Updated: Dec 24, 2022
The cost of essential everyday items such as gas and groceries have increased to magnitudes many of us have never seen before. The annual inflation rate in the U.S. revved to 7.5% in January of 2022, the highest since February of 1982 and well-exceeding market predictions of 7.3%, as soaring energy costs, labor shortages, and supply disruptions correlated with strong demand weigh.
If you're anything like me, you go food shopping a lot. As someone who is very cautious regarding what goes in my body between allergies and toxins, sometimes the cost of shopping becomes quite unbearable. Add in inflation, and it's unspeakable.
Before adapting to this health-conscious lifestyle, I was an extreme couponer and would constantly get freebies. Since adapting to this healthier lifestyle, I've noticed there aren't many healthy coupons, and when you spend between $200-$250 per week on groceries, that amount becomes steep quickly.
Although there may not be many coupons available, there are plenty of ways to get cash back, and as someone who loves to save money, I felt obligated to share some apps I use to make some extra money on the side. In a typical year, I get a couple of hundred dollars back in a combination of all the apps I use, and I typically save it all to do some holiday shopping–heck, that's a couple of hundred dollars I didn't have before that I got for simply doing what I usually do; shopping. None of these apps cost money, although some may have a waiting list to get approved to join. I will share each app; most have an introductory bonus when using my code, so be sure to use the links and codes I provide. I will explain what they do and why I use them.
Combining cashback offers with the money-saving tips found in Earthley's Simplify Living Guide, like growing your own food, being low-waste, composting, stocking your pantry, preserving food, and making your own products when possible, you're bound to see a difference in your monthly spending.
What to do Before Going Shopping
Before heading out to the grocery store, I highly suggest creating a shopping list. I usually do this by looking through the Flipp app, which is a database of current sale flyers, because I love shopping sales. If you are stocking your pantry, make sure you are buying extra to grow your stock. Make sure your shopping list is thorough by store and lists how many of each thing you need. Then download the following apps to ensure you get the most out of your shopping trip before heading out of the house, as these will work in the background, or you can use the apps to print coupons to make your out-of-pocket costs even lower, making your savings even higher.
Apply for a Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
Chase has one of the best cash-back credit cards, in my humble opinion. Ranging from 1.5-5% cash back and an introduction of $200 cash back when you spend $500 in the first 60 days of opening your credit card account, it's easy to pay for your natural products and get rewarded for doing so. In my first week of having our card, we earned $210 in cash back.
Apply for a Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card here.
Download the Inbox Dollars App
Inbox Dollars is an app most popular for filling out surveys and earning money. Many don't know you can also use their website to print coupons for free and get paid for each coupon you redeem in the store. Using these coupons can help lower costs, and you'll still be able to redeem your rebates in their app and other apps, which I will mention in the next section of this post. Between the website's coupons and their app, I have made about $100 annually.
Download Inbox Dollars here and get a $1 welcome bonus.
Download the Sweatcoin App
Sweatcoin is an app that tracks your walking and pays you just for walking around. Sweatcoin tracks indoor and outdoor steps, unlike most apps. They have PayPal cash out and a store for buying stuff through their unique currency and auctions for products and more. Sweatcoin is a great app to have since you'll already be walking around the store, so why not get paid to do it?
Download Sweatcoin here and get welcome bonus points.
Download the Google Opinion Rewards App
Google Opinion Rewards is most commonly known as a survey app that uses your locations in the background to see where you shop and then asks you 3-5 questions based on where you’ve been. Each survey pays between $0.10-$0.40 and takes about a minute to fill out. After every $2 you make, they automatically transfer the money over to your linked PayPal account. I’ve earned nearly $70 annually through this app.
Download Google Opinion Rewards here.
Download the Drop App
The drop app gives you points per item you get through their app for spending money at a retailer. You also have to link your debit or credit card to it to track where you shop, but I promise you, it doesn't charge your card. You can also fill out surveys and play games for extra points. I've made about $50 annually with this app.
