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Category: Earning & Managing Money

5 Things You Should NOT Buy at Dollar Tree

Since you all loved my list of what NOT to buy at Aldi, I thought it’d be fun to put together a list of what NOT to buy at Dollar Tree!

a photo of Dollar Tree

What You Shouldn’t Buy at Dollar Tree

Wondering what you shouldn’t buy at Dollar Tree? Well, I’ve got you covered in this post!

Now, before you think I’m here to disparage Dollar Tree, let me be clear: Dollar Tree is one of my favorite places to shop at. And I’m thrilled that I passed that love on to my daughter!

I mean, what’s not to love about Dollar Tree? Everything in the store is a dollar or less.

If you’re wondering what I think you should buy at Dollar Tree, be sure to check out my HUGE list of the best things to buy at Dollar Tree.

I go to the Dollar Tree for Valentine’s Day gifts. We have a family Christmas tradition where we all go to Dollar Tree and buy each other stocking stuffers! I even think it’s a great place to save money on groceries!

But just like any other store, there are definitely some things I think you should not purchase at Dollar Tree because they aren’t great deals. I put together a list of my top five things below:

(Psst! Did you see my list of 5 Things You Should Not Buy at Aldi?)

1. Cheap Plastic Toys

If you want to buy the cheap plastic toys, you totally can — especially if they will give your kids a lot of enjoyment. (Hey, if a cheap plastic toy for $1 will buy you 30 minutes of peace and quiet, I’m all for that!)

In full disclosure, we have totally have bought the games, puzzles, activity books many times over the years (especially for road trips). That said, we try to be careful that we’re not buying cheap toys that won’t work and are just going to break in a few minutes.

2. Boxes of Cereal

While they do have name brand cereals, they are small boxes and the price per ounce isn’t a great deal — especially compared to what you’d pay for cereal at Aldi.

mac and cheese at Dollar Tree

3. Mac & Cheese

I’ve told you that my kids are big fans of the boxed Mac & Cheese at Aldi — and it’s less than $0.50 per box! Also, there are often deals on Annie’s Mac & Cheese where you can get it for $1 per box or less!

Looking for a really delicious homemade mac & cheese recipe. I highly recommend this one.

4. Chips/Pretzels

If you don’t have a Kroger or Aldi, the prices on tortilla chips and pretzels could be a good deal for you, however, the packages are smaller than a typical bag of chips or pretzels at the grocery store.

For reference, most Aldi stores have larger bags of chips/pretzels for $1.19 and Kroger often larger bags of chips/pretzels on sale for $1.

towels at Dollar tree

5. Hand towels and wash cloths

Of all the things you can buy at Dollar Tree, hand towels and wash cloths are one of the few things I think you should never buy. Why? Because they are basically scratchy, non-absorbent rags.

I mean, if you want to buy them for rags, be my guest. But I think you’d be better off using leaves off your backyard trees than these “towels”. 🙂 Okay, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but still, just don’t buy these!

Instead, if you need to buy hand towels or wash cloths, wait until Kohl’s has a deal and coupon. Then, you’ll spend $1-2 per hand towel and wash cloth to buy something that actually works!

Do you agree with my list? Is there anything you would add to it? I’d love to hear!

Related Links:

Free eCourse: How to Make Money from Home with an Amazon FBA Business

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for some unique ways to make money from home? You might want to try an Amazon FBA Business!

If you’re interested in making an income from home and you’re looking for ideas, be sure to sign up for this free eCourse on how to work from home with an Amazon FBA business.

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Looking for more in-depth advice on how to make money from home?

Be sure to check out my book Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make A Difference, where I share creative ways to manage money, generate income and–most importantly–live a life of deeper meaning, fulfillment, and generosity than you might have ever imagined possible. This book is packed with hard-won wisdom, real-life stories, and practical tips to help inspire and motivate you!

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10 Tips for Having a Successful Garage Sale

Planning to have a garage sale soon? I’ve had a number of successful garage sales over the years and these are my top 10 garage sale tips!

{Looking for other creative ways to make some extra cash? Check out our big list of income-earning ideas and our favorite legitimate paid online surveys!}

top 10 garage sale tips

Since I’m a minimalist at heart, I’ve always loved to declutter, go through old stuff, and purge what we no longer need.

