Quick note from Katie: Haley is a dear friend of mine and, if you recall, the young woman responsible for igniting my interest in investing. She sent me a spreadsheet of her investments and from the moment I opened that document, I was hooked.
Because Haley has a wealth of knowledge to share and works in the finance industry, I want to use this platform as a way for HER to reach you, too. Her content below has been edited to fit the format of my blog (short paragraphs, an onslaught of em-dashes, etc.), but is truly hers.
A theme that rises to the surface in Haley’s piece is spending a lot of money at once because of a lack of time—this is something we intend to delve into later. Whether you’re someone with a lot of free time who doesn’t make much money or you’re working 80 hours per week and earning a high income, this discussion is an interesting one we want to tackle in 2019.
I learned a lot from this and can’t wait to start getting cashback for my daily spending.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy!
Similar to Katie, I have a passion about personal finance and education. I graduated college with savings that amounted to less than my current weekly salary and parents super enthused to get me off every plan possible (except my cell phone, which I dutifully transfer money for each month).
Katie and I bonded over investing and our friendship definitely peaked when I followed her advice and took a new razor from my spin studio instead of subscribing to Billie. Hopefully these articles are helpful enough that I can continue to do a few more on my favorite thrift websites, buying a car (a large possibility in 2019) and finding a balance between time and money management.
However, the reason I wanted to write was to share easy money hacks that I use to get cash back on top of my credit card (yes – it’s possible!). For full disclosure, I use my Chase Sapphire Reserve for everything and occasionally a debit card if it’s under $5 or I accidentally leave my credit card in the Trader Joe’s credit card machine – something that happened recently.
I started 2018 trying to figure out ways to spend my money more efficiently and maximize my large purchases. I don’t normally have time to shop during the week or weekend, so I normally will order $400-$700 worth of clothing at once, getting multiple sizes of items and returning the difference.
This is where my first favorite website comes in: eBates. Stores pay eBates a commission for driving sales, and customers get a portion of that back. To date, I’ve earned $162.43 just for doing my every day shopping.
At first, I thought it was super overwhelming and was scared I would forget to use it, be disappointed, and then give up. The trick is to install the Google Chrome plug-in—there’s a pop up any time you’re on a website that uses eBates. I’ve been lucky enough to place an order when there’s a 10x cash-back–so if you spend $100, you get $10 for just clicking a button!
eBates also has cash-back in stores, so you can earn while out shopping–I did a Sephora haul and stacked 8x cash back from eBates and Dosh (but more on that later). Earnings are paid out quarterly via check or PayPal and it’s a nice bump each quarter.
While I love eBates for clothing and home goods, Drop is fantastic for everyday items. You pick “offers” and earn points. Right now, I have Lyft, Uber, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Target. You can also add other offers that change weekly, but some only work through the Chrome button.
If you really wanted to get into the proverbial points-weeds (Katie, I know you will), you could determine the value of points vs. eBates and work off that. For right now, I’m happy getting points on my every day purchases without much work attached. I’ve been using Drop for less than a month and already have enough for a $10 Amazon gift card.
Ibotta is definitely the most time-intensive of the four that I use, but still takes me less than 5 minutes a week. You upload your receipts from grocery shopping and get cash-back based on items.
I normally do it when I get home from grocery shopping—and all major retailers are included. While it may be more arduous than the other three, I’ve earned about $40 using the app since September, which isn’t too bad for maybe 10 total minutes of work.
Note from Katie: This is a perfect example of why I love these money life hacks. If you take your annual salary and turn it hourly, you may not even make $40/hour (that's about an $83,000 salary). To make $40 for 10 minutes of work is equivalent to $240/hour, or almost $500,000/year. When you think about the time/money equivalencies, you can see how these seemingly insignificant points/cash earners are more than worth your time.
Finally, last (and kind of least) is Dosh. Dosh is similar to Drop in that you link your credit cards and receive cash-back on offers. The one downfall to Dosh is the offers aren’t super applicable to me–the first few that come up are Pizza Hut, Forever 21, and Mattress Firm.
However, there are some diamonds in the rough, like World Market, Sephora, and Walmart. As I mentioned earlier, I did a Sephora haul before I started my new job in July and stacked 4% cash-back on Dosh and 8x cash-back on eBates – just for spending money I was already going to spend.
While there is a little work involved to get started, I would highly recommend any and all of these cash-back programs. I’ll never say no to extra money, especially when it’s automated and requires no work on my part. Do you use any of these? I’m going to peer-pressure Katie into using them and am excited to see her thoughts!
The young woman's money guide for all the things you're too embarrassed to ask your friends. Build the life you thought you were too broke to afford through managing your spending habits, travel hacking, and simple, smart investing.
Full-time Brand marketer at Southwest Airlines, part-time Yoga Sculpt teacher, occasional Waffle House Model and reformed materialist.
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