Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A New BzzCampaign

I just received my latest BzzKit in the mail today. I've been invited to participate in the T.G.I. Friday's Late Night Menu product trial through BzzAgent. What a fun surprise to receive a big box filled with goodies - including a giant T.G.I. Friday's margarita glass, an actual T.G.I. Friday's restaurant late night menu, a BzzCampaign button, a $15 gift card, and several cards to pass along to friends for free appetizers and free desserts.

In the past week, I've also been invited to begin participating in new product taste tests through Delve - a Twin Cities market research company. Delve, the company I mentioned in my previous post about diaper studies, does monthly taste tests which require an hour of your time to try products and provide feedback, and in return, you receive $65 in compensation. If you enjoy trying new things, and you live in the Twin Cities area, you may want to check them out.

Your Turn: Has anyone joined BzzAgent or any other product research companies after reading my Lowdown on Product Testing series? If so, leave a comment and share your experience!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Lowdown on Product Testing - Part 4

We are in the home stretch with the “Lowdown on Product Testing” series. In Part 1, I talked about how consumer product testing works – including the benefits, time commitment, and precautions. In Part 2, I told you about SheSpeaks – a forum-based product review company for women. And in Part 3, I profiled BzzAgent – a word-of-mouth marketing and media company involved in product testing.

To wrap up this series, here’s a list of additional reputable market research companies who work with consumers to provide input to product manufacturers:

StartSampling – This is an online sampling company where members can select items to sample and receive Frequent Tryer Miles (FTM) to be redeemed for prizes. Membership is free.

PineCone Research – This is a market research panel for new products. Membership is usually by invitation only. Occasionally, PineCone Research recruits new members by posting banners on specific websites, and you must enter their site through the banner to qualify for membership. When the membership banners are spotted, often they are mentioned on forums, such as Refund Cents. PineCone product surveys are confidential, and members are required to agree to a confidentiality agreement to take part in the surveys. PineCone invites members to complete individual surveys based on their consumer profile, and members are paid $3 for each survey completed. Occasionally, PineCone will send members a product to test and complete a follow-up survey which includes additional compensation.

General Mills Pssst – This is a manufacturer-run market research division of General Mills which gathers feedback from consumers and shares information on new products. Pssst membership is free and members are encouraged to spread the word about the new General Mills products. I’m currently testing Fiber One Mocha bars for Pssst.

Kashi Taste Tester Panel – This is another manufacturer-run testing panel. Simply sign-up at the Kashi website, and after you create an account, select the “Edit Settings” option, and then select “Taste Tester Panel.” After completing a short survey, you will receive a coupon in the mail for a free Kashi product. Here’s a picture of the one I received.

Kraft First Taste – Again, this is yet another manufacturer-run testing division. I signed up several months ago, but I haven’t received anything yet…crossing my fingers!

Hopefully this series has given you a good primer on product testing. In my experience, it’s been a fun way to test new products, and it doesn’t cost a thing. As you get more involved in product testing for different companies, you’ll see your invitations to test new products increase. Generally, I receive a new opportunity every week. In the time since I began writing this series, I’ve begun testing three new products: TGI Friday’s Late Night brand (BzzAgent), John Frieda’s Root Awakening Hair Care products (BzzAgent), and Sinupret for Kids (SheSpeaks). In this time, I’ve also turned down the opportunity to participate in a two-week diaper study, because it didn’t fit into my schedule.

If you enjoy getting things free and having the opportunity to provide feedback on products, I’d encourage you to get involved in product testing. The keys to remember are that it shouldn’t cost you anything to participate, it shouldn’t be very time-consuming, and most importantly, it should be something you enjoy doing!

Your Turn: Are you currently a product tester? If so, tell us which companies. If not, are you thinking about becoming a product tester after reading this series?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Free Magazines

One of the easiest freebies to find these days is free magazine subscriptions. Currently, the Diva household gets the following magazines completely free: Taste of Home, Forbes, Forbes Life, Parents, and Family Circle.

The key to finding free, legitimate subscriptions is that there should be no credit card required.

I often learn about free magazine opportunities by reading other blogs or through Refund Cents.