Back in our law school days, I frequently had garage sales to earn a little bit of extra cash — because every little bit helped stretch our really tight budget during those financially lean years!

Since I’ve had SO many garage sales over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how to have a successful garage sale.

If you’ve been thinking about have a garage sale soon, here are my top 10 garage sale tips!

1. Collect clutter year-round.

Always have an ongoing Garage Sale stash you’re adding to.

Try to regularly declutter and purge what you don’t need. When you come across something you no longer need or use, stick it in a box! Once that box fills up, start another box! And another.

Without much effort at all, by the time your garage sale comes along, you’ll have multiple boxes of stuff you can sell!

I used to do this throughout the year and then have an annual garage sale each year. It made things super easy, because I already had everything in one place to sell. I didn’t have to spend days going through items and figuring out what to sell.

2. Have a plan.

A successful garage sale does not happen without organization.

At least a week before your garage sale, I recommend going through your home top to bottom and clearing out any last-minute clutter that’s not already in the garage sale boxes. At least 2-3 days before the sale, set aside an afternoon to price everything out and organize your items. And then the day before the sale, devote a few hours to final organization — advertising on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, getting some cash together for change, making signs, etc.

Do not wait until the last minute to pull off a garage sale. Either it will flop or you’ll run yourself ragged — or both. If you’re in a new location or you’re new to hosting a garage sale, I’d suggest that you start getting organized at least 3-4 weeks in advance.

planning notebook

Getting organized for a successful garage sale:

:: How are you going to display items? Do you need to borrow or make a clothes-rack?

:: Do you have enough table space? If not, check and see if you can borrow tables from friends or put together some makeshift tables out of plywood and boxes.

:: What signs will you be using and how many do you need? Where will you be displaying the signs to best direct traffic to your home? Drive the routes people will be using to find your home and decide on locations for your signs ahead of time.

:: Who is going to put the signs out the morning of the sale? Designate someone for this ahead of time and let them know specifically where to place the signs.

:: How much cash should you have on hand and how will you keep it in a safe location?

:: Do you need to purchase a license for running a garage sale in your area?

:: Do you have enough help?

3. Team up.

One of my top garage sale tips is that you should never do them alone! Find friends or family to team up with.

Not only does this arrangement mean you have a larger quantity and variety of items to sell, but it also means you have more help. Divvying up the responsibilities between 3 or 4 people makes a garage sale much more manageable.

Plus, it just makes it more fun when you’re doing it with friends and family!

4. Location, location, location!

If you want to have a garage sale that flops, pick a location that is off-the-beaten-path and hard to get to. That’s a surefire way to lose a lot of business.

Don’t live near a busy intersection? Look for alternative locations like the home of a friend or relative.

We always had really successful garage sales at our home in Kansas, because we lived right between two very heavily-trafficked streets. We put up some good signage and the crowds came!

5. Timing is everything (well, just about!).

I don’t advise planning a sale in the freezing cold Winter or the blazing hot Summer. Choose a time of the year when the weather will be very pleasant and try to check the weather forecast ahead of time to make sure rain is not expected when you’re planning your sale.

In addition, find out what days of the week are best for yard sales to run in your area. Fridays and Saturdays are usually really popular, but you’d be surprised to find that in some areas Thursdays are big days for garage sales!

circular peel and stick price tags

6. Clearly mark your prices.

It’s easy to want to just stick a big sign on a table saying that everything on that table is a quarter, but in the long-run it is much more efficient to go ahead and put price stickers on everything. Instead of having to make up prices on the spot, people will know exactly how much something is. In addition, some people are too shy to ask the price of an item, so you’ll lose a sale if an item isn’t marked.

I’ve found it’s worth paying the few dollars it costs to buy pre-priced stickers for most items. It makes things SO simple and fast!

I also recommend having a variety in pricing — with plenty of really inexpensive items. Often, when you have a lot of inexpensive items, people are more likely to pick up more items — and it will often help sell some of your larger-ticketed items in the long run!

