Side Dish: Saving (and Making) A Little Cash

Someone said to me recently that I always seem to be able to find a deal. That’s not always true but I do try my best to save a little cash where I can, and I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that are my tried and true favorites. Today, I’m sharing those with you. All three of these products are ones that I use and have used for quite a while. I’m including referral links for each one which means if you sign up using my link, I’ll get a bonus of some sort which is explained in each description. I’m not writing this post to try to drum up bonuses; in fact, anyone who knows me has probably heard me promote these products just as a shopping tip. Because I love to tell people what to do 🙂

One of my favorites is the rebate app/site Ibotta. My sister in law introduced me to Ibotta a couple of years ago, and to be honest, I didn’t really see the excitement. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t giving it a chance or if they’ve just improved in time but now I’m an Ibotta junkie!

Here’s how it works: You download the app, create an account, then scan the app for rebates on products that you want to buy. Select those rebates (sometimes you’re asked to view a very short video about the product, answer a survey question or read a recipe). When you grocery shop and buy those products, you then go back into your app, scan those products, take a photo of your receipt, and cha-ching in 24 to 48 hours, your rebate shows up in your account. (If you shop at Wal-Mart it’s even more simple: you just go back into your Wal-Mart listing in Ibotta and scan the QR code on your Wal-Mart receipt. You don’t have to try scan products or the whole receipt) You can then cash in your rebates for gift cards or send the money to your Paypal. My lifetime earnings is just under $100 so it’s legit. I typically use my earnings to buy Starbucks* cards. The rebates vary by grocery store.

They also offer team challenges (you build a team by inviting friends or signing up via your Facebook account which teams you with with any FB friends who use Ibotta), bonuses if you meet a certain number of rebates in a month, and bonuses based on products (for example, cash in all of the current Kasha rebates and receive a bonus). They also offer “generic” rebates such as “50 cents off any white milk” so it’s something anyone can use! They also frequently offer rebates on produce. It’s also not limited to groceries; they also have electronics, fashion, etc. I picked up two great rebates around Christmas from in-store purchases at JC Penney and Best Buy. If you’d like to try it, here’s my referral link. You’ll get a $10 bonus when you cash in your first rebate and I’ll get $5.

If you are an online shopper, you need to get to know Mr. Rebates. I’ve been a Mr. Rebates user for years. It’s a click-through site where you basically click through his site to your choice of zillions of online stores. You get a percentage rebate on your purchase which accumulates into your account until you cash out via Paypal or by a check in the mail. Some drawbacks: Your rebate is not as fast as Ibotta. The moment your order ships, your rebate goes into your account as pending but it’s about 90 days or so before it’s available. This is to prevent people from placing an order, getting the rebate,  than returning the order. (What a terrible way to treat Mr. Rebates!) This doesn’t bother me since it’s just play money essentially to me but if you are counting on the rebate as a discount then you need to be prepared to wait. Another downer is that not all of Amazon’s departments are part of the program, just a few which are the few I tend to not order from. To me these are very minor quibbles and I’ve done quite while over the years with Mr. Rebates. You can invite friends to join through the referral program and if they do, you will then earn 20% of their rebates. Don’t worry, the information on where they shop, what they bought or even the dollar amount isn’t revealed. You just receive a deposit in your Mr. Rebates account. If you’d like to try it out, here’s my referral link.

The last one that I’m going to share is the one that I’ve had the least success due to my own lack of effort. I’m sharing it because it does have potential for some fun earnings and I’m already doing much better with it than I did last year. It’s called Swagbucks and while it’s super easy to use, it also has the most ways to earn points called Swaybacks or SBs for short. So bear with me.

Once you sign up with Swagbucks, it’s a good idea to just visit the site and get acquainted with all of the ways you can earn SBs. Accumulated SBs can be redeemed for gift cards. My earnings have been slow because I just haven’t put the time into it although I’v been striving to do better. Last year, I cashed in maybe $15 in Amazon cards. However, I know a person who banks about $250 per month (yes a real person not an “internet” person.) And I have read comments on social media from people who do really well and even use Swagbucks as a way to pay for their college textbooks. So, it’s all in how you use it.

Basically, you can earn SBs by

  • Performing searches using their search bar or on the app
  • Watching videos on the site or on the app
  • Cashing in special SwagCodes that are issues throughout the day
  • Doing surveys
  • Printing grocery coupons (SBs awarded 12 weeks after coupon is cashed)
  • Click-thru shopping rebates similar to Mr. Rebates

I primarily earn by doing the Daily Poll, playing videos on my phone (you don’t have to watch them), cashing in the SwagCodes (make sure you have the app on your phone and allow push notifications), printing coupons (this is a new one for me) and trying an occasional survey. If you think this sounds fun, my suggestion is try out and see what you can do. The person I mention above who does so well says that she waits until her daughter is in bed then plays videos or does surveys while she watches tv. I joined through her referral link so she gets a 10 percent bonus of the SBs I earn. Here’s my referral link if you’d like to try it.

In addition to these, I also love Meijer’s mPerks, the Kroger Plus Card, and although I don’t shop there often, I have to admit the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher is pretty awesome.

I hope you find something useful here that can help you save a little money-and have fun doing so! I’ve tried to explain each one clearly as possible. If you have questions, ask away!

*I load all of my Starbucks cards onto one Starbucks card that I’ve had for years and is registered with Starbucks rewards. This helps me earn free drinks and other rewards!