BratKnee

the only social I do is media

How To Get Free Stuff

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to free stuff. I spend extra money to get free shipping. I go out of my way to pick up things friends and neighbors are getting rid of for a future DIY project that usually never happens. And it’s basically a fact that free food just tastes better.

That being said, I have all the apps. I’ve joined all the mailing lists. I’ve optimized my chances to get the most bang for my buck. It’s all part of my quest to find alternative revenue streams.

But one thing I never thought I’d be qualified to do was be an influencer.

I cringe typing that word because it’s so tainted by negativity in the social media community. So many influencers feel entitled. I just want to game the system for free stuff. If that means I have to post a picture, I’ll do it. But I don’t go out of my way to seek out opportunities.

The size of my social media following makes me a micro-influencer. But as someone who works the company side of things, a lot of times there’s more value in working with smaller creators.

So if you’ve been wondering where to score products (and sometimes even get paid to post), I’m here to share where I get my free stuff.

 

makeup products

 

1. Influenster

 

Influenster is essentially a social network for products. Their app allows you to take surveys in different categories and leave product reviews. As you do this, you earn different badges and ranks. One thing they offer regularly are VoxBoxes, which are packed full of free products for you to test out, review and post about. I’ve gotten boxes that included products from Lancome, Kat Von D and Laura Mercier. A lot of times I receive products I would’ve never purchased because I’m cheap. But it’s nice to feel like you treated yo’ self to something fancy when all you really needed to do was snap a picture for your Instagram.

 

2. Heartbeat

 

Heartbeat is a platform brands come to to create campaigns. While you still get free stuff, some campaigns are even paid. Your pay rate is determined by your followers. So the more Instagram followers you’ve got, the better your Heartbeat revenue will be. While this structure might not be right for everyone influencer, it works for me for the time being. I like the fact that you apply to the campaigns you’re interested in and let the other ones slip by. Although I love free stuff, I don’t want to post about products that I haven’t actually tried out. While I don’t think I have that strong of an influence on my friends and followers, it’s nice to keep my credibility intact. I may be a sellout, but I’m a sellout with integrity.

 

3. Famebit

 

While I haven’t met the 5,000 follower threshold to be accepted, Famebit is a lucrative way I’ve seen many creators and influencers make a living. Like Heartbeat, companies create campaigns with Famebit and the members apply to said campaigns with pitches. This platform is more involved than just Instagram posts, but it also pays better. If you’re a video content creator, this might be something worth looking into if you meet their requirements to apply. I’m looking forward to the day when I hit the threshold so that I can make money off the things I love doing.

 

A lot of times you don’t even need a platform to apply for free stuff. Just having an email on your blog, YouTube channel or Instagram opens the doors to many opportunities. You can even seek out companies that make sense for your brand or your audience. If you’re going the independent route, you should check your worth on Social Bluebook. It even gives you the option to send your breakdown via email so that you can back your pay rates up with facts and data.

 

If you of any tips to get free stuff that I didn’t mention, feel free to share them in the comments!

How I Went From Zero to Cat Lady | Adopt Don’t Shop

I never had a pet growing up. At least not one that I actively had to take care of every single day. When I was very young, we had a puppy but when we moved out of my grandparent’s house, we left her there to keep my grandpa company. No matter how much we begged for a pet of our own, my mom never budged.

We’d always threatened that as soon as we moved out my brother and I would each get a dog. And then I realized how much work a dog actually is. A dog doesn’t exactly fit my current lifestyle of sitting around doing nothing. So instead of cashing in on my threat, I lived alone for a year.

I think that’s important to note because I was known as a cat lady long before I had a cat. It probably had to do with my obsession with shirts with cats on them, but maybe I was just putting out the vibes before I realized my own true destiny.

I would peruse Petfinder from time to time to see if any rescues caught my eye. And while my heart ached for all of these homeless pets, I wasn’t ready.

That is until the end of April 2017.

I’m not known for my spontaneity. It took me years of pinning to my “Quarter Life Crisis” Pinterest board before I finally dyed my hair. I build shopping carts that I come back to frequently to see if I really want to make a purchase.

But apparently, when it comes to cats, I can’t help myself.

