Want Free Money? It’s easier than you think!

Gift Certificate eBay Sale Savings Coupon Gift Card Money Personal Finance What comes to mind? Circuit City, Starbucks, Banana Republic, Sephora, Barnes & Noble? No doubt most of us can easily make 10 to 20 lists, if not more. Over the last few years, I’ve done something very simple and saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars – I like to call it “free money”! Very few people are using it.

You’re probably wondering what I’m doing. The answer is simple:

I buy gift certificates online at discounted prices in the stores where I shop most often.

We primarily use eBay, but we also have CertificateSwap.com and SwapAGift.com. Many people receive a gift card as a gift, but the store doesn’t care and they don’t want the cash, so they post the card online. Generally, expect 80-90% of face value, but prices can go up or down depending on how popular the dealer is. If you’re spending money at the store anyway, why not buy a gift card and save a few bucks?

A very convenient way to find great deals is to go to the ‘Gift Cards’ category on eBay and search for ‘Buy Now’ in the search options. Then sort the results according to the most recently listed auction. Some sellers underestimate the value of gift cards, so they offer “buy it now” prices that are lower than the typical price for cards. You have to be in the right place at the right time to get these deals, but it’s worth it!

Make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller. Unfortunately, scammers do exist, so please do your homework with the seller before buying. This is the one I want to use for years to come!

Most people do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy bills. I would like to, but I don’t know what I can do. Using energy efficiently in your home is an important starting point. It’s as easy as changing a light bulb. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) are urging Americans to join the growing number of people replacing their current lighting with energy efficient bulbs and fixtures.

Many people don’t know, but the average house emits twice as many greenhouse gases as the average car. In fact, if every American home replaced the five most commonly used lighting fixtures, or the bulbs in them, with ENERGY STAR certified ones, the greenhouse emissions from more than 8 million vehicles would be reduced. Amount of effect gas can be avoided. Energy efficient lighting not only protects the environment, but also saves consumers money as lighting accounts for about 20% of a home’s electricity bill. Households doing this “five-light swap” save about $60 a year in energy costs.

As part of the annual ENERGY STAR campaign, Change a Light, Change the World, EPA and DOE have designated October 4, 2006 as his ENERGY STAR Change a Light Day. An American makes a pledge online at energystar.gov/changealight and commits to replace at least one light bulb or light fixture in his home with one that has earned his government’s ENERGY STAR for energy efficiency. You are asked to Individuals who are already committed have a dramatic compounding effect. The pledges made in 2005 alone will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by £33 million. The goal is to encourage at least 500,000 people to join the community and adopt the ENERGY STAR Change a Light Pledge. This is a step in the right direction to give our children a bright future.

ENERGY STAR is a government-sponsored program that helps individuals and businesses save energy and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.

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