14 Best Grocery Coupon and Cash-Back Apps to Save Money

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. households spent 9.5% of their disposable income on food in 2019, with 4.9% being for food at home. Additionally, grocery store prices also saw a 3.5% increase between 2019 and 2020.

There’s nothing you can do to avoid food spending altogether. But you certainly don’t have to pay full price the next time you shop. There are numerous ways to save money on groceries, and you don’t need to sacrifice products you enjoy to find savings.

One effective way to reduce grocery costs is to use your smartphone. Apps that help you save on groceries have grown in popularity, which is excellent news for any frugal shopper. The next time you restock your kitchen, download a few money-saving grocery apps before heading out the door to start saving more.

The Best Apps to Save Money on Groceries

There are several app categories that help reduce grocery spending. Mobile coupon apps, grocery-store apps, and various cash-back rewards programs are popular examples. Using a combination of these apps and looking for in-store deals, you can maximize every dollar you spend on groceries.

1. Grocery Store Apps

The best way to save money on groceries is often to use store apps from your favorite grocers. Many supermarkets highlight in-store deals and coupons through a mobile app. Some stores even have loyalty programs that link to your mobile account, letting you redeem savings at the register.

Some of the best grocery store apps that have coupons and reward programs include:

If you stack a store rewards card with mobile coupons and deals, it’s even better. For example, if you do most of your grocery shopping at Kroger, you can sign up for the rewards debit card to save 2% on Kroger brands and earn fuel rewards. Target also has a mobile app that highlights coupons and store promotions, and you can shop with a Target RedCard to get 5% off most in-store and online purchases.

Between in-app coupons and your rewards card, you’re already starting to reduce your grocery bill without having to change stores.

2. Coupons.com

Coupons.com is a popular couponing website that’s essentially a database of free printable coupons and online promo codes. On the website, you can find and print coupons for a range of categories, including:

Coupons.com usually limits you to printing one or two of each coupon. It’s still an effective way to save, but if you want to earn rewards for grocery shopping, the Coupons.com app for Android or iOS is also worth using.

If you were a fan of SavingStar, Coupons.com acquired them in 2020. As such, through Coupons.com’s app, you can now earn cash-back rewards for buying specific offers, including groceries.

Simply activate rebates in the app by tapping on them, shop, and then take a picture of your receipt with the app to earn cash back. Alternatively, link store loyalty cards from companies like Publix or Safeway to automatically earn cash back for eligible purchases.

Unlike many reward apps, Coupons.com doesn’t have a minimum redemption requirement. You get paid through PayPal, and between paper and online coupons and cash-back rewards, Coupons.com is a comprehensive tool to save on groceries and everyday essentials.

3. Ibotta

Ibotta is another way to earn cash-back rewards for buying specific products from Ibotta partners. The app doesn’t focus on groceries. It also has deals for categories like health and beauty, travel, entertainment, and sports. But grocery delivery and rebate deals are still a significant portion of available offers.

Ibotta partners with more than 300 retailers, including grocery stores like Kroger, Meijer, Walmart, and Whole Foods. You can also find Ibotta deals at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.

Saving money with Ibotta takes four simple steps:

  1. Find Offers. Like other receipt-scanning apps, you preselect rebates before shopping. You can find rebates under the “find offers” tab within Ibotta and search by categories to narrow your search to groceries.
  2. Shop. After you select rebates, you’re ready to shop. Check Ibotta offers for any specific terms to ensure you buy the right brand, size, and quantity. Rebates often have specific requirements, and your purchase won’t credit if you make a mistake.
  3. Verify Purchase. Snap a photo of your receipt with the Ibotta app to verify your purchases.
  4. Redeem Cash Back. Ibotta deposits cash into your rewards account within 48 hours of submitting proof of purchase. You can cash out after reaching $20. Cash-out options include PayPal, Venmo, and gift cards to companies like Amazon, Starbucks, and Target.

Ibotta also lets you link store loyalty cards to your account to automatically earn for eligible purchases so you can skip selecting rebates. Loyalty card linking works at over 100 stores, including Hannaford, Meijer, and Wegmans.

Like other cash-back reward apps, it’s best to stack rebates with other discounts, like coupons or a cash-back credit card. For example, if you find an Ibotta rebate for $0.75 off Cliff Bars at Walmart, look for manufacturer coupons or Walmart store coupons for extra savings. If you then shop with the Capital One Walmart Rewards credit card, you’re maximizing your savings for that product.

It might take a few grocery trips to reach the $20 cash-out minimum. But Ibotta has some of the best offer variety and highest-paying rebates in the grocery rewards app industry, so it certainly has worthwhile saving potential.

Read our Ibotta review for all the details.

4. Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards is another receipt-scanning app for Android and iOS that works almost exactly like Ibotta. But while many Ibotta offers require shopping at a specific store, Fetch Rewards only requires buying specific brands to earn points. That means you can shop at your grocery store of choice without having to drive around town or miss out on offers from stores you never shop at.

Fetch Rewards partners with brands in several categories, including groceries, cosmetics, magazines, alcohol, and baby products. But groceries at the largest category, including recognizable brands like:

  • Betty Crocker
  • Heinz
  • Hershey’s
  • Knorr
  • Kraft
  • Oscar Mayer
  • Pepsi
  • Sabra
  • Yoplait

Once you purchase products from a Fetch Rewards partner brand, you take a picture of your receipt with the app to verify your purchase. Points credit in your Fetch Rewards account after the receipt processes, which typically takes a few hours. You can redeem points for dozens of free gift cards, including Amazon, CVS, Burger King, Dunkin’, Old Navy, and Target.

Receipts that have at least one participating brand pay a minimum of 50 points, or $0.05. Additionally, Fetch Rewards has a page where you can find higher-paying special offers that pay bonus points. For example, special offers might pay 2,000 points ($2) for buying a pack of Tyson chicken breast or 1,000 points ($1) for buying McCain frozen smile potatoes.

One advantage of Fetch Rewards is that you only require 3,000 points, or $3, to redeem many gift cards. Realistically, that means you can enjoy your first reward within a shopping trip or two, depending on how many eligible brands and special offers you buy.

