So last fall, my sons and I were at a playground with one of my single mom friends and her son.
I call her my seasonal friend, because we have been friends for years but live about 50 minutes away from each other and only get together by the season. In the spring, they come to my house to decorate Easter eggs. In the summer, we meet at my childhood pond near where she lives. In the fall, we meet halfway and go apple picking. We usually try to squeeze in a couple of playground meet ups for the boys to play in the fall until it just gets too cold. This was one of those days.
I love this friend of mine. She’s an awesome mother and always puts her child first. She’s smart, sassy and resourceful.
Plus, she and I come from the same neck of the woods. I come from such a small town (like REALLY small – there was less than 2000 people there when I was raised there) that frankly, anyone from the same town, is practically a friend for life. But we also connect about other things. We are both single mothers and have traded war stories about the traumas that led to both of our status. We also trade ideas and tips about making money, saving money and making ends meet.
It was on this particular fall afternoon that she opened me up to a new world. She took out her smartphone and showed me how she was going to fund Christmas for her son.
She had a handful of apps that she uses throughout the year that actually PAID HER MONEY for doing stuff she would do anyway. It was such a smart way to save throughout the year for something like that big Christmas present, that she had me hooked. I started researching and experimenting with different apps. Ultimately, I found four apps that yield the most money for the least amount of effort.
# 1 – IBOTTA
I love this app. This is rebates, but not your mother’s kind of rebates. Rebates for everything – groceries, household goods, wine and beer, clothing, restaurants, electronics – even movies!
No mailing in anything.
No paperwork to fill out.
No obscure products or large quantities to buy. Just stuff that you would buy anyway…all done from your phone.
You get paid in real money – your cash is deposited into your PayPal or Venmo account within 48 hours.
Here’s how it works:
You don’t have to do this before you shop like so many other annoying apps out there, but you can if you’re more organized than I am. The only exception to this is if you opt to redeem rebates by linking a loyalty card with one of their preferred partners. Then you need to unlock before you’re done shopping. Since I don’t have any linked cards, I usually shop for what I buy anyway first, then see if there are any rebates out there. Either way, it’s up to you.
Explore the app and you will find that you can search for rebates by store or retailer. Different stores carry different rebates, so take a moment to explore the stores you normally shop at. For me, it was Target, Market Basket and my local liquor store (I’m a serious wine lover).
Unlocking a rebate is super simple – just click on the product you’re interested in purchasing and click the unlock button and there is a simple task – and I use the word task loosely. It’s usually something like showing you a recipe, a one question poll or a super short video. Once you unlock the rebate, it’s on your shopping list and it’s time to redeem.
Now do your shopping!
Or like I said earlier, you can do your shopping first before unlocking rebates. There is no requirement to unlock the rebate before you shop, unless you use one of their preferred partners and link a loyalty card. I haven’t linked any loyalty cards in my account, so I don’t use that method. From what I understand though, it’s simpler because it eliminates the step of taking a photo of your receipt.
When you get home and unpacked, click the verify purchases button. It will automatically pull up a scanner on your phone to scan the UPC code. (Sometimes I do this in the store to be sure the item I am buying it the qualifying item for the rebate.) Once it verifies the item, a green check mark will appear. Do this with all the rebate-able (is that a word?) items for that store. Once you’re done scanning, you will be prompted to take a photo of the receipt. Don’t worry if you can’t take a photo of the entire receipt in one shot, you can add sections of the receipt to ensure you submit the whole thing.
Watch your balance grow!
Since Ibotta starts you off with $10 once you redeem your first rebate with my referral link you can start to see your balance grow rather quickly. Once you want to cash out, you can transfer that cash to your PayPal or Venmo account.
Once you get the hang of it, refer YOUR friends and earn $5 every time they sign up and complete their first rebate. It can add up fast!
# 2 – SLIDEJOY (for Android)
So this is pretty easy. If you have an Android, download this app.
It becomes your lock screen that will display some sort of promotional story or advertisement. When you want to use your phone, you simply slide (hence the name!) or swipe to the right and you are at your phone’s home screen.
Slidejoy awards you with ‘carats’ which then can be redeemed by depositing into your PayPal or Square Cash account. If you’re feeling particularly charitable, you can opt to donate your cash to one of their charitable organizations.
It’s easy and simple – I’ve had the app since last fall and have not had any issues with it. I plan on saving up my ‘carats’ for awhile so that I can treat myself to something special later this year. Here is my referral link to download the app to your Android smart phone.
# 3 – WALMART SAVINGS CATCHER
I had another friend clue me into this app. This one couldn’t get any easier. I don’t shop at Walmart often; I prefer Target. But when I do, I ALWAYS use this app.
All you have to do is pull up the add and scan the barcode at the bottom of your receipt and submit it. For the next few days, Walmart will check lots of surrounding retailers to see if any of the items you purchased are at a lower advertised price anywhere else. If so, you will be deposited the difference. When you are ready, cash out for a Walmart e-gift card.
So simple, so easy. You can sign up here or go to the play store directly to download the app. Not a bad way to make sure you’re getting the best prices and maybe even pocket some extra Walmart cash!
#4 – RECEIPT HOG:
This one is pretty easy, too. Just download the app, sign up and just start taking pictures of your shopping receipts. I keep all receipts anyway to track our spending, so this is a quick and easy step for me to take – and totally worth it to get some extra mad money!
You earn ‘coins’ or ‘spins’ (to try to earn more coins). Coins are then redeemed by transferring your balance to your PayPal account or for Amazon!
Most receipts are accepted for shopping – groceries, household items, clothing, electronics and more. Restaurants and gas are not accepted – but they just started accepted receipts for convenience stores that are connected to gas stations!
So there you have it! FOUR super EASY and LOW-EFFORT ways to start using your smart phone to earn some mad money or save up for something special!
Let me know how it works out!