How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

So, I went on Amazon the other day looking for a new cell phone charger. I saw a 5 pack for about $11 that had a 4.3-star rating with 1,916 customer reviews. This seemed like a pretty good deal.  However, I do like to check reviews before purchasing, so I started sorting through them.  The first few reviews were standard about it the chargers working well and the benefits of it being a 5-pack. Because there were so many reviews, I looked at the key phrases I could search the reviews by.  One option was “Barbie Nutcracker”, and I was definitely curious about how a cell phone charger review would incorporate “Barbie Nutcracker” into it.  I selected that phrase and was presented with a collection of reviews for a movie.  I then did the same thing with the phrase “backup camera” and received a group of reviews for a backup camera.  The problem with this is that I was still supposedly looking at reviews for a package of cell phone chargers. I thought maybe this was a glitch with Amazon.  However, when I started looking into that possibility, I found that these mismatched reviews are really just a small part of a much bigger problem.

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

The Chicken and the Egg Cycle

To understand the scope of this problem and why it’s so difficult to correct, we first have to understand what caused it.

When we purchase products online it’s difficult to gain all the information we need from a description and pictures from the seller. Therefore, we rely on reviews from others to make sure that the product will meet our needs and is good quality.  If we are short on time, we might even just glance at the star rating and make sure that it’s 4 or 5 stars.

However, when a product is first introduced to Amazon it won’t have any reviews.  Would you as a buyer decide to purchase a product that had no reviews?  Maybe if it was cheap, but probably not if you were looking for something higher end.  We all know too well that there are internet trolls out their trying to cheat us out of our money. 

Conversely, how many of us regularly go back on to Amazon and write reviews for everything we purchase? I know that I’m tempted to only go to the effort of writing a review if I love or hate a product.  If it is sufficiently average, then I don’t review it.  I’m guessing there are a lot of others out there in the same boat.  That leaves a product with reviews on the two extremes when a large number of people may believe it’s perfectly average.

The end result is a chicken and egg type of situation where a product needs reviews to sell, but it needs to sell a lot to get one review.  So, how can a company get a new product on Amazon to sell?  They hack the review system, and there are a variety of ways they do this.

  • Editing a current product that has a lot of reviews to a new image and description so reviews from the old product get tied to a new one.  This is what seems to have occurred with my cell phone charger situation.
  • Contracting with a company that sells fake reviews.  There are a variety of these out there (many have shut down, but the problem hasn’t gone away).  These charge a fee for a certain number of reviews and then they will leave that many fake 5-star reviews.
  • Reaching out to people and telling them they will cover the product cost and then pay you a small amount ($5 or $10) to give a 5-star rating and post a pre-written review they provide.

All of the above methods result in a large number of 5-star reviews that can boost the product to the top of the Amazon search results.  Then when we get online to make a purchase, the 5 stars pulls us towards purchasing a product that may not be 5-star worthy.


The Solution

Amazon is working to crack down on companies that are utilizing these fake review methods.  However, that isn’t solving the problem that is causing the fake reviews in the first place.  Therefore, we need an additional solution – something that will help companies get these first honest reviews without deceiving potential customers. 

That’s the goal of the Early Review Service (ERS) Team – to help companies get new products off the ground on Amazon by providing fair reviews while providing customers with accurate information about these new products.  This is all done in compliance with the Amazon Pro Reviewer Program.

The ERS Team is really a simple concept:

  1. A company purchases a review package from them consisting of 5, 10, 20 or 30 reviews.  By purchasing a package of reviews, they are being promised that many reviews over an extended period.  However, there is no guarantee of rating or content of those reviews.
  2. The products are posted in the ERS Team Facebook Group where members that are interested in the product can comment that they want to do a review.
  3. Those that will be reviewing the product are sent a Google spreadsheet showing when to order and when to review the product. 
  4. Reviewers order the product, try it out for a few days, then write a review.  After the review is written they are reimbursed for the actual cost of purchasing the product.

The end result is that companies get honest reviews from people really using the products.  Reviewers get to try out products such as kitchen utensils, privacy screens and skin care items that are new to the market and then keep them or gift them in exchange for telling others what they thought of the product.

