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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.
- 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).
- Do your usual shopping at grocery stores and pharmacies (sorry, Aldi is not one of the stores that participates).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- I don’t buy anything I wouldn’t have already bought.
- 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?