Check out Money Saving Mom for the details on free subscriptions to Business Week and Prevention magazines.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Local Readers: Paid Diaper Study

If you live in the Twin Cities, here's an opportunity to participate in a paid market research study for training pants.

Delve - a Bloomington market research firm - is looking for parents of boys who are currently potty training and weigh between 30 - 40 lbs. Qualifying participants will receive a 16 day supply of training pants/diapers along with $105 in compensation. To participate, you must be willing to make a few trips to the Delve offices in Bloomington on specific days in the next few weeks.

To see if you or someone you know qualifies, call Delve at 952-858-1572 between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM CST.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Heading to CVS? Another Freebie…

If you are headed to CVS this week to take advantage of the Huggies deal, don’t forget to pick up a Skintimate Cream Shavefree this week after ExtraBucks. This is the same item that’s free after Register Rewards at Walgreens. If they are out of stock at CVS, remember to ask for a rain check – CVS rain checks do not expire (at least in my experiences they haven’t).

Also, here’s a tip for infrequent CVS shoppers (like myself). Rather than making two separate trips to CVS – one to earn the ExtraBucks and one to redeem them – I simply do two separate purchases in one trip. Just ask the cashier to ring up two individual transacitons. In the first transaction, I buy everything that generates ExtraBucks. Then, in the second transaction, I buy everything else and apply the ExtraBucks to the purchase. This saves time and gas. It also eliminates the risk that you could misplace your ExtraBucks or forget to use them before they expire. If you do go to CVS on a weekly basis, then just save them for your next purchase and perhaps even use them to purchase other ExtraBucks-generating items, which is called “rolling them over” in coupon-lingo.

Want more free diapers? Click HERE
for a free 3-pack sample of Huggies Pure & Natural diapers (available in sizes: Newborn, 1, & 2 only).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Almost Free Huggies - Run to CVS!!!

Remember my post from a few weeks ago where I mentioned the $5 off Huggies coupons? Well, if you printed some, this is the week to use them.

CVS has a “Buy $25 in Huggies, Get $10 ExtraBucks” sale this week. If you buy 3 packages (on sale for $30) and use 3 of the $5 coupons (- $15), you would receive $10 in ExtaBucks ($-10), making your net cost $5 for 3 packages. In addition, if you submit your receipt to Caregiver’s Marketplace, you would get a refund of $0.75 per package ($2.25 total), which brings your net cost down to $2.75 for 3 packages, or $0.92 per package. Almost free!!!

Time to head to CVS!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Lowdown on Product Testing - Part 3

Today, I'm continuing on with my product testing series and will tell you about BzzAgent. (Click HERE for part 1 and HERE for part 2.)

BzzAgent is a word-of-mouth marketing and media company. Product testers are called BzzAgents, and their duty is to spread the word about the products they are testing, called BzzCampaigns.

Getting Started

Sign up at BzzAgent.com to join. In addition to the questions asked when joining, BzzAgent posts themed polls on their site for you to complete from time-to-time. You earn points for each poll you complete, and you become eligible for BzzCampaigns. When a new BzzCampaign comes along that fits your profile, BzzAgent will send you an e-mail inviting you to join the BzzCampaign. The staff at BzzAgent selects specific testers to invite to each campaign, so you have to be invited in order to join. There is also a limit to total participants allowed in certain campaigns, so if you do receive an invite, act fast with your acceptance.


Once you have joined a BzzCampaign, you will receive a BzzKit in the mail. It will contain the product, coupons, and a BzzGuide that provides instructions and suggestions for spreading the word about the product. After you’ve spread some “Buzz”, you are expected to complete a BzzReport on the BzzAgent site explaining the details of your “buzzing” about the product. The more you “buzz” and the more you report, the more future BzzCampaigns you will be invited to join. You will also be assigned a status based on your level of participation. My status is “Busy Bee.”

Additional Perks

BzzAgent used to award points to be redeemed on their site for gift cards and rewards. They got rid of that over a year ago, and now, when you complete a BzzReport or poll, you receive MyPoints, which can be redeemed on the MyPoints website. It’s a nice little perk on top of getting the product you’re testing for free.

