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Budget Basics 101 // Cash Back Apps

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In additional to the cash back websites I shared about two weeks ago, there are also a few cash back apps you need to know about. To date, we haven’t earned a ton of money from these apps but I’m almost at $20 in one app, which is the cash out rate and I’ve already earned a $5 reward with another. I never say no to free money so even though these apps just add a little bit back into our budget, they are worth using to me.

Ibotta

Out of all 3 apps I will be sharing with you, this one is most worth your while. Once you download the app and create an account, you are able to input your zip code and stores local to you will become available. You can search the app by store or category. Once you select an item from a certain store, all you have to do is purchase the item, scan the barcode and snap a picture of your receipt. I love Ibotta because of all the apps, it has the best selection of stores and items for receiving cash back. Ibotta also offers cash back on online purchases at select retailers. For a while, they were running a deal of 5% cash back on Jet.com purchases, so I definitely took advantage of that. If you use Ibotta for online purchases, make sure you check the cash back rate agains, ebates, Swagbucks and Topcashback to see which one offersthe best deal. The payout for Ibotta is $20 so depending on how much of the selected products you buy from the stores that are available, it may or may not take a while to cash out. To reach the payout sooner, you can always refer friends to Ibotta to earn an extra $5 per new user and your friend will receive $10 to their account.

Checkout 51

This app is similar to Ibotta in that it offers cash back on grocery items. However, Checkout 51 has a very limited selection of items so I’ve found that I haven’t made as much as quick when compared with Ibotta. Since downloading the app, I’m only at $1.50 and the payout rate is $20. I’ve seen Checkout 51 offer $.25 back on a dozen eggs and our local Aldi sells them for $.78/dozen so that was an awesome deal! This app may seem like a waste of time to some, but I’m okay with waiting for the cash back to accumulate.

Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog is an app that rewards users for uploading pictures of their receipts. Depending on how much you spend, you will be rewarded an amount of coins. As the coins accumulate, they can be redeemed for rewards ranging from $5-$40 (cash in your PayPal account, Amazon gift cards or magazine subscriptions). Essentially, Receipt Hog is paying users for the data they receive from the receipts. Prior to snapping a photo of each receipt, I’m usually asked one survey type question (typically I’m asked to rate my shopping experience on a scale of 1-5 stars). So far, I’m up  to a $5 reward and am letting the money accumulate until I can max out at $40. Again, not a significant amount of money, but right now it’s enough toward free products on Amazon or a free coffee!

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Budget Basics 101 // Meal Planning

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“What’s for dinner?” seems to be the age old question that, when asked constantly, is enough to send anyone over the edge. Serving ones family by planning meals, shopping for them and preparing them seems like an easy enough task but amongst all that wives and moms do, it often becomes a point of frustration and discouragement. I remember as a newlywed I spent hours each week researching recipes online, making shopping lists and preparing a meal plan hoping to be this super awesome wife who was a mix of Sarah, the woman described in Proverbs 31, and Martha Stewart (pre criminal activity, of course).

I tried to come up with new ideas but found myself intimidated by the whole process and ended up repeating meals quite often. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this but my poor husband became tired of certain meals and would graciously let me know when it was time to switch it up. Honestly, I was tired of the same meals too.

Once I became pregnant and had our daughter, I didn’t have hours to set aside each week for researching recipes. I was also way more tired in those early months and would often forget to write items down on my shopping list which was very frustrating, especially if a meal depended on said item. We were beyond blessed to have our Texas church family provide meals for the first month of our daughter’s life but after that I knew I would need to find a solution that would best serve my family.

I looked into a few meal planning services, desperate for a solution but found that they weren’t quite the fit we were looking for. I used emeals for a while and liked it overall but many of the recipes in our meal plan included fish, which I don’t particularly like and steak, which we only buy a few times a month and usually only if it’s on sale. I had also seen posts for $5 Meal Plan which is similar to emeals but at the time I tried it, they weren’t offering paleo which is primarily what I like to prepare for my family.

When I saw a post in a Facebook moms group for Plan to Eat, I knew I had to give it a try. After signing up for the free 30 day trial, I was sold. Plan to Eat is the best option for me because it gives me the flexibility I need when it comes to meal planning. Financially, it makes SO much sense because we only buy what we need – no food goes to waste and we don’t go over our grocery budget.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Some of my favorite features of Plan to Eat are:

  • The flexibility to add recipes from anywhere – copy and paste a link or manually type it in.