You won’t score massive discounts with Fetch Rewards, but it’s another simple app to save money on groceries if you don’t mind scanning your receipts. The redemption minimum is also one of the lowest out of all reward apps.

Read our Fetch Rewards review for more information.

5. Checkout 51

Another way to turn grocery receipts into cash rewards is to use Checkout 51, a free grocery rewards app for Android and iOS.

With Checkout 51, you select rebates before shopping and upload receipts for proof of purchase. You can also link loyalty cards to your account from over a dozen partners, including Dollar General, Hannaford, H-E-B, Meijer, and Publix. It’s fairly similar to other reward apps.

However, Checkout 51 focuses on groceries for rebates and works at hundreds of stores, including:

  • Aldi
  • Albertsons
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • Costco
  • Kroger
  • Meijer
  • Publix
  • Walmart
  • Whole Foods
  • Winn-Dixie

Additionally, Checkout 51 has a pick-your-own-offer section where you choose grocery essentials like bread, eggs, and produce to earn cash-back rewards for buying. These rewards usually range from $0.25 to $1, but it’s nice to reliably earn cash back on grocery essentials alongside specific products from brand partners.

Checkout 51 offers update every Thursday at 12am. So during the week, you might find that certain offers disappear as more shoppers claim them. That means it’s essential to check for new rebates on Thursday morning, select them, and shop that day to earn rewards. (Don’t wait for the weekend since grocery prices are higher on the weekends and sales usually happen on Wednesdays and Thursdays.)

Overall, Checkout 51 rebates are competitive, and you can redeem many offers multiple times, which is useful if you bulk-shop. Checkout 51 has a $20 cash-out requirement and pays through check. PayPal payments are also coming to the app and are currently in testing.

Reward variety is a downside for this app, but grocery-specific rebates and offer variety still make Checkout 51 one of the best grocery rewards apps around.

Read our Checkout 51 review for all the details.

6. Receipt Hog

If you’re already saving receipts to scan with other apps, add Receipt Hog to your smartphone.

With Receipt Hog, you turn everyday receipts into rewards just by taking a photo of your receipts with the app. But the type of receipt you upload determines the reward you earn:

  • Coin Receipts. Earn coins for uploading receipts for grocery stores, pharmacies, pet stores, dollar stores, supercenters, convenience stores, and alcohol stores. Coins are redeemable for free Amazon gift cards and PayPal cash.
  • Spin Receipts. Receipt Hog has a slots game where you can earn bonus coins or cash prizes for getting lucky. Spin receipt categories include apparel, department stores, home goods, office supplies, and electronics. Spin receipts don’t pay coins, so you have to get lucky to earn with this receipt type.
  • Sweepstake Receipts. Every receipt you scan grants you one entry into a monthly sweepstake where Receipt Hog gives out additional coins and cash prizes. You can also upload receipts from gas stations, restaurants, bars, and cafes for additional sweepstake entries.

Coin receipts are the most common type of receipt. You need 1,000 coins to redeem a $5 reward. Typically, receipts pay between five to 100 coins, with more expensive receipts paying a higher number of coins.

Realistically, it takes dozens of receipts to earn a $5 reward unless you get lucky on the slot game. But if you’re already scanning receipts with other apps, the extra 30 seconds of using Receipt Hog helps you save even more. And for non-grocery receipts, Receipt Hog provides the chance to at least earn something for scanning them versus throwing those receipts out.

Plus, there’s always the chance you get lucky with the slots or monthly sweepstake and earn a few hundred dollars’ worth of bonus coins.

7. The Coupons App

The Coupons App is a free couponing app that’s available for Android and iOS. While the app isn’t exclusively for grocery coupons, it’s still an immensely valuable tool to save on groceries and everyday shopping.

The app works with hundreds of retailers and lets you search, save, and use coupons right from your smartphone. You can also search for local deals and enable notifications to alert you when a nearby retailer has couponing opportunities.

But if you’re looking for an app to save money on groceries, The Coupons App has you covered. Several notable retailers the app regularly has coupons for include:

  • Aldi
  • Costco
  • Dollar Tree
  • Family Dollar
  • Kroger
  • Publix
  • Safeway
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • Whole Foods

Mobile coupons and weekly ads update daily to keep you in the loop about in-store deals. You can also create a grocery list within the app with the corresponding coupons you plan to use. If you frequently buy the same brands, you can set up tracking to receive brand-specific coupon notifications to ensure you don’t miss out on savings.

Other features include a gas-finder tool to save money on gas, an Amazon price tracker, and weekly cash giveaways.

The grocery list tool coupled with brand-specific coupon alerts is a useful money-saving combination. At the very least, it’s worth recreating your existing grocery list on The Coupons App and tracking coupons so you can passively collect coupons for your favorite brands.

8. Flipp

Flipp brands itself as an all-in-one savings app and says users save an average of $45 per week. That translates to over $2,000 in annual savings, which is quite a bold claim for a free app to make.

But if you want to save money on a tight budget and maximize grocery store savings, Flipp is worth downloading. The app lets you browse thousands of digital flyers from more than 2,000 retailers to find weekly deals to build your grocery list with.

Plus, Flipp has several other money-saving features:

  • Add Loyalty Cards. Save store loyalty cards to access during checkout to ensure you always earn points.
  • Mobile Coupons. Find and save coupons to your store loyalty cards for easy use at checkout.
  • Find Deals. Search for weekly flyer deals and trending offers on categories like groceries, household essentials, and electronics.
  • Shopping Lists. Create a grocery list or general shopping list. Flipp automatically finds any corresponding deals for the products you add.
  • Price Matching. Since Flipp provides access to thousands of flyers, you can search for specific products and compare prices between retailers. That makes it easy to price-match at checkout if the store allows price matching.

The price-matching feature is what makes Flipp so powerful. It’s difficult to manually track weekly flyers to find the best deals in town. With Flipp, all you have to do is search for specific products and compare flyer prices to see if there’s an opportunity to price-match.

For example, if you find strawberries are cheaper at Walmart but you prefer shopping at a nearby Target superstore, use Flipp to show the Walmart flyer and strawberry price when cashing out at Target. Since Target matches prices with Walmart on identical regularly priced products, you save money. It also lets you shop at your favorite store without worrying about missing deals at a grocery store across town.

