In today's edition of money making apps we're looking at ReceiptPal, yet another receipt submission app... as I've said before, I stack them in order to get the most reward back for each receipt so I have quite a few on my phone at the moment. In this app you upload receipts 4 to a card with each card being worth 100 points. If you fill all of the available cards in a given week you can enter extra receipts into the last card for sweepstakes entries or wait for the cards to refresh, so long as the receipts do not age past two weeks they can be entered on any cards available.
Recently the app has added Amazon, Kroger and a few other retailers to be able to connect and auto-upload receipts from online purchases in addition to the email connection option for e-receipts. This means that your online purchases get you points here whereas in some apps they still do not.
The website for ReceiptPal describes the app as follows:
ReceiptPal lets you earn gift cards and cash prizes, for submitting receipts.
Use ReceiptPal to snap your paper receipts, or connect your email or Amazon account, and you’ll earn points for every receipt.
You can redeem your points for gift cards from retailers. Plus, you’ll be automatically entered into weekly sweepstakes for cash prizes.
Redeeming points earns you Amazon gift cards in $5, $10, $25, $50 or $100 increments with a discount for larger gift cards. If you prefer entering a sweepstakes with your points you are also able to choose this option. Once you choose your reward an emailed gift card code is send to you to redeem on Amazon.
There isn't a referral link for this one but it was super easy for me to find on the app store and get started.
Until next time,
Keeping my costs down when it comes to groceries is important to me. But so is my time, and I certainly don't have a ton of that to spare these days- like most of you I imagine.
1. Keep an Inventory
Keeping a pantry and freezer inventory (link to video of how I do this) is an essential step so that you don't purchase items that you already own. I mean, who hasn't wondered if they have mustard at home and bought another one just in case only to return home and realize you have two already... just me? Ok then. It also helps with meal planning! For example, say that you take a look at your pantry inventory and realize that you have 6 ingredients that need to be used up in the next couple weeks before they expire. You can make sure to build your meal plan using those ingredients, as well as other ingredients that you already have, which means that you avoid food waste as well as lower your overall grocery bill because you may only need to purchase a handful of items for the week rather than a whole basket full. I personally use this system and even brought my mom around to using it last year. We love it so much that I recently created new trackers for us in some of our favorite colors and fonts so that we could match our kitchens rather than continuing to use the ones we have been using for the past year or so. If you are interested in taking a look at those they are available in single item "Extras" for a couple dollars each at my Buy Me a Coffee page and in a bundle on Etsy. The set that I ended up printing for myself was the green in script font.
2. Shop the Sales
Another great way to save money on groceries is to shop the sales. I'm sure everyone has heard this before but it is worth repeating, if you buy the same items again and again look for a good deal to come around and stock up. Using your inventory will help here because you'll know what your preferred amount to have on hand is compared to what you have at home. If an amazing sale on taco seasoning comes around you better believe I'm buying a bit extra but that will only save me a few dollars a month... the big savings comes with your meats. If you have a freezer put it to good use and fill it with sale finds (working it into the budget, of course) when they come around. And then build your meal plan around what you have rather than the other way around like most of us do.
One quick last note on this one: many people use methods to help stock up their pantries using this method. Buy 1 for now and 3 for later for instance... or 'when its on sale 20% less than normal I will buy double'. Find what works for your needs and goals.
3. Use Cash Back Apps
I've said this a million and one times I'm sure but I love a good cash back app. If I'm already spending money and I can get a small percentage back for 10 minutes of time a week while I'm watching TV you better believe I'm there. I have an entire set of folders on my phone dedicated to trying out apps for you guys to see if they are worth it or now. A couple months ago I made over $60 back in a single month! Not every month is that profitable of course but over the course of a year I can easily pay for a couple of my trips to the grocery store with the cash back and gift cards I receive from simple uploading receipts and clicking a few buttons.
4. Meal Plan
I've mentioned meal planning a few times so I'm sure that you saw it coming, but... meal plan y'all. Meal planning, and following your plan, saves you money both on the front end like I mentioned before- less purchasing- but also during the implementation time, during the week when things get crazy.
