82 Money Tips: Weird Ways to Cash in Reward Points, Bizarre College Scholarships, and Practical Advice for Getting What You Want for Free

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Duck tape, you see, is makeshift DIY projects anymore. Fold, twist, and stick the tape the right way, and it can mean a $5,000 college scholarship.
3 steps to take to switch banks. Just because consumers are slightly more satisfied with banks lately doesn’t mean you should stick with yours. After taking the main step—finding a bank with terms, fee structures, and investment returns you can live with for the long haul—ask your new bank (or credit union) if there’s a “switch kit” to help ease the transition:

That’s just a collection of the paperwork you’ll need (which might be online) to re-direct your direct deposit and inform whoever is automatically taking money out of your old account to start taking it from your new one.

5 swap sites to help get what you need without paying a dime. There’s no shortage of sites facilitating swaps out there, from Swaptree (for DVDs, video games, books, and CDs) to ShareSomeSugar, thredUP, and more. Here are five others, including this one for shoppers who love fashion and hate wearing the same thing twice:

Instead of trying to sell your designer clothes in a consignment shop, try swapping them at SwapStyle.com, a fashion-savvy site that allows users to swap clothes and shoes. It’s easy to use: register, visit the “Swap School” to learn how to add pictures and descriptions of your clothes and browse others’ collections to see if anything peaks your interest.

5 tips for would-be house flippers. Trying to buy, sell, and make quick profits on a home is a risky proposition, so the last tip here (Prepare to Fail) should be the first thing to consider. If you still want to flip, do it right and employ smart, sensible strategies. For example:

Think About The Next Buyer.
You might want to pour money into a historic property to bring out its beautiful nineteenth-century details – but if the property is in a lousy school district, chances are that you’re not selling to a couple with kids, no matter how much they like wainscoting. Always think, “Who wants to live in this neighborhood and will pay for my improvements?”

6 ways to cut back on meat. Scaling back on meat is good for your family’s health and finances, and it’s also pretty manageable. Try this:

Reduce Portion Size: Instead of cooking a meal with a chicken breast for each person at the table, prepare a large stir-fry with using one chicken breast and loaded up with vegetables. Prepare a large pot of chili with protein-rich beans and a small amount of ground beef, instead of inch-thick hamburgers for the whole family. Cutting back on meat consumption in this way is economical and your family will barely notice.

7 ways restaurant menus make you spend. Interesting how easily we’re manipulated through methods like:

Visual aids. If you draw a line around it, people will order. That’s why many menus box off something they want to promote. Chicken wings are a prime example. They’re “garbage,” says my son of one of my favorite noshes. “They cost pennies so they’re huge profit items.” Photos also sell dishes. An album of what look like ten-inch-high pies set on each table at Bakers Square make it hard to resist ordering a slice.

10 things the beauty industry won’t tell you. Lotions and creams will cost double if they’re marketed to women:

Dermatologists counter that women and men’s creams, especially moisturizers and sunscreens, function the same way regardless of gender. And in many cases, the only difference, they say, is fragrance and packaging. “The ingredients that help the skin are the same, and there’s no reason why a woman can’t use a man’s moisturizer,” says Dr. Julie Moore, a dermatologist at Loyola University Health System’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.

10 ways to go green and save. In honor of Earth Day, it’s time to revisit some classic tips that help you save and help the environment. For instance:

Cancel catalog subscriptions. The website catalogchoice.org lets retailers know which customers no longer want to receive their mail. Participating companies agree to stop sending any more catalogs within three months. Signing up with 41pounds.org halts junk mail. The Direct Marketing Association (the-dma.org) will let its members know when people tell it they don’t want to receive any more direct-mail marketing offers… In addition to saving paper, you’ll also prevent yourself from spending needlessly by avoiding the temptation of those glossy pages.

11 weirdest ways to cash in reward points. Getting something weird is better than letting your points go to waste. What qualifies as weird? How about your own goat herd:

Most people use their rewards on things like travel, computers or gift cards. But one American Express rewards customer opted to cash in points to purchase his very own goat herd through the bank’s Create Your Reward option.

25 bizarre college scholarships. From the weird to the bizarre. As far as I know, there’s no scholarship for raising goats. But there is a $5,000 scholarship for wearing Duck tape to prom. And how is it deciding who wears the tape best?

A panel of judges selected by Duck® brand will choose 10 finalist couples based on the following:
• Worksmanship (30%)
• Originality (25%)
• Use of Color (25%)
• Accessories (10%)
• Use of duct tape (10%)