Flipp is available for Android and iOS. Popular Flipp retailers include Kroger, Walmart, Meijer, and Family Dollar, but it also works at dozens of other superstores, grocery stores, and drugstores.

It takes some time to look through the app for coupons and price-matching opportunities. But even using Flipp’s weekly ads section to find in-store deals at your favorite grocery store helps you save money without much effort.

9. Coupon Sherpa

If you want a grocery coupon app that keeps things simple, Coupon Sherpa is a perfect choice. This free app lets you access thousands of mobile coupons while on the go, and there are also hundreds of grocery coupons available at any given time.

Coupon Sherpa also lets you search for nearby stores with available coupons or search for store-specific coupons. These features are handy when planning an upcoming grocery trip, and the in-app coupon map highlights local stores with the most couponing opportunities for the day.

Coupons scan at the register from your smartphone, and there are online-only coupon codes as well. Popular grocery stores Coupon Sherpa usually has coupons for include:

  • Aldi
  • Albertsons
  • Food Lion
  • Kroger
  • Meijer
  • Publix
  • Wegmans
  • Whole Foods

You won’t find extra features like weekly sales flyers or cash-back rewards, but that’s not Coupon Sherpa’s strength. Instead, Coupon Sherpa helps experienced and novice couponers quickly access coupons while on the go, ultimately saving time and money.

10. BeFrugal

If you want the best of both worlds when it comes to coupons and cash-back rewards, BeFrugal is a must-use resource for savvy shoppers.

In terms of grocery coupons, BeFrugal partners with Coupons.com to provide a database of printable coupons. You can also access weekly ad flyers to find deals at companies like:

  • Dollar General
  • Family Dollar
  • Meijer
  • Shop ‘n Save Food
  • Target
  • Walmart

Admittedly, the coupons and flyer selection on BeFrugal isn’t incredibly comprehensive. However, according to BeFrugal, you can earn up to 40% cash back at more than 5,000 stores, which is what makes this platform stand out.

Earning cash back is also simple. Once you create a free BeFrugal account, you browse the website or Android and iOS app to find brands to shop. When you want to shop at a partner store, BeFrugal redirects you to their website. After you make a purchase, you earn cash back. If you use Rakuten, another popular cash-back rewards website, it’s the same process.

Cash back accumulates in your BeFrugal account once the retailer verifies your purchase, which typically takes around seven days. You withdraw cash back through check, direct deposit, PayPal, or Venmo or choose free gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Kohl’s, Starbucks, and Walmart. There’s no minimum requirement for direct deposit, PayPal, and Venmo. Most electronic gift card rewards start at $5. Cashing out by check requires $25.

Some notable grocery partners include:

  • Instacart
  • Postmates
  • Sam’s Club
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

Instacart and Postmates are notable because online grocery shoppers can also use BeFrugal to earn cash back. Plus, new BeFrugal members get a $10 sign-up bonus if they earn cash back within one year of joining.

If you’re only looking for grocery coupons, other mobile apps are better choices. But for online grocery delivery and other online shopping, BeFrugal is a reliable way to score cash-back rewards and save. At the very least, use the $10 bonus to offset some of the delivery cost.

11. Mealime

One common way to overspend on groceries is to let good food go to waste.

According to a 2020 study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the average U.S. family wastes an astonishing 31.9% of the food they buy. That translates to annual U.S. consumer food waste of approximately $240 billion (about $740 per person). And every time you waste food, you waste money, which also offsets any progress you’re making with your grocery savings.

Food waste is either a sign of overspending or a lack of meal planning. If you want to reduce food waste, the first step is to understand what’s in your kitchen and utilize every ingredient.

Thankfully, Mealime helps you stay on track with recipe planning, letting you shop efficiently. With Mealime, you plan weeks of meals in just a few minutes and can choose recipes to fit over 200 different preferences and dietary restrictions. You can also add your own recipes by importing recipes from website URLs, using the Mealime browser extension, or entering ingredients and directions manually.

Once you create a meal plan, a grocery list automatically generates to save even more time. Plus, since Mealime knows how many people you’re cooking for, its grocery lists reduce food waste by making sure you don’t over-shop, saving more money per year.

Mealime is available for Android and iOS. Most features are free, and the $5.99-per-month pro version provides nutritional information and exclusive recipes and lets you view your previous meal plans.

Ultimately, Mealime isn’t as comprehensive as meal-planning services like $5 Dinners that send out weekly hand-picked recipes to suit your tastes. But if you’re confident in the kitchen and want to simplify grocery shopping and avoid wasting food, Mealime is the perfect app.

Even reducing your food waste costs by $10 per month is $120 in annual savings. And you can take comfort knowing you’re being a more socially responsible consumer.

12. SnipSnap

If you currently shop with paper coupons, SnipSnap is the perfect solution to simplify your life and to avoid forgetting coupons at home.

Once you download SnipSnap for Android or iOS, you take pictures of your paper coupons to transform them into digital coupons on your phone. You don’t have to waste time clipping coupons, and SnipSnap can digitize any printed coupon offer you have.

Additionally, SnipSnap has other helpful features:

  • In-Store Reminders. SnipSnap sends a push notification if you enter a store and have eligible coupons you can use.
  • Discover Feature. If you don’t have coupons, the discover tab lets you snip coupons from SnipSnap’s featured coupon catalog. You can also search its database to find store-specific coupons.
  • Expiration Warnings. SnipSnap notifies you when your coupons are close to expiring.
  • Store Success Rating. Check coupon success scores for different retailers to gauge how easy it is to redeem coupons at various retailers.

The in-store reminders feature is handy since it helps ensure you use as many coupons as possible when you shop, saving you more money. Plus, you can find digital coupons to avoid printing coupons, saving you money on ink.

Ultimately, SnipSnap is the modern version of a coupon book.

13. Dosh

One downside of many rebate apps is that you have to preselect products before shopping to earn rewards. That requires time, and if you forget to preselect offers before shopping, you don’t earn a penny.

Thankfully, Dosh takes the traditional rebate model and makes it passive. Once you link the credit and debit cards you shop with to your Dosh account, you automatically earn cash back for shopping at hundreds of Dosh partners. There’s no need to preselect offers or scan receipts since Dosh monitors your spending once you link your cards.