{Tip: If you are running a garage sale with multiple families, just put initials on all the price tags so that you can keep a tally sheet of who sold what. And you can even have two people working the money table — one to keep track of the tally sheet and one to handle all of the money transactions.}

7. Price things to sell.

Of all my garage sale tips, this is one of the most important — and something that I have seen people miss the mark on time and time again with garage sales!

When people come to a garage sale, they are expecting to pay garage sale prices. Keep this in mind when you price your items.

While pricing can vary a bit depending on the area you live in, it’s really important to price things to sell. A good rule of thumb is to price things at what you feel would be a good bargain if you were buying that item at someone else’s garage sale.

And it’s better to price something on the low end and have someone actually buy my item, than to have 25 people pick up the item and put it back down on the table because it is too expensive.

garage sale sign

8. Advertise well.

The marketing of your sale is usually the number one factor in how well your sale does. You can have great items, great prices, and a great location — but if people don’t know how to get to your house or can’t find it on their own, you won’t have a successful garage sale!

So put some time and effort into making a number of quality, clearly-readable signs, and put them in conspicuous places that easily lead to your home. The brighter, bolder, and bigger the sign, the better!

And don’t forget to advertise on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist! Both are free to advertise, so why not?! And remember — the more details you can put in your ad, the better. Mention specific items, brands, and sizes.

Often times people are searching for really specific items on Craigslist or Marketplace, so even if they’re not looking at garage sales, they might see one of your listed items pull up in their search! The more descriptive you can be in the listing and title, the better.

And be sure to use proper grammar and spelling, too. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference!

9. Mark items down on the last day.

Things are usually pretty picked over by the last day of the sale. That’s the perfect opportunity to get creative and hand out rock-bottom bargains!

Consider making everything half-price on the last day. We even used to let people “Fill a Bag for a Buck” on the last day of our garage sales, and it was really effective! Sometimes we’d get rid of 25 bags of full stuff in just a few hours by doing this!

Or, if you have quite a bit of stuff left and feel ready to close up shop, you can give things away for free during the last hour of your garage sale.

lemonade stand

10. Don’t forget the cookies and lemonade!

This is one of my favorite garage sale tips! What better way to teach your children entrepreneurial skills and let them earn a little money in the process than to have them set up their own little cookie and lemonade stands at the sale?

Or, if it’s cold outside, try selling hot chocolate, coffee, and fresh cinnamon rolls. I remember we even set up a pancake griddle and sold hot pancakes one year! Everyone loved it.

Baked goods — like homemade cookies and bars — actually sell really well at garage sales. Sometimes you can make over $100 just from selling baked goods!

We also used to let Kathrynne run her own little toy table when she was younger. Everything was a penny and she had a great time interacting with customers and taking money. Best of all, it was a great learning experience for her! It was a chance for her to practice communicating with adults and learn the value of money!

What are you best garage sale tips? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Related Links:


5 Things You Should NOT Buy at ALDI

Because so many of you loved my list of 25 best things to buy at ALDI, I decided it was time for me to put together a list of what NOT to buy at ALDI!

{Psst! Wondering why I love ALDI so much? Read this post on why I think everyone should shop at ALDI to save money!}

Aldi Food Market

5 Things You Should Never Buy at Aldi

As you well know, I think you can save a lot of money by shopping at Aldi. However, that doesn’t mean that everything at Aldi is a good deal.

One of the most popular posts on my site is my post on 25 of the best things to buy at Aldi. Today, I thought it would be fun to tell you what I think you shouldn’t buy at Aldi.

Cheerios at Aldi

a photo of Dawn at Aldi

Here’s my list of what I think you should avoid buying…

1. Name Brand Items

Don’t buy brand name items! Why? Because not only are these usually over-priced, you can’t use coupons on them to save more money.

What to buy instead: The Aldi brand/off brand counterparts for these name brand items. In most cases, you’ll save 40-60% off of what the name brand item is priced! And we’ve found that it usually works or tastes just as good! (See above photos for side by side comparisons.)

name brand items at Aldi

2. Aldi Finds

When you walk in the store and near the end of the store as you’re going to checkout, Aldi typically has what they call Aldi Finds. These are often name brand items and are typically unique or weird flavor combinations.

I don’t know exactly where they get these from, but my theory is that they were some kind of overstock or trial run at mainstream grocery stores that didn’t do well. (Anyone know?)

