Earn Money Using Your Phone

money

This post contains referral and affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 

I’m participating in a challenge that’s designed to help you find more money. It made me think about all of the little ways that I have started saving and earning money just using my phone. I thought I would share them with you so that you can start making your phone work for you!

Cricket Wireless – My first big savings was with the phone itself! I was out of contract, and have a perfectly good iPhone. So rather than enter back into a pricey contract to get the newest phone, I decided to look for some savings. I ended up taking my phone to Cricket Wireless. I went from $67 a month to $35! I have unlimited talk and text, and 2.5 GB of data for $40. Auto-pay saves me an additional $5. My service hasn’t been any different than what I had before and their customer service is great! If you’re interested in switching, you can use my link and get a $25 credit! 

Swagbucks – One of the biggest ways I use my phone to earn is by using Swagbucks. I just started really taking advantage of this site right before Christmas this year, but I had enough to get a $25 Amazon gift card to help with Christmas, and my goal this year is to earn enough to pay for a big chuck of my holiday shopping. I follow the advice in this post, and primarily use the mobile apps. When I’m not using my phone, it’s earning me Swagbucks!

iBotta – This is a shopping app that I haven’t even fully tapped into yet. But in the very short time I’ve been using it, I have accrued $22.25 just from my regular shopping. You can browse offers at the stores you already shop at, select the ones you want, and validate the offers by scanning your receipt. There are also bonuses for buying certain items.

Shopkick – This one is kind of fun. You can earn what are called Kicks for just walking into certain stores. Once inside, there may be certain products you can scan to earn more kicks, and if you connect a Visa card you can earn kicks on some purchases. I haven’t cashed in yet, but I’ve already earned a small gift card for the little bit I’ve done. I’m just going to keep letting it add up.

Checkout51 – This one isn’t my favorite because there aren’t very many offers, but I’ve made $1.75 and I’m hoping that more will be added as time goes on. This one is very similar to iBotta where you select offers, then scan your receipt.

Receipt Hog – I’m still figuring this one out. You take a picture of your receipts, and earn coins that I believe are redeemable for gift cards. It is very easy to use.

Wal-Mart Savings Catcher – Wal-Mart has it’s own mobile app that you can download that will do all sorts of things. The Savings Catcher allows you to scan or enter your receipt, and it will look for lower prices at nearby stores. If it finds a lower price, it will credit you the difference. You can cash out for a Wal-Mart gift card at any time. I’ve successfully cashed out twice.

Paribus – I wish I’d found this one before Christmas! With this one you connect your email and Amazon accounts and let it look for lower prices on purchases you’ve already made. If it fins a better price it will file a “claim” and try to get you the difference. I didn’t install this one until after Christmas, but one purchase made it through and they got me $3.16 back on an Amazon purchase.

Target Cartwheel – This one saved me some serious money just the other day. You can search for products in the store that have special offers attached to them. You add them to your list, and at checkout you just let the cashier scan your barcode on your phone. Just recently I purchased a game that my son wanted for his XBox One. This game’s regular price was $60. It was on sale for $40, and there was a cartwheel offer for 35% off. I also used my Red Debit card and saved another 5% which made my total $26! Yes you read that right, you can get a debit card that links to your current bank account and get the 5% savings that the credit card holders get!

Save with Cartwheel for Apple – Sign Up Now

Save with Cartwheel for Android – Sign Up Now

 

Cardpool – This one is a bonus that I just learned about today and have already used! It’s not limited to your phone, but it’s a site where you can sell unwanted gift cards. I was able to sell a card I’d never use and get an Amazon card instead! Use my link and get $5 off your first purchase!

So there it is! My huge list of ways to save and make money from your phone! Let me know which one of these you already use or want to try in the comments!

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My Food Waste Problem

trash can

The other day a co-worker asked me if I had heard the NPR story about food waste. I had seen the story, and his reminder prompted me to hop over and take a listen. The story was an interview with a couple who are the subjects of a new documentary about food waste. I was already following the page for the movie on Facebook, but listening to the interview really made me think about my own food waste.

I’m sure there’s some deep seated reason why I always have to have a full pantry and refrigerator, but I know I spend too much money on food, and that a lot of it gets thrown away. I didn’t really pay attention to how much until I listened to this story. I knew I had to clean out the fridge in preparation for Thanksgiving and because I had to go to the store. It was really sad and enlightening to see how much food went in the trash. I realized how much money that was wasted, and how many people could survive just on what I threw away.

I don’t set out to be wasteful. Sometimes I buy produce and it just doesn’t get eaten fast enough. Or I’ll have leftovers that I intend to take to work for lunch, but pick something up instead. Or I’ll fix something that none of us like enough to finish. But it’s a problem, and it’s not something I’m OK with.

So I was much more mindful about what I purchased in my most recent trip to the store. I know that I need to eat what is already in the house, and get rid of the need to always have a lot of food in the house. Even in the worst weather conditions, I’ve never been stuck in my house for more than one day, so I don’t need hoards of food. I also need to get over the dates on food. So much food is just fine past the date on the packages, but we toss it out thinking that it is bad.