 

  • The drag and drop calendar – I’m a visual person, so this is really helpful.
  • Being able to add to the calendar – we buy miscellaneous items that aren’t necessarily recipe ingredients (i.e. snacks) and Plan to Eat allows me to type them in on the calendar which automatically adds them to the shopping list.
  • Adding friends – I LOVE this feature because once you become friends with another Plan to Eat user, you get instant access to all their recipes. If you choose to sign up, feel free to connect with me, my user name is LDuPrez.
  • No mobile app – this might seem a bit behind the times but Plan to Eat does have a mobile site which allows me to physically check off items as I purchase them. For me, this is way more practical than printing out a list and carrying it around the store, especially since my one year old would probably eat it at some point (not that we’ve ever had that happen or anything. . . ) and this means one less app taking up space.
  • Adding my Meal Plan to my Google Calendar – Google Calendar is simply one of my favorite apps (yes, I know I’m a nerd) and having the ability to take my meal plan and place it on my calendar is a great feature. With the Plan to Eat calendar, users are provided with links to their recipes, ingredients and notes – you have the flexibility to add whichever calendars you want to your Google Calendar or other calendar apps that allow import via URL. I may or may not have imported our recipes to my husbands calendar to keep him from asking, “What’s for dinner?” (and of course, he still asked just to be obnoxious).

Overall Plan to Eat is a win because it is extremely flexible, it does the work for me, it makes it so easy to find new recipes, it saves me a TON of time and I can add my meal plan to my calendar – I’m so grateful that the meal planning madness has finally come to an end!

Check out the slideshow below to view my personal Plan to Eat interface to see how it works.

Overall Plan to Eat is a win because it is extremely flexible, it does the work for me, it makes it so easy to find new recipes, it saves me a TON of time and I can add my meal plan to my calendar – I’m so grateful that the meal planning madness has finally come to an end!

 

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Budget Basics 101 // Cash Back Websites

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If you could get paid to shop, would you?

When I learned about the various ways to earn a passive income by shopping through cash back websites, I jumped at the opportunity. Don’t be alarmed, this isn’t one of those weird, too good to be true scams. If you are smart about the way you shop, these sites have the potential to add hundreds of dollars back into your budget and provide you with savings on everything from household items to travel accommodations. This week I am sharing with you the top three sites I’ve found to be most helpful and the pros and cons of each. I’ve used each of these sites at various times for various reasons and it has forever changed the way I shop.

Ebates

Ebates is probably the best known cash back website. I joined in 2015 when my husband and I were expecting our daughter. We had received money and gift cards at one of our baby showers just in time for Cyber Monday shopping. I was searching online for coupons for baby items we were purchasing and stumbled across Ebates. I had heard the name Ebates in the past but was truly clueless as to what the site was actually for. I learned that by signing up, I would have $10 automatically added to my account. Once my account was set up, I learned that I could generally earn 2%-5% cash back for items I was already purchasing online (although Ebates now offers cash back for some in store transactions too). I found out that Ebates has a referral program too so that meant a little bonus was added to my account for each person who signed up via my affiliate links. I immediately sent out links to close family members and friends to earn a little extra. So far I’ve earned $129.96 through Ebates – not a fortune, but it has been helpful.

Pros: 

  • Sign up bonus of $10
  • Sign up was easy
  • Earning cash back is easy
  • Great referral rates
  • Cash back online and in select stores and restaurants
  • Cash Back Button makes it easy to see which sites offer cash back
  • Custom coupons (when redeeming cash back for a certain retailer, always check for Ebates specific coupons – typically their coupons can be stacked with coupons provided by the retailer)

Cons: 