Dosh also works with popular grocery stores, warehouse clubs, and supplement stores like:

  • GNC
  • Instacart
  • Kroger
  • Sam’s Club
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Uber Eats

Additionally, Dosh partners with numerous fast-food chains, clothing stores, and cosmetics companies and adds new partners regularly so you can earn for a variety of purchases.

You withdraw cash back once you reach $25. Redemption options include direct deposit, PayPal Cash, and Venmo. Cash-back rewards vary between brands and are subject to change. But you typically earn an additional 1% to 2% from most partners. Dosh rewards are also stackable with cash-back credit card rewards and coupons.

Exclusively shopping for groceries with Dosh means it will likely take months to reach $25. But if you use linked cards for all your spending, you can reach the $25 redemption minimum more quickly.

Dosh is free for Android and iOS. If you want a humble source of passive income that helps you save money on groceries and everyday purchases, Dosh deserves a spot on your smartphone.

Read our Dosh review for more information.

14. Shopkick

Shopkick is a mix between a rewards app and mystery shopping side gig. With Shopkick, you earn kicks, the in-app point system, by completing various tasks, including:

  • Walking into specific stores
  • Purchasing certain products and uploading a receipt with the Shopkick app
  • Scanning product bar codes
  • Watching videos
  • Shopping online through the Shopkick app
  • Linking your credit card to Shopkick and making purchases at eligible stores

A typical grocery trip with Shopkick might have several opportunities to earn. For example, you earn 15 kicks for walking into a Walmart, 10 kicks for scanning the bar code for Huggies diapers, and 120 kicks for buying a Shopkick offer of Jack Link’s beef jerky.

It takes 250 kicks to get to $1, and you can redeem most rewards at 500 kicks. Shopkick lets you redeem kicks for PayPal cash or free gift cards to retailers like:

  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • eBay
  • Nike
  • Sephora
  • Starbucks
  • Target
  • Walmart

Rebate apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 usually have higher-paying offers than Shopkick. But Shopkick is unique because you can earn rewards without spending money through tasks like walking into stores or scanning bar codes. If you want a versatile and potentially free way to save on groceries, you can stack Shopkick with other rewards apps to earn rewards even faster.


Final Word

The most effective ways to save money on groceries start at home. Creating a family meal plan, reducing food waste, and getting creative with leftovers can help you make the most of what you buy. If you also shop at less expensive grocery stores, like Kroger instead of Whole Foods, you’re also taking steps to cut costs.

But apps that help you save money on groceries are worth using. You also don’t have to download every grocery app that’s out there. Diligently using one rewards app is better than downloading several apps you never open.

Pick one or several grocery apps that catch your eye and take an evening to create accounts for them.

You can also get creative and try other methods to save money at the grocery store and beyond. For example, GetUpside lets you earn cash back on gas and select grocery stores. Similarly, if you order groceries or meal delivery kits online, you can earn cash back by shopping with Rakuten.

Over time, you’ll discover which apps work best for your area and favorite stores and avoid paying full price ever again.

Source: moneycrashers.com

12 Ways Retirees Can Earn Passive Income

A senior black man uses a smartphone
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

These days, “retired” doesn’t always mean “not working.”

According to a study of U.S. retirees from the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), “nine percent … are currently working for pay, including five percent who are employed part-time, two percent who are employed full-time, and two percent who are self-employed.”

More than half — 56% — of those surveyed said their top reason to keep working was “wanting the income.” The good news: You might be able to make some extra dollars via passive income — money that comes in without you doing much work, or any work at all.

Passive income is often synonymous with a large upfront investment, such as buying rental properties or dividend-producing stocks. But the following passive-income strategies can bring in extra bucks without investing a bunch of money or time.

1. Rent out a room in your home

Got an empty nest? Someone may be willing to pay to roost there.

You can advertise your spare space on your own or list it on a vacation rental website such as:

Yes, it takes some work: You might have to keep the room tidy and wash a load of sheets and towels once the guests depart. But in some parts of the country, you can earn enough money in just a few days to cover a mortgage payment, as we detail in “Do This a Few Days Each Month and Watch Your Mortgage Disappear.”

If you’re the gregarious type, you can have fun talking up your town or even showing visitors around. If not, advertise it as a “Here’s your key, we won’t bother you” arrangement. Some people simply want an inexpensive place to sleep and don’t care about sitting around chatting with the host.

2. Rent out your vehicle or gear

Your spare bedroom is just one of many things you could rent to others to bring in extra money.

Use your imagination. Maybe you have a ladder, stroller, surfboard, bicycle, boat, camera equipment or a great selection of power tools.

Peer-to-peer rental sites like the following will help you find folks who occasionally need such things but don’t want to own them:

Whatever you’re renting, keep in mind that ordinary insurance might not cover the commercial use of your property. An insurance rider may cover some items, but you may need a separate policy, so consult your insurance agent.

3. Become a peer-to-peer lender

What is peer-to-peer lending? In short, P2P lending sites such as Prosper accept loan applications from borrowers. Investors like you can put some of your money toward loans to those borrowers. When loans get paid back, so do you — with interest.

Overall, P2P investments “can provide solid returns that are really hard to beat,” according to Clark.com, the website of financial guru Clark Howard.

As with any loan, however, there’s the possibility of default. You may not earn anything or may even lose money.

Sound too complicated? Maybe this simpler form of P2P is for you: Worthy sells 36-month bonds for $10 each. The money that comes in is loaned to U.S. businesses, with lenders who have purchased these bonds getting a 5% annual rate of interest on their investment.

To learn more about Worthy bonds, check out “How to Earn 80 Times More on Your Savings.”

4. Get rewards for credit card spending

If you’re going to shop with plastic, make sure you’re rewarded.

The form that the reward takes is up to you. Some people covet airline miles. Others take their rewards as cash or a credit against their monthly statement.

The number of rewards credit cards — and their pros and cons — can be a little dizzying. For an easy way to compare your options, stop by our Solutions Center and check out travel rewards cards or cash-back cards in the Money Talks News credit card search tool.

5. Use cash-back apps

An app called Ibotta lets you earn cash rebates on purchases from retailers, restaurants or movie theaters.

