As I was catching up on some bills over the weekend, I realized that I have been overspending lately. I just got back from a vacation to Los Angeles, so that is part of it. But I have also let some of my savings habits slip. That is why I decided to diligently track my expenses (and share them with you) at the end of October.
While I cannot undo some of the purchases I have made in the past, I can try to do better in the future. Look for a complete rundown of my October spending soon.
In the meantime, I want to focus on what I like to call “free money.” In addition to saving more and spending less, it is crucial to MAKE MORE MONEY in order to reach your financial goals! Sure, you can work a part-time job. That is a great way to boost your bottom line, and it is something I have done in the past. But if that is not practical for you, make sure that you are collecting all of the “free money” that you can get.
Loyal readers may recognize some of the strategies that I am about to detail in this post, but stick with me. Ask yourself if you are getting the maximum benefit from the resources available to you. Can you do more?
Now, here are some of my favorite sources of “free money.”
**If you sign up for any of these services through my links, we may both receive a bonus. Even if you do not use my links, I encourage you to give these companies a try! They are a big part of my overall strategy.**
1) Swagbucks – If you are not familiar, Swagbucks is a website that rewards you for doing activities online. You can watch videos, take polls, browse the web, and sign up for trial offers — among other things. I have been with Swagbucks for several years. I started out earning only about $5 a month, but now I regularly earn $30 to $50, which I redeem for Amazon.com gift cards. I frequented the site often when I first began using it, but I no longer sign in more than a few times a week. Most of my points come through referrals or online purchases made through their shopping portal.
2) Raise.com – If you are not using Raise.com or one of their competitors, get on it! With the holidays coming up, this is going to save you money. The strategy is simple. Buy discounted gift cards, then shop with them. I recently got a TJ Maxx gift card for 16% off. That type of savings is well worth waiting a few days for the gift card to arrive in the mail. FYI, some of the gift cards are digital and are emailed instantly. Like Swagbucks, Raise.com has a generous referral program. I often find myself logging in to see that I have $5 or $10 in rewards to help purchase my next gift card.
3) Ibotta – Regular readers are probably sick of hearing me talk about Ibotta, but it is truly amazing. I use this app mostly to get cash back on grocery purchases. There are many stores available, and sometimes you save double when you combine the Ibotta offer with a coupon or store special. I have earned nearly $500 in cash back from Ibotta in about 18 months. They offer a small bonus for referrals, so most of my earnings have been from purchases.
4) TopCashBack – This is another useful tool for the holidays. I really like to do a lot of my shopping online because it saves time and money, especially with TopCashBack. The website is similar to many of the shopping portals online. You save by clicking on TopCashBack’s links to online retailers. They have a decent referral program, but there are some hoops to jump through. I like to use this site to get cash back on semi-annual purchases, such as contact lenses and dog medications.
5) Rewards credit cards – These credit cards have changed how I shop forever. Of course, they are only good if you pay off your balance at the end of the month. I want to say that off the top. Currently, I am using my Citi American Airlines, Southwest Rapid Rewards and American Express Blue Cash cards the most frequently. As the holidays approach, look for special offers at department stores and Amazon.com.
These are just several of the “free money” opportunities I take advantage of. Skeptics will say that the return is minimal, but I disagree. I can make more than $100 a month by using these strategies, and I know that there are people who are making a lot more.