  • Payout is quarterly
  • Lower cash back rates compared to other sites

Swagbucks

I’ve been using Swagbucks for about 7 years and initially discovered it while attending a couponing class hosted by a friend at church. Essentially Swagbucks is a rewards site in which users earn Swagbucks in exchange for completing various activities. If you’d like to add “money” to your account, you can do so by taking surveys, daily polls, performing web searches, redeeming coupons and my personal favorite, shopping online. To me, it’s not worth it to spend time doing many of the activities on Swagbucks because they don’t pay very well. However, if you have the time, it may be worth it for you. I created an account for my husband (I didn’t find this to be a violation of the Swagbucks terms of use) and we primarily use his account as I earn 10% of what he makes since he signed up via my referral link. Once a Swagbucks account reaches 500, bucks can be redeemed for various types of gift cards (you can wait until you reach 2500 and receive money sent directly to your PayPal account which is my favorite option). Since I’ve been using Swagbucks, I’ve earned $67.10 which may not seem like much but it has been helpful. My goal with Swagbucks is to earn gift cards to stores we regularly shop at (Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club) and to buy small household items so we can remove those costs from our regular budget (and of course, I buy those items online so I can earn my cash back!). With Swagbucks gift cards we’ve been able to purchase baby wipes, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and we occasionally order a Starbucks gift card.

Pros:

  • Sign up bonus of $5
  • Cash back is easy to earn
  • No payout calendar (it’s up to you to decide how fast you want to earn and how soon you want to cash out)
  • Swagbucks can be redeemed for gift cards and cash
  • Custom coupons (when redeeming cash back for a certain retailer, always check for Swagbucks specific coupons – typically their coupons can be stacked with coupons provided by the retailer)
  • There are various activities you can do to help you earn your payout threshold of 500 Swagbucks
  • Referral program allows you to earn 10% of your referral’s earnings for life

Cons:

  • You must earn 2500 Swagbucks if you want to receive actual money
  • Swagbucks can take a while to add up
  • Referral rate is lower than other cash back programs

TopCashback

TopCashBack is one of the newer cash back sites but is also typically the highest paying. Whenever I make an online purchase, I check between all 3 sites to make sure I’m getting the best deal. TopCashback also has it’s own coupon codes that can usually be stacked with those offered by retailers and it sometimes provides cash back for retailers that Ebates and Swagbucks don’t (again, it’s best to check all 3).

Pros: 

  • Sign up bonus of $10
  • No payout threshold – once your purchase has been confirmed, you can request payment immediately.
  • You can earn additional cash back by cashing out via various gift card options (American Express, Amazon, Gap, Nike and Hotels.com to name a few)
  • Custom coupons (when redeeming cash back for a certain retailer, always check for TopCashBack specific coupons – typically their coupons can be stacked with coupons provided by the retailer)
  • You can donate your cash back to charity (it looks like The American Red Cross is the only one currently available)
  • Good referral rate

Cons:

  • It takes a while for purchases to be confirmed
  • User dashboard isn’t as easy to navigate as other sites

How to make the most of your online purchases: 

  • Buy used gift cards from Raise.com and use them toward products you are already purchasing
  • Review all 3 sites for the best cash back value and coupons
  • Take advantage of free shipping if it makes sense
  • Take advantage of buying online and picking up in store (As a mom of a 1 year old, I LOVE this!)
  • Plan ahead and shop during holidays (This is where it’s important to budget for the future – the best deals I’ve found have occurred on Cyber Monday).
  • Sign up for emails (I suggest creating an account for store emails and only check it while shopping to learn what sales coupons are available. I have about 3 retailers whose emails I receive daily and this allows me to learn the pattern of when coupons and sales are available and helps me plan the best times to shop at those stores.)
  • Sign up for text messages (Most retailers will send you a coupon within 24 hours of signing up for text alerts.)
  • There’s an app for that (Most retailers will give you some kind of coupon or freebie once you download their app. Personally, I don’t like having a ton of apps that I don’t regularly use so if I need a coupon, I’ll download the app, retrieve the coupon and then delete the app.)

Join me next week for additional ways to save with my top 3 cash back apps and be sure to check out the rest of The Frugal Family series below!

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Budget Basics 101 // Cell Phones

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Can you hear me now? Good. Because our cell phone situation is one you want to pay close attention to especially if you are looking to add over $1000 a year back into your budget.

