Side Hustle Saturday: Make Money off Your Receipts with Ibotta

Last Saturday I wrote about checking your receipts for surveys and coupons, and this is yet another thing you can do with those receipts- scan them for cash back.

The app I use most often for this is Ibotta. You can even dip your toe in the extreme couponing world by planning ahead and combining your rebates with coupons and sales to get free or nearly free items, but that takes a lot of time and is sometimes just more trouble than its worth (for me at least.) Ibotta is currently offering a $10 welcome bonus, so that helps your first check add up faster! You can cash out when your total reaches $20.

Once you sign up and download the app, you can filter offers by store and type. They change every week so you have to scan your receipt within the offer time limit. You can almost always find something on there, and there’s usually a few random “any brand” type products. For example, last week it was pretzels, protein powder and cake mix.

The one problem I have is remembering to scan barcodes. Sometimes you have to scan the barcode so if you wait to scan the receipt, you may have already thrown away your evidence!

There’s actually a lot more to the program and more ways to save, but I just wanted to do a quick easy overview. I’m not really using the app to its full potential, but have gotten nearly $100 back just by haphazardly remembering to do it. So it’s worth at least investing a few minutes each grocery trip, for a few dollars back every time. It eventually adds up!




Side Hustle Saturday: Check Your Receipts for Free Stuff

img_9072If you just toss your receipts in the trash without looking at them closely, you could be tossing out free stuff and discounts!

A trend I’ve taken full advantage of is the receipt survey. Usually printed at the bottom of your receipt is a claim code and offer, and all you need to do is go to a website and answer some questions about your visit.

Examples of recent receipt bonuses I’ve claimed: $5 off groceries at Winn-Dixie, Free Chick-fil-A sandwich, Free Whopper at Burger King.

It takes less than 5 minutes and earns you an average of $5-$10 either in discounts or free stuff. It’s totally worth it if you go to that particular place all the time anyway.

So check those receipts! They aren’t always printed on every one. I get one maybe every other visit though, so the odds are pretty good!

* As a side note, I know barely anybody looks at the backs of their receipts because I once tried advertising my boutique on the receipts at Winn-Dixie. I did it for 3 months, with a full color photo and 15% discount on any item in the store. I had one person come in and they didn’t even buy anything! So unfortunately it was a total waste, but it did get me looking at my own receipts at least.

I Sold My Soul for a Free Pillow

sleep number pillowIt’s all fun and games until you turn it into work, and that’s exactly what I did when I signed up for this mission from Smiley360 and Sleep Number. I was having fun, sampling stuff left and right, but high on the prospect of free goodies I took on too much and that was my downfall.

I’m cool with the usual free stuff requirements – a blog or video and a few social shares. Something totally natural that you can work in without bugging people and looking like you totally sold out. And then, lured in by the promise of a free $90 pillow, I accepted the invitation to join the Sleep Number campaign.

Here’s what they want:

  1. Visit a Sleep Number store and get your number
  2. Share a photo to Facebook 4 times
  3. 2 Ad tweets
  4. 4 Photo shares to Twitter
  5. 2 Comments on Smiley360
  6. Report on sharing with 10 people face-to-face
  7. 2 Posts on Pinterest
  8. 2 Posts on Instagram

Visiting the store is quite a time investment for a busy mom. I was lucky they had a little Lego table set-up, but there were moments the toddler was zooming around the store squealing.

But the real killer is the social shares. One Facebook post, OK. People actually paid attention and posted their Sleep Number and it was kinda fun to see. But again and again…I’m probably losing friends and credibility with every post. Most of the time I feel like nobody is paying attention on Twitter so I loaded up my feed with as many tweets as I could.

And then this happened: In my rush to get it done, I tagged CrowdTap instead of Smiley360 and my posts were rejected! So not only did I already bug everybody, but I was going to have to do it AGAIN if I wanted to complete my mission. I had gone this far for the darn pillow, I wasn’t going to let it go, so I did it with an added apology to friends that I had let this happen.

I’m still waiting to see if my last posts were accepted, so fingers crossed. This better be the most wonderful damn pillow in the world. (and maybe I will post a photo of it because I Want to this time)

Getting my number at the Sleep Number store
Now give me my fancy pillow!

Side Hustle Saturday: Turning Old Clothes Into Cash

There’s money lurking in your closet, and how much you make just depends on what kind of effort you want to put in.

cash in your closetWhen clearing out old clothes, I make 3 piles: Goodwill, eBay and consignment. Here’s how I decide what goes where, what effort is involved, and what kind of payout to expect.