Have your schedule with you when you sit down to decide what you are making this week. If you aren't going to have time to cook on Tuesday then perhaps it would be a good day to use leftovers or a pre-prepared meal that you have in your freezer. If you know that Thursdays are the day you typically cave to eating out then plan to have one of your favorites on Thursday so that you are more likely to get home and have that meal rather than eat out.
Having a couple of pre-prepared favorites in the freezer for days that just don't go as planned is a great idea. Some people like to have frozen pizzas, homemade taco filling (my fav personally) or burgers. Fast, simple and delicious- having favs already made makes it easier to skip not so great for you- or your budget- fast food delivery.
5. Plan for Leftovers
Last but least, for today, is leftovers. The often dreaded and maligned food that didn't get eaten the day before. Not all of us love leftovers but most of us have them from time to time sitting in the fridge. I'm going to suggest having them on purpose though and even repurposing them into other meals. For example, if you are having fajitas on Monday then make extra to have quesadillas on Tuesday or Wednesday. If you make grilled chicken salads on Thursday then use that extra from your double batch to turn into buffalo chicken stuffed peppers on Friday night. And I haven't even talked about lunches- so many things that we have for dinner can be eaten the next day as lunch with minimal extra effort but with a totally different taste profile. That chicken from before could also have been Greek kabobs on the grill at night and then turned into a chicken Caesar wrap for lunch the next day. Save the food waste- and save a ton of time as well- by planning for leftovers.
I hope that I was able to give you a few ideas that you may not have thought of before. If you have more ideas, let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear them!
Until next time,
In today's edition of money making apps we're looking at Receipt Pal, another receipt submission app. This app makes it easy to submit receipts, simply click the camera icon, snap a photo of the receipt and you're good to go. You will need to show who the purchase was for- one person, a group, or etc. and give the interaction between 1 and 5 stars. Occasionally this will be substituted with a survey question. You earn sweepstakes tickets for each week you upload at least once as well as for certain types of receipts. You also earn an entry for each receipt that you upload and can earn slots pulls for additional tickets as well.
Outside of sweepstakes entries you also earn coins for each receipt. The number of coins is dependent upon the amount of your purchase from the receipt.
Under $10: 5 coins
Between $10 and $50: 10 coins
Between $50 and $100: 15 coins
Over $100: 20 coins
You can redeem for Amazon gift cards as well as cash out with PayPal or a Visa gift card. In April I chose to get an Amazon gift card to go towards a larger purchase I was making. The process was simple to redeem.
If you use a referral link then you receive bonus points upon sign up, helping you get to your first gift card all that much faster. If you are interested in using my code it is: SMUR5412
Untl next time,
Photo Credit: Rawpixel
Think estate planning is only for seniors? Well, estate planning can be just as smart for you as it is for your parents and grandparents. That’s because the point of creating an estate plan is to protect your loved ones from the undue stress of having to make decisions and foot financial obligations when they are also dealing with their feelings of grief over losing you. Wondering where to start? Real Life with Heather shares some crucial estate planning steps every adult needs to take.
Buying Burial Insurance
If you want to save your parents or other loved ones from having to cover your end-of-life costs, you should consider buying burial insurance. Burial insurance tends to be fairly budget-friendly and provides benefits that can offset funeral expenses and help out with debts, including personal loans and hospital bills. You should determine what all your final arrangements will entail and how much you need to protect your family.
Purchasing Life Insurance
Burial insurance provides basic financial protection and can benefit just about anyone. If you have larger debts or a family who depends on you for income or care, CNBC suggests you really should be researching life insurance as well. The larger payouts that come with standard life insurance can help with mortgages and other major expenses, plus your policy will likely be cheaper.
Planning Their Own Funerals
If you want to ensure that your life insurance or burial insurance funds will cover funeral costs for your loved ones, then you also need to plan your own funeral, notes The Motley Fool. This may seem like a stressful task but using an online guide can help keep you focused and objective. Once your plans are laid out, you should share them with a trusted friend or loved one, to ensure they are honored.
Appointing Legal Guardians
Parents need to think even more seriously about estate planning. One of the most crucial steps parents can take to protect their children is to appoint legal guardians/conservators. This will ensure that kids do not end up with family members they do not know or even in the foster system. Have furry kids in your family? You should appoint caregivers for your pets as well so that you will know they are taken care of even if the unthinkable should happen to you.