Download Drop here and get a bonus of 10,000 points ($10) when you reach 1,000 points.
Download the Acorns App
The Acorns app is mostly known for investing in the stock market for just $5, but many don't realize you can easily use their round-ups to save money. Acorns also have weekly and monthly deposits available to assist in saving money. Acorns isn't precisely a cash-back option, but it's an easy way to save money without ever noticing it's missing. This year alone, I have saved and invested nearly $600 annually without seeing it leave my account. It's great for those who struggle to save money, like myself.
Download Acorns here and get a $5 welcome bonus when you add $5 to your account.
Apps to Download After Going Shopping
After you've done all your shopping, you'll want to redeem all your cash-back bonuses. This section will list all the apps I utilize to get the most cash back from my grocery shopping hauls. Most of these apps are simple to use, and all you need to do is scan your receipt or link your store loyalty card to their app. I usually check all the apps before creating my shopping list to maximize my cashback potential.
Download the Ibotta App
Ibotta is one of my favorite apps because you get rebates on purchases you're already making. You can get $0.10-0.25 just for uploading a receipt, $.25 for milk, coffee, and water, and then rebates for $2 on specific products; sometimes, there's even a promotion for the price of the total product back. I like this because even as someone plant-based, I have rebate options, unlike many apps.
I usually check each store's rebates before shopping, as I typically go to a combination of 5+ stores per week to ensure I get everything I want and need for the week and make a list from there. You can also shop online on websites like Amazon and get rebates on your entire order. There are also monthly team bonuses if you reach all goals when you join my team. So far, I have made nearly $200 annually in this app, although I often am not consistent in using this app.
Download Ibotta here and use code CW6PXQ while registering to earn up to $20 in welcome bonuses.
Download the Fetch Rewards App
Fetch Rewards is similar to Ibotta, but instead of cash rebates, you get points that can be traded to purchase gift cards from all different retailers and even Visa and Amazon gift cards. Fetch Rewards traditionally gives you free 25 points per grocery receipt and then bonus points for specific brands upwards of 2,000 points per bonus (1000 points = $1). I have cashed out $40 worth the gift cards annually, but I am famous for forgetting to upload my receipts and saving up my points recently. I am also renowned for collecting receipts in the store to scan and make even more money.
I usually check the specific bonuses before each shopping trip, sometimes, you get 5,000 points for spending $15 on a particular brand, and then there is often an additional bonus for specific products by that brand that usually earn 2,000 points and can be redeemed five times. That's an easy $15 back when spending $15 on their products. When cashing out, you can get gift cards to restaurants, retail stores, pet stores, charities, and so much more; there's something for everyone.
Download Fetch Rewards here and use code A2EBU while registering to get a bonus of 2,000 points ($2).
Download the Checkout 51 App
Checkout 51 is just like Ibotta, just with fewer rebate options. You can get rebates for any purchase of eggs, bread, or specific products. There's even the option to get cash-back on gas per gallon and Sam's Club memberships. You can earn additional cash by shopping online and filling out surveys. You can even add your loyalty cards to this app to make it easier to get cash back if forgetting may be a problem.
I usually check to see what rebates are going on before my shopping trip, and it also helps me find new products that may be suitable for my dietary restrictions. I also like to see what gas stations are participating in the gas purchase cash-back as each location has a different amount of cash-back per gallon. This app is usually the app I forget about, and I lose a lot of money-making opportunities because of it. I recently downloaded this app, started using it more frequently, and have made about $30 annually.
Download Checkout 51 here and get up to $5 in welcome bonuses.
