Keep Cash In Your Pocket With IBOTTA


This post contains referral links. Thank you for supporting our family!

When I dropped to part-time and my income dropped to $20K per year, one of my big worries was that I wouldn’t have enough to squeeze out the $5500 per year to fill my Roth IRA retirement account.

One strategy I am using is to pinch my grocery and household supply budgets by earning rebates and gift cards.

When I replaced my dead smartphone this past month, I started by installing the Ibotta app that I couldn’t use when my old phone stopped updating last May. I spend no more than 5-15 minutes after each shopping trip getting my rebates.

It’s November 11th, and since October 23rd, I have earned $38 in rebates and bonuses.


Using Ibotta is super easy.

  1. Open the Ibotta app to see what rebates are available. Check with your favorite couponing sites to see if there is a sale or another coupon that can be stacked with an Ibotta rebate to make a super low price. (You can check out my blogroll for some of my favorite sites).
  2. Do your usual shopping at grocery stores and pharmacies (sorry,  Aldi is not one of the stores that participates).
  3. When you get home, open your app and “activate” the rebates you wish to get. This can mean answering a question, watching a 20 second video, or looking at a picture of a product. This doesn’t take long at all.
  4. Once you activate the rebate, you’ll have the use your phone to scan the bar codes of the products you bought to verify they are the right ones and the right quantity. Some rebates require buying 2 or more products. If you are getting a rebate for a fruit or vegetable, most of the time this step is skipped.
  5. When you are done scanning bar codes, you’ll need to use your phone to take a picture of your receipt. The receipt is sent from your phone, and within 24-48 hours it is verified. Once verified, your money is sent to your account. Honestly, most of the time my rebate has been verified within a few hours.
  6. When your account has at least $20 in it, you can request your money in cash through a Paypal account, or use it for gift cards. It’s that easy!
  7. There are more ways to earn rebate money too. You can make online purchases through the app, earn bonuses by submitting a certain number of rebates in a month, and by linking your loyalty card to a participating store in the app.
  8. Link your Ibotta account to your participating Facebook friends and the people you have referred, and they become part of your “team”. The more rebates your “team” earns, the more bonuses you can unlock. Last month I unlocked a $5 bonus.
  9. You can get $5 every time you refer a friend to Ibotta and they activate their first rebate. Don’t worry, they get a little bonus too! They will get $10 after activating their first rebate.

What am I doing with this cash back?

I choose to request cash through my Paypal account, and I transfer that money over to my savings account. Every penny will go towards my Roth goal. I’m hoping to get about $45 or more back at the least every month. If I do that every month, that is $540 stretched over a year.

It may not sound like much, but when you consider the Swagbucks gift cards and Shopkick gift cards I try to earn every month also will work out to about $500 per year, that puts me at about 1/5 of the way towards my $5500 goal.

Every time I use a gift card for something instead of the cash I budgeted in my cash envelope system, that cash gets transferred into savings.

This works for me because:

  1. I don’t buy anything I wouldn’t have already bought.
  2. I still stick to my $400 food budget and $25 household budget (toilet paper, cleaning supplies, personal care) every month. My totals are what I pay before I get any rebates back. That makes my rebates a bonus.

Do you use Ibotta? Do you use any other apps to earn rewards?

Blogging As A Side Gig: Get Help Starting Your Blog


This post contains affiliate links however I was NOT compensated for this review. 

I have been blogging since February of 2007. That is nine years of writing on a total on three blogs. I’ve done it casually and run ads here and there, but probably have made a whopping $50 in the first eight and a half of those years.

I know a few people who have made blogging their full-time income, or used a blog to launch a successful writing career. I had a full time job for most of my blogging years, but when I left it this past May, I decided I needed to get serious about it.

A successful blog needs two parts: content and an audience. I felt I could handle the content part, but finding an audience and marketing myself, well, that part was a little more difficult. I majored in nursing, not marketing.

I’d heard of Elite Blog Academy through a few bloggers and when a sale rolled around, my husband and discussed whether to try it or not. Paying money to learn about the marketing side of writing a blog does not sound very frugal, but I will tell you this, I am someone who is cruising into her tenth year of post-secondary education, and I have never yet regretted learning something new.

I took the leap of faith and it was worth it.

I am not one to recommend a product unless I use it myself. I don’t blame anyone if they just want to figure it out themselves, but I like to have a little guidance. Since I am in grad school, it has taken me three months to really sit down and work through all of the steps.

I am still tweaking things (I still am working on my “elevator pitch”), but I am finally starting to see increased page views, more comments, and a little bit of ad revenue. This month’s income should be small- maybe $10-14, but that is almost a quarter of what I made blogging in almost nine years!

Blogging can be a viable side gig, and if you have something you can talk about, you may be able to make it into something that brings you passive income. Ask yourself: is there something you are passionate about that you are never tired of talking about?

