This blog post contains affiliate links . If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend tools that I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.
Rakuten Ebates is a free app that will help you save money. How awesome would it be to get around five percent (or more!) cash back on everyday purchases with very little effort? Sounds great, right?
You may have heard of the Ebates app, which is now Rakuten Ebates. If you sign up now, you can claim your free welcome bonus of 10 dollars and start earning cash back today.
Why I love this money saving app
I am saving money on retailers I already use (Amazon, Walmart, Lyft, etc) on purchases I was going to make. You can also find awesome deals on trending retailers and companies you may not have purchased from before.
The design is user friendly and very easy to use.
You can save money both in store and online.
It’s easy to take advantage of special promotions.
Save Money Online
You can browse the extensive list of retailers or search for your favorite store and simply select it to view how much cash back you can earn on your purchase (exclusions may apply and are listed on the page).
You can even view how much the average cash back per offer is for the specific company you are going to shop at.
Save Money In Stores
If you prefer to shop in store, you can easily link your card and take advantage of cash back and deals listed in the ‘In-Store’ section.
How does this work?
Which retailers are featured? There are currently oner 2500 stores featured, including Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, Sephora, and more.
When and how will I get my cash back? Every three months you will receive a check or PayPal transfer.
Is this website/ app really legitimate? Yes. Rakuten receives a commission from the listed stores for sending them customers, and they reward customers for signing up. It’s a win- win for everyone, really.
Ready to start saving? Sign up now and collect your $10 welcome bonus!
For more ideas about how to save money, check out the articles I have written here.
Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures as well as one of life’s greatest expenses.
If you are looking to reduce your spending taking a long, hard look at your eating habits can easily enable you to save hundreds of dollars each month.
Whether you can whip up a gourmet meal in an hour flat and love doing so or if your idea of fine cuisine after a long day of work comes in a styrofoam container, these tips will help you save money while eating well.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for everyone, really.
1. Minimize Impulse Purchases
When you are wondering the aisles of your local store, it’s easy to pick up an extra item or two.
A few dollars here or there may not sound like much, but these purchases can really add up.
If you wind up spending ten dollars extra every time you go to the store, that’s 5200 dollars a year!
In order to curb impulse spending, have a meal or snack before you go shopping.
If you shop while you are hungry, you are more likely to wind up with junk food because it requires less time and effort and you are famished.
You also want to go armed with a plan or a list. If you plan out specific meals, you are less likely to wind up with unnecessary extra items and less likely to forgot critical ingredients.
My favorite way to keep food spending in check combines all of this advice into one easy step and will save you tons of time.
You can utilize Walmart’s grocery pick up service for free. Simply use the app to select the items you want and the tome you want to pick them up.
If you sign up with my affiliate link here you can get ten dollars off your first order of 50 dollars or more.
2. Pack A Work Lunch
You may have heard this one before, because it is great advice.
If you eat out for lunch every day, averaging 8 dollars a day (this may be a conservative estimate for many cities depending on where you are eating lunch and what you order) you can save 160 dollars a month or 1920 a year by packing a lunch.
Pinterest is full of so many colorful, tasty, and inexpensive lunch ideas you never need to get bored with what you’ve packed.
You can even prepare and pack all your meals on Sunday and save yourself the hassle of packing individual lunches, or you can eat leftovers with very little effort.
If you aren’t ready to give up weekday lunches out completely, consider eating out for lunch once a week or once a month and you will still save money nearly every day.
3. Use What You Have and Shop Less Often
Consider only shopping for groceries once a week.
This will help you keep impulse purchases to a minimum, help you plan your meals in advance, and save you time (and gas!).
In between trips to the store, eat leftovers and get creative with your recipes.
If you run out of something, consider looking up substitutions on Pinterest.
Websites like Supercook.com allow you to search for recipes that use the ingredients that you have on hand.
This website is a lifesaver if you are waiting for your next payday or completing a no-spend challenge.
Every day you stretch your grocery budget out is one step closer to becoming debt-free or saving up for an awesome vacation or your next car.
