Why I Love Groupon and Swagbucks

by Katy on October 6, 2010 · 24 comments

Most of my money saving efforts are fairly simple. I cook from scratch, minimize my driving, fix instead of replace, line dry the laundry, follow The Compact (mostly buy only used) and stay away from the mall. There isn’t much in the way of gimmicky trickery to share. I just keep it simple and staying away from consumer cravings. However, there are a couple of money savers that have wormed their way into my life, which are:

Groupon andΒ Swagbucks.

Groupon is a site that sells coupons for your specific geographical location. It’s mostly things like “$200 worth of bikini waxing for only $50,” or “$50 gift certificate to a restaurant you never go to for $20.” But occasionally, (and often enough to make it worth getting their daily e-mails) there’s something too good to pass up. So far, these are the Groupons that I’ve bought and then *gasp* actually used:

  • Two tickets to a Trailblazers preseason game for $10 apiece.
  • $20 gift certificate to Noho’s, a nearby Hawaiian restaurant that my kids salivate over for $10.
  • $15 gift certificate to Sweetness bakery for $7.
  • $10 Dave’s Killer Bread bakery coupon for $5.

There are a number of other sites popping up such as Mobba, from whom I bought an $8 bowling coupon that covered four games for four people and the shoe rentals! (Seriously, this was an awesome coupon, as a friend and I took our four combined kids to this bizarrely expensive bowling alley for an extended afternoon of crazy fun!)

It’s fun to have a restaurant gift certificate tucked into my purse, and we all enjoy getting out of our routine a bit without having to break our budget.

The other somewhat gimmick-like site that I recommend is Swagbucks, which is simply an online search engine that randomly awards “swagbucks” which can then be used to buy gift cards and other stuff in their “swag store.” This may sound like a pain in the tuchus, but I (and many others) have found that it’s actually a rather fantastic way to accumulate Amazon gift cards. (And in case you think I’m being hypocritical here, Amazon sells new and used goods.)

Since starting to use Swagbucks this year, I’ve earned enough Amazon gift cards to buy a large Pyrex storage set, a subscription toΒ This Old House magazine and a couple of The Office theme T-shirts for my husband birthday. (Shrute Beet Farm anyone?) I’m currently hoarding $60 worth of Amazon gift cards to apply towards holiday gift giving and will earn a few more before December.

Swagbucks is not as great as Google or Bing, but most of the time a simple search is all that’s needed. (The address for a local business or a company website.)

Are you using Groupon or Swagbucks, if so what deals have you scored? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in the above post, but please note that there is never paid content in The Non-Consumer Advocate, and I would never recommend a product that was counter to The Non-Consumer Advocate code of ethics. πŸ™‚

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Frugalista October 6, 2010 at 9:38 am

I got the headshot for my book cover done by a Groupon coupon. Only $10 to get me in the door. I ended up buying two photos, for less than $60 bucks total. It was well worth it. I don’t think Olan Mills would have made me as sexy.


Katy October 6, 2010 at 9:43 am

As the wife of a former professional photographer, I see that you got a smokin’ hot deal! Then again, you are a smokin’ hot Frugalista. πŸ˜‰



Laura October 6, 2010 at 10:15 am

I love both Groupon and Swagbucks, and Mobba too. My husband and I had a couple of great coffee dates at Flying Cat Coffee House (paid $4 for $10 worth of coffee and pastries); we’re taking the kids to the Corn Maize over at Sauvie Island this year for half price, and I also took advantage of the Dave’s Bread coupon (I think that’s the day I bumped into you in the parking lot). I’ve earned a lot of Swagbucks thanks to referrals; and got myself a cookbook and a Wii game for the girls this past summer *for free*. I still have enough Swagbucks hoarded to pay for some lovely Christmas gifts this year (and I think it was here that I first heard about Swagbucks!). Swagbucks will also help “pay” for donation to our school auction next year.


ellen October 6, 2010 at 10:23 am

i haven’t bought off of groupon yet… but i get there daily notification. (waiting for something really great that isn’t too far away…)

and i swagbucks daily! I am hording my points….. haven’t cashed in any yet…
holding off for when I really need, want something…


Carol October 6, 2010 at 10:36 am

Love them both! Groupon has awarded me a number of things, the best I think being a canal boat cruise for my boyfriend and me for $10 total. Of course, I’m also excited about my gift card to the Melting Pot restaurant for $25. So far, I’ve gotten three Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks, and I’ve only been doing it about three weeks! Not to mention, it’s just plain fun!


Molly On Money October 6, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I gotta get on Swagbucks….it on my procrastination list!


Practical Parsimony October 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Katy, you answered some questions and raised more! I have signed up for Swagbucks and Groupon but was not really sure how either worked even reading the site. How is anything earned from Google and Bing? I use Google about 20-30 times each day. No one has offered me anything! Do I sign up somewhere? Bing?

What I really want now is to earn a gift card or cards for 15-year-old grandson’s Christmas and birthday that follows closely. Does groupon offer coupons for food that is not at a restaurant? Groceries? Thanks for the post.


namastemama October 6, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Love Groupon. We got an amazing deal for an overnight at a winery, including dinner and 2 different wine tastes and tours!


