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How To Live Well With Relatively Little Money  

by Janice Wee

You don't need much cash on hand to lead a good life. I'm not talking about credit cards. If you are a resident in U.S.A., you can live well without having a big salary or load of cash in the bank. Ok, you can live comfortably if you know how, and have internet access.

You can have your heating bills paid for, which would keep you warm. You can even own gorgeous designer handbags. You can dine at fancy restaurants and get paid to live the good life.

How is that possible?

Let's start with the really cool part about eating at fine restaurants and getting paid for it. Ever heard about mystery shopping?

Basically, the company wants to check on their sales staff or service staff. Obviously, the staff would recognize the big boss or top management people if they were to show up. The management wants to know whether the sales staff or service staff are doing their work properly.

In the case of a restaurant, the management wants to know if the waiters please the customers, if the chef cooks well even when the management is not looking. So they get mystery shoppers to do these spot checks.

That means, the fancy restaurant pays you to wine and dine there, like a regular customer. The restauraunt will pay for your meal. You then feedback to the management your experience. Imagine. Getting paid to be treated like royalty. Now that's living it up.

Besides restaurants, many service oriented companies hire mystery shoppers to keep their staff on their toes. Carpet cleaning companies could pay you to get your carpets cleaned. Pizza delivery companies pay you and give you free pizza. You get to live it up and get paid for it.

Besides mystery shopping, you can get a lot of your bills paid for by filling in surveys. These could be as simple as between 2 products, which do you prefer. Or what you like or don't like about a product. It could be your demographic information. The company may be trying to get in touch with the likes and dislikes of their customers, or potential customers and are willing to pay your bills or give you useful gifts in return for your participation in their surveys. The company might be trying to build a customer profile for their product, or simply trying to understand the market better. At the end of the day, you benefit with free stuff and better service or products as the company makes adjustments in line with the results of the surveys.

You can see some of the things they are giving away in return for your participation in their programs or surveys at - free gifts

The implications are rather cool. You can get what you want at kmart or walmart by joining their programs and getting their gift cards. You can get $250 gift cards that can be used to by your groceries or your thanksgiving food. If you have a sweet tooth, you can get $100 worth of chocolate for free. Gas bills too high, there is even a program that lets you have free gas for a year. Fancy your own laptop? You can get yours for free too. Not from an unknown brand but the good laptop brands like IBM, Toshiba or Gateway. You can get a Tiffany bracelet, carry a Fendi bag, go for a vacation without paying a cent. While you are on vacation, you can take great photos with you new digital camera, listen to music on your new MP3 player and call home with your wireless phone, all of which you got for free.

Want to lose weight, go to the gym, with a free 1 year gym membership. Even your pet gets to eat for free with a year's supply of pet food.

So you see, you don't need much cash to live it up. If you spare the time to fill in some forms, you could basically live a good life... for free.

Another way you can stretch the dollar is to get what you need at discount prices. I like to go to warehouse sales or closeouts to get branded goods at below retail prices. Big sales may be crowded but if you can stand the crowds, they are well worth the trip. Some of the items could have been brought in specially for the sale to attract crowds. These would probably be the first items to sell out. You might want to go to the sale as early as possible to ensure you get the best deals before they run out.

You can also find lots of great stuff at below retail prices online. Why? For one thing, online stores do not have the high rental overheads that a real brick and mortar store would have to pay for. The savings could then be passed on to the customer in the form of discounts. Even some brick and mortar stores have web only discounts which are well worth a look at. By paying less than retail prices for your purchases, you can live it up even on a small income.

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About the Author: The writer is the webmaster of with shopping discounts that let you stretch the dollar. That section features only the items that are sold at below retail prices.

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