Do you want to be a reviewer?  If you meet the following criteria, then it may be your lucky day.

  1. Residing in the US
  2. Have an active Facebook account because the group is run through Facebook
  3. Have access to an Amazon prime account
  4. Have a personal PayPal account (for reimbursement)
  5. Have an active Gmail address (to facilitate sharing of the Google doc)

If you are willing to become a member of the review group, request to join the ERS Team Facebook group, and answer the required questions.  When you answer the question about who referred you, use the code R8 which indicates that you came from a reputable source.

How To Get Free Products for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

If You Aren’t Using These 4 Money-Saving Apps, You Are Missing Out on Free Money!

If You Aren’t Using These 4 Money-Saving Apps, You Are Missing Out on Free Money!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

(My husband funds his hobby with #3!)

If You Aren’t Using These 4 Money-Saving Apps, You Are Missing Out on Free Money!

Are you ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Do you have all the food and drinks you need for family get-togethers?  What about Black Friday?  Don’t forget Cyber Monday!  With the holiday season upon us, you probably have a laundry list of things to buy ranging from gifts to food.  What if I told you there is a way to get paid for buying things you are already planning to buy?  Here’s my holiday gift to you – 3 FREE money-saving apps (and a bonus) that do just that!  Keep reading and make sure to download and create accounts for these apps before you even think about setting foot in a store or clicking ‘add to cart’.  If you are buying anything without these apps, you are literally leaving money on the table.  Don’t be that person!  Now, without further ado, here are your absolute must-have apps!

#1 Ebates

I’m going to start off incorrectly categorizing from the get-go.  However, you’ll agree that it’s totally forgivable because of how awesome Ebates is.

If you have already heard of Ebates and just remembered you were meaning to sign up, click HERE to get signed up before kids and/or work distract you again!  An added bonus is that by using this link, you get a $10 bonus the first time you use Ebates.

If you aren’t sure what Ebates is, keep reading.  Ebates isn’t new.  It’s actually been around since 2009 (can you believe that is almost a decade ago?). However, I find a ton of people don’t know it exists.  Therefore, I’ll do my PSA to tell you about it.  Ebates is a website you register for (FREE; no credit card required). Then whenever you want to online shop you access the online store via their website.  After that, you just shop like normal and get cash back on your purchases. Checks are mailed quarterly. 

Now, this sounds great, but we online shop for the convenience, especially as busy, scatter-brained moms.  It’s kind of a hassle to remember to go to one website just to get to another.  There’s a solution to that!  There is an Ebates browser extension (also free) that pops up with a reminder whenever you are in a shop that has cashback.  All you do is click the little pop-up bubble to activate and then continue with your shopping.  This is a game-changer for the usability of Ebates. 

If you are ready to sign up, you can do so HERE! Once you make your first Ebates purchase, you will get an automatic $10 as long as you use the link above!

Almost all major stores are on Ebates.  Hotels and travel websites are also included.  Therefore, if you are planning holiday travel, make sure to get your cash back.  Still not convinced?  Just think about the Cyber Monday deals you are stalking, and then imagine getting cash back on top of that.  Are you convinced yet?  I’m sure you are, so go sign up and get your $10 HERE!!


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#2 Drop

Now we will get into the real apps.  Drop is an app I found earlier this year, and I was skeptical.  The app is free to download.  All you have to do is register your credit card (or debit card).  I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry – it doesn’t ever get charged!  Once you have a card registered, the app tracks the purchases you make with that card and gives you points.  If you use multiple cards, you can register them all to get maximum points.  Every 5000 points give you $5.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend $5000 to get 5000 points.  The points per dollar vary per store, but you can get 50 to 100 points per dollar for many popular stores.  Once you earn at least 5000 points, you can start redeeming them for gift cards.  I use my points for Starbucks gift cards, but there are plenty of other choices.

You can find out more about it HERE!