Download the Amazon Shopper Panel App
Amazon Shopper Panel is a unique app that's quite simple to use and quickly makes $10 every month. Amazon Shopper Panel requires you to scan ten monthly receipts to receive a $10 payout through an Amazon gift card or a charitable donation on your behalf. The only receipts that don't count are from Amazon or Amazon retailers like The Fresh Market. Upon completing your ten monthly receipts, you will not earn additional money for uploading more, but this is a simple way to make $120 in Amazon gift cards or charitable donations per year. You can also fill out surveys when they pop up for about $0.25 per survey, and they're usually only 2-3 questions long, taking less than a minute to complete.
Download Amazon Shopper Panel here for your potential welcome bonus.
Download the Coinout App
Coinout is a straightforward app. All you need to do is upload any receipt, and depending on the day, they give you a different amount of money. The amount Coinout gives could be anywhere from $0.01-$0.35 per receipt. There are options to shop online and get a percentage back and weekly trivia, scavenger hunts, and bonuses to earn extra cash. You may also do bonuses upward of $50 for creating accounts with other businesses and even connecting your email and Amazon accounts to scan for receipts. I’ve made about $100 annually in this app, and although I chose to redeem it directly to my bank, there is an option to redeem it through Pay Pal and Amazon gift cards.
Download Coinout here for your potential welcome bonus.
Download the Receipt Hog App
Receipt Hog is one of the first apps I ever downloaded, but I always seem to forget about it. Many people have had to wait on waitlists to join this app, but there seem to be some openings now, so I would really recommend registering immediately before they close the app again. Receipt Hog is similar to Coinout, but instead of cash money, you receive points per receipt depending on how much you spend. You also get to play slots for consecutively scanning receipts each week and for connecting your loyalty cards, Amazon, and email accounts. I have made approximately $55 annually in this app and have previously redeemed through PayPal, but there is also an option to redeem through a Visa or Amazon gift card.
Download Receipt Hog here and use code FRONK498 for your welcome bonus.
Download the ReceiptPal App
ReceiptPal is similar to Receipt Hog, but instead, you have to fill "receipt cards," which have four receipts per card, and when you upload the four receipts, you get 100 points. You can earn bonuses for continuously adding receipts, as well as connecting your Amazon, retailer, and email accounts to scan for receipts and receive 500 points per retailer successfully connected to your account. You can redeem your points for gift cards for select retailers, Amazon included. 2,200 points = $5 gift card, 4,000 points = $10 gift card, 17,250 = $50 gift card, and 32,250 points = $100 gift card. I have made about $50 annually with this app.
Download ReceiptPal here for your potential welcome bonus.
Apps to Download Before Shopping Online
Although most of this post is dedicated to shopping in-store, I wanted to share an option for shopping online considering the state of the country and the holiday season approaching; many find online shopping to be much easier than dealing with the crowds in the stores.
Download the Rakuten App
Rakuten is a pretty popular rebate app that you can use when shopping online; there are some bonuses for shopping in-store but not as often as online shopping rebates. Rakuten is perfect for the holiday season shopping, especially Black Friday. This app will usually give you a percentage of cashback per store. All you do is go into the app first and then choose where you’d like to shop, and you’ll get a percentage of cashback for your purchase. I am new to this app still, but I've made a rough $50 annually.
Download Rakuten here and get a $10 bonus when you spend your first $25 through their app.
How to Save Money Easily
Experts typically recommend saving 10 to 20 percent of your income for things such as retirement, emergencies, and other financial goals (1). Unfortunately, living expenses aren't cheap; the minimum wage isn't a living wage, even for two working partners, and of course, add in debt, which is so easy to accumulate yet so difficult to pay off, making it nearly impossible to save funds for any occasion (2). It's no wonder only about one in five working Americans set aside money for their short or long-term goals (3). There are many benefits to saving money, such as:
Can aid in financial uncertainties in the case of an emergency for travel expenses, car expenses, medical expenses, or anything else that may arise.
It helps support financial obligations in the case of a sudden loss of employment.
It can assist in financing a dream vacation.
It endows you with financial freedom
It promotes better money-management skills
Allows you to prepare for retirement
It devises limitations to accumulating debt, especially credit card debt potentially.
