No matter how hard to try to save money, it isn’t easy. Sure, you can make coffee at home instead of stopping at Starbucks and put cash in your savings account instead of spending it on concert tickets. Still, though, there are lots of everyday expenses that are unavoidable.
Things like groceries, gas, household products, and health and beauty essentials can eat up a large percentage of your budget. And while you can cut back by shopping sales, using coupons, and switching from name-brand to generic products, you can’t stop buying them altogether. You can, however, start earning some of your hard-earned money back when you purchase these items.
Intrigued? Here’s how to leverage cashback apps to save money.
What Is a Cashback App, Anyway?
Let’s start with the basics. Cashback apps are smartphone applications that reward you for buying certain products or shopping from specific retailers. Available for iOS and Android devices, they pay you back either a flat rate or a percentage of your purchase total. The makers of these apps partner with brands and retailers and share their earnings with members in the form of cashback rewards.
Cashback apps are among the best ways to earn money online because they are easy to use and can help you save on the products (and in some instances, services) you are already buying. So how can you best leverage cashback apps to save money? Keep reading!
Start with the Right App(s)
A quick search for “cashback apps” in your device’s app store yields dozens of results. Before you clog up your phone’s memory downloading every single one you can find, it is important to note that some are much better than others. There are plenty of apps out there that promise amazing rewards but, in reality, do nothing other than take up space. If you want to actually earn money for your purchase, you need to use apps that are trusted and legitimate.
Reading through the reviews is always a good idea, but if you want to get started quickly, there are a few must-have apps for anyone who wants to save money. Dosh, Ebates, Drop, and Ibotta are all solid options that you can use to save on groceries, gas, travel, and more. Download them and create accounts to get started. Most of these apps will reward you with a $5 to $10 credit on your account as a thank you for joining. Many have referral offers, too, which allow you to earn even more money whenever a friend or family member signs up.
Check Your Apps Regularly
You’re all signed up… Now what? Spend some time exploring each app and seeing what types of offers are available. Also, familiarize yourself with how payouts work. Some apps will send you cash via PayPal or Venmo. Other send paper checks, deposit funds directly into your bank account, or allow you to purchase gift cards to various retailers and restaurants. Find out how much money you have to earn prior to cashing out and how you will receive your funds once you reach that threshold.
Open each app regularly to check for new deals. Ibotta, which features offers for specific products, updates frequently and provides its users with cash back on new items on a regular basis. If you are using an app that offers cash back based on a percentage of your total purchase price, such as Dosh or Ebates, new retailers are frequently added. These apps also often have bonus offers where users can earn double, triple, or even quadruple the normal cashback amount. Checking in frequently ensures that you won’t miss any great deals.
Open Your Apps Before You Shop
Leveraging cashback apps to maximize your savings takes a bit of planning. Some apps – like Ibotta – require to you activate offers before you purchase your items. Others require you to access retailer websites from inside the app (rather than accessing it using your browser or another app) to qualify for rewards.
Before you go shopping online or at a brick-and-mortar establishment, check your apps for the best deals. Activate offers or make sure your credit or debit card is linked to your account as needed for in-person shopping. If you are shopping online, check the cashback percentages available through multiple apps. You may find that you can earn more money using one app instead of another. Use whichever application is currently offering the biggest reward, and follow its instructions when shopping.
Combine with Other Deals to Maximize Your Savings
One of the great things about cashback apps is that you can use them in conjunctions with other deals to maximize your savings. Some – including Ebates – even provide you with things like current promo codes to help you save. Of course, if you are shopping through an app where you earn a percentage of your purchase price back, using a promo code could reduce the amount you will receive back. Promo codes often offer greater discounts, though, so they are worth using in most instances.
If you are shopping at a brick-and-mortar retailer, you can also use the paper coupons found in the Sunday paper, home mailers, magazines, etc. This can lead to huge savings, especially when you are using Ibotta. With Ibotta, you could, for example, earn $1 back when you purchase a certain brand of laundry detergent. If you have a paper coupon for $1 off the same product, you can take advantage of both discounts to save yourself $2 instead of $1. And, of course, you can stack cashback offers with in-store and online sales, too.
Cashback apps allow you to earn anywhere from 1% to 40% back on the purchases you make every day. While the average offer is at the lower end of that spectrum, the savings add up surprisingly fast. Saving money isn’t always easy, but by installing a few applications on your smartphone, you can reduce your expenses with minimal effort.