Planning for Long-Term Care
Having a plan for long-term care can be crucial for your well-being, whether you’re in assisted living or a nursing facility. Many younger people choose to purchase long-term care insurance to help offset the costs. It’s never too early to research facilities and their costs to get an idea about potential expenses. Senior Care offers pricing information on several Dallas-based skilled nursing facilities.
Drafting a Last Will and Testament
When you need to appoint guardians or caretakers for your pets and children, AARP points out that you typically include those details in your last will and testament. This is a legal document that ensures your last wishes are carried out after your death, and your will should also include other provisions regarding your estate. For example, if you have any personal property or assets, you can use your will to divide them among your friends, family members, or even charities.
Completing Advance Directives
Because your friends and family members can also be faced with making decisions about your medical care during an emergency, you should also include advanced medical directives in your estate and end-of-life planning. Decisions to be made include whether you would like to be resuscitated, donate organs or stay connected to life support systems. These directives require a physician before they can be honored, but you will also need to assign a power of attorney. And as with many of these steps, it’s important to discuss these matters with a lawyer.
Organizing Financial Papers
Last but not least, if you have any documents regarding bank accounts, personal info, life insurance policies or passwords for essential accounts, you should make sure these papers are kept organized and in a safe location. Also, make sure that a close family member or friend will have access to these documents in the event of your passing so that they can take care of any crucial business. Taking this important planning step can save your loved ones a lot of stress.
Estate planning may seem like a waste of time when you feel like you have your whole life ahead of you. The truth is that you can never predict when the unthinkable will impact you and your family. So, protect them by checking estate planning off of your to-do list.
Setting goals and working to accomplish them is a very personal experience as no two people will have the same picture of the ideal life in their mind. Real Life with Heather inspires people to take charge of their lives and make them as amazing as they can be. Check out more informative blog posts today!
In today's edition of money making apps we're actually not looking at an app (though there is one for your phone should you want to do online shopping on the go) but rather an extension to your browser. Rakuten isn't likely brand new to you, you likely know several people with the little R logo in the top right hand corner of their browser. But you may not be taking advantage of the cash back that they offer yet so I wanted to bring a little extra attention to it in this series just in case.
The thing I like about Rakuten is that it just sits in the top of my screen, quiet and unobtrusive, until I go to a website that it can save me money on. Then it lights up and is like hello, over here, click me to save money... more or less. :) The app works off of a simple shared commission strategy- they make money so they share it with you once a quarter in the form of a "Big Fat Check" to your mailbox of PayPal account.
I wanted to share a few items that I had received cash back on in recent months. The amount of cash back varies per store and sometimes even by department so it is good to check and see if another coupon might save you more money if they percent is low for your purchase store/department but if coupon codes are not for you (or if they are and this still makes you more, because it did in the cases below for me as well as many other times) then download the Rakuten app and get started on your first Big Fay Check.
As per usual, I am including the PayPal screen shot for one of my recent checks from them. It was a lower quarter for me as I had been avoiding online shopping but I gladly put the nearly $12 into my budget for something fun in my office.
I have a referral code for this extension if you are looking to get started with a a guaranteed Big Fat Check at the end of the quarter. Using my referral code is worth up to $30 currently. If you would like to join using my code, it is 28187.
Until next time,
Image from Pexels.com
Everyone knows that exercise is good for your physical health, but what about your mental health? According to research, leading a physically active lifestyle rather than a sedentary one can significantly impact our well-being. Not only do we get to look good, but we also get to have a healthy mind in a healthy body. If you're wondering how it works, check out these 5 ways exercise can boost your mental health.
How to start being active?
To begin, you could incorporate some physical activity that doesn't require a lot of time or effort into your daily routine. For example, you can choose to walk or cycle to your workplace instead of taking the bus or going by car. Then you can gradually add some organized physical activity a couple of days a week. Going to the gym, running, or having a home exercise routine, for instance. In the end, the goal is to make exercising an essential daily habit that will help you enhance both your physical and mental health.
Now that you know how to start being more active, here are the reasons why you should keep workouts in your daily routine.