Prior to being married, I remember spending time researching which cell phone company would be the best for us financially. I knew I wanted the iPhone despite past reservations and at the time, the only carriers offering it required a two year contract. We were stuck deciding between Verizon and Sprint and ultimately chose Sprint because our monthly bill would be lower. Since my husband and I had chosen free phones, he the Galaxy and myself the iPhone, I thought it would be best to save a few dollars and forego purchasing protective cases. We were on a tight budget at the time and since I hadn’t previously dropped any of my smartphones I figured we were good to go. Not even two weeks later, my husband, who was working in construction, came home and let me know that he had accidentally dropped his phone on the job and while it still made sounds, the screen was completely black. Reluctantly, we called Sprint requesting a replacement phone and forked over $150 for a phone that was initially free. It was painful knowing that we could have spent $25-$40 for a good case and prevented the unnecessary expense but hindsight, after all, is 20/20.

After my phone surviving halfway through our contract term, I was a new mom with a tired brain and completely forgot that I left my phone in an open pocket on our baby carrier. I pulled the carrier out of our car and my phone fell, screen down, on the asphalt. My heart sank a little as I realized some of the glass screen had completely shattered off of the phone and there was a huge crack down the middle. The phone still worked – mostly. At that point, with a new baby, we really couldn’t afford an additional $150 for a replacement phone or even the $100 to get the screen fixed. Over time, my phone started experiencing a variety of problems due to being dropped and has pretty much stopped working altogether.

Final Score: Phones 2, DuPrez’s 0.

After all the phone drama, I decided enough was way more than enough and began to look for ways we could have the phones we wanted without spending $150/month which is what our Sprint contract was costing us. My husband ended up hating his Samsung Galaxy and wished he has chosen the iPhone instead. I am now an iPhone aficionado too and hope never to switch to something else. I knew if we were to both have iPhones, I was going to have to find a plan that would work better with our budget and stretch our hard earned dollars a little further.

We considered ending our Sprint contract early but decided not to since we didn’t have all the money up front to purchase new phones, pay for a new plan and pay the Sprint cancellation fee of $200. This was painful but it also gave me time to research our options. For the longest time we debated between Straight Talk which offers unlimited everything for $45/month or Virgin Mobile which offers the same for $35/month. Our hope was that since everything was unlimited we could save even more money by not having to pay for internet service. We initially decided we would go with Virgin Mobile because of the cheaper cost over time but since the only available iPhones in stock were near $400 each, which made us hesitant to make the move. We had been waiting to receive our tax return to purchase our new phones but still weren’t comfortable with paying so much for a device that isn’t necessary for our survival and has a life expectancy of roughly two years.

While listening to Pandora recently, I heard a commercial for Boost Mobile and decided I would check them out just to see what they could offer. It turns out they had refurbished iPhone 6’s in stock for $199.99 each and they offer and unlimited everything plan for $30/month. I was instantly sold. Before purchasing however, I decided to Google “Boost Mobile Coupon Code” and found a coupon code on RetailMeNot for 50% off any phone purchase under $399.99. HECK. YES. This was the perfect fit for us.

To boost our budget a little more, we will be purchasing our minutes via the Walmart link on Swagbucks which will send our code for our minutes right to our email – no need to drive to the store when we run out AND will give us 7% cash back. Since the overall cost was much lower than anticipated, we were able to use money from our regular income to get new phones – FINALLY! We’re also a little wiser this time around and invested in this case.

We spent a bit of time researching and discussing what would be the wisest phone choice for our family and are so blessed to have found this option through Boost Mobile, which, it turns out, is backed by Sprint. We’ll be getting the same quality of service for a fraction of the cost! No more contracts and silly fees for us.

PS – My friend Brandee who uses T-Mobile knew about our move to Boost and was inspired to find a way to cut her bill. She called them and was able to get the to lower her bill by $40/month!

What steps will you take to trim your cell phone bill?

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Budget Basics 101 // YNAB

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If you’ve been looking for a tool to help you budget, look no further. You Need A Budget, or YNAB as it is commonly called, is the perfect solution for helping you get on track and stay there. I began using YNAB while I was single to see what all the hype was about. I could barely afford the initial fee at the time so I searched Google for a coupon and was fortunate to find one. Initially YNAB was a software you could pay for once and download via an emailed link. I had some trouble understanding how it worked at first but my roommate was kind enough to show me the ins and outs and now I’m not sure how my husband and I would function without it. I really hate spending money if I don’t have to so I was reluctant to upgrade to the new YNAB which is $50 a year or $45 annually for those like me who had purchased the software early on. However, when I realized that I could keep track of our budget and update our expenditures entirely through the YNAB app I was sold.