I headed to my local animal shelter to inquire about this adorable long-haired black cat. The volunteer introduced me to many cats that day before finally bringing me in to meet “Monkey.” She was just as cute in person but the sign of her cage scared me. It warned to not pick her up.

Now I’m not saying I was looking for a cat that I could cart around and handle on the regular. I don’t even like that myself. I’m not sure if the volunteer sensed my hesitation or she genuinely wanted to show me this other long-haired cat because he was pretty.

When we approached his cage, she warned me that he was super shy and he wouldn’t approach me. But guess what. He came right up to my hand. She was shocked. I was sold.

Grigio in the Shelter

While I was doing my research, I had read the application process takes 24-48 hours but the volunteer was ready to send “Dandy” home with me right then and there.

I panicked. Mainly because my house was a mess and I wanted to get it in order and have supplies for whichever cat I brought home. When I told her this, she informed me that they don’t hold cats. If I didn’t take him right then and there, he might be gone whenever I came back.

I still decided to go home and get my affairs in order. I bought every little thing I could imagine he’d need but I was full of anxiety that he wouldn’t be there when I went the next day.

Luckily, I had a pretty flexible schedule. I told my boss what was up and I was able to cut out early and spend the rest of the day working from home.

I called the shelter to make sure he was still there and got the same warning that he might not be by the time I got there.

He was.

“Dandy” was promptly renamed Grigio because he’s grey, I’m Italian and I like wine.

But let me tell you, it wasn’t an easy start. He was so shy and scared that we barely interacted over the next few weeks. Then suddenly we were snuggling all the time and playing fetch.

Grigio Cuddling My Face

That also shocked the shelter because I was told after the fact that he acted pretty feral. I had never seen that side of him. Maybe I just understood him on a deeper level because we relate.

We had a blissful eight months together of cuddling and playing. My friends and family like to joke about him because no one has actually seen him in person. He hides the second someone comes over and doesn’t come out until we’re alone again. But I swear he exists.

One night in January, I was scrolling through Facebook and this little face popped up.

Bacio in the Shelter

There were so many shares and comments but I knew I had to have “King.” I had already named him before I went to bed that night and I was just counting down until the shelter opened the next day.

This time I went in prepared. I knew I’d be able to take him home that same day so I brought my carrier. Since I quit my job and was working from home, I was able to be the first person to request him. And it was a good thing too. Half an hour after I got there and filled out my application, another couple showed up to adopt him. First come first serve. He came home with me.

Bacio on the Bed

The drive home was full of mixed emotions. Bacio was so sweet and I was sure I loved him already. But I was so uncertain about how Grigio would react. Would they get along? If they didn’t I’d have to make the tough decision to give the kitten back to the animal shelter to have them find the perfect home. It was only fair to both of them and I’d already built such a strong bond with Grigio. My home was his home and I would do whatever made him most comfortable.

I lucked out again. They got along. The first time they interacted was by accident. I hadn’t realized the bathroom door was open and Bacio came out to explore his new home. They had a small standoff but there was no aggression. There was no hissing. Grigio just walked away.

Fast forward to now, and they’re best friends.

Grigio and Bacio Laying Together

Okay, that’s a lie but they play, they cuddle and they cohabitate just fine. They have their own favorite spots and they don’t mind sharing my lap for some cuddling.

Now, I feel like the family is complete. At least pet-wise. I only have two hands so I really can’t accommodate any others no matter how cute they are.

But it’s funny how curious Grigio gets when I close the bathroom door for any extended period of time. The last time that happened he got a little brother who loves to annoy him so I understand his concern.

My decision to adopt these two rescues was one of my best. I’ve finally solidified my cat lady status and there’s no turning back now. Please consider adopting from a shelter instead of buying from breeders if you’re looking to add a pet to your family!

If you want to see more of these cuties, follow me on Instagram at @bratkneed or follow them on their own account @grigioandbacio.

Bacio Above Grigio on Couch Arm

The Favorites: September 2018

When I started writing about my monthly favorites, I really didn’t take into account the fact that I was trying to not spend money. While I haven’t conquered the whole not spending thing because #treatyoself, I have significantly cut back.

That’s a lie. I just spend my money on things like food now. Which in my mind is worse because I don’t have a physical object to represent the money I spent. Regretting everything now.