I’ve made a commitment to myself that unless something really has spoiled, it is going to be eaten. I’m also going to use up everything we have here, even if it means some really weird meals. Not long after my promise to myself, I saw this story from Frugalwoods. They much more eloquently put the issue of food waste into perspective than I ever could, so please give it a read.

So are you a food water, or do you eat everything you buy?

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A Simple Wardrobe

zipper

The other day I was reading a blog post about simplifying your wardrobe. There have been quite a few stories about how some of the most successful people in the world wear the same thing almost every day. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and even President Obama are known for sticking to a few key wardrobe items and wearing them all the time. One of the reasons for this is to limit the number of decisions a person makes in a day. Not spending a lot of time picking out clothing frees you to focus on other things.

This blog post had the same idea, but it also got into a little discussion about spending habits, and not having to keep up with the latest trends. While I haven’t always been into minimalism, and I certainly haven’t always been good with spending, I have almost always worn what I call my “uniform”.

After reading the post, I decided to scan through the comments. Many people said that they just couldn’t have a minimalist wardrobe, because they feel like fashion is a form of self expression. That’s probably the main reason I always wear the same thing. I’ve never been creative with clothing, and never really feel comfortable in anything but jeans and a t-shirt.

But one of the comments said “What about the people who have to look at you?” I was somewhat blown away by this comment. What about them? Sure, when I get ready in the morning I do think about the fact that I will interact with other people. I shower, and groom myself. I put on clean clothes that are appropriate for the places I will go that day, and the weather. But, aside from that, what about the people who have to look at me? Do I really need to spend more money on a more diverse wardrobe just to make other people happy? Some people look amazing in anything they put on. They are so happy to pick out something beautiful to wear every day. So they should do that. I am happy to pick out a pair of comfortable jeans, and a plain t-shirt.

I’m not sorry if the people who have to look at me are bored. Perhaps they should try talking to me instead of just looking at me. I’m happy with my minimal wardrobe. It all fits into one chest of drawers and I love it. Simple works for me.

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Beginning With My Bankruptcy

money often costs too much

This blog is going to be the start of a journey for me. I want to live a more minimalist lifestyle, and I want to conquer my debt before I turn 40.

I’m going to begin this journey with the story of my bankruptcy. I’m 35-years-old, and three years ago I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I have dealt with anxiety and depression most of my life, but there has only been one time where I could understand how someone could reach the point of considering taking their own life, and that was just prior to deciding to file.

After five years of marriage, I was divorced with two small children. I had a decent job, and an inexpensive place to live. I was also racked with guilt over the changes my kids were going through because of the divorce, and I felt like I had to keep their life as normal as possible in order to minimize the damage. On top of that, even with a good job, being a single mother is expensive. I spent too much money. Simple as that. Sometimes it was out of necessity, and sometimes it was just out of guilt. I thought I could take my kids on trips, buy them the toys they wanted, go out to eat, and somehow that would “fix” things for them.

I racked up a lot of credit card debt. I believe it was in the$26,000 range which isn’t that much by some people’s standards, but it was a lot for my income. I also had a car payment of a little over $200 a month. Still, I was making it. I only made the minimum payments, but I made them on time every month. I never missed a payment, and was never late. I thought things were under control. Then the credit card companies were facing some changes from the government and they decided to change some of their practices to protect themselves. One bank with whom I had two credit cards decided to raise my interest rate, and double my monthly payments. The others followed soon after, and I could no longer make the minimum payments.

At first I just panicked and stopped paying them all. Then one contacted me to set up arrangements and I realized that was a better approach. So, I tried approaching them all with a repayment plan that I could afford. All of them agreed except the bank that started the changes. They refused to let me make payments, and issued two judgments against me. I was terrified. I spoke with an attorney about what they could and could not do, but I still didn’t feel better. Collectors called daily. They called my friends, my family, my ex-husbands family, and even my next door neighbor. I have never felt so low in my life. I would never have harmed myself, but in that moment I understood how people could commit suicide over money. It’s a hell that I wish on no one to be stuck in that place.

Thankfully I had a friend who knew a bankruptcy attorney, and he agreed to pay my consultation fee so that I could see if it was an option. The attorney didn’t offer me any words of comfort. He was very matter of fact, and told me everything I had to do to prepare for my filing. I had to make a detailed list of everything I owned. Even if it was worth nothing in my opinion, I still had to write it down. I had to take a counseling class before my court date as was required by law.

The day of my discharge my lawyer had to have a medical procedure, so I found myself with a new lawyer that I only met in the court room. I watched all of the others go before me up to the judge feeling more and more like a failure every second. Once it was my turn, it all went very quickly. The judge said I could keep my car, and that was it. I walked out, thanked the attorney, and left the court house.

Now, as I said, I’m three years outside of it. I still feel guilt over not repaying my debts. It hasn’t greatly impacted my ability to get credit as I thought it might. Sadly, even before my court date I was getting offers in the mail. Unfortunately, it also hasn’t fixed me. I;m not the spender I once was, but debt is easy to accumulate, and I’m finding that it is creeping back into my life.

So now I’m here to rid myself of the debt burden once and for all. I hope you’ll join me on my journey to being debt free, and living a more simple life.

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