Updated December 11, 2018:
Apps! There are tons of apps out there for managing finances. Apps for budgeting (Mint, EveryDollar), but also apps that save you money or pay you money! There are tons of apps and sites that will pay you small amounts for completing surveys and such. And it is awesome if you have hours a day to invest in these types of apps, but like most of you, my life is busy, and I need to carefully balance the time I invest with the payout I get. So here are my favorite apps that I believe achieve that balance:
Walmart Savings Catcher:
I love this app because we shop at Walmart once a week. When you use Walmart Pay (linking your credit card to the Walmart app and paying with your phone), you can submit your receipt to Savings Catcher. This program scans competitor ads for deals on the items you bought. If it finds a cheaper price for an item, it gives you the difference on a Walmart egift card and you can use it toward your next purchase with Walmart Pay.
On a weekly basis, we may average about a dollar or less in savings, but it requires little effort for me. Since I’ve been couponing over the last year at Shoprite, I don’t get as many Savings Catcher deposits because I’m already getting better deals elsewhere, but if I slip up or there are deals at other stores besides Shoprite, I’m covered! I also found that the items have to be the exact same size, etc. Walmart often carries different SKUS that are slightly different sizes/containers so the price is not comparable to those at other stores. For instance, I buy smaller boxes of cereal at Shoprite on deal that aren’t even available at Walmart.
Some of you may be thinking, “Ew, Walmart, I would never shop there, I love Target!” and they have a great Cartwheel app to help you save money, too, but to be honest, we don’t shop there that much so I’ve barely used it. And I think avoiding Target has probably been a good thing. Because I hear about everyone going into Target for one thing and then coming out with a full cart and $100 less in their wallet.
I have a theory that since Target is well-respected, people are happy to spend more time there and therefore buy more things. Whereas if they stepped into Walmart, with it’s negative connotation, people just want to get in and get out. They stick to their list and only spend the bare minimum. This is true for us. We don’t often go off-list when we do our Walmart shopping. In the beginning, I had to drag Corey because he hated going to Walmart, but it didn’t take long for him to get it. So, if you have a Target spending problem, I challenge you to try Walmart for a while and see if you spending habits change!
I like this app because you don’t even have to make a purchase to collect “kicks” aka points. There are many ways to accrue kicks on the app, but my favorite is “walk in.” If you open the app while you’re at certain stores, the GPS will locate you and offer you walk-in kicks (that’s what they call their points). Walmart is one of these stores, so as soon as I walk into Walmart for my weekly shopping, I open the Shopkick app to collect my kicks. I can also scan certain items in the store to accrue more kicks. It’s like a fun little scavenger hunt (assuming I have the extra time to spend)!
Another way to collect a bunch of kicks is to hit up a mall where many of the stores participate in the program. If you can trust yourself to visit a mall and not buy things, you can get some exercise while walking from store to store and collecting your walk-in kicks. Great way to get steps in during the colder winter months when you don’t want to walk outside! Once you get to 1250 kicks, you can redeem for a $5 gift card to a variety of places, including Walmart and Target.
A financial follower friend turned me on to this app that rewards you for healthy habits! If you have a fitbit and/or use MyFitnessPal or another fitness logging app, install this app NOW. Once you complete the initial set up and link your other trackers/apps, there is no effort required and you accrue points for logging food, taking steps, logging sleep, weighing yourself and more! Once you get to 10,000 points, you get $10 deposited into your paypal account! It does take a while to accrue the points, but since I don’t have to invest too much time, it’s absolutely worth it!
Through this app, you can search and accept “jobs” in the area that will pay you a few bucks if you successfully complete. Many of the jobs are auditing shelves or displays at local retail outlets. I go through phases of using this app a lot and not so much. It’s all about the time you have available or if the jobs match up with errands you are already doing. There have been a lot of Walmart jobs lately which has worked out well for me. I can do a pickup job and get paid to buy something I would’ve gotten anyway. This is another app that will pay you in cold hard cash versus points or gift cards, and you can’t beat that!
In a recent couponing post, I mentioned that I initially didn’t have much luck with Ibotta. It’s mostly branded items and I had gotten into a pattern of buying private label to save money, etc. Once I started using couponing websites that mentioned I could save on certain items with ibotta (and I didn’t have to repeatedly scroll through all the ibotta offerings), I tried it again and now I make at least $10 a month with this app. I highly recommend it along with a couponing regimen!
My cousin tried for years to get me to join Ebates, I dragged my heels forever. My thinking was that, I really only shop online via Amazon, so it’s not worth it for me. I don’t remember what finally made me sign up, maybe my thinking changed to “any little bit of money back is SOMETHING.” Often with my minimal purchases, my rebate will literally be less than a dollar, but a few bucks every quarter is something! And sometimes I get great deals on Black Friday or with a big purchase. I also never wanted to deal with the hassle of having to remember to go to the ebates shopping portal instead of directly to the online store from which I wanted to buy. Turns out, there’s an Ebates Chrome extension that has removed that obstacle! Now when I go directly to a store site, Ebates will notify me that it’s eligible for cash back, so I just click the pop-up and I’m earning cash back. I just have to make sure I’m shopping on my laptop with the extension, not another computer or my phone! There are other cashback shopping portals. If you want to be an overachiever and use several of them, you can check cashbackmonitor.com when you want to shop at a certain store to see which portal has the best deals.
Honey is a widget you can install for your internet browser that will alert you to potential promo codes when you get to a checkout screen on an online shopping site. I like it because I would always google promo codes when I shopped at non-Amazon sites and this widget automatically pulls everything for me. The downside is that it often collects promo codes that don’t work, BUT it will automatically try all the promo codes without you entering every one!
I also highly recommend utilizing apps for places you visit often as some restaurants offer apps where you load a digital gift card and if you pay with it, you can accrue points toward rewards as well as be eligible for member discounts. We use apps for Wawa, Dunkin Donuts, and Chick Fil A. I finally broke down and got the Starbucks app but made a deal with myself I’d never link a credit card to it. I’d only use free egift cards or actual gift cards with this app. Good way to control treating myself! Other outlets may offer app-only discounts. I have a toddler and life is crazy, so we go to McDonalds more than I like, but when I save money with the app or a coupon, I always feel a bit better about it! Restaurant coupons in general alleviate some of my “I spend too much eating out” guilt. I clip and collect them in a folder that I keep in my car so I have them when I need them!
Corey really likes the site CamelCamelCamel which tracks Amazon price history. This is how he knows when it’s a good time to buy a new gadget!
Do you use any of the apps I mentioned? What do you think? Are there any others you use and recommend? Tell us about them in the comments below and give a tip to other readers!