I’ve been blogging about money since 2009. I am always thinking about pennies to pinch, frugal recipes, side income, and how to be free from the need to work full time. When I think of my friends in my Facebook feed, I see people who are passionate and knowledgeable about so many things: baking, sewing, sports, running, rescue animals,  photography, real estate, science fiction, art, fashion, politics. Blogging is one way to turn that passion into a little (or a lot) of side income.

This course promises to produce measurable results, and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee, which means you’ve literally got nothing to lose. However, you should know that enrollment for Elite Blog Academy is extremely limited, and will only be open for five days, beginning on February 22nd.

The good news is that before the doors open, Elite Blog Academy is offering a FREE training series called Blogging Made Simple. It includes three powerful video lessons intended to help you eliminate the overwhelm and instead focus on the tasks that will help you make the biggest impact. If you are a blogger or have even just thought about blogging, you will NOT want to miss it!

You can sign up to join the EBA waiting list and get the free training HERE.



Side Gigs: Make A Little Extra Fun Money With Swagbucks

Swagbucks Pic

This post contains referral and affiliate links.

One of the ways I helped us stay entertained after cutting the cable cord was to sign up for Hulu. We started with a gift card that covered about 11 months of membership, and got another 3 months when my work allowed me to choose a 3 month Hulu gift card as part of my work anniversary gift.

We like it enough that we would like to keep it, but we don’t really want to pay another $8/month for it.

My solution is to try and earn Swagbucks to earn a gift card every month to pay for it.  I have been using Swagbucks for at least five years to earn Amazon gift cards. This year, I’ve used them to help buy the new Thug Kitchen Vegan cookbook (lots of recipes for healthy and frugal meals) and Bean By Bean, a cookbook with lots of bean recipes.

The process is easy; you earn Swagbucks by searching the web, taking surveys, watching videos, playing games, voting in a poll, finding random Swagcodes, or shopping at retailers through their portal, similar to Ebates. Unlike Ebates, instead of cash back, you earn Swagbucks, which are then traded for gift cards.

An Amazon $5 gift card is about 500 Swagbucks. A 1 month Hulu gift card is 800 Swagbucks. There are many more gift cards you can earn- these are just my favorites. You can also earn $25 in Paypal cash, but you will have to save up 2500 Swagbucks. You can decide what you  like and then do the math to figure out how many Swagbucks to earn each day to meet your goal.

What do I do? I try to earn enough for four $25 Hulu gift cards a year to cover our Hulu membership, plus $25 Domino’s Pizza gift cards to cover our monthly pizza treat.

They sometimes discount the gift cards, so that a $25 Amazon gift card only costs 2200 Swagbucks, less than you need to get five $5 Amazon gift cards. It pays to keep an eye out to see if there is a discount.


I use Swagbucks as a search engine, and you can randomly earn Swagbucks for searching, but it doesn’t happen with every search. I might win 10-25 Swagbucks per day by searching. Many tasks will only earn 1-3 Swagbucks at a time. Again, you’ll just need to do some simple math to see how many videos to watch or games to play to get the number of Swagbucks you want.

It is not unusual for me to be doing homework, writing, or reading on my laptop with a Swagbucks video running in the background, while my computer volume is muted. In fact, that is exactly what I am doing as I write this! Multitasking at its finest.

What about you? Do you have a favorite website or app that helps you to earn a little bit on the side?

Side Gigs: Earn Money Through Research Studies


(Disclosure: This post contains referral links. I do get commission for every sign-up completed through the link, however you are not obligated  to sign up for anything. All earnings from this blog support our family in reaching our goals and , as always, we remain grateful to our readers just for stopping by!)

Although I do work part-time to supplement my husband’s income, I am always looking for a little extra to put into my retirement nest egg and save for the Great House Overhaul (new roof, windows, HVAC, and fence). Sometimes that means selling my kids’ outgrown clothing and toys, doing some freelance writing work, or picking up an extra shift at the last minute.

About 5 months ago, my friend Diane told me about doing online research studies through 2020 Research. She was happy with the time commitment and the pay, so I thought I would try it myself. Since August, I have done two studies, one that earned me $125 and one that earned $75. Each took a couple hours online over the course of a few days, and the Visa gift card payment was prompt. I used the gift cards to buy groceries, and put the amount I saved in my savings account.

2020 is a qualitative research firm. This is not like Swagbucks, where you can take surveys in exchange for bucks. Participants are sent brief surveys via email to find matches for each study. If you qualify for a study, and are invited to participate, you will receive a call from a recruiter offering a place on the study.

The studies are online, usually requiring you to answer a certain number of questions over several days. (Note: some of my studies required recording my answer via webcam for one or two questions.) Studies typically pay between $50-$350. I have done studies asking my opinion about flu vaccines and investments. My friend Bridget did a study about shower heads.

They have a FAQ if you have additional questions. Please note, if you live in Charlotte, N.C., Miami, or Nashville, you will be asked to complete your studies in office rather than online.

If you are looking for a little side gig to pay down debt or build your nest egg, this is certainly an easy way to go. You can access their sign up page through my referral link here. For those who sign up this fall, you will also be entered into into their Fall New Member Drawing to possibly win $250.