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!

 

My Favorite Thrifty Finds of the Week

This was an awesome week when it comes to thrifty finds! I was anxiously waiting for the stores to reduce their Valentine’s items so I could stock up on some things for Abigail’s birthday in April and Target did not disappoint. My other fabulous find this week, was at Goodwill during their 50% off the entire store on President’s day.

Daniel and I were able to go out and celebrate Valentine’s day on Monday, but because the roads were getting icy, we ate dinner at Ninety-Nine’s and then ran down the road to Goodwill just to see if they had anything left, before heading home. (I know, not the most romantic Valentine’s date, but we had a great time) Goodwill has always been hit or miss, (lately mostly a miss), but Monday totally changed that. Here’s what we found:

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We found John 3 pairs of jeans, all name brand,(without holes!!) a pair of corduroy pants, a Gap shirt and a Tony Hawk shirt. Everything was $1.50! Jeans are so expensive once you have to buy anything bigger than a 5T and since he wears holes in all his jeans, I always try to find them either on clearance or at a consignment sale. So this deal made me very happy!

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I actually found a few things for me too! A brand new Gap sweater, Under armor t-shirt, and Nike shorts.

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We found Abigail a Carter’s tunic and Old Navy shirt, which I absolutely love. And this cute little pink bucket for her room to store some small toys in.

On Wednesday, I decided to pop into Target and see if they had marked their Valentine’s clearance down more than 50%, and was super excited to see it was down to 70% already! (Strangely, another Target store about 20 minutes away was still at only 30%) I was hoping to find some party decorations for Abigail’s birthday in April, as well as some small things for the goody bags to pass out to her friends.

Here’s what I found! (Almost all of these items were between .30 – .90 each)

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(Paper straws, small polka-dot bowls, 2 plastic table clothes and some pink heart goodie bags.)

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I love all these little items that will be perfect for gift bags and I couldn’t pass up these adorable gift tags, bakers twine and Washi tape. None of these things actually said “Happy Valentine’s Day” on them, so they will be perfect to use for any occasion.

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The Lego’s, princess book, princess wand and coloring pads will get put in our gift drawer for those times when we need an extra gift for a birthday party. I also love the Princess and Star Wars canvas tote bags. These make great gift bags for birthday gifts since they can be re-used….and at .30 each, they were cheaper than a gift bag from a store.

If you haven’t had a chance to score some Valentine’s clearance, it’s not too late! A lot of stores are just now going down to 70% so you might be able to find some great deals. Let me know what you find!

 

Pre-Snow Grocery Shopping & My Favorite Coupon Blog

So, I’m normally not that person that runs to the grocery store when they forcast a few inches of snow, but unfortunately my coupons did not arrive until today so I had to go. It was a madhouse of people grabbing milk and eggs in preparation for the first real snow of the winter.

I was super excited to go and use the coupons that I had ordered from couponthingsbydede.com and had my list all ready to go thanks to Cindy at Living Rich with Coupons. This is my favorite go-to site for coupon match-ups. Cindy seriously does all the work for me. Not only does she post great deals that pop up during the week, but you can search her site by your grocery store of choice and find what’s on sale and what coupons to use. She also lets you check a box and make a list that you can print out for your shopping trip, including the details of the coupons to use, in case you are like me, and forget exactly how the deal is supposed to work and what coupons you need to use.

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I was able to grab everything on my list, but I still had a few more coupons for the Musselman’s applesauce on sale for $1 this week,  that I couldn’t use because they were sold out. I went to the service desk and got a rain check so I can go back next week when they aren’t on sale and still get them for .25/each with my coupons. I love rainchecks!!
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After I paid, I loaded everything into my car and decided to take a look at my receipt because I was distracted by another cashier striking up a conversation with me, so I wasn’t able to watch the screen as my cashier rang up the items and make sure the prices were ringing up correctly. I realized that my Shop-rite card had not actually scanned, so I didn’t get any of my items at the sale price and the Garnier Fructis deal of buy $15 get $3 off hadn’t worked either! I went back in with my receipt and they were able to credit me for the difference I would have paid if my Shop-rite card had scanned and printed out my $3 catalina for the Garnier Fructis deal. Unfortunately, I had about $5 in e-coupons loaded on my store card for a few items I had purchased and the only way to get those off would be to return my whole order and buy it again. I decided to skip the savings today because it was for items I’m sure I will be buying in the next few weeks so it will all work out in the end.
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So here’s what I ended up with: Before coupons my total was $77.57( it was $97 but then I realized my card hadn’t scanned so that didn’t count the sale prices which brought my total before coupons down to $77.57). After coupons my total was $37.04! And I received $8 in catalinas for my next trip!

