The RV Life Is Not As Laid Back As You Might Think

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What do you think when you imagine six months on the open road in a RV with most of the luxuries of home. If you’re like my husband and I, you probably imagine yourself booking perhaps your first camping spot or two and then letting the road take you where it will and booking spots as you go.

The RV life is not as laid back as you might think.

 

The Little Known Truth About The RV Life: And How It Cost Us A Month Of Our Trip

If that is you, let me tell you–you are dead wrong! We found this out the H.A.R.D. way very recently and it has cost us dearly.

We were planning on leaving for our 6 month RV trip with our 20 year old son, 16 year old son and 14 year old daughter shortly before Christmas of this year–that is, until we sat down a few weeks ago to rough draft our route and book a few camping spots for the first leg of our trip.

We thought we would keep things to a 2 hour relaxing planning session while we watched some TV and snuggled on the couch. Instead it ended up being an all afternoon and into a late, TV off, voices raised, nightmare of an evening.

There was even a “let’s walk this out a while” 30 minute walk thrown in there.

The RV life is not as laid back as you might think.

You see, it turns out my husband and I are a bit clueless. We thought that RVers were a laid back, B-personality pack like we are. Turns out they are type A personality planners. The slogan should not be “Happy Wanderers” it should be “Happy Planners Who Map Out And Book Everything Months In Advance–Leaving No Spaces For The Wanderers!” Seriously, I’m not kidding.

We had read to book Florida early, we thought 5 months out was early! What we learned is that state parks in Florida and many other states for that matter, start taking reservations 11 months in advance and people do book that early–a lot of people.

Enough people, in fact, that we could only get a spot there for a night and then another spot there for a night. Doesn’t sound too bad until you start figuring out the distance between the two parks and realize it is a good two days drive in between them.

Book a private campground you say? We did look into those but discovered many wanted as much as $100 a night or more and our nightly budget for the trip was $50. I thought I had this problem solved by buying a discount camping card only to discover they had black out dates during the times we wanted to book sites.

At one point of the evening I threw my hands up in the air and said, “Let’s just book some plane tickets to Universal Studios and then later to your parents and give up on this crazy RV trip idea of ours.” That is when taking a walk was suggested by my–only slightly calmer–husband.

Our New RV Trip Plan

During the walk we decided if we cut off lower Florida, which seemed to be the most packed, we could leave a month later and that would take the strain off our budget and allow us to book the more expensive private campgrounds on the way when needed.

Refreshed from the walk, we set to mapping out our new plan and it worked! We found spots in North Carolina, spots in Georgia, a week on the upper east coast of Florida, 3 days near Universal studios (private spot) and a week on the upper west coast of Florida. We booked them all right then.

In the following weeks we have booked New Orleans and have begun booking in Texas. Our plan is to hold a planning session of one to two hours almost every weekend until we have the entire trip booked.

The only time we will stray from this plan is when the 6 months out date hits for our arrival in California. We are a bit scared their state parks will fill up just as fast as Florida so we plan ti spend as long as needed the day our dates open up for booking there.

We have learned our lesson and we are planning on beating the type A personality planners (who cloak themselves as wanderers) at their own game. I guess the laid back part of RV living begins when you hit the open road with a fully booked itinerary in hand–who knew!

Read more about our upcoming trip:

And If You Love To Camp:

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8 Places To Earn Starbucks Gift Cards Plus How To Make Them Go Further

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As a blogger I spend a lot of time in Starbucks working, especially during my son’s soccer season when it is the closest place to his practice field with WiFi and plug-ins should my laptop need charging.

Of course, there are days that I don’t go to Starbucks to work, but to meet friends or simply because it has been a hard day and at that moment it feels like a caramel macchiato would be the perfect thing to help me trudge through to a better one.

Fund your Starbucks habit without wrecking your budget by using these 8 places to earn Starbucks gift cards. Your budget will love you for this!

Perhaps you can relate. If you can, I want to let you in on a little secret. I rarely pay for a single Starbucks drink from money out of our paychecks. Instead I use point programs, rebate apps and survey sites to earn Starbucks gift cards to support my habit.

I don’t spend a lot of time earning those gift cards either. My secret is to join several different programs, apps and survey companies and then figure out the quickest way to earn points on each platform. This means my earnings at each company are low, but my earnings when you combine all the different companies–it is enough Starbucks gift cards to keep my habit fully funded and sometimes even enough to share with others.

8 Places To Earn Starbucks Gift Cards

Point Programs

For each of these programs listed below I suggest you take 15 to 20 minutes browsing their ways to earn so that you know which earning methods best suit your personality.

Swagbucks

There are over 20 ways to earn SB points at Swagbucks that you can then trade in for gift cards.