Not only are they usually not a great deal, but they are also probably a sort of risky purchase since they are likely a flavor or item you haven’t tried before.

What to buy instead: Stick to the Aldi brand regular deals and pass up the Aldi Finds.

Aldi special buys

3. Seasonal Items

Aldi has a big section of the store (well, big percentage-wise when you compare it to the size of the store!) devoted to Seasonal type deals. Right now, there will be a lot of summer toys and other things that would be geared toward the summer months.

While they often do have some good prices, unless you were looking for that specific item and/or saving up for it and you know this price is less than what you’d pay elsewhere, skip this section of the store.

Why? Because you’ll just end up spending money on “good deals” that you don’t need and weren’t planning to purchase in the first place. This, in turn, will negate all of the savings you are getting on groceries!

What to buy instead: Focus on purchasing the items that are already on your grocery list instead of impulse buying.

pre-packaged food at Aldi

4. Pre-Packaged Food

If you normally buy pre-packaged snacks and frozen foods, then you will save some money by buying them at Aldi. However, please don’t start buying pre-packaged foods just because you think they are “so inexpensive” at Aldi.

What to buy instead: Ingredients to make your own homemade snacks and items!

lemon juice at Aldi

5. Things You Can Get Cheaper at Dollar Tree

If you have a Dollar Tree in your area, be sure to peruse the food and household product aisles to price-check the Dollar Tree prices and sizes against the Aldi prices and sizes.

While some Aldi prices are the same or less, some items are significantly cheaper at Dollar Tree. For instance, see the lemon juice shown above? It’s regularly $2.49 at Kroger, $2.39 at Aldi, and just one dollar at Dollar Tree!

What to buy instead: Nothing! If you can get it cheaper at Dollar Tree, don’t buy it at Aldi! 🙂

Aldi Fliers

Do you agree with my list? What do you think you shouldn’t purchase at Aldi? I’d love to hear!

Related Links:

Sign up with EF Education First to work from home as an ESL teacher!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

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Psst! Looking for more opportunities like this? You can also apply with VIPKID or Qkids to teach part-time from home!

The Complete Guide on How to Use Swagbucks

Looking for a comprehensive Swagbucks review? Want to make money on Swagbucks? I’ve put together a very comprehensive guide on how Swagbucks works, how to earn free gift cards, and my top tips for earning more with Swagbucks.

Looking for more ways to earn free gift cards? You can earn free gift cards from Shopkick and Fetch Rewards. And here are 15 More Ways to Earn Extra Money.

Swagbucks logo

What Is Swagbucks?

Swagbucks is a site that rewards you for completing tasks and doing certain actions online. When you complete a task, you’ll earn points called SBs that you can cash in for free gift cards.

You can earn free Amazon gift cards, Starbucks gift cards, Visa gift cards, Walmart gift cards, and dozens more! You can even earn gift cards for free hotel, travel, and airline sites.

earn free gift cards with Swagbucks

How Do You Earn Free Gift Cards with Swagbucks?

Swagbucks offers many different ways to earn points toward free gift cards. Some of the more popular ways to earn are doing online searches, signing up for offers, printing coupons, completing special offers, and taking polls.

Does Swagbucks Really Work?

When I first heard about Swagbucks, I was a little leery because it sounded too good to be true. But I went ahead and tried it — and after earning multiple gift cards every month for the past eight years, I’m here to tell you in this Swagbucks review that it’s not too good to be true. Swagbucks works!

And I’m not alone. I know dozens of friends who’ve also had great success with Swagbucks — earning at least a gift card or two every month and sometimes much more than that.

Here’s a Swagbucks review from one of my readers:

I have earned $325 in Amazon Gift Cards from Swagbucks. Last year, I bought all of my husband’s Christmas gifts, and a few gifts for the Grandparents. This year we have used it mostly for “extras” that I didn’t want to pay for, but really wanted to have (aka: my blow money). I normally earn $5-10 a month in gift cards — and I don’t have any referrals under me. I simply search on my laptop and my Android. -Andi

See more testimonials from my readers on how much they are earning with Swagbucks here.

How Do You Get Started Earning With Swagbucks?

