If there is one thing I really stink at as a mom and wife, it is budgeting. Unless something drastic changes, you will never see me post about how I spend only 100 dollars a month to feed my family of six, or how I used the cash envelope system to pay of four gazillion dollars in debt. I am lousy at meal planning, using coupons, and basically, all things related to a budget.
What I AM good at is making extra money from side hustles, getting cash back after I have already spent it, and saving money on my shopping trips. I may not tell my money where to go, but I know how to bring a good bit of it back.
I will discuss my many side hustles later on, but today I am going to talk about all the apps I use for saving money when I shop, and for getting a nice chunk of it back after the fact. I have actually been using these apps to pay for my husand’s Christmas gift this year. The kiddos got a little ambitious in their choice of gift for him, but they were so excited I couldn’t say no. Like I said before, budgeting is not my thing.
Oh, and if you think a few dollars here and there is no big deal, check out the referral programs for some of these. How does 25 dollars per referral sound? Yeah, I thought so too. That being said, I am not going to tell you about apps I don’t actually use just to get referral fees. That just isn’t how I do things. All the apps I am about to tell you about are apps that I use on a daily basis. Yeah, I shop a lot.
I’m going to start with my favorite app, which is Ebates (<– That is my referral link). Remember me talking about 25 dollar referrals? Ebates has exactly that. Here is there referral chart:
Don’t worry, I’m not sharing Ebates just because the referral payout is amazing, but also because it is my very favorite rebate app. It is as simple as creating a free account, and then shopping for stuff you normally buy online through the app. You also get 10 dollars cash back bonus with your first purchase.
The way it works is simple: Ebates is an affiliate for about a zillion different stores. They get paid a commission for sending you to these sites. They share the commission with you.
You can still use coupon codes, and you can even get cash back by shopping in store. You simply connect your credit or debit card to your Ebates account and link the store where you plan to shop. When you make a purchase with that card at a linked store, you get the cash back in your Ebates account.
Ebates sends out “Big Fat Checks” or PayPal payments every three months. It costs you nothing at all. Just buy what you would normally buy, and get a check in the mail with your cash back.
Ibotta works by giving you money back after you have made purchases. This works best for grocery shopping. I’ve gotten 17 dollars back from my groceries for just the last two weeks. If I had intentionally bought cash back items over my normal brands, I could have easily earned much more. But again, I stink at planning my shopping trips.
There are also cash back options for online shopping (similar to Ebates). I use ibotta this way: I go shopping at my usual grocery stores (typically, Walmart or Publix), and buy all the things I would normally buy. When I get home, I check ibotta to see what offers are available for that store.
If I see things I bought, I check those offers on the app, and select the redeem button. At that point, all that is left to do is scan my receipt. Within two days, the cash back is in my account. Once you reach 20 dollars, you can request a payment via Paypal or Venmo.
If you use my referral link, you get a 10 dollar bonus. When you refer friends, you will get five dollars when they sign up. Right now there is also a 75 dollar bonus when five friends sign up through your referral link.
Paribus is not brand new, but it is new to me. It is also the easiest app I use because it requires zero work from me. When you sign up for a free Paribus account, you link your email address to Paribus. Paribus will then monitor your online purchases. If the price of your item drops, Paribus will file for a refund on your behalf. You get to keep 100% of the savings. Paribus will also monitor your Amazon shipping and help you get a refund for shipping on items that do not ship when they were promised.
Hopster works like Ibotta, but with the added benefit of paying via PayPal any time there is money in your account. You can either plan your shopping trip around Hopster’s current rebates, or you can be like me and be pleasantly surprised when you get home from shopping. I usually get a couple dollars in my PayPal account after each shopping trip just by taking a second to check Hopster and scan my receipt when I get back home. You can also print coupons from Hopster. Coupons are something I aspire to, but I’m not quite there yet.
SavingStar works just like Ibotta, but has one drawback- You must select the offers you want to redeem BEFORE you do your shopping. That means you must plan your trip in advance, OR if you want to work around this like I do, just select all available offers for the store you are going to visit. I usually have one of my kiddos do this for me on the way to the store. One benefit of Saving Star is that you can cash out your savings once your balance reaches five dollars. This is lower than Ibotta’s twenty, but not quite as good as Hopsters immediate and automatic PayPal payments.
Checkout51 is exactly like Ibotta. Buy your groceries (or plan them around the app), select the offers that apply to you, then scan your receipt. It is so easy! You can request a check when your account reaches 20 dollars.
While I am scanning my receipts into all of my apps, I scan them in Receipt Hog as well. Receipt Hog collects info (sorta like a survey) from your receipts. You rate each store visit from one to five stars. It always gives me great satisfaction to give Publix a five and Walmart a zero. Too bad Walmart tends to be a necessary evil at our house. Anyway, you get points for scanning receipts on a consistent basis. Points can be traded in for rewards- my favorite being Amazon gift cards.
Lozo works differently than the apps I mentioned above. Lozo emails you coupons that are matched to your grocery list. Visit Lozo, type in your grocery list, and they will email you coupons to match it. This works out way better for me than trying to plan my meals around available coupons. I admire anyone who can look at the sales paper, put it with available coupons, and come up with a menu. One day, I want to be that person. Today, I have Lozo.
Can I use rebate apps together?
Yes! You can double, triple, and quadruple up if you want to. The only time you are limited, is if you are printing a manufacturer’s coupon. But if Ibotta and Checkout 51 both have a cash back offer on Cheerios, then you are welcome to claim both. If you can print a coupon from one of the apps or from Lozo, you can use that AND claim the cash back. I recently PROFITED from buying Crunchmaster crackers by doing this.
How much time does this take?
All in all, I spend maybe five minutes before a shopping trip printing Lozo coupons and checking off SavingStar offers (that I may or may not use), and then another five claiming my offers when I get home. Not bad at all if you consider that in the last TWO weeks I have received almost 100 bucks just in cash back. It does take a little time to get in the habit of scanning receipts and making sure to shop through Ebates, but it is definitely worth the effort.