 I registered my credit card but wasn’t sure if it would really accumulate enough points to be worth it.   I put the app on a back screen on my phone and forgot about it.  A couple months later I opened it out of curiosity and realized I had enough points for $15 worth of Starbucks gift cards. I’ve since earned a couple more gift cards with zero effort.  This app isn’t going to make you rich quick, but for no effort, it’s totally worth setting up.  To get you jump-started, my readers can earn an immediate $5 just for downloading the app and registering a credit or debit card.  Make sure you use the code oxpxm to get the offer though! Get started HERE!

# 3 Ibotta

Ibotta is another app that has been around for quite a while (about 7 years), but a lot of people have never heard of it.  Ibotta takes a tiny bit of effort.  Before heading to the store, browse the current offers and select the ones you want. Then when you finish shopping, scan your receipt into the app using your phone camera.  The app registers that you made a purchase and provides the cash back within 48 hours.  Your cash back can either be transferred to PayPal or turned into gift cards. 

Ready to join Ibotta?  Click HERE!


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If you aren’t sure about having to find the offers in the app, there are Facebook groups to help with that.  One example is the group Ibotta Friends and Bonuses.  This group lets you connect with other people that are using the app. They talk about the best deals each week and you can work together to earn team bonuses.

If you like the idea of working with a team so everyone gets great deals, sign up for Ibotta here to get started.

This app has a reputation for grocery shopping.  However, it’s not limited to groceries.  You can also earn cash back at clothing stores and even for mobile in-app purchases from popular shopping apps like Amazon and Groupon.  Also, if you buy wine, you need this app!  I just earned $30 from using the app when I went to the wine store this morning!  It has great cash back on wine pretty consistently.

If you buy groceries, clothes, wine, or things on Amazon, then get signed up for Ibotta HERE!

I find Ibotta is a great app for a husband-project.  My husband manages Ibotta for us and then keeps the cash back for his own interests. He spends about 10 minutes a week on the app and earned $50 this past month.  You can sign up for this must-have app here.

#4 ShopKick

Shopkick is an app that rewards you for walking into stores, scanning certain items and purchases you make.  You earn points in the app that you can put towards free gift cards.  This app is super easy to use.  You can use it when you are at stores, or walk around the mall and earn a lot of points in a short amount of time.  I have been able to earn a $5 Walmart gift card on a Saturday morning just by going to the mall and a few other stores around town. 

You can download the app here.  Make sure to enter the code CARD986984 to get an extra 250 points after your first walk-in points.

As if another way to earn free gift cards isn’t enough reason, this app can even make for a fun family scavenger hunt when the weather is bad.  You and your husband can both download the app here.  Then go to the mall with the kids and split into two teams.  See which team can get all the Shopkick points available first.  This can be harder than it sounds to find all the items you get points for scanning.

Ready to start racking up the free gift cards?  Download the app here, and enter code CARD986984 for an extra 250 points!

Bonus Tip!

This isn’t one of my core apps because it’s not free, and I promised you free apps. However, Amazon Prime is a must-have for any busy mom.  If you online shop, you know how expensive shipping can be and how long it can take to get packages.  Amazon Prime is hands down the best invention ever!  I’m not sure how I could function without it.  You can order just about everything on Amazon, and with Prime it arrives in two days with free shipping!  The shipping is my favorite part because I’m the most impatient person ever.  When I order something, I want it yesterday. 

Make sure to sign up for Amazon Prime here before you add any more items to your shopping cart!

However, there are also a ton of other fun benefits like Prime Music, Prime Movies and special discounts just for Prime members!  All this wonderfulness does come with a price tag though.  Amazon Prime is $12.99/month, which is about the shipping cost on one or two online orders.  Therefore, if you shop on Amazon at all, it’s totally worth it.  Still not convinced?  Click here to try it FREE for 30 days!  If you don’t think it’s worth the cost, you can cancel at the end of your trial.

Get your FREE 30-day trial of Amazon Prime HERE!

Already have Amazon Prime, but know someone that needs it? Give the gift of Prime HERE!

Now that you have all my secrets, go forth and get cash back on all your holiday shopping!  If you need some gift ideas, check out these gift guides on picture books and baby clothes.