 

YNAB – web view

When YNAB 4, the first edition of YNAB was released, the only way to update how much money you wanted to place in each spending category was by turning on your computer and updating it from the software. The app allowed users to add transactions which was helpful but the app in it’s current format is way more functional. Having a little one at home, I am all about things I can do that serve my family in saving time and money which makes YNAB a win for me.

The heart behind YNAB is to give every dollar a job. It’s the same as the concept of “zeroing out” your budget. My husband and I have added categories for weddings, birthdays, books, coffee and date night – it’s totally customizable to suit your needs. YNAB is extremely flexible and although it comes with some categories built in, you can add to or edit those categories to your liking. Compared with Financial Peace University, another popular budgeting tools, YNAB is only $50/year which breaks down to $4.17/month versus $190 (although the $190 is for a lifetime, we have found the value of  YNAB to be greater). YNAB does have to be renewed annually but for us it has been more practical than listening to talks about finances, going through a program and reading a book (#aintnobodygottimeforthat). YNAB is also more friendly toward those who prefer to use the card system versus the cash system, although it can be used for both. We primarily use cards when making purchases and hardly have cash on hand so the envelope system of Financial Peace University just doesn’t work for us.

 

YNAB – app view

Because we use YNAB, we were able to pay off our lease early. We also paid off our Sprint contract early and switched to a company that will save us $90/month – all while living on an income provided by unemployment. Of all seasons, you would think unemployment would be a period of financial unrest but YNAB allowed us to plan for our future and has helped us to abound financially.

If you think YNAB would be a good fit for you, click here to try it free for 34 days.

PS, Derek got a job – praise God! – so we are really looking forward to using YNAB when regular pay checks come in!

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The Frugal Family // Series Intro

If you’ve spent some time reading through previous posts on this blog, you are likely well aware that I am passionate about pinching pennies and doing whatever it takes to boost our budget. I’m a super saver of sorts. Since ultimately everything we own is the Lord’s, I want to do my best to ensure that we are faithful stewards of what He has entrusted to us. As you may know, my husband recently lost his job. Because God is faithful, unemployment has been one of the hardest trials we have endured but also one of great blessing.

In this season, my husband and I were never fearful over our financial situation because 1) We trust God and know that He is sovereign and 2) we have been working with a budget since we were first married. As part of our premarital counseling, we were required to present our budget to our counselors and I’m so grateful we did because it has helped immensely.

While living on a budget consisting primarily of unemployment funds, we were able to pay off our lease early (we decided not to break it when we moved as it was pretty pricey) and we were also able to complete our contract with Sprint early (we decided not to renew – more on that later).

Budgeting can be frustrating at times but in this day and age, there are plenty of tools to help, a few of which I will be covering throughout this series.

My hope is that by sharing about some of the budget basics we have applied, you will be encouraged and equipped to implement these measures that will help you be a faithful steward of your resources.

To kick off this series in which I will be sharing a few of our family’s favorite apps, tricks and tips for making the most of what you’ve  been entrusted, I want to share with y’all two of my favorite resources that help us understand God’s heart behind money.

  1. Whose Money Is It Anyway?  – A sermon series by John MacArthur. I listened to this when I was first married and it really convicted my heart toward certain attitudes I had toward money and helped me desire to be a better steward.
  2. Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn- I actually bought this as an e-book with a settlement I received from Barnes and Noble which I am grateful for because at the time, I wouldn’t have been able to buy it otherwise. I haven’t finished this book yet but based on what I have read, I highly recommend it. Unlike Dave Ramsey’s materials, Randy Alcorn gets to the heart behind stewardship, reminds readers that everything is the Lord’s, our hope isn’t in our possessions and that ultimately our trust should be in God. Trusting God to provide for us was a really big struggle in my life at times and this book provided the encouragement my heart desperately needed. I’ve heard high praise for his book The Treasure Principle and am looking forward to reading it in the future.

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Get the Most Gift for Your Green

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green-gift

Maybe it’s because I’m old fashioned or maybe it’s because I’m an introvert – either way, I HATE Black Friday. Back in my day, stores were closed on Thanksgiving and the day after so employees could enjoy spending time with their families. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where that no longer happens (unless you live in the south). Our culture’s growing affection for consumerism has been distastefully on display with the advent of new technologies which causes discontent and further exacerbates the problem. Black Friday is no longer (and probably has never been) about how you can be the best steward of your finances while blessing your loved ones in a tangible way. Rather, it’s become a petty consumerist competition whose aim is to help us (and of course, our loved ones) keep up with the Joneses.

