.

It is worth being loyal to Swagbucks and using it everyday. This is because they have a Daily Goal which, if you make it every day, you will get extra SB (SwagBucks). For example, if you earn your daily goal every day for a week, you will get a 20SB bonus if this is the longest winning streak you get that month. Roughly each 7 day period is a streak so you can get up to 300SB at the end of the month if you manage to make your goal every day for the whole month. This is a great motivator and not too hard to achieve.

When it came to requesting my voucher, Swagbucks was great. I ordered it on the 9th of September and I got my email with the Amazon Gift Voucher on the 11th of September. Very efficient and no problems putting the code through. A nice little £30 towards my tablet. If you fancy joining the SwagBucks family, use [this link] to get started.

Although Swagbucks is one of my favourites, it can take longer than some of the others to build up the points which leads me to...

2) GLOBAL TEST MARKET - for the big bucks

Global Test Market is where I earned the most - a cool £55 if you please. These surveys are emailed straight to your inbox and tend to take around 15-30 minutes, depending on the survey. I receive around 2 or 3 a day, which is good for me as it doesn't spam my inbox but gives me plenty to do.

Again, the process of getting the vouchers was so easy and I received the vouchers within 4 days of emailing. However, if you are looking for something that is a little less often go for:

3) I-SAY - for the casual surveyer

i-Say is great for people who don't want to commit their lives to surveys but still want the bonuses. The email invites are rarer, but are worth doing as you only need 1350 points to get £10 of Amazon vouchers, and each survey is around 50-100 points. Also, this company was by far the fastest to send out the rewards with a time Usain Bolt would be proud of - a whole 10 minutes from my request to the gift voucher being in my amazon account!

The more surveys you complete, the more loyalty points you receive, and so your points build up faster! Also, if you are screened out of a survey, you get a certain number of points depending on how far through the survey you got. This is really refreshing in the survey world, as often you only get entries to a prize draw, or sometimes nothing!

4) INBOXPOUNDS - Surveys and searches

Inboxpounds is like Swagbucks in some ways, in that it is not just surveys that let you gather up the points. They will send you 'paid emails' straight to your inbox. These will normally include an advertisement or a way to earn more inbox pounds, however all you have to do is click 'confirm paid email' to earn that 1p. Yes, I said one pence. But hey, every little helps!

A way to make more money from this is through the search engine. Each day you can earn 15p from the search engine and contribute towards a weekly bonus - where if you search 4 days a week you get a 5p bonus. I know it seems small, but I managed to earn £20 from inbox pounds in my 2 months, so it certainly adds up!

Another way to earn is by surveys. Sometimes these will be emailed to you (check under email preferences if you have signed up for this) and other times you will have to go on the main page to find them. Again they have a section run by Peanut Labs, so you may be used to the format if you use Swagbucks.

You get your payment in the form of a cheque, and I received mine within a month and it all went through perfectly. Sign up now [here].

But where there is joy, there is always one to let the side down:

5) DOOYOO - for people with opinions

Dooyoo is a little different from the other sites mentioned here today, as you don't give your opinion through surveys, but through reviews. Simply go on and search for a product you use, click the review button and leave your opinion. Sounds simple, right? Not so much. Each review has to be over 250 words (but be sure to make it a but longer as they can become rather fussy about what is 'waffle' and so doesn't contribute when you go to claim) and has to have relevant information in it. You then earn either 100, 300, or 600 dooyoo 'miles' (which are used to exchange for vouchers later) depending on the topic. You also get points when people read your review and leave a 'helpful rating'. As good practice, it is good to read other peoples reviews and rate them as helpful, not just because it is polite, but because the site can check if you just read and don't rate reviews. Also, other members can see who rated their review and so may check yours out after as a thanks!

My only issue came when I went to get my reward. The claim button wasn't working. And so I went to the help pages and sent a few emails to try and get to the bottom of the problem. No response. this was a great disappointment, as they had been quick to reply earlier when I had queries when starting up as a new dooyooer. Now 2 weeks on from sending the email, I am beginning to lose hope, and will update the blog if I ever hear back from them.

I like the idea of dooyoo, but it is one of the biggest time commitments, hence my disappointment in missing out on my £20 voucher when finally getting over 20 000 points!

This is just a quick summary of the many many survey sites you can get, but these are my favourites (apart from dooyoo). I also like, which also has an app, but you cannot claim for vouchers, instead you claim a specific item they have featured on their site such as a CD.

Surveying may seem like a time investment, but you can put in as much or as little time as you like - the more time you put in, the more rewards you can get. However, even if you just do the odd survey, it can all contribute towards saving money for that big item you've always wanted or getting your family something a little special at Christmas.

For any comments, suggestions or questions, leave a comment below or message or tweet me @LaurieBeat.

Thanks for your time, happy surveying! :)

Friday, 11 September 2015

Carrot and Kale Crisps: Crunchy Goodness for Pennies

Following on from my success of the apple crisps (and by success I mean they lasted 30 seconds between two friends) I decided to see if there were any other healthy, but expensive, crisps I could replicate. Low and behold, there were, and so began the experiment of carrot crisps.

The fact that you are baking these (and I did it without oil) really brings out the flavour of the carrots and also means that you are getting all the crunchy satisfaction you want from a snack, with the barely there calories of a carrot (about 25 for an average medium carrot). Also, I managed to get a whole 1kg bag of these beauties for just 55p at my local Lidl, meaning I could experiment as much as needed for you lovely blog readers.