1. Improve the quality of your sleep
Lack of sleep can affect your capacity for concentration and induce anxiety. That can have a negative effect on your working capacity and social skills. Being physically active can increase not only the quality but also the quantity of your sleep. Exercising has the same effect on your body as a shower, by raising its temperature. A high body temperature means that you are active, so your mind will stay awake. When your body starts to chill, it gives the mind the signal that it is time to sleep. That is why exercising first thing in the morning is a great way to get your mind and body ready for the day. On the other hand, doctors recommend avoiding exercising right before sleeping and leaving at least 2 hours in between. As much as exercising can help you overcome your sleeping problems, it can also increase them if done improperly.
Image from Unsplash.com
2. Fighting depression and anxiety
When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, which are the chemicals that make you feel happy. The more and regularly they are produced, the more comfortable and less anxious you will feel. Exercising also helps you keep your mind active and free of the negative thoughts that are fueling depression. Furthermore, doctors advise those suffering from anxiety and mild depression to try exercising before turning to medicine. It is an easier way to treat your mind and save money on medications. Also, you don't need to spend too much time exercising. 15 to 30 minutes a day will release enough endorphins to keep you happy.
3. Exercise, socialize, and have fun
Aside from being good for your body and mind, you can have fun while exercising and turn it into something enjoyable. Instead of staying alone at home, exercising with friends could help you maintain a healthy social life. That will boost your mood and especially your mental health. Doing yoga with a friend or running through the park together is a great way to socialize and have fun. Even going by yourself to fitness classes can help you make new friends that have common interests. At the same time, exercising could be done while playing. So, you could use games to have fun with your kids or family while also working out. For instance, you can play tag in the yard or have a cycling competition through a park. In a word, one of the 5 ways exercise can boost your mental health is by having fun while working out with your friends and family.
Image from Pexels.com.
4. Boost your brain
Stressed people commonly struggle with creativity, which can affect their productivity and create a vicious circle. If you are less productive, it will affect your work, and if you are unhappy with your work, you will become frustrated. People who are frustrated are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as drinking, smoking, and so on. Exercising can help you exit this endless loop and give your brain a boost. Studies have shown that doing cardio, for example, helps your brain produce new cells that will improve its overall performance. Not only does this help boost your creativity, but it also keeps your mind sharp and concentrated. Within 5 to 10 minutes of beginning your workout, you will feel the benefits of exercising for yourself. In the long run, exercising will help you fight addictions, improve your memory and learning capacity.
5. Grow your self-esteem
How we view ourselves is important to our mental health and our ability to cope with social pressures. Even though self-criticism can be constructive, it can do more harm than good if it becomes obsessive. You have to realize that no matter your age or size, you are not the only one struggling with weight problems, health issues, or low self-esteem. There are plenty of people out there that wish they looked different or that they were more healthy. The good news is that exercising can help you grow your self-esteem if you practice it correctly.
For instance, adding a goal before starting to exercise that you can reach. Having too high expectations from the beginning will only make you lose focus and interest. Instead, take it one step at a time, and grow constantly. You will have better results, and it will improve the way that you perceive yourself. Besides ending up having a great-looking body, you will also improve your mental health.
Image from Pexels.com
People who choose to exercise regularly can feel the impact it has on their mental health each day. They have more energy, sleep better, are more creative and productive, and have higher self-esteem. Who would have guessed that something as easy as exercising for at least 30 minutes a day could help so much? These 5 ways exercise can boost your mental health demonstrate how being active can help you have a healthy mind inside a healthy body.
Meta Description: If you are looking for an easy way to improve your mental wellbeing, these 5 ways exercise can boost your mental health can be your answer.
In today's edition of money making apps we're looking at Pogo. Pogo is an app that is a little bit different than others that we have previously looked at as it links to your debit and credit card rather than requiring you to upload receipts. When you make a purchase it automatically recognizes the purchase and you simply go into the app and claim it. Sometimes it will ask you about the purchase but not always. For instance, it doesn't seem to ask me about my electric bill but it always asks me about my McDonald's purchase- did I go inside or go through drive through, what did I buy, etc. Its an easy to use app which I appreciate but my morning drink stop has gotten a little redundant to answer the same question about each day haha.
Their website shows the processs as below:
Pogo is the newest app that has made it onto my keep list so I have only received one payout to date but it was a simple payment process to have it sent over to my PayPal once I hit the $3 threshold. I love that it uses actual cash rather than gift cards. Screengrab of the payment to my PayPal account so that you can see what they look like:
I do have a referral code for this app if you are looking to get started with a little extra right from the start. Using my referral code is worth 1,000 points currently. If you would like to join using my code, it is 8DX6E.