4. Make A Meal Plan
Making a meal plan can sound intimidating, but it can be as basic as making a list of all of the meals you want to eat for the week (don’t forget snacks and a few extras!).
Next, make a list of the ingredients you need for the recipes you selected that you don’t have in your pantry.
It can be as simple as that!
Once you are reaping all of the rewards from meal planning, you can make your system more complicated if you want to.
Consider making a list of your favorite meals and rotate them around to prevent getting bored of them or having theme days such as Taco Tuesday, Pasta Night, Vegetarian Night, etc.
5. Buy Generics
When you buy brand name products, you are often paying extra money not because the product is more high quality than the generic versions but because the brand needs to recover the money they spend on advertising.
You can compare the ingredients in the name brand product to the generics, and you will often find there isn’t much of a difference.
If you save just 50 cents on every item you can by buying the generic version that can quickly add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars saved.
6. Utilize Circulars and Reward Programs
When you are making your grocery list and meal plan, take a look at your local stores latest circular.
You may receive them in the mail or you can look up the ads on their website.
This will allow you to save even more money by planning your meals based on what is on sale and what produce is on season.
Check to see if your local grocery store also offers a rewards program as well for additional savings.
Apps like Ibotta can also save you money on select purchases.
You can browse various retailers (this is not limited to food-related purchases) and can select an offer that appeals to you.
Then, simply make your purchase online or scan your receipt and watch the savings accumulate.
You can sign up for free here and receive a 10 dollar welcome bonus.
7. Buy in Bulk
When you find an unbelievable deal, stock up!
This will allow you to build up a stockpile of ingredients that you commonly use incredibly cheaply and with minimal effort.
Most meats and cheeses are usually less expensive per ounce if you buy in bulk.
You can divide large amounts of meats and cheeses and freeze them to save more money.
On the other hand, if there is a great deal on quinoa and you don’t eat much quinoa, pass on the sale!
It’s tempting to buy an Item when we think we are getting a great price whether or not we need it, but a sale on an item you don’t need isn’t much of a deal.
If you try even just a few of these tips, you should see significant savings.
What other tips or tricks do you use to save money on food? Let me know in the comments!
Making a realistic budget is the first and most important step towards financial independence and the life of your dreams.
Once you commit to trying a budget with an open mind, you will realize that budgeting is simply a way for you to make sure your money is put to work in a way that reflects your values and priorities.
Whether you are a doctor or a single mom, you will be able to see where every dollar is currently going and by making some small changes you can completely transform your finances.
If you need some motivation or some convincing that a budget is worth the time you will spend on it, see this article for my top 10 reasons everyone needs a budget.
Before we get started making that budget, I would like to point out that budgeting is not about deprivation.
If you feel that you need coffee every day from the artsy cafe down the street, account for this in your budget so that it doesn’t wind up interfering with your rent or your car payment.
It’s all about balance. I would never tell you to give up something you love.
There are a variety of apps you can use if you prefer them to a pen and paper budget, but for the purposes of this exercise, I would try getting everything down on paper (feel free to ignore me and use your favorite word processor if you prefer).
You can switch to an app anytime you want to if you prefer to track your spending with one.
1. Gather Your Bank Statements and All Pay Stubs/ Income Reports
If you have multiple incomes, make sure to include your spouse’s information.
If you are a freelancer or have irregular income, average your wages over the last six or twelve months (whichever you feel will be the most closely aligned with what you expect to make going forward) and look for patterns.
Add everything together to get your income from all sources.
While you are at it, take a look through your bank statements over the last month or several months. Are there any amounts that surprise you? For me, when I added up how much I was spending on fast food and lunches at work I received a reality check.
Don’t be afraid to delve deep ( how much have you spent on clothing for the last six months? Entertainment? Etc.
Keep digging until you feel like you know where every last dollar went and what you would like to reduce.
2. List All Fixed Expenses
Fixed expenses are any expenses that are the same month to month.