My husband and I want our children to enjoy things on earth knowing that, every good and perfect gift comes from above, however, we don’t want them to have so much that they lose sight of this. Our hope is that as we image our Heavenly Father who gives good gifts (Matthew 7:11 & Luke 11:13), our children will exhibit hearts of gratitude and praise to God who has given His children the best gift – salvation from sin and eternity with Him!

This year we are adopting the Want, Need, Wear, Read philosophy (something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read) of gift giving in our family to keep the focus on what is really important. Since we currently have just one child, this will be rather easy. I am planning on buying Addie this Curious George tea set because every little girl needs a one!

Whatever your gifting philosophy may be, please enjoy my top 10 tips to help you get the most gift for your green.

1. Shop Around

It seems that whenever we want to shop online, the first store we look to is Amazon. In recent years, Amazon has become a leader in online shopping due to it’s low prices and the many benefits of it’s Prime Membership. We currently don’t have a membership with Amazon so we typically make purchases on Jet.com (which is now offering 15% off your first 3 orders for new accounts) and Walmart.com which both typically have prices that are lower than Amazon. If you do have Prime, however, it may make sense for you to utilize Amazon.

2. Maximize Your Cash Back

If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you may be well aware of the ways you can save with ebates and Swagbucks  which are both great options but I also want to point out TopCashback. What I love about TopCashback is that there is no payout minimum so once your transaction is processed, you can request your cash back right away. Swagbucks has a $5.00 minimum and ebates has a $5.02 minimum (referrals don’t count toward this) and only pays out quarterly. TopCashback has a $10 referral rate, just like ebates and it can be withdrawn once the individual you refer signs up and makes their first purchase. Additionally, TopCashback typically offers a higher cash back percentage when compared with Swagbucks and ebates. Be sure to check all 3 sites for special deals especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I utilized ebates last Cyber Monday and made over $120. Planning on traveling soon? Check these sites to learn how you can make the most of your travel budget by earning cash back as you make your reservations!

3. Buy Used Gift Cards

Raise.com offers discounts on used gift cards for almost every retailer. I’ve used Raise to purchase used gift cards on the cheap and then used them to buy items that were already in our budget. Additionally, you will receive $5 off your first purchase when you sign up for Raise by clicking here. By referring your friends, they will also receive $5 off their first order and you will get $5 if they make a purchase within 30 days. To top that off you can go through TopCashback or ebates to earn an additional 1-2% cash back on Raise purchases.

4. Sign Up for Emails

I know this is the step that most of us are reluctant to take since our inboxes are crowded as is. I recommend creating an email account used solely for promotional emails and only signing up with retailers you primarily shop with. Most stores will give you a coupon the first time you join their email list and will provide you with additional savings opportunities later on. There are only five retailers whose promotional emails have made their way to my primary inbox. I receive emails from each of these stores with coupons and sales alerts every day so it has been worth it to sign up.

5. Follow on Social Media

If you’re wanting to keep up with the latest sales from your favorite retailers, go ahead and click that Like button. Following stores on social media is an easy way to get great deals and they often provide coupon codes as well.

6. In Store Pick Up

Most retailers offer this service free of charge for everything from groceries to clothes. I have ordered many household and baby items from Walmart and picked them up in store so I could earn cash back and not have to spend time searching the store for what I needed. In addition to being a time saver, this service is a money saver because it removes the temptation to make unplanned purchases. What I like most about  this service is I don’t have to spend a minimum amount to quality for it which is typically a requirement for free shipping.

7. Free Shipping

This is an option for when #5 isn’t. I LOVE using Jet.com because of the amazing deals I am able to find. Since it’s not a brick and mortar store, however, I usually fill up my cart with discounted household items to meet the $35 minimum. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, be sure to check with all of your favorite retailers for this service as most will offer it without requiring a minimum amount in your shopping cart.

8. Coupon Codes

In addition to giving you free money, sites like ebates, Swagbucks and TopCashback each provide coupon codes for various stores in addition to what the stores are offering. In some cases, you can combine coupons from these sites with coupons from the retailer. Be sure to check each site for the best deals.