To get started with Swagbucks, sign up for a free Swagbucks account. It’s simple and easy to sign up and you can start earning points right away!

I encourage you to set an earnings goal each day and try to login and hit that, if possible. If you can even just put in 5 to 15 minutes each day, it can really start to add up! I loved what Megan posted in her Swagbucks review on my Facebook Page that she does:

I have found that watching (usually with the sound off) about 30 seconds on 10 videos on Swagbucks TV is a fast way to earn bucks… in addition to doing the daily poll, NOSO, and using the toolbar. In about 10 minutes of your day, 15 Swagbucks is pretty doable. We have a tight budget, so the 10-15 minutes a day is worth it for us. I have several little kids so can’t commit much time or energy to it, but every little bit helps and has worked for our family.  -Megan

earn money with Swagbucks

How Much Can You Earn with Swagbucks?

You can easily earn $5 to $20 per month in Amazon gift cards without spending a lot of time.

However, if you want to earn more in a shorter time period, I highly recommend checking out Swagbucks TV — especially if you spend a lot of time working on the internet every day. You can increase your earnings significantly by watching Swagbucks TV each day while you’re working online — or through their smartphone apps.

In addition, if you have friends you know who would love to try out Swagbucks, be sure to pass along your referral link so that they can earn free gift cards, too.

I’ve earned over $75 this year through Swagbucks and I honestly don’t even spend three minutes a day earning points. Not too shabby! -Theresa

Do You Have To Refer People To Make Money?

Swagbucks has a great referral program: you’ll earn matching points for the first 1,000 points anyone you refer earns. Obviously, this is a fantastic way to increase your earnings — and one way that has helped me earn quite a few more Swagbucks over the years.

If you try Swagbucks and it works well for you, be sure to share your referral link with your friends or write a post about it on your blog. Don’t keep a good thing to yourself.

That said, you can still earn a decent amount with Swagbucks even if you have no referrals at all.

Swagbucks app

How Do You Redeem Your Swagbucks?

Once you’ve earned enough Swagbucks to cash in for a gift card, you just log into your account and request your gift card. You’ll have to confirm your request and then your gift card will show up in your account within a few weeks.

There are dozens of different gift cards to choose from but I’d recommend going for the $5 Amazon gift cards for 450 Swagbucks each. This is the best deal and you can use an unlimited number of Amazon gift cards per order on Amazon.

Is Swagbucks Really Worth Your Time?

When my husband was in law school and every penny had to be carefully spent, I would have LOVED to have something like Swagbucks.

I was desperate for any way to make $0.50 — even if it took me 10 to 20 minutes (or longer!) to do so. At that time in my life, it was good if I were making $2-3 per hour. Swagbucks would have been a DREAM come true to have as an option!

I never forget those days and I know many people here are in that kind of spot in their life, so I want to provide them with solutions that might work for those who don’t have a lot of immediate options or for whom an extra $15 or $25 per month could make such a difference!

For people who aren’t in that type of season of life and don’t have a spot in their day when you can multi-task and earn SBs while doing something you’d already be doing (working on the computer, cooking, cleaning, etc.), there are probably better ways to be spending your time.

However, I bet everyone has a few spots in your day when you could easily earn at least a few SBs. And it’s fun to watch them add up!

How to Earn More Swagbucks

Looking for the best tips to earn more Swagbucks? I compiled 10 of my best tips for earning more Swagbucks below:

1. Print Coupons

Did you know you can earn SB’s for printing coupons? You’ll earn $0.01 per coupon printed (up to 50 SB’s per day). Allow 48 hours for these to be credited to your account.

To find the coupons, look under Discover and then Grocery Coupons. It also says that you’ll also earn 25 SB’s for every coupon redeemed in store, but it takes up to 12 weeks for these to show up in your account.

2. Play Games

There are a few games that are free to play and you can easily earn 10 SB every day for doing so.

Look under Play on the sidebar and then choose Swagasaurus Run (scroll past the games that aren’t free to find it). You get 2 SB for every two games you play (each game takes about 30-60 seconds to play), up to 10 SB total per day.

My kids love to help earn SB by playing these games!

3. Answer Questions

You can earn 2 SBs for every 10 multiple choice questions that you answer! I don’t know that there is a limit on this (anyone know?). I’ve done it more than once and not been limited.