I’m not going to lie. I had a couple of really good months in terms of work. Yes, I have less free time, but having wiggle room in my bank account is a welcomed trade-off.

I really only made one purchase this month that’s worth talking about.

Also, my definition of splurging is skewed. My last splurge happened in July when I bought myself a FitBit. This month, however, was a more business conscious purchase.

Canon G7X

Canon G7X Mark II

Yes, I bought another camera. If you’ve been following along with my YouTube channel, you know I’ve barely been posting. So why do I need another camera? Great question. I didn’t need it. But in my warped little head of mine, I assumed if I spent the money, I’d use it.

I wasn’t wrong. I put out more videos with my new Canon G7X than I have in a while And I plan to use it this month when I head to New York Comic Con. Having a camera that has a flip-out screen that’s still compact is definitely a game changer. That was the downfall of my last “vlogging” camera. I made so many excuses to scrap the footage because I wasn’t in the frame or it wasn’t focusing.

Now when I make excuses, you can come for me. I’m very excited to continue to use this camera to create new content.

Firmoo.com

Firmoo.com Glasses

If you are following me on YouTube, you know my latest video included a section about my new glasses. I got the email that a lot of people get to try out their glasses. As someone who wears glasses all the time, I like having options. So I took them up on their offer.

I can’t imagine spending so much money on glasses anymore but it was my way of life before I tried out these online retailers. The glasses look great and are a fraction of the cost. That’s a win in my books.

Firmoo sent me my glasses for free and I’m also now an affiliate. If you’re in the market for affordable glasses, you can use this link to purchase. If you use my code d4a2b, you’ll get 50% off.

So those are the only things worth mentioning this month. I foreshadow a lot of purchases incoming as the weather gets colder because I definitely won’t be leaving my house.

 

Fall Book Bucket List

I found myself reading less than I used to and I wanted to change that during the summer. I created a summer book bucket list to tackle when I wasn’t working. If you want to see how I did with that list, check out my summer book check-in.

One thing I mentioned in that post is that it was hard to complete the list because I didn’t currently own all of the books on it. With bills to pay and cats to feed, I couldn’t justify spending money on books when I know I have plenty on my shelves.

So for my fall book bucket list, I found books that I’ve been meaning to read that I haven’t gotten to yet. Once I get through the unread books I currently own, I can look to purchase some new ones for a future list. Or I can finally sign up for a library card. Shooting for the latter this winter because I know when it’s snowing I’m not going to leave my house.

The Fall Book Bucket List

  1. Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
  2. Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  4. We Are Liars by E. Lockhart
  5. Before I Knew by Jamie Beck
  6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  7. The Rule of One by Ashley Saunders & Leslie Saunders
  8. Happy Doomsday by David Sosnowki
  9. Match Making for Beginners by Maddie Dawson
  10. Tips for Living by Renee Shafransky

I’ve been waiting to start reading these books until I finally wrote this post so that I didn’t cheat. Now that you know what I’m planning to read this fall, I can get cracking!

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books. Or if you have some suggestions, leave me a comment and maybe I’ll check it out this winter!

fall book bucket list reading

Summer Book Bucket List Check-In

Reading has always been a way for me to wind down. I love getting lost in books. But since I quit my job, I found I had less time to read because I was always working. That’s one of the downsides to being a freelancer. In order to strike a better work/life balance, I vowed to get back into reading.

Back in June, I posted a list of books I wanted to read this summer. I was used to devouring a book a week so 10 books to read in 3 months seemed like an easy task. Let’s just say I was out of practice.

My Summer Book Bucket List

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  2. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  3. We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler
  4. All The Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler
  5. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
  6. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Abertalli
  7. And We’re Off by Dana Schwartz
  8. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
  9. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  10. The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims

If you’re keeping score I read five out of 10 books. Good not great.

One thing that held me back from reading them all was my budget. I couldn’t justify spending all that money on books when I had bills to pay and cats to feed.

That made me realize that if I made a book bucket list for every season, I’d end up running into the same problem. Unless I decided to read one of the books that I haven’t cracked open already on my shelves.

But there is a solution. I don’t know if it’s taboo to admit that I’ve never had a library card. Sure in high school and college I could check out books from my schools’ libraries with my ID. But the regular old county library is a place I haven’t visited.