Susanne October 6, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Tried to register with COINGIRL and it said it was expired. Registered without it. Thanks for the info.


Sara October 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Groupon/Living Social was more useful when I lived in Raleigh, NC which had a specific living social site with deals for the area. Now I live in the Corvallis/Albany Oregon area and most of the stuff is in Portland or sometimes Salem, so not as great owing to the distance.

However, I’ve earned about $60 in Amazon gift cards through Swagbucks in about a year and I use them towards stuff I am planning to buy anyway. I got liquid lactaid enzyme drops (converting regular organic milk to lactose free is cheaper than buying lactose free organic milk) for $2 with one of my gift cards. Also, I finally caved and bought a travel size white noise machine for a 2 week trip (I sleep so much better with white noise) and using $30 worth of gift cards took a little of the sting out of the $70 price tag πŸ™‚


Jennifer October 6, 2010 at 6:39 pm

@Practical Parsimony You have to go to http://www.swagbucks.com & search through that page INSTEAD of going to google or bing. Every so often at the top of your search results it will say Congrats you just one Swagbucks. You might earn 7 you might earn 13, it’s random but usually less than 20. You can buy prizes with your earned swagbucks, a $5 Amazon gift card costs 450 swagbucks. Sign up for the Groupon emails for your area. The coupons could be for anything. The one I got today was for a farm market but they could be for anything, not necessarily food related.

I’ve earned $80 in Amazon gcs from swagbucks so far. It’s slower without referrals, but it’s free money.


Susan October 6, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I have a great Groupon story: I get their daily emails and usually pass, but last Thursday’s deal was $60 worth of food/drinks at a nearby swanky restaurant for $25. Friday was our wedding anniversary — we got a really nice anniversary meal with wine for just the cost of the Groupon. Saved a bundle! You’ve gotta be patient, a lot of their coupons are for places or services we’d never use…but every once in a while *BINGO*


Valerie Heck October 7, 2010 at 2:45 am

We actually use http://www.restaurants.com to get great coupons for going out to eat. You don’t want to buy them anytime, at the end of the month many of the coupons are 80% off. So if the coupon cost $10 before, now it’s down to $2. Many coupons are $25 off of a $50 purchase, things like that. We’ve gotten to try many new restaurants with these coupons.


Cindy October 7, 2010 at 8:41 am

I am having trouble cashing in on my swagbucks. I must be doing something wrong. Help!


Katy October 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

The only thing I’ve ever “cashed in” was for Amazon gift cards.

There’s a “Swag Store” link on the left side, which should bring down a menu that includes “Gift and Reward cards.”

Click on that.

Scroll down to the Amazon $5 gift card, which costs 450 SB (Swagbucks.)

Click on the “Snag This” button and follow the directions.

You will immediately receive an e-mail to confirm your purchase.

The gift cards are awarded twice a month, on the 17th(ish) and the 1st.

You can then spend the cards!

I hope this helped.



Adrienne October 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Love love love Groupon. I’ve gotten massages, a family photo shoot and yoga classes. I’ve also started looking in the city that my family lives in (never to early for xmas gifts…)
Never tried swagbucks but with your recommendation I might just have to give it a try.


The Saved Quarter October 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

I bought a Groupon last month for $100 in photobooks from Picaboo for $25. They also had a 50% off coupon code, so I got $200 in photobooks for $25. I used them to make books of my daughter’s first year to give as Christmas gifts for my husband, mom and dad, and mother in law.

You can also go to Ebates first and get a percentage back at Groupon (usually 3%). I always check Ebates before making any online purchase since I routinely find that the store I’m shopping at will give a few percent back, and I’m not one to say no to extra money in my pocket!

Restaurant.com also rocks for deep discounts. Definitely go with the 80% off coupon codes, and go in through Ebates and get another 15% back!


Cindy October 9, 2010 at 4:43 am

Thanks, Katy. I will keep trying!


grandma October 9, 2010 at 7:07 am

Is there a rhyme or reason to when you win swagbucks? I can’t seem to figure it out. Is it every so often – or it is because of your search topic. Any help understanding this would be great – thanks so much!


Katy October 9, 2010 at 9:45 am

It seems to be completely random.

Hope this helps! πŸ˜‰



Tracy Balazy October 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I like Groupon! I bought the max limit, five, coupons for my favorite sandwich shop in Detroit, Mudgie’s Deli. Each cost $7 a$15 in food. I also have one for Cheli’s, a local bar owned by former hockey player Chris Chelios, for $25 worth of food and drinks. It cost $10.


miomomma October 21, 2010 at 6:12 am

I usually don’t Groupon unless I’m headed to Detroit for visiting or whatever, but I do Swag, and man oh man do I <3 their search engine:) I do find it hard to earn swagbucks unless you're posting your referral link everywhere though. I think the most swagbucks I ever won for 13 for searching "boob" lmao. But they do have a blog to keep track of some codes they release, but you have to SUPERFAST, to get them, because they usually post them there as time is about to expire for using them:)


Yonk November 1, 2010 at 4:18 pm

ZoomBucks also offers Groupon through Trialpay, they pay a little more.


Trisha August 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I haven’t seen any Groupon offers on Swag Bucks for awhile. Is there a way to get credit without finding an offer in Swag Bucks first?


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