It permits funding to further education for yourself or your children if that's the route you/they wish to take.
It budgets finances for a downpayment on a house or car
It permits a financial reserve for better holiday celebrations and gifts
How does an extra $4,000 sound right about now? With the uncertainty in today's society, building better financial skills is crucial, and the Envelope Challenge is an easy way to start. It's quite a simple way to save money, and there are several variations you can do to make this challenge work for you. This particular article is more on saving the money you already have, and it's called the Envelope Challenge.
Traditional Envelope Challenge
The Traditional Envelope Challenge is when you have 52 envelopes marked 1-52. Once a week, you draw a random envelope and put the allotted amount marked into the envelope. After you've successfully set the correct amount of money in the envelope you drew, you'd seal the envelope and do the same thing every week for 52 weeks. At the end of the Traditional Envelope Challenge, you'd have saved up $1,378 in a year, that may not seem like much, but it's much better than nothing at all.
Bi-Weekly Traditional Envelope Challenge
The Bi-Weekly Traditional Envelope Challenge is the same as the Traditional Envelope Challenge. You start with 52 envelopes marked 1-52, but if you get paid bi-weekly, you'd draw two envelopes bi-weekly and fill them before sealing them. This variation would allow you to save $1,378, but if you need a little more leeway, you can do 26 envelopes marked 1-26 or 27-52 to save $340 or $1,027 for the year; again, this may not seem like much, but it's better than nothing.
Repeat Envelope Challenge
The Repeat Envelope Challenge is when you follow the same steps as the Traditional Envelope Challenge, but instead of 52 envelopes marked 1-52, you repeat the 52 envelopes to have two sets of 52 envelopes, both marked 1-52. You'd draw two envelopes each week and fill and seal them, allowing you to save double the amount as the Traditional Envelope Challenge, that's $2,756 saved for the year.
Double Up Envelope Challenge
The Double Up Envelope Challenge is when you follow the same steps as the Traditional Envelope Challenge, but instead of 52 envelopes marked 1-52, you'd have 104 envelopes marked 1-104. You'd again draw two envelopes each week and fill and seal them, allowing you to save $4,082 for the year.
Stable Envelope Challenge
The Stable Envelope Challenge is when you follow the same concept as the Traditional Envelope Challenge, and you mark 52 envelopes. Still, instead of marking them 1-52, you use one steady number, so the number doesn't fluctuate on you and potentially leave you vulnerable to missing a substantial payment. If you mark all 52 envelopes at $20, you'd still save $1,040. If you mark all envelopes to, lets say, $30, $40, or $50, you'd save $1,560, $2,080, or $2,600 for the year.
This past year, 2021, my husband and I did the Bi-Weekly Traditional Envelope Challenge, and sometimes we put a little extra in the envelopes on top of our other ways to accumulate savings as we are saving up for a house right now. This year, we started as a one-income home; it was just my husband working, so it wasn't easy to save. In May, I also became employed full-time, and we switched to the Traditional Envelope Challenge and started putting money in weekly.
Apps to Download to Save Money
If the envelope challenge isn't right for you, there are several apps available that you can download to assist you in saving your money.
Chime is an online bank that I love. This app has an option to save a certain percentage of your paycheck directly to a savings account that has 0.50% APY or Annual Percentage Yield, which is the total amount of interest paid on an account, based on the interest rate and frequency of compounding for 365 days. I have my Chime set to save 10% of each direct deposit; I do not touch that money under any circumstances and have saved over $1,000 this way.
Download Chime here and get $100 when you receive your first qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more within the first 45 days of enrolling.
Coinbase is a crypto-currency app that allows you to invest in crypto-currency. The great thing about this app is that they pay you in crypto-currency to learn about crypto-currency. This not only educates you on what each type of currency is but gives you a little extra money in your pocket, or you can keep it invested and watch it grow.
Download Coinbase here and get $10 when you trade $100 in crypto.