I made $53.50 using Ibotta in August and September. Ibotta is a money-saving app that allows you to earn cash back on your purchases. I downloaded the app to try it out as part of my quest to pay off my mortgage. I chose it specifically because you can withdraw your rewards via PayPal, rather than receive a gift card, or another non-cash form which is popular among other money-saving apps or websites.
How I Earned $54 Using a Money Saving App
The reason my earnings were so high this month was that I needed to purchase a computer for my new consulting business. I use a Mac at home and for personal use and for freelance writing. I love my Macbook, but I need the windows version of Excel to do the heavy lifting with financial modeling. Historically, my employer has provided my computer, but as an Independent Contractor, I’m on my own.
Ibotta was running several promotions for Labor Day and for spending at Best Buy, so I stacked the promotions and was able to score a pretty good cash-back deal.
Why I Hate Money Saving Apps
So, why don’t I like Money Saving Apps? Because they’re a pain. You have to download the cash-back offers before you buy and purchase specific brands to capitalize on the deals. They’re also time consuming. Matching up what I want to buy with the offers requires a significant time commitment, which I usually choose to spend on something else other than staring at my phone.
Why I Hate Couponing
For a similar reason, I don’t like couponing. Money-saving apps are really just the high tech version of the Sunday paper coupons. I used to get up at 6am every Sunday to drive to the gas station to pick up the Sunday paper. At one point, I was on a special list so the store would save me two papers.
I would spend hours visiting multiple coupon sites to find the best deals. I’d cut out my coupons and organize them in a binder. I’d make up my weekly meal plan and grocery list based on the deals available with my coupons and drop everything in a fancy spreadsheet (that I purchased off Etsy).
I was all in. It was a weekly routine and I saved lots of money. But it was too much. After about a year, I found that I wanted to spend my Sunday afternoons with my kids, not clipping coupons.
But Do I Use Them?
As of today, I’ve cut out couponing altogether. On occasion, I get nostalgic and will get up early to pick up the Sunday paper, but then I end up not using the coupons.
I’m grateful for the money I saved with couponing at a time when I was digging deep to pay off my credit card debt. I think couponing is an amazing opportunity depending on your personal circumstances and your willingness to commit to the time required.
I do, however, use money-saving apps and websites. The apps I use regularly include FetchRewards, Drop, Swagbucks, and Rakuten (formerly eBates). Depending on the degree of ease and time spent, I’ve learned to like a few of them. Particularly FetchRewards and Rakuten. It’s a trial and error game to see what works. I’ve come to an agreement with myself that I will use these apps so long as they are convenient for me.
If I’m making a big purchase, or standing in line at the grocery store and have extra time to sign up for items I’m already purchasing in the app – it works. But if I have to spend more than 20 minutes or go out of my way, I won’t use them.
Do you use money-saving apps and coupons when you shop? Let us know in the comments below.