Oh, yeah, you read that right. There IS a way to put more money into your savings account even as you’re spending money.
Most personal finance advice focuses on cutting back and reducing your spending, which is an effective if incomplete way to keep more money in your bank account at the end of the month. However, there are some expenses we can’t get out of paying — groceries, utilities, a little bit of fun — and for those we should do more than cut back. We should try to get money back!
Use a cash-back credit card
Obvious, but under-utilized. One of the easiest ways to earn on your spending is to use a cash-back credit card. These typically pay back 1% to 2% on your spending. Most cash-back cards offer bonus cash back rates on special categories, like groceries or gas, so you can earn as high as 3% or 5%.
I use a no-fee cash-back credit card that pays out monthly, and I have the cash back I earn deposited directly to a savings account so I don’t spend it! Other cards will offer your cash back as a statement credit, or mail you a physical cheque on a quarterly or annual basis.
Click through eBates before buying online
I’ve been a member of eBates for years, but sometimes I still forget to click through this website in order to get cash back on my online shopping (which is really unfortunate, because I recently bought a $500 camera lens!). eBates usually gives 1% to 4% cash back on a variety of online stores, but sometimes there’s bonuses and specials that let you get as high as 8%. I love eBates because the stores are ones I actually shop at: Amazon, Sephora, Clearly Contacts, Expedia, etc.). I usually take my rewards cash as Amazon gift cards, but you can opt for hard dollars. Cash is paid out quarterly!
Get rewards points without a loyalty card
One of my new favorite apps is Drop, which lets you earn rewards points on your debit and credit card spending without signing up for a loyalty card (we’re all over Airmiles, amirite?). With Drop, you earn points per dollar for spending at certain stores. The list isn’t quite as robust as eBates, but it does include two of my main go-tos: Starbucks and Shoppers Drug Mart. You can then redeem your Drop points for gift cards to your fave stores, like Lululemon. My referral code is thr5n. Use it when you sign up!
Get rewards points with a loyalty card
Imagine if you use a cash-back credit card and click through eBates to the Shopper’s Drug Mart Beauty Boutique where you earn Drop points for buying make-up. Does this mean you’re getting your mascara for free? Almost. If that’s not spending savvy, I don’t know what is. While loyalty cards (or non-loyalty rewards programs like Drop) don’t pay out actual cash, they can add to your budget with discounts or free stuff, which ultimately saves you money.
I don’t like having a wallet full of loyalty cards, but now that most can fit in the virtual wallet of my iPhone, I’m a bigger fan. I don’t want you to fall prey to spending more than you intend to somewhere just to earn points, but if there’s a store that’s a regular part of your day-to-day spending, there’s no reason not get rewarded for it!
*Note: this post is not sponsored by anyone, but does include my referral links for eBates and Drop!