How to make Money with your smartphone

How to Make

If you own a smartphone, wouldn’t it be nice to use it to make some extra money? Imagine being able to do all of your Christmas shopping by just using the money you’ve earned with a few apps throughout the year!  There are a ton of apps out there to help you make money, from buying groceries, watching videos, mystery shopping and even logging your workouts. I don’t have time to do all of those and honestly, I don’t want to be hooked to my phone all day. So, here is a list of my favorite apps that I use each month. They don’t take long to use once you have it downloaded and your account set up. Using these apps can easily save you up to $50 a month!

(Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this post next month for more money saving apps)

Ibotta – I love this app and it is super easy to use. Download the app and create an account. Then, simply find the store you shop at in the app, browse through the rebate offers, unlock the rebate for the items you purchased by answering one question, watch a short ad, or read a recipe. (literally takes a couple seconds) Take a picture of your receipt with your phone and they will credit your account with the value they assigned that item. If you sign up using my link, you should get $10 after you download the app and submit your first receipt! (You can create an account on your computer then log in once you have the app downloaded on your phone)

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Saving Star – Once you download this app and create an account, you need to load your store loyalty cards to your account and then click on the items that you plan on buying before you go to the store. Once you check out at a store, the app will credit your account with the value assigned to the item that you purchased as long as you are shopping at a store that you’ve already linked your savings card too. (it takes a few hours to see the money deposited into your account). Super easy!

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Checkout 51 -Download the app and create an account. Pick an item from their list that matches what you purchased at any store, take a picture of your receipt with your phone and that’s it! This app requires that you accrue $20.00 before you cash out and takes me a little longer since the items it offers aren’t things I regularly buy, but I still check it before and after I shop to see if they have an item I might be buying.

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Paribus – My newest favorite is Paribus. (This works without a smartphone too! Create an account on your computer and make sure you sign up using the same email that you enter when you make purchases online) This app does all the work for you once you set it up. If you buy anything online at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Gap, J. Crew, Zappos, Macy’s, Staples, etc and get a receipt emailed to you, this app is for you.  Paribus will watch for the price to drop, and once it does, they email the company on your behalf and request a price adjustment. In return, they take 25% of the refund. It seems like a lot, but I don’t have time to constantly look up every item I bought online every day for 30 days to see if the price has changed and then email the company to ask for an adjustment, so any money I get back is more than I would have on my own. Not even 24 hours after I signed up, I had 2 items we had purchased on Amazon a few days prior, change price and the price adjustment credited to our bank account thanks to Paribus. Easy money! (Make sure to use the same email address for the app/computer that you do when you make the purchases or you won’t get a refund)

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Walmart Savings Catcher – This one is similar to Paribus. Download the Walmart App and every time you make a purchase at Walmart, simply scan the barcode on the bottom of your receipt. Walmart then compares it’s prices with retailers in your area and, if it finds a store that sells the item cheaper, it credits your account with the difference.

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A couple other apps that save me money but don’t require much work are:

Retailmenot – This app is great if you are in a store and need a coupon code. Simply type in the store and it will list every coupon that you could use in store or online. I use this all the time at craft stores. Extra tip: ACMoore, Michaels, and JoAnn’s fabric will usually let you use either of their coupons at any stores. So I always look up who has the biggest percentage off an item and use that stores coupon code at a different store.

Favado – Need Ice cream but don’t know who has it on sale this week? Type the item you want in the search bar and it will tell you all the stores that have that item on sale. It will also tell you if there is a coupon that you could use to make the deal even sweeter and you can even pick your store and see the top sales going on that week. I use this at Walmart all the time to price match. I check all the name brand items I am purchasing and see if they are cheaper at another store. Then show the cashier the app with the item and sale price and they automatically adjust the price for you. One shopping trip at Walmart, this app saved me $11 just by price matching!

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So, download an app or 2 and let your smartphone start making you some money. You will be surprised how quickly it adds up.

Our Favorite Learning Toys

In our house, toys are usually only purchased for special occasions such as birthdays or Christmas, unfortunately for Joshua, his birthday and Christmas are only 2 days apart, so we have learned to be very strategic in what toys we purchase for him. Usually, some of our family will call and ask us to research what we feel he needs.Then, we either order it for them, or tell them the toys that we think will encourage a continuous, yet fun, state of learning for the next year.

Can I just tell you, this process of picking out toys that are both educational and fun is no simple task. (Not to mention, they must be extremely durable because he is very rough on toys!) This venture usually ends up with Daniel and I both watching YouTube videos of all the products before we decide which ones we think will work best for him. I’d honestly say that around Christmas time, we spent hours researching all of our options. It may seem like overkill to many, but Joshua has such different needs that we had to make sure the toys fit the bill on many different levels before it made the list.

Here are a few of our favorite picks:

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Our first pick is the VTech Write and Learn Creative Center. It has so many different option such as writing upper case letters, lower case letters, pictures that coincide with the letter sounds, etc. It even teaches kids the proper way to form the letters. Joshua can easily sit for 15 minutes, at a time, playing with this toy and he uses it often.

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Our next pick is also from Vtech. It’s the VTech Lil’ Speller Phonics Station. We used to have something similar that was a magnet that went on the fridge, but we were always losing the letters. This toy comes with a nice carrying case so you can take it wherever you go. Even if your child can’t spell words yet, it will sound out the letters when they go into the slots and has multiple categories so this toy can grow with your child.