The list below includes expenses that are usually fixed monthly payments:
Rent or Mortgage payment
Cell phone bill
Medical Insurance premium
Childcare and support
This list is not all-inclusive, so be sure to utilize bank statements, etc. to locate any additional fixed expenses.
If you have bank statements available, try highlighting all your fixed expenses with one color or set of colors, and all your variable expenses with another color or set of colors ( I.e. fixed expenses are dark colors, variables in neons, etc.).
This can be very helpful if you are having trouble accounting for every dollar.
If possible, fixed expenses should be on auto pay.
This will save you money on late fees in the long run and make your budget even easier to maintain.
3. List All Variable Expenses
Variable expenses are expenses that vary from month to month.
Don’t shy away from the truth here.
If you spend about 200 a month on clothes and getting your nails done, include that here.
This is a judgment-free zone and your budget will only help you if you are thorough and accurate.
Contributions to charity
Personal Care ( shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, etc.)
4. Make Some Tough Choices
Add up all your variable expenses and fixed expenses and subtract them from your income.
If you get a negative number, you are living beyond your means.
If you don’t make some changes, you will keep incurring debt until you are drowning in it.
Don’t get discouraged. No matter how much debt you have, you can make meaningful changes once you have a plan.
Fixed expenses can be reduced by asking for lower rates or shopping around (on your auto insurance, for example) or by eliminating the expense completely.
For example, if you are paying for satellite t.v. switching to Netflix or abstaining (however temporarily) could save you up to hundreds of dollars per month.
Variable expenses are a bit easier to make changes to.
Maybe you could try shopping at your local thrift store.
You won’t believe the awesome books, clothes, furniture, and appliances you can find for just a fraction of the price of new items.
Review every expense with a critical eye.
Maybe Starbucks is a necessity but you could learn how to change your own oil or do your own nails.
After you have gone through each expense and decided if it needs to be reduced or eliminated, make any changes to your totals.
This is your new budget.
The money you saved can go towards your savings goals, vacation, retirement, or paying down your debts.
5. Act as CEO of your Budget
Finally, decide how you will track your spending.
You can use pen and paper that you carry around with you, a free or paid app, or you can even withdraw everything you need in cash and separate it into envelopes labeled with the name of the category you budgeted for.
Also, be kind to yourself!
You are only human and will eventually overspend.
If that happens, adjust your budget however you can (reduce the next months spending for that category or any area you can reduce spending in, or look for a side hustle to earn some extra money, etc).
Address it, own it, and move on.
I recommend that you re-evaluate your budget every month.
Take a few minutes to think about what did and did not work.
Update your goals and totals and make sure you feel happy with how you have every dollar working for you.
Congratulations! You’ve done the hard work, now sit back and reap the rewards.
For now, let’s take a look at why any of us should bother with a budget.
1. To Gain Control of Your Life
Have you every dreamt of quitting your day job to start a business or become self-employed? Retiring and traveling the world? Owning your dream home? Or do you just want to get your head above water or be able to afford that one item you have had your eye on?
The first step to achieving any of these things is to take charge of your finances.
You will be amazed at what you can accomplish by controlling your money and making it work towards achieving your goals and priorities rather than just randomly using it as expenses come up.
If you are serious about achieving your dreams and pursuing what you want out of life a budget is going to be a critical part of that process.
2. You Can Become Debt-Free
Imagine if you could use all the money that is currently going towards your credit card payments, student loans, and car payments to boost your savings or towards achieving your goals.
Becoming debt-free may take a bit of time and a bit of strategy (more on this in an upcoming post) but it is totally achievable.
A quick Google search will show you real stories of people who paid off massive debts and are now doing amazing things.
I am paying down my last debt (my car) and it feels pretty awesome.
Saving money becomes like a game. You will find yourself thinking “If I can just shave x amount off of this, I can reach my goal x months sooner”.
Becoming debt free is a journey you can start today by making a budget.
3. Save Consistently
By making a budget,you can automate savings for retirement, holidays, or emergency spending effortlessly.
Treat your monthly savings like a bill you need to pay and you will be surprised at how much you are able to save without much effort.
