Ashleigh here! And I have a confession: I LOVE online shopping. Anyone who knows me personally has likely heard me wax poetic about Amazon Prime or the new Drive Up option at Target (so no one has to see me in my leggings and bedhead), and I am JUST NOW discovering the beauty of grocery shopping via the internet. Part of why I love to online shop (aside from being able to do it from my couch) is the idea that its saving me money because I am NO stranger to the Target phenomenon of going in the store for one thing and coming out having spent $100 on stuff I didn’t need. (Anyone else?! We should start a club.)
But I also love to online shop because now I’m ACTUALLY saving money. Like, real money - while I’m spending money. Saving money -- while also shopping -- for my upcoming Walt Disney World trip. Literal DREAM.
I can hear all you skeptics now -- “you’re not actually saving money if you’re spending it!” -- etc. I’ve spent enough time reading Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman (who I LOVE, btw) to know that if you’re spending money, OF COURSE, you’re not saving it. But the reality is, we all need to buy groceries, gas, laundry detergent, and the occasional new pair of white pants because you accidentally spilled ice cream all over your other pair and why buy bleach when you can just buy new pants? (Not that I know from experience or anything…)
Three years ago, I got real down and dirty with my finances, and downloaded every possible money-saving app out there (because, hello, lazy) to figure out how to hack my finances even just a tiny bit, and I’m sharing ALL of my tried and true tips below! Yes, some of these will take a little bit of time and maybe some planning ahead, but hey, those Mickey waffles ain’t paying for themselves, sister.
*As of publish time, we are not directly affiliated with any of these companies or the products they sell. This article does contain referral links, which means I receive a small commission if you sign up/register for one of these apps/products using these links. This in no way impacts the products I have chosen to recommend or suggest. I only recommend products I use and love. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Save While You Sleep
Okay, so this isn’t a cash-back app, BUT it does help you save while you shop - sort of. Digit tracks your spending habits and using that algorithm, sets up auto-saves for you based on your goals. For instance, if you wish to save $1000 for your Disney vacation next year: just plug in the date, and Digit will start to automatically pull money from your checking account and save it for you to help you reach that goal. You can pause saving at any time and you can withdraw at any time, too. My favorite feature is the auto overdraft protection, which has saved my butt SO many times.
The MVP's - Most Versatile Players
Ebates was the first “spend and save” app I started to use almost 6 years ago when I was trying to live #thatHollywoodlife on a super tiny salary. The money I made back using Ebates that year helped pay for my flight home to see my family at Christmas.
The way it works: Shop via Ebates re-direct links. (Search the store you’re shopping at through their platform, and it will redirect you.) The site will tell you in advance what percent cash back you’re going to get on that trip and if there are any included or excluded categories. There are lots of days where they do double cash back and boosted offers, so it pays to keep their emails in your inbox! Ebates has an app, a browser extension, and a website, and it is my go-to before I do any online shopping anywhere.
Swagbucks offers you so many different ways to accumulate points to exchange for cash or gift cards. There’s your typical percentage back shopping trips (like Ebates) and points for surveys (if you qualify), but then there are boosted offers, big sign-up promotions (for things you might be wanting to use anyway, like Hulu!), and random surprise secret Swagbucks codes that they will email you about. In my first week of using the app - and certainly not religiously - I made over 600 SB!
The Three Little Sneakies
Each of these apps helps you earn cash back (at participating locations) if you use cards connected to your account(s). I like these options because I don’t have to do anything extra, although there are often additional offers and cash back if you shop via their portals (similar to Ebates). DOSH and Spent allow you to cash out once you have hit a certain threshold; Drop accumulates points which you can then cash out for gift cards at certain levels (10,000 points = $10 gift card, for example.)
Clean Out Your Handbag For Money
Ibotta has been around forever and is probably one of the most widely used receipt capturing apps. The trick to Ibotta is to search for items BEFORE you shop -- so, if you’re a creature of habit like me and buy chicken every week, search for it in the app. If there’s a deal, it’ll allow you to add it, and usually requires you to choose a participating store to purchase from. Once you’re home, scan your receipt into the app, and you accumulate cash back. There are often “any item” cash back offers, too, just for scanning a receipt where you bought something - I’ve only seen it at $0.25, but it adds up!
Fetch Rewards is another great receipt capturing app that gives you bonus points if you purchase certain brand name items and has weekly bonus items as well. Once you hit a certain threshold of points, you can cash them out for gift cards.
Do you have a cash back app you LOVE that we didn’t mention? What are some of your sneaky ways of saving for your Disney trips? Leave us suggestions below!