If you found this helpful, don’t forget to subscribe in the sidebar.  I’ll send important information, but I promise not to spam you!

If You Aren’t Using These 4 Money-Saving Apps, You Are Missing Out on Free Money!

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Affording Baby Formula – Which is Really the Best Deal?

Affording Baby Formula – Which is Really the Best Deal?

Disclaimer: These prices were obtained from the store websites at the time of writing.  They may be subject to change at any time.

Affording Baby Formula – Which is Really the Best Deal?

There are what seems like a million different formula options available if you need to supplement breastfeeding or decide to skip breastfeeding altogether.  When I finally acknowledged that exclusively breastfeeding wasn’t going to work out, I was overwhelmed trying to decide which formula was the best option.  What baby formula is really the best deal?

If you are supplementing because of low milk supply, make sure you have a good pump to boost your supply as much as possible. You can check out my pump comparison here.

I wasn’t married to the thought of using brand name.  As a pharmacist, I trust the fact that the FDA has minimum requirements for all formulas and that these are based on research. However, there are differences between brands and generics in the consistency, how easily it mixes, ease of digesting and taste.  Our pediatrician told us that it really didn’t matter which formula we used, as long as Paxton liked it and seemed to be tolerating it.  We tried a bunch and ruled out Soy (it gave Paxton constipation) and the Similac spit-up formulation (it was really hard to mix and kept clogging the nipple).  Otherwise, Paxton was fine with whatever we used.  That led us to selecting the most cost-effective option.  But this tactic was harder than it seems.


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The obvious way to do this would be to look at the price and choose the cheapest.  However, the different products come in different size containers.  In this case, you might want to see the price per ounce.  The ounces are clearly stated on the label, so it’s an easy calculation and gives you a little better comparison.  However, the listed weight indicates the weight of the entire container (powder + all packaging) and to further complicate things, the scoops are different sizes depending on brand even though all scoops provide enough powder for 2 fluid ounces of formula.  Therefore, list weight doesn’t directly correlate to how many ounces of formula it makes.  Another factor to consider is where to purchase from.  Does one store have better prices than another? To help out other exhausted moms in my shoes, I’ve done the math for you and outlined how much each brand is costing per fluid ounce of formula.  I did this with the sensitive/gentle formulations because that’s what I use.  There might be slight variations if you use a different formulation, but it will likely follow this trend.  I did the math with three scenarios: 1.) basic calculations for 3 popular retailers; 2.) taking into account manufacturer coupons; 3.) taking into account manufacturer coupons and Target’s popular formula sale

Conversions used (obtained from formula packaging):

  • Enfamil: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Similac: 22.5 ounce container = 169 fluid ounces
  • Gerber: 32 ounce container = 224 fluid ounces
  • GoodSense: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Up&Up: 33.2 ounce container = 235 fluid ounces
  • Parent’s Choice: 33.2 ounce container = 238 fluid ounce

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1.) In General, Which Is The Best Baby Formula Deal?

Amazon

  • Enfamil Gentlease (21.5 oz. container for $29.99): $1.39/container weight ounce
    • $0.19/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz. container for $31.99): $1.42/container weight ounce
    • $0.19/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $35.58): $1.11/container weight ounce
    • $0.16/fluid ounce of formula
  • GoodSense Gentle (21.5 oz. container for $15.19): $0.71/container weight ounce
    • $0.10/fluid ounce of formula

Target

  • Enfamil Gentlease (21.5 oz. container for $26.88): $1.25/container weight ounce
    • $0.17/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz. container for $25.99): $1.15/container weight ounce
    • $0.15/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $35.99): $1.12/container weight ounce
    • $0.16/fluid ounce of formula
  • Up&Up Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $21.99): $0.69/container weight ounce
    • $0.09/fluid ounce of formula

Walmart

  • Enfamil Gentlease (21.5 oz. container for $26.99): $1.26/container weight ounce
    • $0.17/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz container for $25.94): $1.15/container weight ounce
    • $0.15/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $35.58): $1.11/container weight ounce
    • $0.16/fluid ounce of formula
  • Parent’s Choice Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $19.98): $0.60/container weight ounce
    • $0.08/fluid ounce of formula

