We all could use some extra cash at the end of the month, but it’s not like we have a ton of idle time to be hustling all over town.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to put more money back in your wallet — both by increasing your earning power and strategically cutting expenses.
1. Let a Robot Find Money You’re Wasting
Trim is a slick new free tool that helps identify hidden leaks in your budget and opportunities to get better deals.
The crazy thing is it takes less than a minute to set up, and pads your wallet in 3 ways:
- Getting you cash back when prices drop on stuff you bought on Amazon.
- Negotiating better deals on your cable or Internet service.
- Finding and canceling subscriptions you don’t use.
Does it work? Two days after signing up I got this message:
Of course I can’t guarantee the same result but I’ll take $20 for doing almost nothing any day of the week!
Update: A couple weeks later Trim came back saying they’d negotiated $347.88 off my Comcast bills over the next 12 months! Cha-ching!
2. Get Paid Back When You Eat Out or Travel
Another new app I’m pretty excited about is called Dosh.
A friend turned me onto this one, and it gives you cash back (generally 7-10%) for dining out at local restaurants, and up to hundreds of dollars cash back on hotels.
It’s definitely worth checking out at least to see if some of your favorite local spots are included — and for sure before you book your next trip.
Even out in the ‘burbs by me there are quite a few deals, and you can see I’m up $35 on the app already.
The cool thing about Dosh, especially for the local purchases, is the cash back credit happens automatically after you create an account and link your card. You don’t have to fumble around with the app or show a QR code to your waiter or anything like that.
They’ll even give you $5 in free starter cash when you download the app and link a credit card.
3. Invest Like a Millionaire
For as little as $500, Fundrise lets you invest in an efficiently-managed diversified portfolio of commercial real estate — you know, the kind of stuff that just a few years ago you’d have to be a millionaire or a hedge fund manager to buy.
I’ve been a Fundrise investor since 2015 (disclosure: I’m an affiliate* of theirs as well), and they’ve paid 6-10% dividends every quarter so far.
Of course past performance is no guarantee of future results, but historically a $10,000 investment has earned $200-250 a quarter in passive cash flow.
4. Save on Insurance
If it’s been more than 2 years since you last shopped for car insurance, you’re paying too much.
It’s the dirty secret of the car insurance industry: your cars are worth less every year due to depreciation, but you keep paying the same amount.
Check out Esurance for a quick and painless quote process and some of the best rates in the business. It’ll take just a few minutes (you can even do it on your phone) and could put $200 or more back to your bottom line.
5. Get Paid to Commute
The “hack” is to strategically use these apps during your regular commute.
Lyft, for instance, has a feature they call “Destination Mode” that allows you to pre-set a destination and only pick-up riders heading in the same direction.
You can take up to 6 of these Destination Mode trips a day — more than enough to cover your morning and evening drives!
(Uber allows 2 Destination Mode trips per day.)
It doesn’t take that much extra time and if you don’t find any passengers, no harm done.
And if you find you really enjoy driving, you can earn a $250 bonus after your first Lyft 100 rides.
6. Share Your Receipts
This might be one of the weirdest side hustles I’ve found, but Ibotta is a free app that literally pays you cash to snap pictures of your grocery receipts.
Generally you’ll earn between $0.25 and a few bucks cash back for buying certain items. I’m still not sure entirely how this works, but it takes almost no time and has earned me almost $500 so far!
They’ll even give you a $10 welcome bonus just for signing up.
7. Find Out if Stores Owe You Money
There’s a cool free service I think everyone should sign up for called Paribus.
It scans your inbox for online shopping receipts to see if the prices have dropped since you bought.
If they have, they’ll go to bat for you and try to refund you the difference based on the price protection policy of the store.
It probably won’t make you a ton of money, but it also takes just a couple seconds to sign up and gives you peace of mind when shopping.
8. Make Sure Your Online Shopping Pays You Back
Did you know you can earn cash back (up to 25%) on almost everything you buy online?
The secret ingredient is Ebates, a long-running service that pays you to shop through their site. If it’s money you’re spending anyway, why not put a little back in your pocket?
I’ve earned over $100 with Ebates so far:
Not bad, and it only takes like 2 extra seconds. They’ll even give you a free $10 bonus when you create your account!
Update: I just scored $165 cash back on a new laptop by shopping through my Ebates account! Love it.
9. Make Sure Your Offline Shopping Pays You Back
I just discovered an awesome new app called Drop, which lets you earn extra rewards on the purchases you make every week.
Just download the app, link your credit or debit card, and you’ll earn extra rewards points for the purchases you make every day. It’s similar to Dosh above, very hands-off, but I’m essentially earning an extra 1-2% cash back on routine grocery shopping and Target runs.
This one is super passive — once you’re set up you’ll earn rewards automatically, which you can then cash in for gift cards to places like Amazon or Starbucks.
Update: It took a few months but I just earned my first free $10 Amazon gift card!
10. Get Free Money from a Bank
Finally, you’ve got to promise to use this strategy responsibly, but it’s made my wife and I thousands of dollars over the past few years.
Don’t worry — it’s nothing illegal or underhanded. I’m talking about taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses.
What’s your credit card give you? 1% cash back? 2%?
Especially when cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited are offering up to 30% cash back — $150 after you spend $500 — with no annual fee.
That’s #freemoney :)
If you know you’re gonna spend $500 in the next 3 months, it’s a no-brainer, right?
Or if travel’s your jam, you can do even better (though the minimum spends are higher to earn the bonuses). On certain travel cards, you can earn the equivalent of 40-50% cash back or greater in the form of travel points and rewards.
My “daily driver” is the Capital One Venture card, which earns 2 points for every dollar I spend and currently has a 50,000 point sign-up bonus (worth $500) after you spend $3k in the next 3 months.
You can apply right from your phone and often get a decision instantly.
And no, since I know you’re asking, this hasn’t hurt our credit scores. If anything, having more available credit has probably helped them.
Just please be smart about it and pay it off each month!
*The information contained herein neither constitutes an offer for nor a solicitation of interest in any securities offering; however, if an indication of interest is provided, it may be withdrawn or revoked, without obligation or commitment of any kind prior to being accepted following the qualification or effectiveness of the applicable offering document, and any offer, solicitation or sale of any securities will be made only by means of an offering circular, private placement memorandum, or prospectus. No money or other consideration is hereby being solicited, and will not be accepted without such potential investor having been provided the applicable offering document. Joining the Fundrise Platform (or any other platform) neither constitutes an indication of interest in any offering nor involves any obligation or commitment of any kind.