The simplest way to earn is to download the Swagbucks toolbar and enter all your web searches through it. I have run the numbers a few times and discovered I earn on average 100 SB points a week this way. That means every 5 weeks I would have enough points to earn a $5 Starbucks gift card.

However, there are so many more ways to earn at Swagbucks that I used to average $10 or more in Starbucks gift cards each month in my pre-blogging days when I had very few referrals simply by doing things I already do online like shopping or buying daily deals.

This is my Swagbucks referral link | Snail Pace Transformations

Bing Rewards

You can easily earn a $5 Starbucks gift card each month¬†from Bing Rewards (psst, the name is soon changing to Microsoft Rewards)¬†by heading to your dashboard each day and clicking through the PC search area and hitting related searches until you earn 15 points. Then use the app to do 20 rapid searches and earn another 10 points. That gives you 25 points. Repeat that for 30 days and you have 750 points, which is more than enough for a $5 Starbucks card–even if you forget to do them several times during the month.

This is my Bing Rewards (soon to be Microsoft Rewards) referral link | Snail Pace Transformations

InstaGC

InstaGC can be a bit tricky when it comes to earning points, but what I love about their program is that you get your Starbucks card instantly. So if your friend invites you for a last minute coffee and your gold rewards card is empty (more on that card in a moment) you can hop over to InstGC and if you have 500 points or more you can cash out and grab a $5 Starbucks card in seconds.

I find the video section to be the fastest place to earn points. Do it with the volume down low while you are watching TV or reading at night and you should be able to earn points at a fairly decent speed.

This is my InstaGC referral link | Snail Pace Transformations

PrizeRebel

To earn points at¬†Prize Rebel make sure you follow them on Instagram and Facebook where they often share codes that will earn you points when you enter the codes into the promo code area on the site (it is that little ticket symbol at the top corner of the screen). Here is another tip: press “get notifications” on their Facebook page and you won’t miss a promo code.

Another fairly easy way to earn points is to watch the videos in the “Engage Videos” tab. There are usually a few easy point actions in the offer wall area too. If you have more time,¬†Prize Rebel’s¬†survey area is fairly generous with points compared to many other point programs I have tried out–but their surveys can be lengthy.

This is my PrizeRebel referral link | Snail Pace Transformations

MyPoints

MyPoints is the first point rewards program I ever joined. My favorite easy point actions are¬†the emails they send you where you can click through and earn 5 points–I earn a $10 gift card each year just doing this. That isn’t much, but it doesn’t take me any time at all to click through their emails while I am stuck in line at the grocery store or fast food restaurant.

MyPoints also offers pretty high points for shopping through their site at your favorite stores. One Black Friday I made $50 in gift cards from MyPoints this way!

This is my MyPoints referral link | Snail Pace Transformations

Survey Sites

MintVine

MintVine offers cash out for a Starbucks gift card valued at $10. You earn 5 points each day by taking a second to answer their daily poll. You can also earn points by buying your daily deals through their “local deals” tab.¬† If you search around their “offers” area you can usually find a few ways to earn quick points.

What I really like about¬†MintVine¬†is that if you go into their “survey street” section they offer an estimate of how long a survey might take you and it is usually very accurate. Plus, if you get screened out it is usually pretty fast and you sometimes earn a few points for your time.

If you like filling out surveys, this site is a great one to join and earn Starbucks gift cards from.

The only thing I don’t like about the site is that it can take what seems like a long time for points to clear and it takes a few days for e-gift cards to be delivered.

This is my MintVine referral link | Snail Pace Transformations

Coupon Apps

Ibotta

Ibotta is so much more than a grocery rebate app. You can get money back on your movies, clothing, eating out, pet supplies and more.

They currently only offer a $20 Starbucks card, which would take some time to earn but slowly your rebates will add up and in the meantime you can keep your my Starbucks rewards card filled with gift cards earned from faster sources.

This is my iBotta referral link | Snail Pace Transformations

Shopkick

One think I love about Shopkick is that you don’t have to buy a thing to earn points. You simply have to have the app open as you walk into stores that are offering walk in points.

They often have special promotions where they offer crazy high walk-in values. If you live in a town with stores that participate you can earn a fair amount of points each time you shop.

This is my ShopKick referral link | Snail Pace Transformations

One way to make your Starbucks gift cards go further

Sign up for the My Starbucks Rewards Program

So a few times above I have mentioned my Gold card and my My Starbucks Rewards gift card. Both are the same card.

Several years ago now Starbucks started the My Starbucks Rewards program. They just recently changed it all, but now that I am a few months into the new program I am really liking it.

To join, go here and register a Starbucks Gift Card (you need a physical, hold-in-your-hand gift card to do this). Make sure to opt in for their emails because their emails are full of great reminders such as double point days, BOGO sales, special My Starbucks Reward members offers and more.