Or you can do your online shopping through cash-back portals like:

These websites enable you to earn cash back on purchases from thousands of online retailers. To learn more about them, check out “3 Websites That Pay You for Shopping.”

6. Sell your photos

Smartphones have made decent photography possible for just about anyone. The next time you capture a killer sunset or an adorable kid-and-dog situation, don’t keep the image to yourself. Apps like Foap — which is available for Android and Apple devices — will help you sell it.

You can do even better if you have a good digital SLR camera, a tripod and other equipment. Stock photo companies like Shutterstock and iStockphoto, which favor high-definition, high-quality images, are venues for selling photos on just about any subject you can find.

7. Write an e-book

It’s possible to bring in cash without a high-powered book contract, thanks to self-publishing platforms.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, for example, allows you to write, upload and sell your words fairly easily. My two personal finance books are for sale on Kindle, and they provide a steady stream of passive income.

I also sell PDFs of the books through my personal website. I use a payment platform called E-junkie to handle payments and deliver the book downloads — and this brings me more money per book than Amazon does, even when I offer readers a discount.

If you’re fond of a particular fiction genre, write the kind of stuff you’d like to read. Nonfiction sells, too: cookbooks, travel guides, history, memoirs and how-tos are a few examples. Or maybe you have a specific skill to teach — job-hunting or food preservation or raising chinchillas.

Pro tip: Fiverr.com is a good marketplace through which to find freelancers to hire for help with formatting, design and cover art.

8. Create an online course

If you’ve got useful knowledge, why not monetize it? Sites like Teachable and Thinkific will help you build a course that could change someone’s life, either professionally or personally.

Note that online courses are not limited to computer-based topics. A quick search turns up classes on:

  • Cake-making
  • Watercolors
  • Digital scrapbooking
  • Drone cinematography
  • Free-diving
  • Blacksmithing
  • Yoga
  • Parenting
  • Novel writing
  • Job hunting
  • Building a pet-care business

And that’s just for starters. Like writing an e-book, creating a course will take some work. But again: Once it’s up, the work is done.

9. Join rewards programs

Rewards sites like Swagbucks reward you with points for activities such as searching the internet, watching short videos and taking surveys. You can cash in your points for gift cards or PayPal cash.

Maybe you didn’t retire to spend hours taking surveys. But if you’re going to search the internet anyway, why not use Swagbucks’ search engine and earn some points?

To learn more about Swagbucks, check out “6 Ways to Score Free Gift Cards and Cash in 1 Place.”

10. Wrap your car with advertising

Turn your vehicle into a rolling billboard with companies like Carvertise. They’ll pay you for the privilege of putting removable advertising decals for a business on your automobile.

Writer Kat Tretina describes the process at Student Loan Hero. You can expect to earn $100 to $400 a month, depending on how much and where you drive, she says. Requirements include having a good driving record and a vehicle that has its factory paint job.

Pro tip: Car-advertising scams make the rounds regularly. Tretina offers these tips to avoid being victimized:

  • Legitimate companies don’t charge an application fee, and they’ll have a customer service phone line that lets you talk with a real person.
  • The car-wrapping cost should be covered by the company.
  • Take a hard pass on any company that doesn’t ask questions about your driving record, auto insurance, driving routes and type of vehicle.

11. Create an app

Maybe yours is one of those minds that says, “There should be an easier way to do (whatever) — and I think I know what it is!” If so, creating an app could bring in extra income.

It could also bring in zero dollars. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

For example, personal finance writer Jackie Beck — who cleared $147,000 of debt — used her expertise to create an app called “Pay Off Debt.”

Not a coder? App-builder services exist. The WikiHow.com article “How to Create a Mobile App” tells how to get started. It’s a time-consuming process. But that’s one of the beauties of retirement: You set your own hours.

12. Become a package ‘receiver’

OK, this idea is unproven — so far. But it’s a solution whose time has come. The boom in online shopping has been a boon for thieves who find it easy to swipe packages left outside front doors before the intended recipients get home from work.

You might be able to do your part to thwart those lowdown thieves by marketing yourself as a “professional package receiver.”

Try this: Put the word out — through friends, social media, places of worship — that you are available to accept deliveries. If a package is for someone in your neighborhood, you could watch the shipping company’s tracking info and be at the home to take the package in. Or you could specify that packages be shipped to Original Recipient, c/o Professional Package Receiver — that’s you.

Before asking a fee of, for example, $1 per package, ask the person who wants to hire you what it’s worth to them. You might be surprised by a response like, “I’ll give you $5.” Decide, too, whether you’ll be charging per package or per order, and whether you’ll set a weight limit, such as no packages over 30 pounds.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Do It Yourself (DIY) or Hire a Contractor for Home Improvement Projects?

When you buy a fixer-upper, you can expect to spend many thousands of dollars on home improvement projects. According to HomeAdvisor, it costs an average of around $10,000 to remodel a bathroom, $20,000 for a basement, and $25,000 for a kitchen remodel.

For most of these jobs, labor accounts for a big chunk of the cost. For instance, HomeAdvisor says it adds up to between 30% and 35% of the cost for a kitchen remodel and about half the total price of a bathroom remodel. Thus, supplying your own labor for a home repair or remodel can save you a big chunk of change.

However, just because you can do it yourself doesn’t mean you should. Some jobs are easy to handle on your own, while others are best left to skilled professionals. The trick is figuring out which is which.

Deciding Which Jobs to DIY

My husband and I are fairly dedicated DIYers. I have a long list of all the projects we’ve done on our house in the eight years we’ve owned it, and the overwhelming majority of them were DIY jobs — both small ones, such as replacing cabinet hardware, and big ones, like insulating our attic.

Yet there are a handful of jobs on that list for which we hired professional contractors without hesitation or regret. In every case, we chose to do so for one of three reasons: safety, difficulty, or time. These are the three points experts say are most crucial to consider when deciding whether to DIY.