9. Retailer Apps

Most retailers offer a coupon for first time app downloaders so this a quick and easy way to get additional savings. Coupon policies vary by stores so be sure to check the policy to verify whether or not you can combine these coupons with other deals.

10. Savings Apps

These free apps are the icing on the cake in my book. You may not earn a ton outright, but overtime the savings do add up. I like to use the funds we earn from these apps for small household items (soap & trial size wipes). The first app I typically use is ibotta which provides rebates for items ranging from produce to clothing. Ibotta is great because you can earn money as you refer friends and earn cash back when making purchases from other stores (of course make sure you compare the rate with the sites mentioned in tip #1 to ensure you get the most bang for your buck!). The second app I like, is Receipt Hog. This app is easy to use, but it does take quite a bit of time before you actually accrue money. Users earn a certain amount of coins for each receipt submitted and once a certain amount of coins is reached, you can cash out. You will have to decide for yourself whether or not this one is worth your time.

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Saving With Sam’s

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For the longest time I avoided grocery warehouses after realizing I could avoid the membership fee by shopping at online retailers including Amazon, Walmart and Jet. I recently changed my mind however when I saw that Sam’s Club was having a special on memberships. I spent some time on their website to check the prices of items we typically buy. I found that they had great deals on produce, baking items and Seventh Generation diapers and wipes. I compared Sam’s to Costco and when I saw that Sam’s had the option of ordering online and picking up in store, I was sold.

Y’all know I’m all about saving money however I can so I was really excited when Sam’s was offering a $20 Sam’s Club gift card at sign up. We selected the basic membership option which is $45 and comes with 2 membership cards.  Our Chase Freedom credit card was offering 5% cash back for the quarter on purchases made at warehouse stores. Additionally, Swagbucks was offering 3% cash back at the time.

Recently, I had enough Swagbucks in my account for a $25 Sam’s Club gift card and decided to use it to buy wipes. Since we had our first baby in March, my goal has been to purchase diapers and wipes without taking from our bottom line and so far I have been successful! I used my gift card for 2 packs of 256 Seventh Generation wipes. Of course, I purchased them through Swagbucks to earn 3% cash back on my purchase and on top of that, the wipes shipped to my house for FREE! (I always check between Swagbucks and Ebates to see which site offers more cash back).

I don’t know about y’all but since I took a couponing class through a friend at church a few years ago, I have enjoyed the thrill of the hunt when it comes to bargains. I’ve resolved to never pay full price or pay for convenience and I have learned so much about saving and stewardship in the process.

What are your favorite ways to save?

0 In Ebates/ Financial Fitness

Diapers and Wipes and Coffee! Oh, my!

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What if I told you that you could get all the above for free (minus the puppy) AND get paid for it?

Well, YOU CAN!

When I was in my single years, I decided to take a couponing class my friend Lauren was hosting for the women in our church (yeah, her name is pretty cool!).

I’ve told my husband about the class and he jokingly said, “Maybe that’s why you were single.”

Maybe – but now that we’re married, I’ve been able to apply so many principles that I learned in that one brief class and they have really helped us save lots of money within our first year of marriage.

I am passionate about sharing money saving tips and tricks with others because I have seen how they have benefitted me and who doesn’t want to save a few dollars?

One of the best tools I learned about is Swagbucks.

Swagbucks is a FREE rewards program that pays users to search the web, take surveys, shop, watch videos and more.

I typically earn my Swagbucks in the following ways:

Daily Poll – 1 Swagbuck

Daily Offers – 2 Swagbucks

Coupon Printing – 10 Swagbucks per coupon redeemed

Web Search – Swagbucks vary

Videos – 1-4 Swagbucks depending on amount watched

(I will open up a tab on my browser for the videos and then mute them and let them run while I am on the computer)

Shopping – Swagbucks vary

(always check against Ebates to see which reward is higher and for additional coupon codes)

Referring other users – 10% of their Swagbucks for life

(I created an account for my husband which is allowed under the Swagbucks referral terms)

I’ve had a Swagbucks account since 2011 and it has been SO worth it!

I recently had earned a little over 2300 Swagbucks in my account which is equal to about $23 depending on how you choose to redeem them.