I started off in a similar way to the apple crisps ( by slicing up the carrot as thinly as possible. However, this proves to be quite fiddly with a carrot and difficult to get an even slice. Nevertheless, I ploughed on and layed them onto a baking tray, lined with baking paper:

(Don't worry, I'll explain the random strips in a second)

So I put these in the oven for about 10 minutes and then turned them over and checked on them in another 10 minutes or so. Only issue was, they had shrunk. A lot. Although the crispy ones were very tasty, as it had been so difficult to slice them evenly, some were just soft and hot. Not the crisp like texture I was after.

I decided to change tactics.This is where the strips comes in. By using the carrot peeler to create long thin strips of carrot, I was getting a much more even thickness. Again, I put them in the oven at 180 degrees, but this time checked on them after just 5 minutes, and continued to do so until they were crisp and ready.
(Note that some of the originals still aren't cooked. The rest I may have eaten)

The result? Spirals of crispy carrot that look fun and different to your ususual crisps, but taste so much better. A nice addition at this stage is some seasoning: salt, grated parmesan, or pepper work particularly well.

The final, studenty touch, was to display them in a shot glass and think about the fact I had been making and experimenting with carrot crisps instead of studying for the past hour...

Kale Crisps

I have been experimenting making crisps with other vegetables since making that original post, and so thought it was only polite to keep you lot updated!

I was in my local Tesco and saw a bag of 180g of kale reduced to 59p in the 'still fresh' section (one of the best places in a supermarket, I once found rolls for 2p 5 minutes to closing time). This is still cheaper than some individual bags of crisps so I thought I would treat myself and experiment.

Now something I have learnt is that you can't leave your kale crisps as you would carrot or apple crisps, as they tend to burn a lot quicker. Also, most people recommend using oil, but I am trying to limit it in my diet at the moment, and so needed something else to stop the crisps from drying out too quickly. 

One method, is to fill a bowl with water (with or without a couple of drops of lemon juice for flavour), and toss the kale in it before removing. Then leave the kale to almost dry before adding spices (the dampness allows the spices to stick more easily).

To recreate salt and vinegar crisps, try tossing the kale in balsamic vinegar (with or without oil) and a little salt. Or a favourite of mine is to use a little reduced salt soy sauce.

After you have tossed the kale in whatever flavours tickle your fancy, pop the kale on a baking tray lined with grease proof baking paper and bake in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius. Then check on them every 5 minutes or so, turning them around and shaking the tray to get an even bake, and that all important crispiness.
The Kale in the picture is about a quarter of the 59p bag I got, so I made a good few batches with different flavours to try. (yes, that is more carrot crisps in the background. It's becoming a joke in our flat how often I make these for study snacks)

All that's left is to serve up and enjoy the guilt free snacking! 

How do you like your Kale Crisps?

Any more suggestions, comments or challenges let me know, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @LaurieBeat Thanks :)

Friday, 4 September 2015

Challenge: Apple Crisps

So there I was at my local Waitrose, perusing the crisps aisle, hoping to find something both healthy and satisfying. When I discovered the apple crisps, I thought I had hit the nail on the head - until I saw the price. At £2.79 for just 52g worth of crisp, I was shocked. That works out at £5.37 per 100g. When you can get a whole 1kg of apple for just £2 at asda (so just £0.20 per 100g),  I felt a challenge coming on. I would make my own.

I looked through a few recipes and asked for advice from friends until I came up with the one that I feel works the best. Some tell you to core the apple, so you get ring like crisps, and others tell you just to slice as normal but very thinly. I felt coring was the most uniform and 'crisp like' so went for that.

However, I do not own a corer (I refuse to pay for something that only needs a little bit of effort and brain power) but don't let this stop you! Also, if you want to make them extra crispy you can use an oil spray which you can either buy from the shops or do the scrimpers way by making your own: simply find a clean miniature spray (the holiday minis are perfect) and fill with the oil. Done.

I show you how to make these delicious, healthy snacks below. WARNING: your house will smell gorgeously cinnamonly.


1 Apple of your Choice (I went for Pink Lady)
Oil (optional)


1) Set the Oven at 160C (or 140C on a fan or gas mark 3) and line a baking tray with some baking paper

2) Core the apple either using a corer or a knife. If using the knife, carefully push the knife down through the apple making a square around the core, making sure the knife goes all the way down through the other side. The simply push out the core from the bottom:

3)Slice the apple into thin (1 -2 mm is perfect) slices, and put onto the baking tray you set up earlier:

4) Add a sprinkling of cinnamon for some extra flavour (and it smells so good when it's baking!)

5) Then simply pop into the oven for around 40- 50 minutes. Check on them after 20 minutes and turn them over. Some may have gone brown and crispy already if they are thinner, so take them out and put them into a container (or just eat them, I know I couldn't resist)
6) Keep checking up on them until you feel they are the right crispiness for you. I like them slightly browned on the outside (as shown below) as then they are crispy, but not dry.

7) The simply enjoy or put in a sealed container (once they are cool) to enjoy later, I have found they last a couple of days, if you can resist eating them (who am I kidding I ate them all in about 5 minutes) 
So there you go, for the cost of an apple and heating the oven ( I often do this if I am using the oven anyway to save even more money) you have some delicious home made apple crisps that you know exactly what's gone in them. A win win in my opinion!

If you see anymore expensive buys in shops that you would like me to try and make at home, just comment below and I will give your challenge a go!