To find this offer, just click on Answer and then look over on the far right side.

4. Complete the To Do List Every Day

When you log into Swagbucks, look on the lefthand sidebar for your daily To Do list. You can click on each of the items on the list and it will take you directly to where you need to go to complete the task.

Most of these can be done in seconds and you’ll be awarded a bonus if you complete all of the tasks on your list each day.

Sarah says: “I absolutely love Swagbucks. The Amazon gift cards I earn from it pays for nearly all of the Christmas gifts we purchase as well as other household purchases throughout the year. I think everyone should give it a try.”

5. Check Your Swagbucks Inbox

Click on the little mailbox icon in the upper right corner and check your Swagbucks inbox. Usually, there are a least a few offers in there to earn easy Swagbucks — such as to watch a video and earn 1 SBs or to click on an article and earn 3 to 5 SBs.

I typically just click on anything email that is a 1-5 SB offer and then click through on it. You don’t want to take much time on these, but if you can earn a few SBs in less than 30 seconds or a minute, it might be worth it!

6. Play Videos in the Background While You Work

If you have a job that you can play videos in the background on your phone or computer, don’t miss this! You can also play them on your phone or computer while you’re working on other tasks at home or when you’re out and about.

Best of all, there is no limit to how many videos you can watch. You earn points when you’ve watched an entire playlist.

Tips For Earning More with Swagbucks Videos:

I would recommend making it a habit to start playing the videos at set times during the day when you don’t need your phone, but can have it near to you. I just turn off the sound and have the phone nearby me when I’m working on blog projects. You’ll want to check in on it periodically as sometimes it will stop playing or you’ll need to engage with the content or restart the videos to continue watching.

Here are two tips from my readers’ Swagbucks reviews:

Christina says: “I LOVE Swagbucks! Worst month, I make about $40. Best month, $120. Pays for all of our toiletries and then some. I run nCrave videos on my desktop, and run videos on my phone and tablet. Not much else.”

Karen says:  “Make sure you have the most up to date version of the app. If you don’t, it won’t let you earn points. I exclusively use the apps when I’m not using my phone or run them on another mobile device and it’s rare for me to not earn 50 SB a day from them.”

Do note that many of the videos are for movie trailers or other things that might not necessarily be family friendly. Also, keep in mind that playing videos will drain your phone battery, so it’s great to do this when you can have your phone plugged in.

7. Run the nCrave Videos in the Background

This is another easy way to earn Swagbucks that requires very little effort! Just click on the nCrave section (this is listed under Watch on the homepage) and have these playing in the background while you are using your computer.

These will continue to play and earn points for you as long as you have the window open and periodically check in on the content and engage with it. Usually it will pop-up with a notice when you need to go engage with the content again for it to keep playing.

8. Book Your Travel Through Swagbucks

Do you purchase airline tickets or book hotels online? If so, you’ll want to check to see if you can purchase them through Swagbucks!

They offer great cash back offers for many travel sites. And typically, when you book travel, it’s going to be at least a few hundred dollars — which means that your cash back can add up very quickly!

To book your travel, just go to the Shop section on the lefthand sidebar and then click on Travel. Click through on whatever travel site you are planning to purchase your tickets or book your hotel through.

Since it takes a little while for Swagbucks to verify things, allow a week for your purchase to show up as pending in your account.

9. Refer Your Friends

Have any friends who might be interested in earning free gift cards with Swagbucks? If you encourage them to sign up with your referral code, you’ll earn 10% of their earnings — for life! So as long as they are earning Swagbucks, you’re earning Swagbucks!

Plus, they oftentimes run bonus offers where you can get an additional SBs bonus when they first sign up and earn SBs.

10. Join the Swagbucks Swaggernauts Facebook Group

Karen submitted this tip and she said, “There is a Facebook group called Swagbucks Swaggernauts that is awesome! Be sure and read the pinned post at the top-it is full of tips and hints. Members also post new deals that worked and things to look for.”

I hope this Swagbucks review was helpful! What other tips or advice do you have for earning more Swagbucks? Tell us in the comments so we can help each other out! And I’d love to hear your own personal experiences and Swagbucks review if you have one to share.