Swagbucks can be used to purchase various types of gift cards and you can even have cash transferred to your PayPal account once you’ve earned 2500.

I found a great deal on diapers and wipes through ePantry and simply couldn’t wait for my account to reach 2500 so I decided to cash in my bucks for electronic Visa gift cards.

I was able to “purchase” 2 Visa gift cards one for $15 and one for $5.

Unfortunately, ePantry only allows shoppers to use one card per order and my total was $20.66 so I had to come up with another plan.

I knew Target sold Seventh Generation diapers, which is what I prefer to use so I figured I would check there.
I checked Ebates and Swagbucks and Ebates had a better cash back deal so I went through them (only 2% cash back – not much but it will be added to my current refund of $28.47 which of course, will be used for more diapers!).

It turns out Target was having a 10% off sale on Seventh Generation diapers (woot woot!)

Like ePantry, Target also only allows one debit/credit card per transaction making it difficult to apply digital Visa gift cards.

I decided to fill up my cart to as close to $15 as I could – I even found an old Target wedding gift card with $0.56 left on it which was just what I needed to stay within my price range. With the $15 gift card, I “purchased” a bag of 40 Seventh Generation diapers, a 60 count package of WaterWipes and a trial pack of Honest Co. wipes.

I used the $5 gift card to purchase a 72 count pack of Burt’s Bees wipes.

To eliminate the cost of shipping, I arranged to pick up my order in store which is free of charge.

To top it all off, Target sent me coupons for 2 FREE tall drinks to be redeemed in the Starbucks in my local Target store (one coupon for each order I placed).

You may know that my husband and I don’t buy fancy coffee drinks, so this was quite a treat for us.

Overall, my shopping trip was quite successful and I’ve can’t wait until I have enough Swagbucks to complete my ePantry order!

This post contains affiliate links.
0 In Financial Fitness

Healthy Baby Home Party // Become A Host!

 

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Today I was thrilled to be scrolling through my Facebook feed and have it result in something worthwhile!

I saw a post from Seventh Generation about their Generation Good program which allows you to sign up to participate in surveys and forums where you can request FREE samples of Seventh Generation products in exchange for an honest review on your social media accounts and/or blog! I’ve already got some FREE wipes and laundry detergent samples on the way.

One of the aspects of the Generation Good program that I’m most excited about is my FREE VIP status at ePantry where I will receive a FREE Seventh Generation Hand Wash (valued at $3.89) and the best price I’ve been able to find on Seventh Generation Size 1 Diapers (80 for $18.67!) and I even threw in a sample pack of wipes. If that weren’t enough, the shipping is FREE! I’m almost up to $25 in my Swagbucks account so I will just use that to pay for my order. (If y’all remember, my goal is to by diapers using only my residual income).

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I decided a while ago that we would be using Seventh Generation diapers for our baby girl as they are chlorine free and affordable. So I naturally jumped at the opportunity to become a part of the Generation Good community. One of the best parts of belonging to the community is the opportunity to host a Healthy Baby Home Party.

What is a Healthy Baby Home Party?

Seventh Generation’s home parties are powered by people like you who are focused on creating a healthy environment for the next generation. Developed with input from non-profit partner, Healthy Child Healthy World, they are a great way to get together with friends, share helpful information, and make an impact!

Healthy Baby Home Party kits are provided to all selected hosts and are filled with educational info about our environment, helpful tips, a fun game, and samples and coupons from Seventh Generation and other favorite family-friendly brands like bobble, Plum Organics and Zarbee’s Naturals.

What is the Application Process?

  • Sign up at generationgood.net to join the Generation Good community, or log in if already a member.
  • Accept the Healthy Baby Home Party Application offer on your Generation Good dashboard and complete the application.
  • Applicants will be notified by end of March if they have been selected to host a party, via an email to the email address assigned to their Generation Good member profile.
  • All selected applicants will then need to confirm their participation by accepting the Healthy Baby Home Party Mission in Generation Good and confirming their shipping address.
  • 1,900 FREE Party Kits will be distributed in this round.
  • Hosting spots are open to US residents only at this time. Canadian parties are planned for later in 2016!
  • Full terms and conditions are available within Generation Good in the “Healthy Baby Home Party Application” offer.

What are you waiting for? Sign up and begin saving today!

This post contains affiliate links.