Perhaps you’ve never heard of SwagBucks. Perhaps you’ve heard, but never checked into it. Or, perhaps, you are an avid Swaggernaut yourself. I’ve read a lot of homemaking and money-saving blogs that rave about how much they love websites like swagbucks.com or inboxdollars.com (there are a number of other ones as well). But today I’m going to tell you why I don’t.
Edit: This post is intended to serve as a helpful resource for anyone who is looking for ways to earn some extra income, and who is considering doing so using money making sites such as SwagBucks or InboxDollars.
What is it?
For any who are not familiar, swagbucks.com is a website where you can make money by doing things like watching videos, searching the internet, or signing up for special offers. Some of this costs you money, but a lot of it is free. The first questions I had was, “Is this a scam?” The answer is: no, it’s actually not. You really can earn money just by clicking around on the swagbucks website. It works because it’s all a bunch of advertising. Videos, games, and emails are interspersed with tons of advertisements. Special offers allow you to earn “swagbucks” while signing up for free trials, e-newsletters, or taking surveys. Swagbucks is paid by the numerous advertisers, and users (or Swaggernauts) get a small portion of that cash. As you earn Swagbucks, you can trade them in for gift cards.
How I Heard about Swagbucks
A couple of years ago Dan and I were living on a tight budget. We had alloted a whopping $35 a week per groceries. However, once a week we hosted about eight teenage to mid-twenty year old guys who ate like…well teenage to mid-twenty year old guys! That meal alone took up almost a third of the week’s budget. So, I spent some time searching the internet, trying to find frugal recipes and ways to save money.
In my searching I stumbled across the many blog posts explaining the wonders of swagbucks, and I thought I would try it out. Along with Swagbucks, I signed up for a handful of other similar websites. That lasted a few days before I gave up. I was earning money, but only a few pennies a day and it just felt like a waste of time.
Last summer I decided to try it again. I was hoping to earn money for Abby’s quilt and thought, if I could just make a dollar a day using a couple of different sites, I could earn the money before she was born. I chose Swagbucks.com and Inboxdollars.com.
How I used the Sites
At first I enjoyed the earning. It was fun to watch the bucks slowly build up toward my goal. I always started with the easy bucks: check in to the website, answer the daily poll, click through the no-obligation special offers. I automatically got a swagbuck every day for using the free toolbar. I’d click through videos throughout the day. I would do about five searches in between every few videos to be randomly awarded more swagbucks. I would try to qualify for one survey per day and I would search the special offers for easy free things I could complete.
My email began to fill up with junk. The toolbar was slowing down the whole computer. I struggled to qualify for the surveys. I got headaches from spending so much time staring at the computer screen. I realized I was spending less time with Lydia as I tried to get my whopping $1 a day. Some days I could reach it in half and hour. Other days, I still hadn’t reached it after a whole hour.
Then one day I thought a little. One swagbuck is equivalent to about one cent. I was torturing myself and neglecting my real responsibilities to earn less than $1 an hour. It was ridiculous. I persevered just long enough to get my first check from inbox dollars: $27.
Not Worth It
I know I’m probably going against the grain here, but I strongly believe being a Swaggernaut is not worth it. My husband whole-heartedly agrees. Time is too precious to squander it just to earn a few cents. There are dishes to wash, clothes to fold, books to read out loud, toys to play with, toddlers to snuggle, verses to memorize, songs to sing, and a million other things that are far more valuable than the change you can earn by doing (as they put it) “practically nothing”.
But We Need the Money
I know what it’s like to want just a few more dollars a week. I know what it’s like to think, “Oh, it would be so nice to have thirty extra dollars for Christmas presents”. Or to hope, “If I earn a gift card we could actually afford to go on a date!” But SwagBucks is not the answer.
May I recommend, investing a little of your time and resources in developing some other skill or trade? Learn to sew, make homemade cards, soap, or something else you can sell from home. Or, don’t make anything. Clean your cupboards, shelves, and storage spaces and sell all the things you don’t use. You will probably make more money, waste less time, and feel more accomplished.
When I gave up on SwagBucks, I used the bucks already saved to buy two violin books to start giving Dan violin lessons. At the time, I was hoping to start giving violin lessons from home after Abby was no longer a newborn. Since Abby is still a newborn (in size, at least) and since she still eats roughly every hour and a half, we’re waiting to reevaluate the violin lesson idea. The point is, if you are absolutely desperate, it’s not worth it to waste your time earning money on SwagBucks, but you could use it to get some seed money and then invest in something more profitable.
An Inbox Alternative
While I did quit SwagBucks and inbox dollars, for the most part, there’s one money-making tool I still use. Inbox dollars sends members “paid emails” a couple to a few times a day. When you view the email there’s a button at the bottom you click to confirm that you actually viewed it.
Now, it’s no fun clogging your email inbox with junk, so I let these emails go straight to my spam. Every few days I return to the inbox dollars website where there is an “inbox” just for the paid emails. So I let the emails build up for a short while, then I spend a little time clicking through the emails. If you wait too long, they’ll expire, so I just check back about once a week.
For the sake of this blog post I checked earlier than usual this week. It took me 26 seconds to go through 4 emails and earn 8 cents. Most of that time was getting to the website, so if I had waited (like I usually do) until I had more emails I would have earned more money in less time.
8 cents earned in 26 seconds comes out to earning just over $11 an hour. Someone earning $11 an hour and working 40 hours a week would be bringing in a little over $22,000 a year. That’s not too bad, but remember that under normal circumstances I would wait until I had about 14 emails and I imagine that rate would have been more than double.
So, if you would like some extra money and aren’t in a hurry (save it up for Christmas), this is an option.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Edit: I realize that, for someone who enjoys SwagBucks, this post may come across offensive. That is not my intent. I wrote this post from the perspective of someone who is already busy with two kiddos and who once viewed SwagBucks solely as a way to earn extra money. SwagBucks just isn’t a second income. I found it was easy to get distracted on the site and neglect Lydia, and I did not earn very much extra money in the process. For those who do have the extra time or who enjoy SwagBucks as a hobby that also happens to earn some extra change, I hope you won’t be offended by these thoughts.