Friday, December 17, 2010

Amazon GC from swagbucks

I always read about fellow PF bloggers making additional income online. Some make money off their blog, some do graphic design gigs on the side, take online surveys, use website like ebates and swagbucks. While on their own these things don't help you make a lot of money (except the really popular blogs making blog income), all of the above together add up in the end.

I was aware of sites like ebates,fatwallet etc which give you cash back for buying products from websites using their referral links, but never tried them out. 3 weeks ago,I did however decide to sign up with swagbucks for no particular reason. I used the referral link on me in millions' blog to sign up and have earned enough points already to redeem for 2-$5 gift cards (You can exchange 450 swagbucks for a $5 GC amongst other things).
While this might not seem too much, you need to realize that all i do is do all my web searches using the swagbucks search engine instead of google, the results are not as accurate as google for some complex searches, but most times i get where i want to go using their search tool. I also have taken a few online surveys in my free time, and have earned a cool $10 in under a month.

Sometimes it seems as though you are not getting enough "swag bucks" for your searches etc, but other times without even noticing you keep collecting 11,8 or 12 swag bucks twice or thrice a day. For me this is a no brainer, i would not mind using a search engine which passes on some part of its earnings to me (however small - it is still better than nothing) while occasionally going back to google for other more complex searches.

If you would like to join swagbucks, you can use my referral link here - or the referral box in the side bar.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How I saved $750 on my Cable bill.

I currently rent an apartment in a complex where the only option for cable is a big cable provider, no Verizon or dish or direct TV. So if i need cable and internet, i have to turn to them. They seem to know that fact too and use it to their advantage, leaving little or no room for negotiation. Looking at the last couple of years, i haven't changed a thing in the services i buy from them. I have expanded digital cable (with free HD channels), plus a high speed internet connection (no DVR, no premium channels) and my last months bill read $126.24 including taxes.

I think i started a couple of years ago at around $110 and the bill has been steadily rising with random costs and technology upgrade fees(?).

I decided that i had to lower this recurring monthly cost, and even though i had no competitor offer to bring to the table, i was ready to cancel the service completely for a few months and come back as a new customer (you would be surprised at the new customer offers they have). I called them 3 days ago and asked to speak to the cancellation department, the lady asked me the reason for cancellation and i simply listed out the facts from above and how it was outrageous to keep paying more and more for the same level of service. She said they wanted to retain me as a customer and could offer me a $15 discount on my bill for 6 months, that would have brought my monthly bill to about $112 but it would still be a really short term solution so i asked her if they had any offers if i signed up to stay long term with them like for a year or so. She put me on hold and then after about 2 minutes said the best she could do is take $20 off the bill for a whole year if i was ready to commit for 12 months. Now that sounded like a much better plan - saving about $240 over the year but i decided to play hard ball and told her that i would need to think about this and will have to call them back.

Now supposedly these customer reps get commissions if they make people sign yearly contracts, so she gave me her direct line (which is very rare) and asked me to call her back whenever i was ready or if i had more questions. I didn't call back for 2 days, and sure enough got her call this morning - she gave me a final offer, if i signed up for 2 years, my monthly bill for all the services i currently have would go down from $126.24 to $99.13 and whats more if i agree right away, i would get a $100 cash back check in the mail in about 6 weeks from now. This was a great offer, and thinking about it - i won't need to change the level of services i currently have in the next 2 years(i haven't done that in the last couple of years either), so i signed up saving myself a cool $650.64 over the next 2 years.

Add the $100 cash back to make it an even $750 saved on a recurring bill, which if i had taken no action or was simply afraid to ask,would have continued to be paid as is every month.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Is Groupon really worth $6 billion, or more?

Groupon is a popular online coupon company. According to, it is the fastest growing company ever, beating the likes of and
It works on a simple concept - It extracts deep discounts of as much as 50% from major retailers in return for promising to deliver a minimum number of customers. It then engages Web surfers in a game of sorts, telling them they must get as many people as possible to respond by a deadline in order for everyone to get the discount. Groupon gets half the sales dollars, and the client gets to market its products, while paying very little money up front.

While that is good business, i really can't seem to understand how Google valued it at $6 billion, what's more the people at groupon think they are worth much more, and have reportedly rejected that offer and might plan to have an IPO next year. I personally haven't seen one really good deal at a place i would spend money anyways on groupon. They do have some coupons to SPA's or Outdoor activities etc, but i am not sure how many people would line up for those over an extended period of time.
They do not have any inherent technology, they seem to have a large database of consumer email id's and sales representatives going after local and national merchants,whats more there are a ton of similar sites like

It is also a so called social site, i don't see how it fits in the social networking world though. It will be very interesting to see how this groupon story pans out, it could be the next big thing (though i would not bet my money on that happening) or simply fizzle out. Only time will tell.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Charitable donations...

Azim premji, one of India's richest men, recently made a $2 billion gift to his charitable organization.
Donating and giving are not alien to our society, but in the Indian set up people are more prone to donating and helping out others in the same community or people they are more in touch with. So it won't be uncommon to see people who are part of cultural clubs, donate to causes or schools within their same community (community refers to the sub group of people who come from the same geographic location and speak the same language) on a smaller but regular basis.
It is also very common to see some financially well-off people help some not so privileged ones who they interact with on a daily basis. I have seen people pick up tabs for life long education of children of their domestic helps or chauffeurs which is pretty cool in my opinion.
Religious donations are a big part of the set up in India too, people go out of their way to make donations to temples or the religious places of worship that they have faith in - which in turn run various charitable trusts whose funds are derived from the donations from the devotees. This temple near Hyderabad, alone gets Rs 10 billion (about $223 million) annually in donations
Unlike here in the US, where the tax structure is such that it encourages the ultra rich to make huge charitable donations - the Indian tax set up doesn't give too many incentives, so it is very nice to see the rich taking initiatives like these and leading the way for others to follow and help the ones not so fortunate.
quick stat - About 41% of the population in India lives below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25 a day.