Maybe I add getting a library card to the fall book bucket list?

book shelf

My Mom Kidnapped Me | Follow Me Around Video

It’s been a while since I’ve made a video. I just haven’t felt inspired. I think my lack of inspiration comes from the fact that I feel so limited by the persona I created. Which is insane to say because I am BratKnee and BratKnee is me.

I recently got contacted by Firmoo.com to receive a free pair of glasses in exchange for a video. That made me sit down and decide if I had it in me to make a video. I figured the added pressure of fulfilling a promise would help to get the creative juices flowing.

I wasn’t wrong.

It’s not the most creative thing I’ve ever created but that’s okay. I think it was a win simply because I took the time to create something.

VidCon 2018 taught me that it’s not fun to make videos alone anymore. Luckily my mom was down to be part of this. Not like I gave her a choice, but it could’ve ended poorly.

I hope that this is the push I needed to start creating again. I miss making videos and I don’t have to because all I need to do is start making them again.

Here’s some more information about the glasses from Firmoo.com in case you’re in need of a pair of your own. They’re super inexpensive and they arrived quickly. I like having a bunch of different pairs on hand to coordinate with different outfits. But buying from somewhere like Lenscrafters or your eye doctor can get so expensive. I love finding cost-effective ways to purchase the things I need.

The style I chose was #LKFS1001. They came in matte black, clear pink and clear blue. The pair retails for $19.99 and with the lens add-ons, my order came to around $30. They sent me the glasses for free, which was awesome even though I probably would’ve bought a pair at that price point regardless.

Feel free to leave me feedback about what you think the future of my channel should be. Or if you have questions about my experience with Firmoo and buying glasses online in general, drop me a comment!

Alternative Ways to Make Money

Ever since I quit my job, I’ve been looking for ways to generate some passive income. While I never want to go back to working in an office, it would be nice to know that I was making money without trying for the months that my workload is lighter than I would like it to be.

And while I haven’t solidified a passive revenue stream, I’ve found some ways to make extra cash when I need it.

Desk Flat Lay

 

1. Amazon Mechanical Turk

 

If you haven’t heard of this program, it’s essentially a virtual assistant task database. People and companies submit tasks and surveys you can complete for small fees. Depending on how much time you want to dedicate to completing tasks (as well as the types of tasks you accept) will determine the amount of money you’ll make.

The payments are deposited into an Amazon Payments account and you can then easily transfer it to your own bank.

 

2. Survey Sites

 

When it comes to survey sites, I’ve joined them all. Sometimes, the surveys aren’t worth the payoff. But other times, I just plow through surveys instead of mindless watching Netflix again. 

The survey sites I’ve had the most success with are Survey Junkie, Inbox Dollars and Swagbucks. It really is a hit or miss source of income but if you dedicate some of your free time to completing the surveys it can definitely amount to money for groceries or maybe to treat yo’ self.

 

3. MyPoints

 

I’m putting MyPoints in a category of its own even though it is a site you can earn points for surveys. However, it’s so much more than that. Like Ebates, you can earn points (which convert to gift cards) by shopping, visiting websites, taking surveys and watching videos. They even offer monthly goal bonuses if you complete the tasks you commit to completing by the end of the month.

Once you’ve racked up enough points, you can redeem them for gift cards. Since I’m looking for more cash, I always cash my points in for PayPal gift cards.

 

4. Affiliate Marketing

 

While I’m not generating an income from affiliate links at the time I’m writing this post, I do have some accounts in place. When I talk about products, I insert a link using my affiliate code and hope that at some point, someone will want to buy the items. The affiliate links don’t cost you anything more to purchase through them but I earn a commission for any sales that my links drive. It’s an easy way to support bloggers, especially if you’re just going to buy those items anyway.

Currently, I’m all signed up for Amazon Affiliates but I’ll be looking into other sites once my blog starts generating more traffic.

 

5. Blogging

 

While I thoroughly enjoy writing, I started up my blog with ulterior motives. It’s not the easiest way to generate a passive income because blogging is hard work, but it is a profitable one if you do it right. Having a background in writing and digital marketing, I have the tools and understanding of what I need to do to get my blog off the ground. I just don’t have the motivation and drive to dedicate all my effort since I am spending the majority of my days in front of a computer for my clients. The screen fatigue is real when it comes to sitting down and furthering my own blogs and brands but it’s a necessary evil to push through until things start running on their own.