Goodwill – You won’t make money, but you can get a donation receipt for your taxes. If it’s unbranded, tags cut out or shows visible wear, it goes to Goodwill. (Or some similar type of donation place) It takes minimal effort to toss everything in a bag and drop it off. Even less effort if you call a place like Vietnam Veterans of America, then you leave everything on your doorstep and they pick it up.

eBay – This is where you’ll make the most money, but also have to put in the biggest effort. I only do this for new looking items with easily searchable brand names. It takes a decent amount of time to take pics and create listings, plus add in time for shipping and answering inane questions you probably already answered in your listing. You also have to be prepared for the possibility of returns. You can always stipulate “final sale” but then it won’t sell as easily. I get an average of $5-$10 an item, vs. 50 cents from the consignment shop.

Consignment – The best places to take baby clothes are the types that buy on the spot. For adult clothes, the places that pay you when the item sells are the best option. This is a good place to take items that might not photograph well or dresses, shoes, and coats that are heavy and make shipping costs too high. The downside is you make only a fraction of what your item can sell for. I took a lot of clothes in 5 months ago, sold 3 things so far and have made $12. In comparison, I put a bunch of clothes on eBay two weeks ago, sold two items and have made $37.

*There are also online consignment shops like ThredUp, but you make even less money and have to factor in the initial cost of their shipping kit

The Final Breakdown:

Let’s say you have an item you think is worth $20

On eBay it will probably sell for $15 and after subtracting fees you profit $12.

On consignment they might start at $20, then mark it down and down until they finally donate it. So depending on their cut and final sale price, you could profit anywhere from $10 to $0. The downside is you don’t get it back if it doesn’t sell. The upside is you might make a few dollars with minimal effort and at least it’s out of your closet.

Or you can donate it and get $0, but it’s easy and it’s gone

* Clothes do best on eBay or consignment, household items, furniture, appliances, toys, etc. do better on places like Craigslist or LetGo (basically, anything where the shipping would outweigh the value)


Shopping for Your First Family Car

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Once upon a time, I drove a Miata. A beautiful, tiny little convertible with tan leather interior and a stick shift. Then we bought a house, got two dogs and decided to start a family. And that’s when I turned in my cute little sports car for a nice roomy GMC Acadia SUV.

We didn’t have kids yet when we went car shopping, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to look for. I just knew I needed more space. After almost three years, I know exactly what I’ll be looking for in my next car! So here’s my top tips for choosing a family-friendly vehicle.

  1. You’re going to want space – There’s a reason moms drive minivans. They are the obvious choice. You’re going to be hauling around a lot of stuff, plus a child. But if you shudder at the thought (like me) then look at your SUV and crossover options.
  2. Get that third row – If you want to be able to fit more than two people and a child comfortably in the car, go for third row seating that can easily be put down for more space in the back.
  3. Do your research on safety – at, you can plug in any make and model and get a report on all the specs, reliability and safety. When you’re transporting precious cargo, these things become incredibly important.
  4. Easy to clean seats – I went with leather seats because they’re easy to wipe down. Kids like to eat in the car. Kids also like to throw food and wipe it Everywhere. It’s easier to grab a baby wipe and clean a leather seat than it is to scrub pureed bananas out of cloth.
  5. The Latch system – This is a good reason to go for a newer car. Cars manufactured after Sept. 1, 2002, are required by the federal government to have a Latch system. These are the little metal anchors that snap into the car seat and make it more secure than putting it in using just seat belts.
  6. Decide where you want the car seat to go – I went for captain’s chairs because it makes getting to the third row easier. What I didn’t realize is it also makes the baby farther away. The usual spot is in the middle back seat. With captain’s chairs the car seat goes behind the passenger seat. When you are driving and you need to reach your child, that seat seems like a million miles away.
  7. Spring for the DVD player – If you can, I would totally recommend getting that fancy upgrade with the screens on the back of the seat. I didn’t think I’d need that and then found myself getting a portable DVD player on Amazon along with a stretchy contraption to strap it to the headrest. Elmo’s World saved me many times in a traffic jam or road trip.
  8. Think about doors – this is where the minivan starts looking really appealing. Getting a child in and out of a car seat in a crowded parking lot can be a real pain. If you have regular doors, just expect to get used to banging them into cars that insist on squeezing in next to you. You don’t have to worry about that with doors that slide open.
  9. Places for things to get stuck – This is one thing about my car that drives me crazy. The tracks for moving the seat back are wide open and everything goes in there. It’s filled with Cheerios, tiny toys and various small food stuffs. Most of the time I can’t move the seat forward without doing some major extraction work.
  10. Make sure you feel good about it – This was a big one for me. Safety and function are important, but you also want to feel good about driving your car. It took me a while to find a larger car I thought still had some sporty appeal. I went for bigger tires and fancy rims to dress it up.

My car is five years old now, but my child is only three. I am looking forward to the day I get to shop for a new one, but am waiting until he’s old enough to stop making a complete wreck of the one we have now. So when you look at that prospective new car, just try and picture it covered in baby food with various toys and trash strewn about. Then you’ll have a more accurate vision of what it will be like when you get it home.


The great Cheerios explosion of ’17. It happens. Pick a car that can handle it!