What I’ve Tested

I’ve been a BzzAgent for several years and have tested dozens of products, including: Canadian Club Whiskey, Vanilla Royale, Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner, Dodge Ram Trucks (no – I didn’t get a free truck – just promotional materials!), Smuckers Uncrustables, Pledge Dusters, and several more.

The vast majority of BzzCampaigns are at no cost to the product testers. Occasionally, there is a BzzCampaign for a high-value product where the testers are required to pay a fee to join the campaign. Generally, BzzAgent.com subsidizes the majority of the cost and offers you the product to test at a reduced cost. Over the years, I’ve only been invited to 2 or 3 campaigns with a cost – one for a clothing steamer and one for a game system – and I just chose not to join these campaigns.

Current BzzCampaigns

I’m currently testing the following products: Afrin PureSea, Palmolive Pure+Clear, and Boston Market products.

Additional BzzCampaigns currently underway include: Neutrogena Cosmetics, Dannon DanActive, Got2B lotion, Ontario Turkey, Chili’s Restaurant, Pepsi AMP, Florida’s Natural, Clean & Clear, Diet Mountain Dew, Walgreens Take Care Clinic.

Up Next: In Part 4, I'll wrap up this series with a list of additional reputable product testing companies and give you the lowdown on how they work.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Walgreens Freebies This Week

I stopped at Walgreens tonight to pick up a few items - some medicine for Junior D, razors for Daddy D, and Easter basket goodies for the boys. It may seem hard to believe, but it was my first time there in well over a month!

Here are a couple free items I got - Skintimate Moisturizing Cream Shave and Chapstick 100% Naturals Lip Butter. These were both "Register Reward" items. In this case, the items were free after Register Rewards. The Skintimate was $2.99, and I received a coupon for $3 off my next Walgreens purchase. The Chapstick was $1.99, and I received a $2 coupon off my next purchase.

How did I do on the rest of my purchase? My total before sale prices and coupons was $88.24. After sale prices, manufacturers coupons, and Walgreens coupons, my total was $59.83. I also received $18 in Register Rewards good on my next Walgreens purchase. So, in the end, I paid $41.83 for $88.24 worth of goods. Not my best trip, but 50% savings isn't too bad. (I would have saved an extra $4, but the razor coupon I had expired on 3/31 - darn!)

How did you do at Walgreens this week? Leave a comment and share your success story!

Want to know the secrets behind Register Rewards? Click HERE for Register Reward FAQs.

Attitude of Gratitude Blog Award

I'd like to say a big "THANK YOU" to Ginger from the Attention Target Shoppers blog for nominating my blog for this award! It's a great honor to be featured as an award recipient on Ginger's blog - which, in my opinion, is by far the BEST place to get the lowdown every week on Target deals.

The Rules of Accepting and Sharing this Award:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.

2. Nominate blogs that show an attitude of gratitude.

3. Link to your nominees within your post.

4. Comment on their blogs to let them know they've received this award.

5. Share the love and link to this post and the person who nominated you for the award.

6. Tell us how you've come to have an attitude of gratitude.

I have an attitude of gratitude for all the wonderful savvy bloggers out there helping people learn how to get out of debt, live with less, prepare homemade meals, and save money on everyday items. Here are some of my favorite bloggers:

A Year of Crockpotting: Stephanie started 2008 with a goal to use her crockpot every single day. Well, she did it! Every day last year, she posted a new, unique crockpot recipe with pictures of the ingredients and the final product, as well as her family's verdict. Now it's 2009, and she's still blogging away with great new recipes every few days.

Common Sense With Money: Mercedes blog is very popular and well known for her weekly Walgreens and CVS deal posts. If you're in the Twin Cities, check out her deal posts for Copps/Pick-N-Save, which has the same sale promotions and double coupon schedule as our local Rainbow Foods stores.

Northern Cheapskate: Christina is another Minnesota blogger with great ideas for saving money. Check out her recent post on saving money as a stay-at-home mom.

Leaving Excess: Michelle is a CPA and a Twin Cities blogger who shares candid and entertaining stories and advice on how to cut out the clutter and live with less.

Keeping the Kingdom First: Alyssa is truly an inspirational blogger who writes about balancing faith, family, and frugality.