More Money for the Holidays
Maybe it's because I'm always searching the internet for ways to be more and more frugal, but I frequently get offered articles with titles like, "15 Side Hustles You Can Do From Home" or "Easy Ways to Make an Extra $2000 This Month!" Except....a lot of them aren't really from home (can't drive Uber with three of your own kids in the back) and a lot of them aren't really easy (spending hours doing online surveys and getting paid $5 isn't really a good tradeoff).
That being said, over the years I have found some truly simple ways to boost my income OR reduce my spending. It won't yield an extra $2000 this month, but it may add a couple hundred to your holiday spending budget. And with prices the way they are these days, I think we all feel the truth that "every little bit counts"!
So without further ado, here are the ways I am combatting rising costs to aid our family budget this year!
Promo Codes and Coupons
I never make a purchase without searching for a promo code or online coupon. If I'm shopping in-store, I like to use the app RetailMeNot for coupons I can show at checkout. I also sign up for loyalty programs to get the discounts offered to members. Target has their own version of this called Target Circle that offers cash back and discounts on items. You can pair that with a Target debit or credit card, as well, for an additional 5% cash back. I don't shop at Target that often, but I really like selection of toys and games during the holidays! Another way I save on my purchases is with the Honey Chrome extension. Having this enabled will save you a step at checkout because it will automatically test coupon codes to see if any will fit with your purchase. My most successful time using Honey was actually with this website's host (Wix), when I was upgrading to an account that enabled an online store. Honey found me a coupon code that took $192 off my purchase, bringing my total from almost $200 to $4.06. Can't really beat that! Honey also offers points on purchases made from select retailers that you can redeem for gift cards or cash back.
Grocery Receipt Apps
I'm going to be buying groceries anyway...might as well spend a couple extra minutes to upload my receipts. A popular grocery cash back app is Ibotta. However, while the rewards can be high per item, they also feature mostly brand names and products that I don't regularly purchase. Instead, I prefer Fetch Rewards and Receipt Hog because you are rewarded for the receipt itself, even if you don't purchase the specific items they are promoting. And it's super easy, because all you do is a take a picture...the app identifies the products you've bought.
(Use code AC8AC when signing up for Fetch so that we each get a bonus 2000 points. Use code kift1842 when signing up for Receipt Hog so we each get additional spins on the prize wheel!)
Credit Card Rewards
Credit cards can be incredibly advantageous because they often offer great cash back rewards. I recently signed up for a new card because it had a fantastic sign-up bonus. We signed up for a Discover It card (use my link and we both get a $50 statement bonus when a purchase is made within the first three months). They have the typical 5% cash back on a rotating calendar of retailers, but the real draw of this offer is that, for the first year, Discover will match the cashback you earn. So the 5% I earn will be doubled to make it, essentially, 10% cashback. This is hands-down the highest rate I've ever had on a card. I'm particularly excited because the 5% offer for the months of October-December is on Amazon.com, and we make a lot of purchases there around the holiday season!
Other cards, like the Chase Amazon card and the Citi Costco card, offer good cash back bonuses as well.
Definitely going to end this section with the disclaimer that paying interest on credit card purchases will negate whatever rewards you may earn. If you can't pay it off, don't buy it. If you aren't sure you can pay it off, don't buy it. If you already have high balances on several different cards and keeping up is overwhelming, stick with debit purchases.
(It's also important to note that applying for a credit card will have a small impact on your credit score. For us in our current season, this is inconsequential, but if you are in the process of trying to improve your score or acquire a loan/mortgage, it might not be the right time.)
Swagbucks is an admittedly overwhelming site that rewards you based on tons of different actions...purchases, surveys, sign up, participating in their games, etc. I used to spend a ton of time here, trying to earn money, but I began to realize my time was more valuable than the few cents I was earning for playing around. However, there are a few ways I still utilize this site to get pretty significant rewards (use my link here to sign up and we both get a bonus of 300SB, which is the equivalent of $3).
First of all, Swagbucks offers cash back bonuses for shopping with their links. As long as you go to their site first to access your online retailer with their link, they will give you rewards for qualifying purchases.
My favorite way, however, to gain rewards is with their "Discovery" page. Here you can find all kinds of offers that you complete or sign up for, which yield different amounts of "Swagbucks", which is their reward system currency. Some of the offers are low paying or require a purchase, but a lot of them are free, or pay a a significant amount of money. For instance, I completed one the other day where the only requirement was to open a bank account at a new online bank and deposit $25 in the account. It took me about five minutes to do, and I was awarded 100,000SB ($100). Now that I've received the incentive and kept the account open the required number of days, I will just close the account and transfer the funds back to my regular checking account. I've also received hefty bonuses (equivalent of $50-100) for playing games on my phone and completing to a certain level.
I don't spend a ton of time on this site, but I definitely check the available offers occasionally, because it can be incredibly lucrative for the time I've invested.
If you choose to check out the site, here are a few tips for fielding good offers:
---Read the instructions carefully. Offers often come with a time limit and other qualifications (for instance, some bank sign ups require an easy initial deposit, others require ongoing direct deposits...I skip those.) Make sure that you can fulfill the obligations to get the reward.
---Keep track of trials on your calendar and write them down IMMEDIATELY. Don't assume you'll remember...you won't (ask me how I know). There's nothing worse than signing up for a free trial, getting an SB reward of $15...and then being charged $30 the next month because you forgot to cancel on time. As soon as I sign up for an offer, I log a "to-do" on the day I have to cancel in my planner.
---Create a "burner" email address to use for your SB account. In order to get rewards, you need to sign up for offers with the same email address you use to create an SB account. That's a lot of spam for a personal email. I have my account under a different Google account than the one I have for everyday use, and only check it when I redeem a gift card.
---Have fun with it! There's a LOT to explore on the site, and they often host games and contests for extra SB. I'm in a season where my time is a lot more valuable doing other things, but I used to have a lot more "down" time and so answering surveys and participating in games was an easy thing to do while I was sitting around anyway.
This is another way to earn a bit of extra income that I used to faithfully utilize. There are LOTS of online sites that will pay you for your opinions. Nowadays, I only do very select surveys that frequently have really fun tasks (some are watching videos with your kids, I've even done a couple product/concept testing) paired with relatively high payouts. One of my favorites is Panel Polls. I'm part of another one called Playground Community, but they aren't currently accepting new participants.
And those are some of the top ways I help pad our budget for the holidays! I just added $75 of Amazon gift cards to our account this morning. It won't pay the mortgage or buy a new car, but even these little bits here and there have been such a blessing as we've navigated times of extra spending on a limited budget.
Share your spending tips with us...what are your favorite ways to earn extra or cut costs?
(follow me on Instagram for more money talk, and for updates as I come across other cool ways to make a bit of extra cash from home)