 

6. Influencer Marketing

 

As a micro-influencer, I’ve been offered compensation to post about products. Sometimes it is just a product but there are some brands that see the value in smaller influencers. This revenue stream isn’t steady or anything to brag about, but it is a huge motivator to put more effort into my Instagram game. I plan to talk more about this in a future post, so if you have any specific questions about influencer marketing, let me know!

 

work from home

 

The freelancer struggle is real. Some months are just naturally slower than others. Or you could be me now, complaining to anyone who will listen about how busy I am. I’m thankful for all the clients I’ve connected with and work I’ve gotten so far, but finding a way to generate a passive income will give me that peace of mind I’m currently lacking.

If you’ve got any other tips on alternative ways to make money, let me know in the comments!

The Favorites: July 2018

It’s that time of the month to talk about my favorite things. July was a busy month for me. I was playing catch up from my trip to California in June while also planning a bachelorette party and bridal shower for my best friend getting married in October. In addition to that, I found myself working way more hours. Because I knew I had more money coming in this month, I decided to make some purchases that weren’t really budgeted for previously. Or maybe it had to do with the fact that I’m rewatching Parks and Recreation and I got to the “Treat Yo Self” episode. You decide.

Here are my favorites for July!

Fitbit Versa

I have been on a fitness journey for almost a year now. I’ve come to find things that work and things that don’t. But one thing I can always count on is my competitive nature. That’s where the Fitbit Versa comes in.

Peach Fitbit Versa

Before, I was just guessing when it came to my calories burned in order to calculate my daily deficit to lose weight. I was also hoping the iPhone’s step counter was accurate, even though deep down I knew I was missing out on steps each day since I don’t carry my phone everywhere. I chose to treat myself to the Versa because it counts steps, monitors my heart rate and sleep and calculates how many calories I burn each day. Being able to see all these metrics has both given me the chance to make better-informed decisions about my health as well as challenged me to hit my goals each day. Since strapping on my Fitbit, I’ve been more active because I get those reminders to get up and get moving.

EyeBuyDirect

Although this isn’t a new purchase this month, I wanted to take the time to shout out EyeBuyDirect. I bought my latest pairs of glasses and sunglasses from them back in October. I’m the type of person who would spend hours at Lenscrafters trying on every pair and hating the way 99% of them looked on me. So needless to say, buying glasses sight unseen was scary. They didn’t disappoint. I didn’t end up sending any of my pairs back (they have a 14-day return/exchange policy).

Terracotta EyeBuyDirect Sunglasses

Unfortunately for me, my sunglasses broke this month. I take pretty good care of my prescription glasses, so for the frame to have cracked was no fault of my own. They were plastic frames, so I think leaving them out while I was swimming on a hot day did them in. I hadn’t even had them for a year, which was crazy to me since my previous pair were almost 10 years old. I contacted EyeBuyDirect to see what they could do for me and they sent me a new pair for free. All I had to do was pay for shipping. I was blown away by their customer service and can’t wait to buy new glasses from them when I update my prescription in the near future.

If you want to try them out, use my link to get $10 off your first order!

“InstaPot”

Everyone is talking about InstaPots. It’s not a new concept but I’m the type of person who waits until it’s no longer a fad to jump on the trend. And since I was severely disappointed by my air fryer, I was hesitant to buy another kitchen gadget.

Crock Pot InstaPot

Cue Amazon Prime Day. I was getting bombarded with emails (not even from Amazon) about the InstaPot deal. So I begrudgingly added one to my cart. I got distracted and a few hours later, my mom had texted me about the deal as well. If she wanted one, I too needed to finally see what all the fuss was about. I go back to my cart and the deal is gone. We’d missed out. But I’m not one to care about name brands so I found another multi-purpose cooking gadget and we bought a pair of those instead. Yes, it’s Crock Pot brand, which I’ve been too sad to consider since This Is Us made it the ultimate villain. But I like food too much to let those fictional feelings get in my way.

It was my only Prime Day purchase but it was a significant upgrade from last year. All I bought was a giant tub of my cats’ favorite treats. This year was about treating myself.