Once you have registered a card you can refill it with the gift cards you earn from the 8 places above by going to¬†the My Starbucks Rewards website¬†and signing into your account, clicking on the “cards” tab, and then pressing on “Transfer Funds”. Click “transfer to” and then enter the new gift cards card number and card security code. You physical gift card is now all ready to go.

You can also download the app and the balance of your gold card will be saved in the “pay” tab, but from what I can tell you still need to go to the website to fill your card even if you do use the app and not the gift card.

You will get your own pretty gold colored Starbucks card once you reach 300 stars. Until then, once you are signed up and in the program you will be a green status member and at that level you will get a free drink on your birthday, plus free refills on certain drinks while in store.

You collect 2 stars for every dollar spent so that means you need to spend $150 to get a Gold card, but you are given a full year to earn it.

Once you reach gold level you get so much more than a gold colored gift card with your name on it.  You get a free drink or food item with every 125 stars you collect and you can take advantage of double star days so you can start collecting those points faster.

3 More Ways To Lower The Price Of Your Starbucks Habit

I know that not everyone enjoys participating in point programs, filling out surveys or uploading receipts into rebate apps so these next three options¬†are for those people–because everyone deserves to keep their Starbucks habit for less.

1. Discounted Gift Cards

There are websites where you can buy gift cards at a discount. Here is how it works: you purchase a $25 gift card, but you only pay $22.50 because you purchased it for 5% off. You just saved $2.50 before you even walked in the door to purchase anything.

Cardpool

My family has used¬†Cardpool for years to save money on home renovations, movies, clothing and more. When I wrote this I saw that they had Starbucks gift cards for 9% off, meaning a $10 gift card cost you $9.10 and shipping is free–or you can get an electronic gift card if you prefer.

Raise

My family has not yet used the Raise App, but I have seen other bloggers that I trust mention it. Raise is an app and offers only  e-gift card codes at a discount.

Daily Deal Sites

About once a year or so Groupon and/or Living Social offers a half price Starbucks e-gift card deal.

Ask For Starbucks Gift Cards As Gifts

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need one more thing for my home, so I love it when I get gift cards to my favorite coffee shops and restaurants as gifts. I love it so much that when people ask me what to get as a gift I generally always say, “Give me a gift card and I will think of you while spending it.”

If you found this post to be useful, make sure you don’t miss my latest posts! Have them delivered to your inbox by signing up for my weekly newsletter. Get to know the blogger behind the blog by following me on Facebook or Instagram.

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3 Things I am LOVING Lately: August 17

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3 Things I Am Loving Lately What about you

Where on earth has August gone? I feel like I blinked on August first and when I opened my eyes August was half over.

reselling againFirst Thing I am LOVING Lately…

Getting back into reselling items

Once our family started planning our RV trip I decided that one major way I could help add to the savings for the trip was to start reselling things again.

When I started this blog, I put reselling aside for the most part. I needed every second I could scrounge out of my day to do all I could do to make this blog profitable enough to be worth the hours I spend on it–otherwise it isn’t worth the hours it takes me away from my family.

To date I have sold $4454.78 worth of stuff out of my home. My largest item was our pair of 20+ jet skis that sold for $3500 but still you take that sale out and I have earned $954.78 from smaller items we were not using.

I honestly feel my results are not uncommon chances are your home has around $1000 of items you are not using in it too!

Visit my reselling page for how to sell your items successfully using various methods including, yard sales, buy and sell Facebook Groups, eBay and more.

 

gerber daisies

Second Thing I am LOVING Lately…

My Gerber daisies

I am so glad that I grabbed these Gerber daisies this spring and planted them in my front porch flower boxes.

They have provided beautiful blooms week after week. I have my daughter to thank for these beautiful blooms , she picked out all the flowers with me and when she picked these daisies up I wasn’t so sure they would do well¬† but I trusted her and I am so glad I did.

 

brownies

Third Thing I am LOVING Lately…

Doing some baking again

I don’t know if has been the busy year we have been having, or perhaps it might have been my plantar fasciitis that made it hard to stand for long periods whatever it was I have not baked as often as I have in the last week in quite a while.

The baking isn’t lasting long though. I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies and they were gone in two days. I made these brownies pictured one afternoon and by evening only half of the 9 by 12 pan was left.

I think my family is loving that I am baking again too!

Psst….one more thing

This year I really wanted to put myself out there and get to know exactly who reads this blog and let them see who writes it. Lately I have discovered that Facebook live is a great way to do that. I am doing a short 5 minute show each weekday between¬† 10 a.m.¬† and noon EST. I know that is a big window of time but you can sign up to get notified by clicking at the top of any of my Facebook videos and if you join in be sure to leave me a comment and let me know you are watching–or press like so I can see that big thumb zoom across the screen.

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