For this category, it looks like the brand name products are pretty evenly priced across all three stores with Amazon being slightly more expensive.  Walmart’s generic formula comes in as the cheapest generic being more than $2.00 less per container than Target’s.  From this scenario, it appears that you should go generic all the way if your baby will tolerate it. But what if you have $5 manufacturer coupons for brand name products?  (Note only 1 coupon per brand can be used per purchase.)  As far as I can figure out, you can’t use the coupons on Amazon, so we will just look at this scenario for Target and Walmart.

2.) With a $5 Manufacturer Coupon, Which Is The Best Baby Formula Deal?

Conversions used (obtained from formula packaging):

  • Enfamil: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Similac: 22.5 ounce container = 169 fluid ounces
  • Gerber: 32 ounce container = 224 fluid ounces
  • GoodSense: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Up&Up: 33.2 ounce container = 235 fluid ounces
  • Parent’s Choice: 33.2 ounce container = 238 fluid ounces

Target

  • Enfamil Gentle (21.5 oz. container for $21.88*): $1.02/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz. container for $20.99*): $0.93/container weight ounce
    • $0.12/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $30.99*): $0.97/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Up&Up Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $21.99): $0.69/container weight ounce
    • $0.09/fluid ounce of formula

Walmart

  • Enfamil Gentle (21.5 oz. container for $21.99*): $1.02/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz container for $20.94*): $0.93/container weight ounce
    • $0.12/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $30.58*): $0.96/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Parent’s Choice Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $19.98): $0.60/container weight ounce
    • $0.08/fluid ounce of formula

In this scenario, using a $5 coupon for brand name formula brings them closer to generic pricing, but they are still a bit more expensive. 

Now let’s take into account the enticing sales Target offers: Consider this, what if you have $5 coupons for all 3 brand names (you can use all these together) and Target is running one of their sales where they give you a $10 gift card for buying 3 containers of brand name formula (mix and match)?  Note: Target actually runs this and other baby item sales pretty regularly.

In this scenario you must buy one of each brand name formula to be able to use a coupon on each container, so we will compare that total (remember this has a $5 discount on each of the brand products PLUS $10 taken off of the final total) to the total cost for the same amount of formula ounces from the target brand at regular price.

3.) With Multiple Manufacturer Coupons and a Target Sale, Which Is The Best Baby Formula Deal?

Conversions used (obtained from formula packaging):

  • Enfamil: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Similac: 22.5 ounce container = 169 fluid ounces
  • Gerber: 32 ounce container = 224 fluid ounces
  • GoodSense: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Up&Up: 33.2 ounce container = 235 fluid ounces
  • Parent’s Choice: 33.2 ounce container = 238 fluid ounces

Total brand cost: $73.86 – $10 = $63.86 for enough powder to make 549 fluid ounces of formula ($0.12/fluid ounce of formula)

  • Enfamil Gentle (21.5 oz. container for $21.88*): $1.02/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz. container for $20.99*): $0.93/container weight ounce
    • $0.12/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $30.99*): $0.97/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula

Total generic cost for

  • Up&Up Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $21.99): $0.69/container weight ounce
    • $0.09/fluid ounce of formula

Final Recommendations

Based on the above summary, here is what I decided to do for formula:

  1. Register for the Enfamil and Similac programs that provide free formula samples and periodic rebate checks for $5 off any product.  You can sign up for Enfamil here and Similac here
  2. As illustrated above, $5 off isn’t enough to bring brand name down to the same price as generic.  However, you can use these to purchase formula packing that isn’t available in generic.  I use them to get travel-sized bottles of liquid formula and travel packets of the powder. 
  3. For everyday formula, I use Target’s generic gentle formula.

For other money saving tips, see my post on The $8 Toy.

What other stores do you want to see price comparisons for?  Let me know in the comments, and maybe I’ll do those next.

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Affording Baby Formula – Which is Really the Best Deal?