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This next toy was something I just found on Amazon while looking for a product that will encourage Joshua to practice what he is learning in school. It’s such a neat product that has so many additional books that you can purchase. We found them all the way up to 3rd grade math and reading. They have options for numbers, colors, shapes, vocabulary, etc. The learning ability of this toy is endless and my kids all loved to use it.

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EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS HOT DOTS JR. LET’S MASTER PRE-K READING SET WITH ACE PEN

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In this set, they work on matching letters, letters with pictures, colors, sequencing, etc. It includes 2 books and the special dog pen that lets them know if they chose the correct answer. It’s super cute and the kids love it when they make the right choice.

Our next favorite, is not only educational, but a great “busy” activity if you need your child to sit still for long periods of time. This is the Melissa & Doug Alphabet Splash Cards. (They sell a bunch of different sets as well as books, we have quite a few and love them all!)

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It uses a small paint pen filled with water to “color” the picture. Once it dries, the picture goes back to it’s original state and is ready to be used again. When Joshua first got these, he literally used them for 5 hours straight! I actually had to put them in front of a fan to dry them quicker so they would be ready when he finished a different set. We use these when we go to church to give him a “busy” activity to do so he stays out of trouble.

Let me know if you end up trying any of these toys for your kids!

 

The Secret to Getting Everything Done

Have you ever wished there was more time in a day? Wondered why you can never get everything done that you planned on doing? Or you saw on Facebook that your friend was able to homeschool her kids, make bread from scratch, go grocery shopping with 5 kids in tow, hang all of her laundry out on the line, sew a new set of curtains, plant a garden, workout for an hour and even have time to play board games with her kids and wondered what you were doing wrong? I know I have!

Here’s the secret…..

Most people CAN’T really keep up with this schedule every day, especially if you have kids! We all have productive days now and again. Social media is great for making us feel guilty when we see everyone’s posts about their “perfect” lives. Not often do we see people post what their lives really look like; the piles of dirty dishes, baskets of clean but not folded laundry, unswept floors, frozen pizza and french fries for dinner, etc….

I used to let it bother me that everyone on social media seemed to have it more together than I did. I would spend each day trying to achieve everything I felt everyone else was apparently able to do. Then I would try to change too much in my life at the same time. I would make everything for our meals from scratch, while making all natural soaps, lotions and laundry detergents (mainly for Abigail because she has super sensitive skin), clip coupon to save as much money as possible, try to keep the house spotless, the laundry washed and hung out on the line to dry (to save electricity), read the latest parenting advice and keep my kids entertained with fun projects so they weren’t watching tv. All this while trying to keep up with all of Joshua’s appointments and cleaning up everything he got into.

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Joshua milk spill

The only thing this accomplished was to wear me out and stress my family out because they couldn’t really “live” in their own house. I realized I was having an issue with pride…I wanted to be able to “do it all” too….then I asked myself what benefit this was going to be in the long run. It’s not like I was going to win a prize the day I accomplished everything on my “to do list”. Sure my house would be clean and my family well fed but what would my kids remember? Would they remember the homemade healthy meals or that their mother only cared about a clean house? I want them to remember the time I spent with them, not the time I spent cleaning the kitchen counters for the 50th time that day. I was allowing my pride to get in the way of enjoying my kids fully.

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I’m not saying that it’s wrong to want all of those things and if you are able to do it all, everyday, I’m happy for you! But I’ve decided for myself and the happiness of my family, during this crazy season of life, that I needed to “let it go”. This doesn’t mean that I’m not doing housework anymore, I’m just working on not needing my house to be “perfect” all the time and learning to be CONTENT!  I’ve made some changes to my daily routine to save me some time and allow me the chance to spend more quality time with my family.

Here are a few things I do differently now:

  1. I don’t always make my bed … yikes!!
  2. I’ve started shopping at Aldi because they don’t take coupons but still have great prices that allow me to stay within our grocery budget and they have a good selection of gluten free food for Joshua. (I do occasionally use coupons at other stores if I happen to have time to look up the coupon match-ups)
  3. I do a load of laundry a day so I don’t get overwhelmed on the weekend.
  4. I found some products on Amazon that work for Abigail’s skin so I don’t have to make them all.
  5. I made our menu plan super simple. (I love to cook and used to make elaborate meals only to find out my kids wouldn’t eat it, so I’ve decided to keep it simple and make healthy meals that I know everyone will eat. I end up not spending so much time cooking and my kids eat their dinner so it’s a win-win!
  6. I do my main kitchen clean up once the kids go to bed so the next morning I don’t start with a disaster. This makes a huge difference. The days I skip this step, I feel like I can’t catch up.

These small changes have allowed me to maintain a (relatively) clean house, feed my family healthy meals and even work on a few DIY projects around the house. I wish I had learned that I don’t have to feel guilty for not being able to “do it all” years ago! (I will admit that it’s tempting to relapse when Martha Stewart tells me what my house “should” look like.)

Life is short and I want to enjoy my kid’s little years. The laundry and dishes will always be there, but those precious little faces won’t. One day, they will be all grown up and not need me anymore….then I will have plenty of time to clean my house.

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