Safety First

There are three major signs a job is too dangerous for DIY:

  1. It Could Kill You. The first question you need to ask yourself about any DIY project is, “What’s the worst possible thing that could happen if I mess it up?” For some jobs, such as roofing or major electrical work, the answer is, “I could get killed.” That answer is a clear warning sign this is a job for a professional trained to handle its dangers.
  2. It Could Destroy Your Home. Major plumbing jobs, such as moving bathroom fixtures, fit into this category. A mistake on this kind of job could result in a water leak weakening a wall to the point of collapse. Of course, plumbers can make mistakes too, but they could be on the hook to pay for the damage if they do.
  3. It Requires a Permit. Some home improvement projects require a building permit, a document guaranteeing they were done safely and in accordance with local building codes. Each city has its own rules about which jobs require permits, how much they cost, and how hard it is to get one. In some areas, you can’t get a permit at all unless you’re working with a licensed contractor. But even if you can, the fact that you need one is a sign the job might be too complicated for DIY.

One job that fit into this category for us was replacing our water heater. If it had been electric, we might have tried to do it ourselves. However, ours ran on gas, which poses a risk of fire, explosion, or poisoning. We decided any job that involves cutting into gas lines is a job we aren’t going to touch.

Know the Ropes

There’s no way you can tackle a home repair job unless you know how. In some cases, having no experience isn’t a deal-breaker because you can learn everything you need from a DIY book or YouTube video. Sources like the DIY Network can teach you how to handle all kinds of straightforward repair jobs, such as fixing a leaky toilet or squeaky door hinge.

But other jobs are so highly specialized it takes years of training to handle them on your own. Even Nicole Curtis of the DIY Network show “Rehab Addict,” who fixes up houses for a living, hires subcontractors to help her with complicated jobs like moving plumbing fixtures or pouring concrete.

There are a few reasons for choosing a professional to do a difficult job.

  • It’s Dangerous. The danger component bears repeating. Many jobs that require technical know-how are jobs that are dangerous to do yourself. In these cases, hire a contractor for safety reasons.
  • Mistakes Could Be Costly. If you’re not quite sure what you’re doing when you tackle a job, you risk having to call in a contractor to fix your mistakes. Instead of saving money by doing it yourself, you could end up paying twice for the same job.
  • It Could Hurt Your Home’s Value. In an article written for NEA Member Benefits, real estate broker Jim Smith warns that slipshod work is a turn-off for future buyers. Elizabeth Goltz, a designer quoted in Consumer Reports’ guide to bathroom remodeling, agrees, saying even the priciest bathroom tile looks cheap if it’s poorly laid.

My husband and I ran into this problem when we noticed the bricks of our side porch stoop coming loose. At first, we thought we could simply reset the loose bricks, but it soon became clear the entire stoop was falling apart. When we talked to a contractor about it, we discovered it was because of poor drainage, which was weakening the foundation.

At that point, we realized it was simply too complicated a job for us to tackle ourselves. It made more sense to pay a professional to rebuild the stoop properly than fix it ourselves and end up having to do the whole job over a year later.

Time Is Money

You get the most value from DIY home improvement when it’s much cheaper to do it yourself than hire a pro. The snag is that the more a job costs to have done professionally, the more of your time it’s likely to take.

To figure out whether it’s worth it, you need to estimate both the cost and time involved and work out your savings on a per-hour basis.

  1. Price the Professional Job. The most accurate way to figure out how much it would cost to have the job done professionally is to get quotes from contractors. But you can also get a quick estimate from Homewyse. Just select the job and enter your zip code, and the site displays a price range based on cost data for your area.
  2. Add Up the DIY Cost. Next, figure out how much it would cost to do the job yourself. Add up the prices for materials, tools, and permits to get your total DIY cost. Then subtract this total from the cost of a professional job to determine how much you can save by doing it yourself.
  3. Estimate the Time Required. Time is a lot harder to estimate than cost because it depends on your experience and skill level. But home repair books often give estimates of how long a job usually takes for novice, intermediate, and expert do-it-yourselfers. You can also find time estimates for some DIY jobs with an Internet search.
  4. Calculate Your Hourly Wage. Divide the potential savings from DIY by the time required to find out how much money you can save for each hour of work. In effect, that’s the amount you can earn per hour for doing this job yourself. Now all you need to decide is whether you’re willing to work for that wage.

For example, my husband and I decided to rewire our basement, including adding several new ceiling lights and moving around all the switches. It was going to be a much more complex job than we’d previously done. And since we both worked full time, we knew we’d only be able to work on it during evenings and weekends.

Based on the size of the job, we realized it would probably take us weeks (if not months) to complete, while an electrician could do it in one day. Furthermore, it was a job that required a permit, and getting one in our town is not an easy task. We decided shelling out $600 to save ourselves all that time and hassle would be money well spent.


Keeping Costs Down

Both DIY and professional jobs have their costs. For a DIY job, the most significant investment is time. When you hire a contractor, it’s cash.

But in both cases, you want to get the most bang for your buck. By keeping a few tips in mind when you start a remodeling project, you can maximize your investment in both time and money.

Saving on Professional Jobs

DIY is probably the most crucial way to save money on home renovation projects, but it isn’t the only way. Even when you hire a contractor, you can take several steps to keep the cost under control.

Choose High-Return Projects

Repairs are necessary, but home remodeling jobs are optional. To get the most out of them, you can choose to focus on the projects that add the most value to your home when it’s time to sell it.

For instance, the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report from industry publication Remodeling magazine shows that when you add manufactured stone veneer to the front of your house, you can expect to get back over 95% of the project cost when you sell. But adding a new master suite returns only a little over half its cost.

Exact costs and values for different projects vary based on where you live. For more specific information, go to the Cost vs. Value Report and select your location.

Choose the Right Contractor

The single most meaningful thing you can do to get the best value from a professional remodeling job is to find a good contractor. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations, and get quotes from at least three contractors. Ask them about their fees and experience with this type of work.

Next, do a little homework on all the contractors. Check their ratings with the Better Business Bureau and ensure their licenses and insurance are up to date. Then you can make an informed choice, balancing the contractors’ quoted prices against the quality of the work you can expect from them.

Communicate

According to Consumer Reports, most of the problems homeowners have with contractors (and vice versa) come from faulty communication. Homeowners get upset when contractors don’t show up on time or listen to their requests or leave a mess. Contractors get upset when homeowners call them at inappropriate hours or let their kids and pets interrupt the work.