Bed-In-A-Bag

I bought a few things for my condo before I’d even signed the papers. A comforter was one of those things. In theory, I loved the colors and pattern. Then I moved in. Granted, I did love the look for a while. But the more I bought to furnish my place, the more out of place the comforter started to look. For one, it was dark, which in turn made my room feel darker than it was. The other part that bothered me was the fact that my office area and sleeping area of my room were clashing.

Mainstay Blush Garden Floral Bed in a Bag

So I was on a quest for something that both brightened and tied the space together. When I’m looking for new sheets and linens, I always go for the all-in-one bed in a bag route. Especially since I order most things online. It’s hard to coordinate comforters, sheets and curtain when you’re only going off of pictures on your computer screen. I fell in love with this set from Walmart because it hit all my needs. The light colors helped brighten the room and the palette coordinated better with my office area. It even helped tie in the teal theme from my living room. It was technically a birthday present from my mom however, I didn’t get around to actually switching my sheets and comforter until this month so it still counts as a July favorite, right?

Will I continue to treat myself next month, or will I be more responsible with the money I have coming in? I guess you’ll have to tune in next month to see what will make my list of favorite things for August!

The Favorites: June 2018

July is here and that means it’s time to talk about my favorite things from the month of June. Having spent 10 days in California with my internet friends made it quite the chaotic month since I had to get so much work done before I left. While I’ve said I never want to go back to an office, it is very comforting to have built-in vacation time. But I did what I had to do so that I wouldn’t have to work in California.

Here are June favorites!

Earplugs

One thing most people don’t know about me is my sleeping anxieties. Sleepovers were always a struggle for me because I just couldn’t sleep, no matter how tired I might’ve been. As a child, that always meant I’d end up sick after a sleepover party. As an adult, it just means I’d end up crankier than usual.

That is until I discovered earplugs. On top of being an anxious sleeper, I’m also a light sleeper. So any occasion where I have to sleep in a room or bed with other people is a struggle for me. I’ve very self-conscious of moving around in my sleep but I’m also kept up by the tiniest of noises. Therefore, using earplugs has helped me enjoy vacation after vacation.

Although I prefer wax earplugs, I always seem to have these foam ones on hand. They’re uncomfortable for sure, but I think that’s because I have tiny ear holes? But I’d rather have sore ears than a bad attitude when I’m trying to enjoy myself.

Laptop Backpack

I’m the type of person who uses something until it’s in shreds. My backpack was no different. Even though I’d downsized my laptop to a 13″ after my 15″ gave up on life, I always had trouble fitting things in my backpack. But years have gone by with this struggle.

I finally decided enough was enough and purchased a backpack that was actually made for both a laptop and traveling. Game. Changer.

For once, I had compartments and space for all the things I needed for any trip. I’m not one to check a bag so I have all of my belongs on me at all times, so this was a long overdue necessity. Purchasing a bag online is a scary thing because you really can’t judge the size and quality. I lucked out thanks to thorough reviews left on the item. My favorite part (besides all the convenient compartments) was that the straps were padded. With a pack stuffed to the brim with travel crap, it was nice to have some cushion on my shoulders.

FTB Burrito

My friend Rick mentioned the FTB Burrito from Cali Tacos on his podcast a few weeks before my trip to California, so naturally, we had to go when I was in town. I wouldn’t be able to call myself the burrito queen if I hadn’t.

This was the burrito of all burritos. It was wrapped in a quesadilla, stuffed with all the fixings and even had french fries (which I found out isn’t an uncommon thing in California.) It was the literally the size of my forearm and weighed as much as a newborn baby. Every bite was amazing. And the Cali sauce was to die for.

We honestly didn’t need to have a burrito each but it was nice to have the second half later in the day after I emerged from my burrito food coma. It was hard leaving California knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get another one. At least until next VidCon.

VidCon

This was my fourth year attending VidCon and it was arguably my best year. With all of the changes that have come to YouTube that have rocked the community over the last year, it was shocking that I had so much fun. My fun, in large part, was due to my friends.

But there was an energy this year that had me supercharged. I found myself enjoying the panels, which I had spent many years rolling my eyes at. The exhibition floor seemed to finally understand who they were targeting. I actually cared about not only participating but also contributing more to the VidCon community.

