I don’t know about you, but I seem to always start the New Year with lofty savings goals… and then when I haven’t even made a dent by February, I usually get frustrated, binge eat two containers of those Target sugar cookies with the fluffy icing, and throw my savings goals out the window.
So this year, I decided to jump start my 2019 savings with some creative, yet completely effortless, approaches in December – and I actually ended up saving $232.96!
Quick note: None of these are “get rich quick” approaches. I am all about “every little bit counts.” Slow and steady wins the race, baby! I think one of the biggest problems when it comes to saving money or making extra cash is that we see each small opportunity as “just a little bit of money” and forget that it all adds up in the end. It’s easy to say that getting back $1 from a purchase isn’t very much. But the average person uses their debit card 1-5 times each day. Even staying on the conservative side, if you averaged $.50 back per purchase and used your debit card twice a day for a year, that’s $365 at the end of the year. Who doesn’t want an extra $365?! If you don’t, well then, I’ll take yours, please. 😉
Check out my top five favorite ways below that I made extra money in December with almost zero effort:
If you haven’t seen this app floating around Facebook this holiday season, now is the time to download it and start sharing. I’ll talk about a few other apps below, but Dosh deserves its own category because it’s literally the easiest $55 I made money during the month of December.
Dosh is a cash-back app that analyzes purchases made on the card that you link and gives you a percentage of your money back if you make a purchase at a participating retailer. It’s similar to Checkout51 or Ibotta (discussed below), but the major difference is how easy it is to use – no uploading receipts, scanning products, or remembering to claim the cash back before a certain date. The app tracks all of your purchases for you.
But the best part about Dosh is that they routinely run promotions that give referral bonuses when you share the app with your friends. The bonus was $10 per friend during Christmas and jumped to $15 per friend between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. When they’re not running a promotion, they still usually give back at least $5 per friend. So not only are you getting automatic cash back on purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and retail stores – you’ll also get an awesome bonus every time one of your friends downloads the app and links a card, too!
Cash Back Apps
Truth bomb: If you’re spending money without getting money back on that purchase, you’re losing easy income every month. Stop swiping your card without getting something in return! There are so many cash-back apps that reward you based upon the product you buy or the store you shop at. I never make a purchase without clicking through one of my cash-back apps first.
The five main cash-back apps I use (in addition to Dosh above, which I’m keeping separate because of their generous referral bonuses) are TopCashBack, Ibotta, Ebates, Shopkick and Checkout51. Y’all, this. is. such. easy. money. You don’t even have to do anything for Shopkick – all you do is make sure your bluetooth is on and you’ll get points for entering/passing by a store. Fussy baby? Go for a walk at the mall and earn points every time you pass a participating store. Waiting for your hubby or wife to finish shopping in Best Buy? Up your game by putting in your headphones and listening to music while you scan products for extra kicks (points). Hubby and I each earned about 500 points at the mall while killing time before our dinner reservation last week.
I use TopCashBack and Ibotta the most. TopCashBack gives you cash back for almost any kind of store, so if you’re about to place an order on Amazon or Target.com, log into your TopCashBack account first and click through there to get up to 10% back on your purchase. Ibotta does require a bit more effort, as you have to scan the receipt, but they offer great bonuses for everyday grocery items and toiletries – some are even allowed to be “any type” of item, such as $.50 back for any fruit or $.25 for any toothpaste. Ibotta also just started offering cash back for certain stores, similar to TopCashBack or Dosh. I cashed out $65.14 from Ibotta and $20.54 from TopCashBack just from holiday purchases alone.
Oh, Inbox Dollars. You might be the weirdest way I killed time during the month of December. But you gave me $30.28, so I suppose I’ll keep this relationship around awhile longer.
Inbox Dollars, also referred to as a “GPT” or “Get Paid To” site, gives you cash back for watching commercials/news/documentaries, taking surveys, and playing games. You can also sign up for certain offers to get extra cash back, and some of the offers don’t require a purchase. For instance, you can get $100 back by signing up to be an Uber driver, $10 for signing up for the Acorns automatic-investment site and $25 for signing up for a blooom retirement account. It costs nothing to join the Acorns site, so by signing up, you’re getting an awesome service and you’re paid $10 to do it. The blooom retirement account costs $10 but since you get $25 back, you still come out ahead with a quality 401k review and $15.
I mostly used Inbox Dollars during December to play games and take surveys. It only took about two weeks to earn my first $30.
I love using Groupon for restaurants and services. If you already have something you need to pay for, but want to save money, check to see if you can find it on Groupon for a discount. Buy your Groupon, and put the extra money you would have spent into savings!
Example: I need a haircut. The average women’s shampoo/cut/style is $60. (Don’t talk to me about cheaper haircuts at places like Great Clips. I’m still traumatized by the bangs they gave me in 2013. I’m sure some stylists at Great Clips are lovely folks, but my hair needs a less Walmart-ish experience and with Groupon, I can go to awesome salons for the same price as Great Clips anyway.) So I bought a Groupon for a salon nearby for $28. If I hadn’t done that, I would’ve still spent $60, because a haircut is something I have to get and regularly budget for anyway. But by buying a Groupon instead of going to any regular salon and paying full price, I was able to move $32 into our savings.
Facebook Marketplace and Mercari
Y’all, I love to sell things that we own. I actually do it so much that sometimes I forget I’ve sold something and spend half an hour looking for it before remembering that it was a victim of “Elizabeth Hates Clutter: Spring Edition.”
Everyone has something that’s taking up space that they can sell for extra cash. If you haven’t worn it in a year, sell it. If you bought it for a hobby and it’s been collecting dust for two years, sell it. If it’s so pretty that you can’t bring yourself to use it, sell it to someone who will! Stop letting extra income collect dust in your home. After all, your home is a place to live, not a storage unit.
Facebook Marketplace and Mercari are the two places I sell things the most. I started using Mercari when I was trading LuLaRoe leggings, but now I use it to sell pretty much anything that doesn’t fit and isn’t ever gonna fit again (let’s all take a moment of silence for those of us who lost so many favorite dresses to the miracle of childbirth). I think Mercari is best for clothes, shoes, and jewelry, but I actually sold three journals on the app last week (and made $31 from the sales) so you can definitely try your luck at anything. Facebook Marketplace (and local garage sale sites) are where I sell the majority of our household items and our son’s toys/books/clothes that he outgrows.
As always, practice safety with online sales! I have a special place in my heart for selling things online, as I met my husband by selling him a beanbag on Craigslist. The beanbag wouldn’t fit in my car, so when he came over, I answered the door by telling him I had a stun gun in my hand (true) and that I knew how to use it (false). You can always go that route, but generally speaking, I recommend meeting somewhere public for the exchange whenever possible. If the person has to come to your house, always schedule a time when you have someone else home with you.
Let me know if you end up using any of these methods to jump start your 2019 savings!