To avoid such problems, establish clear guidelines about what you each expect: working hours, working conditions, cleanup, and where to go if you have questions. If a problem arises, talk to the contractor about it as soon as possible. Putting it off just makes it more expensive to fix.

Do Your Own Demo and Cleanup

Even when you can’t DIY an entire job, you can often save money by doing parts of it yourself. Demolition is one example. It doesn’t require a professional’s skill to swing a sledgehammer — just do so carefully.

You can also save money at the other end of the project by doing all the cleanup and other finishing touches, such as painting. That way, you only need to pay the contractor for the parts of the job that an expert really needs to do.

Saving on DIY Jobs

Given the cost of materials, tools, and permits, even a DIY job can get expensive. But there are several tricks for keeping these costs down and getting the best value from your work.

Build Your Skills

Even if it’s your first time doing DIY, you can tackle small jobs like fixing a leaking faucet or putting up a shelf. Instructions are available online, and you can’t do too much damage if you mess up. After building your skills and confidence with little jobs like these, you can work your way up to bigger ones, such as replacing a toilet or building a bookcase.

Prioritize

According to the Consumer Reports bathroom remodeling guide, it’s a mistake to skimp on elements that have to stand up to heavy use, such as bathroom tile. But you can save money with more basic light fixtures or faucets since performance is about the same at all points on the price spectrum.

Save on Materials

You can save on all sorts of materials for home building projects, from kitchen cabinets to windows and doors, by shopping at reuse centers. These stores take unwanted materials, such as leftovers from building projects, salvage from demolition, and items homeowners have discarded, and sell them to the public for bargain prices.

One of the best-known reuse centers is the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a chain of nonprofit stores and donation centers run by Habitat for Humanity. You can look for listings for reuse centers in your area at The Loading Dock or do an online search for your location and “reuse center” or “architectural salvage.”

Save on Tools

If a DIY job requires a tool you don’t have, borrow it from a friend or neighbor. If that’s not an option, check out Craigslist, eBay, and (if you have time) local garage sales to see if you can buy it secondhand.

If it’s a large tool, such as a floor sander or paint sprayer, you can rent it from a store like Home Depot instead of buying it. For something you only expect to use once or twice, renting is almost always cheaper than purchasing.

If buying new is your only option, find a family member, friend, or neighbor who would like to share the tool with you and split the cost. That way, neither of you has to pay full price for a device you only expect to use occasionally.


Final Word

The choice between DIY and hiring a contractor is more than just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s a careful balancing act between money and a long list of other factors: less hassle, faster results, safety, and professional-quality work. All these advantages explain why so many homeowners come down on the side of hiring a professional despite the higher cost.

However, there’s one advantage of DIY you can’t put a price on: your pride in showing off a job you did yourself. If nothing else gives you quite the same thrill as taking your friends on a tour of the newly finished basement you built with your own hands, that’s more than enough to make up for all the time and work you put into it, even when the cost savings are minimal.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How Do I Dispose of Chip Credit Cards?

Woman cutting a credit card
micro10x / Shutterstock.com

In the past few years, newer versions of credit cards with embedded digital chips have taken over wallets everywhere. That raises a question, as posed by Money Talks News reader Kim:

“What is the safest way to dispose of the new chip credit cards so personal account information isn’t stolen?”

Destroy the card, not the account

Before we talk about how to destroy our physical cards, let’s talk about closing credit accounts.

If the card isn’t charging an annual fee, don’t worry about closing the account. Leaving it open typically won’t hurt your credit score, while closing it could negatively impact your credit score. That’s because of two factors.

Factor one: Part of your credit score comes from the length of your credit history. If you cancel an account you’ve had a long time, you could be reducing the length of your credit history. For example, I’ve had one credit card for 25 years. A long credit history improves my credit score.

Note, however, that when you close an account, it won’t immediately impact your history. Closed accounts in good standing can remain on your credit history for 10 years. But still, if it’s helping, why close it?

Factor two: Another part of your credit score comes from your credit utilization ratio — in other words, how much credit you’re using compared with how much you have available to you. You want that ratio to be low; most experts say below 30%.

For example, if you’ve got a $3,000 balance and have $10,000 of credit available, you’ve used 30% of your available credit — you’re at a 30% utilization ratio. That puts you right against the limit of where you should be.

But what happens when you cancel some of your available credit? If you’ve got a $3,000 balance and have only $5,000 of available credit, your credit utilization ratio just went to 60%. Now, you look like someone about to max out their credit.

Bottom line? If an account isn’t costing you anything, why cancel it? Unless you’re afraid of temptation, just leave it alone and forget about it.

If you do want to cancel the account — say, because it’s costing you money — call the number on the back of the card, ask them how to do it and follow their instructions. If they say you can cancel it over the phone, fine. But take notes about the representative you talked to, what he or she said, etc., in case something goes awry.

Destroying the card

In the past, what you’ve probably done to destroy an old credit card is cut it up with scissors. And guess what? That still works.

When it comes to chip cards, the American Bankers Association recommends cutting through the chip, then cutting the card a few more times. Then, dispose of the sections in more than one trash bag.

If the card is metal, you could use tin snips, or pull out your power tools and go to town. Or, you could just request a prepaid envelope from the issuer, send it back and wonder why the heck they make credit cards out of metal in the first place.

If you search this topic online, you’ll find lots of other ideas, including using a magnet on the magnetic strip before slicing and dicing, burning them in a fire or using a heavy-duty shredder. All good.

But in the end, all you really need to do is cut it up, making sure you cut the embedded chip. Put the pieces in multiple trash cans, and you’re done!

Hope that answers your question, Kim.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Renting a Car for Your Holiday Vacations

The holiday season is upon us and many of us will be taking time off work to visit family and friends or just to get out of town. With so many people going on vacations, the number of cars being rented increases dramatically. Unless you’re planning a staycation, it’s likely that you will need a vehicle or some reliable means of transportation once you get to your holiday destination. That is usually where rental cars come in handy.

Renting a car during your vacation has its advantages and it’s also fun driving a “new” car. It can also be quite convenient and oftentimes more affordable than relying on taxis, while saving you time and headache. The advantages aside, it’s important to note that if you plan on renting a car using a debit card, you should know how it can affect your credit.