I got to host a networking event for comedy creators, which was very cool. Networking as a whole disinterests me because it’s such a slimy game. I find it hard to make genuine connections, which makes me sad. But overall, it was a very successful event.

YouTube

I’m probably going to reflect more on this at a later date, but attending VidCon this month made me fall in love with YouTube all over again. It fulfills something in me that I don’t get in my day-to-day life. The friends I’ve made from the internet understand me in a way that most of my IRL friends do not. And that’s not a dig at my IRL friends who I love dearly. It’s just very hard to explain to people who aren’t part of the YouTube community.

YouTube has gotten a bad rap lately and it genuinely made me sad to see something I loved so much turn into something so widely criticized. But what I’ve learned is that YouTube and the experience as a creator are what you make it. With the right goals and good friends in your corner, you can make it what it once was. I’m really excited to dedicate more time and energy to creating content for my YouTube channel in the future. And on the internet in general.

I know my favorites focused mostly around my trip to Southern California but is that a bad thing? Taking the time to sit down and write this only made me miss my friends more so maybe it was. I can’t wait to see what is in store for me and all my friends after coming to so many realizations during our time together! Is it a cop-out to say after all of these words that my favorite thing about June was my friends?

How I Save Money

Since quitting my job, I’ve been working as a freelancer. That means my monthly income fluctuates month-to-month. Because of that instability, I’ve needed to save money now more than ever.

However, when I quit my job, I wanted my overall life to improve. I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted to do it. But living like that would stress me out. I’ve always been frugal with my money, so I wasn’t too worried. But I also have an online shopping problem.

So I needed to find ways to make smarter choices when it came to how I spent my money that didn’t involve me not spending money. Does that even make sense? Or am I just trying to justify my shopping habits?

Ebates

If you’re not using Ebates, you’re missing out on deals. Essentially all you have to do is click their affiliate link to take you to the website you want to shop at (there are hundreds on their list) and you’ll earn a percentage back. They send out checks quarterly and sometimes, you can cash in your cash for gift cards and they’ll increase the amount. Why not get cash back on the things you were going to purchase anyway?

Sign up for Ebates using my link and you’ll get an additional $10 when you make your first purchase of $25.

Ibotta

Ibotta is an app you can download that offers cash back and rebates. You pick the store you’re going to be shopping at and then clip the rebates you’d like to redeem. Once you’ve made your purchases, you just scan your receipt to earn the rebates. The cash is deposited into your account and you can withdraw funds via PayPal or Venmo (they also offer certain gift cards as well) once you hit $20.

It’s an easy to use, cash back rewards app.  I use it every time I shop and thought you would like it too! Use my referral code, pvkuifi, and you can get a $10 welcome bonus. Sign up at https://ibotta.com/r/pvkuifi.

Grocery Store Apps

This will depend on where you’re located, but it never hurts to see if your local grocery store has an app. Currently, I shop at both Wegman’s and Shoprite. Both stores’ apps offer digital coupons that you can “clip” and then the discount will come off automatically when using your store savings card. They’re mainly manufacturer coupons, which is nice because I also seem to forget my coupons at home. Having them pre-loaded onto my card makes my shopping trips easier. I even use the apps to create digital lists that include the items I have coupons for and anything else I need to pick up during that shopping trip. My favorite part about these lists is the fact that the apps tell you which aisle each item is in.

Amazon Subscribe & Save

Now that I have cats, there are certain things, like their food and litter, that I need to replenish regularly. That stuff ain’t cheap. While I was shopping around for my best options, I turned to Amazon because I am a loyal Prime Member. I love the fact that I don’t have to leave my house to get these essentials. There are a lot of products sold on Amazon that are eligible for their Subscribe & Save program. And a good number of the eligible products will offer a discount if you subscribe to at least 5 items per month. It’s super easy to edit your subscriptions or skip a month if you need to. But now I get things like my cats’ supplies and my personal vitamins delivered monthly for less.

(Also, since I have the Amazon Prime credit card, I earn 5% cash back on my Amazon purchases, so double benefits.)

I’ve racked up crazy amounts of cash back over the years. Receiving those checks or transfers is a nice way to save up money to treat yourself even if your monthly earnings are already budgeted. What are your favorite ways to save?

piggy bank