4. Understand Your Spending Habits
You may think you know how you spend your money, but you may be surprised.
If you track every purchase for a few months, patterns will begin to emerge.
For me, the amount of money I was spending on eating out was shocking and just plain crazy.
I’ve been cooking at home more often as a result and have saved so much money while also improving my health.
You may find that it makes sense to buy your own espresso machine with all of the money you are spending on your drink of choice, or if you love to shop you might give local thrift store a try for a fraction of the cost.
In any case, having all of your expenses laid out in black and white will empower you to make any changes you want or need to.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck or your savings are a bit low right now, a budget will help you get in control of your finances.
Don’t let an unexpected car repair or even a layoff devastate you financially. This is another reason it really pays to plan ahead a bit versus winging it.
If you plan on retiring, investing and saving are pretty much non-negotiable, right?
7. Be Happier
Have you ever fought with someone you love about money?
Money can certainly cause stress and put a strain on all sorts of relationships.
With a budget and a plan, you can rest easier at night knowing you are on the right track.
Even if you have debt or are struggling right now, having a plan can improve your outlook and make things so much easier.
8. Be Healthier
As you embark on your budgeting adventure, you will be more aware of the choices you are making.
Water is cheaper than soda and the joy of cooking at home starts to seem more appealing than a greasy, costly meal from a fast food place
9. Stop Impulse Purchases
Have you ever looked around your house and realized that everything you own used to be money?
That nail polish you never used, whatever is stuffed in that closet or your junk drawers, clothes you don’t wear, etc.
As you track your expenses, you will naturally be less inclined to purchase things on impulse.
Money you don’t need to spend could be better utilized by saving it or paying off a debt.
If you want something now, wait a month or two. If you still want it, see if you can get it secondhand or cheaper somewhere else.
With your budget and your goals laid out in black and white, the true cost of impulse purchases becomes apparent.
There is nothing wrong with treating yourself, but this should be a part of your budget.
10. Simplify Your Life
With a good budget, you won’t need to stress about when bills are due or whether you can afford new tires for your car.
You will be saving for upcoming expenses, and you will have enough money in your account for your recurring expenses to go through effortlessly.
You can take back all the time you used to spend wondering if you were going to make it through the week and constantly checking your bank balance and do something for yourself.
Read a good book, get outside, enjoy your life.
Now that you’ve gotten into the right mindset by knowing all the benefits of setting up a budget, actually getting it done will be nothing you can’t handle.
This post will walk you through the process painlessly.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the myths surrounding budgets or your experiences budgeting in the comments.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you will keep me supplied in caffeine Thank you!
What is Survey Junkie?
Survey Junkie allows you to take brief surveys and earn either cash (through Paypal) or gift cards for popular retailers (like Wal-Mart).
If you need to make extra money after work online or you want to earn extra money for the holidays, this may be the perfect app for you.
Is this a legitimate website/app?
You can sign up for free and begin taking surveys now.
This is a legitimate opportunity.
No credit card required. No free trial.
How much money can I make?
You will not get rich quickly, but you can make some extra money easily.
I took the test surveys sprawled out on my couch in my pj’s!
In my first three days of using this app I earned 433 points just by checking on the available surveys a few times a day and spending a few minutes at a time on surveys.
433 points translates to $4.33 cash or $4.33 on a gift card (please note, however, that rewards can only be used in increments of $10.00).
So, you won’t be able to make enough to pay your rent but with a little time and patience this is a rewarding side hustle.
If you do decide to try using Survey Junkie I would recommend setting a reminder or alert on your phone so that it becomes automatic for you to check the site periodically.
If you find that surveys are filling up too quickly, try back late at night or early in the morning, whenever the site seems to have less traffic.
Final thoughts and how to sign up
Overall, this app will not allow you to quit your day job but you can earn a decent amount of money with minimal effort.
I personally found it easy to use and worth the time I spent on the app. Every survey you take is one step closer to being debt-free and achieving your financial goals.
Are you ready to get started? Click here to sign up now and start earning money now.
If you do try the app, tell me about your experience in the comments.