Rental car companies prefer that their customers use a credit card. As Thrifty Rental Car explains on its site, “Renting a car to someone with no credit card is risky for rental car companies. Not having a credit card is a red flag that you may be a credit risk.”

Because of this, it is much easier to use a credit card to rent a car than a debit card. That being said, not everyone has a credit card and their only option is to use debit for payment. That can be fine; however, you should be aware of what that can entail. If your reason for not having a credit card to use is because of poor credit, this is even more important.

Using a Debit Card for Car Rentals

Many car rental companies will allow you to use a debit card for your rental but they don’t make it easy. When using a debit card, the rental companies will usually require you to have the full amount of the scheduled rental charge available in your account and may also put a hold of up to $350 on your account. Additionally – and what you really need to worry about – they may also run your credit.

Some rental companies will check your credit score before approving the rental while others will look for multiple delinquent lines of credit opened within the last 3 years. Each time they run your credit, it can lower your FICO score by 5 or more points. If your credit score is already low, this will not only make it worse but you could also be declined. After being declined at a rental company, many people will just try getting a rental from another company and then their credit will be checked again by the next company, lowering their score even further.

If you think your credit score may be too low (a score lower than 500 can be risky), then you should seek alternative options. At the very least, you should contact the rental company that you plan on using and ask about their credit requirements to determine how strict they are before having your credit ran.

Alternatively, you could look for a rental company that won’t run your credit, although they may have other stipulations. According to CreditCards.com, here is a list of rental companies that check your credit when using a debit card and those that don’t:

Companies that run a credit check

  • Advantage
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Hertz
  • Thrifty

Companies that do not run a credit check

  • Alamo
  • Enterprise
  • EZ Rental
  • National

The companies that do not run credit checks may not allow you to use a debit card so you may want to contact them first before making plans.

If you don’t have a credit card and don’t want to risk damaging your credit, the best route to take would be to find an alternative means of transportation, such as:

  • Uber, Lyft or other ride share service
  • Taxis or limo service
  • Public transportation

While these options may not be as convenient, they could help prevent serious damage to your credit that could haunt you down the road. If your credit score is low and you need assistance improving your credit score, contact Credit Absolute today for a free consultation: (480) 478-4304

Source: creditabsolute.com

The 8 Best Reasons to Cancel Netflix

Woman calls for a timeout or a stop
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Netflix streaming had its biggest year ever in 2020, picking up 37 million new subscribers worldwide. But that was while everyone was trapped at home.

Signs so far in 2021 suggest “Netflix may be headed toward a lackluster year,” according to an Associated Press report.

As the pandemic recedes and people move on with their lives, many of us are re-evaluating our habits and spending. And some people might find that Netflix is no longer a good fit for them, for all kinds of reasons.

Here are some of the biggest reasons to reconsider Netflix.

1. You want to spend more time on hobbies

Girl Crafting
Nenad Aksic / Shutterstock.com

It’s all too easy to wrap up work for the day and make for the couch — and then spend the entire evening there, binge-watching a new show.

If you often find your free time evaporating, or wish you had more time for things you used to enjoy, ask yourself if Netflix is to blame.

Canceling Netflix for a hobby isn’t just a way to save money and time. It could also lengthen your life, as we detail in “7 Hobbies That Help You Live Longer.”

2. Price hikes are driving you away

Senior man with no money
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Late last year, Netflix announced it was hiking the price of its standard plan to $14 per month. The price has increased by 40% in five years — back in 2016, a standard plan was just $10 per month.

Are you ready to spend even more on these shows? Are you getting 40% more value than you were five years ago?

3. There’s not enough to watch

eeinosiva / Shutterstock.com

Depending on your interests and how much time you’ve spent watching Netflix already, you might find there aren’t enough new shows to justify the ongoing cost.

This is where it pays to be honest with yourself. Maybe you’ve gotten your money’s worth for now and you should just unsubscribe. There’s no reason you can’t come back later when a bunch of new stuff is out.

4. There’s too much to watch

fizkes / Shutterstock.com

On the other hand, maybe you’re coming to realize entertainment has completely gotten away from you lately: You’ve fallen behind on the shows your friends are talking about, and you don’t have time or energy to catch up.

There’s no reason to continue paying for something you aren’t using. Again, this doesn’t have to be a permanent change. It might just make sense to have a Netflix “detox” for a while and then subscribe again when your friends get invested in something brand-new that you want to keep up with.

5. It’s bad for your relationship

financial fight
New Africa / Shutterstock.com

Is your partner over Netflix and chill and more likely to say “chill out with the Netflix already”? You’re not alone.

Multiple studies have tried to identify how often Netflix dampens the mood. Research from economics professors at Reed College and the University of Delaware found people who own a TV are 6% less likely to have had sex in the past week. That study was based on more than 4 million people across 80 countries.

A separate survey from The Wall Street Journal found 12% of respondents believed streaming habits were responsible for less-frequent sex.

6. It’s bad for your brain

Sad, middle-aged woman
Koraysa / Shutterstock.com

We’ve probably all heard someone concerned about kids watching too much TV. But what about middle-aged adults?

As we recently covered in “Here’s What Watching TV in Midlife Does to Your Brain,” people ages 45 to 64 who watch TV too frequently “see greater declines in cognitive function and reduced gray matter volumes in their brains later in life.”

7. Your favorite show is over

Angry woman using a laptop
ViDI Studio / Shutterstock.com

All good things come to an end — whether it’s a new program or Netflix’s licensing agreement for an old favorite.

If you’ve become overly familiar with Netflix’s “Last day to watch on Netflix” messages or just don’t see any of the things you miss coming back, it could be time to cancel your subscription.

8. You want to try alternative services

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

By at least one metric, Netflix is no longer the most popular streaming service.

As we wrote in “The 10 Most Popular Streaming TV Services,” Disney+ was the most downloaded video-on-demand mobile app in 2020. While Disney was a relative latecomer to the streaming game, thanks to a decades-deep library of films and shows and enormous investment in new content, Disney clearly has caught up.

However, Disney+ is far from the only service in town. Check out “13 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less” and see if there’s a better fit for you.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com