I don’t know about you, but I’m glad it’s a new year. Not only does it bring about new beginnings and wash away the stench of any undone projects from the previous year, but it provides the opportunity to look back on your mistakes from last year and improve upon them. If you’re not looking at last year and noting at least one or two areas where you can do it better this year, then you’re missing a great opportunity.
For me, last year was a wake-up call. My “day job” hit a few bumps in the revenue department, and it was only then that I realized how much my family relied on both my husband’s and my incomes. I know that should have been obvious because in this day and age it’s virtually impossible to live comfortably on a single income. Don’t get me wrong. Tons of people get by on one paycheck, but when you have three kids, a mortgage, and a car note, it’s a heavy cross to bear for one person.
So, my sales were down (I’m a novelist by trade), and in my obliviousness, I wasn’t expecting the loss to impact our way of living so hard. Unneeded monthly expense had to be cut (So long Netflix, HBO Now, and Hulu.) Budgets had to be set. Or, should I say a stricter budget had to be set since it wasn’t like we were rolling in the dough in the first place. But I looked at our spending, really looked at it, and began trimming the excess everywhere that I possibly could.
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Everything we purchased was first questioned as to whether we truly needed it, and I began using coupons and rebates on the items that were necessities. I know tons of people look to side jobs to help cover expenses in cases of emergency, but getting paid .50¢ for a survey that takes twenty minutes doesn’t quite sound up to par. I wanted something that I could work into the already hectic schedule I had and was worth the time I put into it. That’s why I turned to couponing and rebating.
I think coupons get a bad rap by those who don’t painstakingly clip, organize, and use them. They seem like a needless waste of time. While I’ll admit that they aren’t for everyone. If taking an hour or two out of your schedule to plan your grocery shopping, clipping coupons and checking rebate apps for products so that you can get them for a lower price isn’t something you have the time for, then I wouldn’t recommend it.
However, if you can spare that hour or two, you could be saving/making anywhere from $15-$30 per shopping trip. Even at $15, calculating your time spent at the higher amount of two hours, you’re still making minimum wage for your time spent clipping coupons and planning your grocery shopping. That seems reasonable to me. It’s a heck of a lot better than a .50¢ survey.
The one thing I will stress is that if you are couponing without using rebates, you are wasting money. And, if you don’t have the time or the patience for couponing, give rebates a chance. The best part about rebates is that there are no clipping involved. In fact, with most rebate apps you don’t even have to plan to use them in advance. You could simply go shopping and then check the apps afterward to see if there’s any rebates on the items you bought, but like coupons, most rebates do have restrictions so I’d advise making a plan for using them. A few minutes spent while making out your grocery list and then a few minutes spent taking pics of the products you bought and the receipt can earn you as much as using coupons. Combining the two makes you even more. The thing about rebates is that a lot of them coincide with coupons so you can save money when purchasing your item and then earn money back once you’ve bought it. I love rebates because they actually pay me money for things I would have bought anyway.
What if I told you that for every $100 worth of groceries you bought, you could get $5 cash back? Wouldn’t you be game? That’s how rebates work. Now, I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll earn $5 on every shopping trip, and one thing I’ve notice that is different between me and someone who doesn’t like to use the rebates apps is that I’m more agreeable to changing brands. I don’t mind using Charmin instead of Cottonelle, or Sargento’s instead of Kraft. If making that slight change saves me money, who cares about the brand. I’m still getting the toilet paper and cheese sticks I need for my family.
On that note, I’ve found that since I began couponing and rebating, I’ve started buying brand names more and more instead of the off-name brands. While I stand behind most off-name brands, there are some slight differences in quality between the cheap brand and the name brand on some products. The brand name is sometimes slightly better quality. Although I don’t mind buying off-name brands, if I can get the name brand for cheaper than the off-name brand, I’m going to do it.
So, here’s how I’ve been making money with rebates. Between October and December of 2016, I earned $220.95 in rebates from five different apps. When I first started making money through rebates, I would instantly transfer the funds to Paypal as soon as I’d reached the threshold needed because the whole point was to help with our finances right then. By the end of October, my “day job” sales had returned to close to normal, though, so we were able to catch up our bills before the holiday season broke us again. Having the extra money I was getting from using the rebates was nice, though.
Since we aren’t in immediate need of the money now, I’ve begun leaving my earnings in my account until I need it. My hope is that it won’t be needed until Christmas time. Based on my previous year’s rebates, I will easily have made $600-$800 by the time the end of this year rolls around.
While my husband and I have a nifty Christmas account through the bank that puts a dollar in the account each time either of us uses our debit card to make a purchase, this past year the account had to be used to keep us afloat during the summer, so as Christmas approached my stress level rose. Having an extra $600 this year to tap into, either in the case of a loss of income or to help cover Christmas shopping, will be nothing short of a blessing. For more information on the rebate apps I use and how they work, check out my post Top 5 Grocery Rebate Apps to Download Today.
How do you make extra money on the side and is it comparable to rebates? I’d love to know since I’m always on the lookout for a way to better my income.