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So my budget for next week is now $93.96 (I didn’t want to miss these great deals so I had to steal from next weeks budget but I’m sure we have plenty left to get the remaining groceries we will need.)

Next week is already looking to be a great sale week, my favorite sale looks to be free taco’s at Shoprite! Taco’s are a favorite in our house so I already have my coupons printed and ready to go.

 

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday 
and 
Results for our First Week with a New Grocery Budget
Our family consists of 5 people, 2 adults and 3 children ages 8, 5, and 2. (Although, I feel like the 8 and 2-year-old eat like adults most days) Last year, we tried to stick to $120 a week but it always seemed like we were running out of food half way through the week. I was always going to the store to buy more food and would end up totally blowing our grocery budget. It became so stressful trying to shop with that budget. Not to mention the times I was making food for a function at church, our small group dinners or making a meal for someone who was ill or just had a baby. All of those things never fit in our grocery budget.
This year, we decided to try for $150 a week to be more practical and to compensate for the growing appetites of our kids. At the moment, I technically only have $130 to actually spend because we have ordered some snacks on Amazon Prime so that cost has been divided among the four weeks this month, leaving me with only $130 per week. I went shopping today and actually did great finding some good deals and feel like this could actually work for our family.
We have also decided to use only cash for groceries, so I have to be careful to not go over. It’s so easy to allow myself to overspend when I just use a debit card so we thought this would be the best way to make sure I kept my grocery budget in check.
My first stop today was Aldi. I had to grab a couple frozen pizza because my husband had some friends coming over to watch football and I love how cheap, yet how big an Aldi frozen pizza is. I also love when I see money off stickers on their meat. I grabbed everything I needed for the week that I knew I wouldn’t get cheaper at another store.
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 Next stop was Shop-rite to grab the rest of the groceries we needed for my meal plan. I found some great deals since it’s their preview to “Can-Can Week” Some of the great deals included:
6 packs of applesauce for .50 (great for the boy’s lunches)
GM Cereal for .32 a box
26 ounce canned tomatoes for .26 each
and fries for $1
(all of these prices were with coupons)

 

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My husband made one stop to Stop & Shop to grab another frozen pizza because we were afraid we wouldn’t have enough for our company so that total was $5.79
So my total spent on groceries this week is $96.35
Leaving me with $33.65 extra this week. This will be helpful if we run out of milk but hopefully we can just roll it over into the next week.
Here is what we plan on using these groceries to make:
Breakfast:
 Smoothies & Toast, Cereal & Milk, Eggs or Oatmeal
 Lunch:
The boys usually take sandwiches for lunch. I’ll add a granola bar, some pretzels, banana and the applesauce I just bought. The Juicy Juice works out perfectly because there is enough for them both for the whole week. Abigail will have nuggets and carrots or a PB & J.
Daniel usually just takes leftovers from dinner which makes my life very easy. 🙂
Dinner:
Monday: Spaghetti & Meatballs with sauteed green beans & bacon (I’ll use the canned tomatoes I bought today to make homemade pasta sauce)
Tuesday: Crock-pot Ranch Chicken dinner (includes potatoes and green beans )
Wednesday: Re-fried Beans and Cheese Enchilada’s with our Small Group (the re-fried beans will be  made in the crock-pot during the day)
Thursday: Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Friday: Homemade Pizza with Salad and Fries
Saturday: Black Bean quesadillas with corn and tortilla chips
Sunday: Breakfast for dinner (usually pancakes or french toast on homemade cinnamon swirl bread)
I’ll update my grocery envelope total next week so we can see if we made it without having to use the extra grocery money left over from this week.