It may sound too good to be true, but you can learn how to earn easy money from your normal activities. With a few tweaks to your routine, you can continue to do the very things you are currently doing and bring in extra income. You aren’t going to get rich, but a few extra dollars every month can come in handy. Over the course of a year, a few simple changes to your routine can add up to a hefty sum. While a few options do require purchases, your additional income does not require you to spend a single penny on goods or services beyond those which you already planned to purchase!
Ibotta is a rewards program that gives you money back on items picked up during a standard shopping trip including groceries, home goods, back-to-school items, gift cards, and even adult beverages. Ibotta also rewards you for shopping at dozens of online sites such as Orbitz, Nike, REI, Under Armour, Expedia, and Microsoft.
Pros: Most of us buy milk, eggs, bread, and so forth every week. We take vacations, buy shoes, and prepare our children for the new school year. With Ibotta, you can get from $.10 to several dollars back on several of your purchases.
Cons: You have to select the items for reward on the Ibotta app (kind of like using a digital coupon) and watch a short (15 seconds or so) advertisement. After shopping, you scan the barcode of the items purchased with your smart phone app and submit a digital picture of your receipt.
SavingStar is a similar app I also use that does not require scanning of barcodes. Instead, it’s linked to your grocery store rewards card. There are no app restrictions at this point. Why not stack those earnings? Checkout 51 is another good one to check out.
Pros: Ebates is a reputable company that really does send you checks for your shopping experiences. With a plethora of stores to choose from, including almost every large chain in America and online giants like eBay and Amazon, your earning opportunities are plentiful. The cash back rewards typically range from 2 to 15 percent, and the stores often have significant discounts available for online shoppers. Ebates also rewards you with cash for recommending friends that end up making a purchase. Since you were going to make the purchases anyway, you might as well get some cash back for it. You also earn money for referring friends to the program. With bonuses, I usually earn around $1,000 per quarter with the Ebates program.
Cons: You have to shop online. For many of us, brick and mortar stores offer the comfort of trying out or trying on merchandise prior to purchase. Others desire the exchange and return simplicity afforded by a customer service counter should things not work out as intended. For many of us work-at-homers however, that isn’t an issue. We do the majority of our shopping online anyway.
Many grocery stores, retailers, airlines and gas stations offer loyalty or rewards cards. With a rewards card, you earn cash and rewards for purchasing the very goods and services that you already pay for each month.
Pros: The cards are free, and the rewards can add up fast. Many stores reward you with monthly or quarterly rebates based on purchases made during a predefined period. Purchases made with WIC or food stamp coupons are typically counted as well. Several chains, such as Safeway and Kroger, also offer discounts on gas based on your reward points. Target offers a 5% discount on purchases. If you can save $.50 or $1.00 off each gallon of gas, you can save tens, even hundreds of dollars each month.
Cons: You have to remember to swipe your card during each transaction
The days of the regular credit card are gone. If you have a card that isn’t giving you reward points or cash back, then it is time to make a change. From airline miles and hotel points to cash back, you should be getting something in return for every purchase you make.
Pros: No matter what you are buying or paying for, even utilities, day care, and medical bills, you get rewarded. Rewards can add up fast and amount to thousands of dollars on flights, hotel rooms, or cash back every year. Many cards offer perks such as free bags and advanced boarding on airlines, free room upgrades at hotels, and special discounts at stores. When added together with store rewards cards or online rebates, the savings and rewards can be even more substantial. You are paying for the goods and services anyway, you might as well get rewarded. Discover and Capital One are two trusted names offering cashback cards.
Cons: Some cards may have annual fees. If you select one of these cards, be certain the rewards you earn outweigh the fees you pay. Also, if you are not dedicated to paying off your card balances on time each month, you will end up paying interest on your purchases or late fees on your payments. Interest and fees can quickly negate the rewards you have earned.
Thrift Stores pay you for dropping off high-quality items that you no longer need.
Pros: Dropping your goods off at a store like Once Upon A Child or Play It Again Sports is substantially easier and much faster than hosting a garage sale and infinitely more lucrative than throwing things away. You can often drop off a bag of clothes or household items on your way to work or while going out for dinner, then return at a later time to collect your money.
Cons: You may not get as much money as you would selling through a consignment store or hosting a garage sale. The stores usually won’t accept items that are not in high-quality condition even if they are functional or usable.
Banks and Credit Union Accounts. If you have a savings account or checking account, you need to make sure that your money is not just sitting there. Don’t be afraid to move your money around or even choose a new bank or credit union. Transferring your money is free and can actually earn you some cash.
Pros: Banks are in competition for business, and many of them offer you cash, often hundreds of dollars, just for giving them a try. New customers often get higher, promotional interest rates as well. Two banks that frequently run promotions are Capital One 360 and Capital Bank.
Cons: You typically need to set up direct deposit with the bank in order to qualify for the promotion.
A Certificate of Deposit (CD) is an investment you make with your bank. You agree to put your money on hold for an agreed-on period of time in exchange for a specific interest rate. The rates vary based on the length of the investment period.
Pros: Moving your money to a short-term CD offers no risk and a higher interest rate than a standard checking or savings account. The CD rates are not particularly high right now, but you still earn more interest than letting your money sit in the average savings or checking account. If you will not need your money for three months or longer, and you are not going to put it into other investments like stocks, bonds or mutual funds, a CD just makes sense.
Cons: Once you put your money into a CD, you cannot access it until the period of the investment is over without a penalty. If you might need the money in the immediate future, a CD is not a good investment option.
We all shop, pay bills, clean, and bank. With a few adjustments to the way we go about these everyday tasks, we can put some hard-earned dollars back into our pockets. Used together, the savings and rewards mentioned above can easily earn you several thousand dollars each year.