Until next time,
In today's edition of money making apps we're looking at NCP Mobile, another receipt submission app but this one is a little different as you don't actually upload the receipts but rather the UPCs of the items you purchase. I have found that it take a little bit longer to use than the other apps I have talked about so far but once I got into a habit of and had the process down I was significantly faster than the first time I used the app.
The National Consumer Panel (NCP) describes their app as:
NCPMobile is the grocery shopping app of National Consumer Panel that lets you earn gift cards and other shopping rewards for telling about the items you purchase.
You’ll scan the UPC barcodes of the items you buy (or tell about non-barcoded items), and in turn you’ll earn reward points to redeem for gift cards and other rewards. Don’t limit yourself to groceries: tell about all your purchases, from gas to prescriptions, and earn your shopping rewards!
One thing they don't mention is that there is also a survey component to that app to earn extra points should you be interested in completing additional surveys. Sometimes they are super easy- tell us how many canned soups you have and scan the UPCs into the app (a recent one I completed) and sometimes they are a little more boring- tell us about your grocery store brand habits. They are always pretty short though and offer a choice between a set number of points or half that number and entries into a drawing for a larger prize. I'm typically more definite rewards focused so haven't entered any of the drawings yet but I may give one a try in the future just to see how it goes.
This app is one that I am still trying to get into the groove of using consistently for things outside of groceries. Once I do, I expect my gift card redemptions to go up. I have only been utilizing my grocery purchases to date though so need to get on it and get those extra rewards for my gas receipts as well (my pharmacy expenses are $0 at this point in the year since I met my cap in February).
There isn't a referral link for this app but if you are interested I would check out the app store for your phone, it was quick to find and the logo is above if you want to make sure you are using the right app.
Until next time,
Photo via Pexels
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people found themselves furloughed or unemployed. Perhaps you have been trying to find stable employment for months, but despite your best efforts, you’re still struggling financially. Reading up on personal finance advice on Real Life With Heather can help you start taking small steps towards economic stability. In the meantime, here are a few other strategies you can use to get back on your feet over the next couple of months.
Move to a Cheaper Rental
If your housing costs are eating up a large chunk of your budget, it may be time to think about moving into a cheaper rental. You can save time and make your search easier by filtering out apartments in the Fort Worth, TX area that don’t meet your requirements with a real estate platform like Rent.com. You’ll be able to enter your price range so that you only see options within your budget - in Fort Worth, you should be able to find plenty of apartments for anywhere from $400 to $900 per month.
In addition, you can select other filters, like pet-friendliness or the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. You could also specifically filter for apartments with certain amenities, such as covered parking lots, pools, or gyms in the apartment complex.
Make a Strict Budget
If you’ve never made a structured budget before, now is the time to start. You will need to include all of your income, your fixed expenses, and your debts. Next, determine how much you can spend on your variable expenses, such as groceries. Finally, see if you have wiggle room in your budget for occasional treats now and then. Make it a point to stay strictly within your budget until you have secured gainful employment again.
Where to Cut Spending
What if you’re looking at the estimated budget you have written out, and you’re struggling to figure out where you could actually cut down on spending? Sofi suggests that you can turn down your thermostat to save on your energy bills, reduce your grocery bills by looking for deals and avoiding pricey snacks, and refinance any loans that you may have. You can also look for fun, affordable activities in your area!
Look for Work
If you worked in an industry that was affected negatively by the pandemic, you may not have been able to find a new job in your field yet. For now, you might need to be open to the idea of working in another industry or doing some freelance work on a part-time basis while you continue hunting for the right full-time position. To let people in your life know that you’re looking for work, The Muse recommends sharing your situation on social media, reaching out to one person at a time to see if they could refer you to an employer and even attending networking events, which will likely remain virtual during the pandemic.
You might not be able to cover all of your expenses on your own right now. If you have found yourself in this position, you’re not alone, and it’s okay to look for help and apply for financial assistance. You may want to begin researching local programs that have been set up to help people who have suffered from financial hardships because of the pandemic.
Dealing with economic uncertainty can be anxiety-inducing. But you have the tools to rebuild your finances and overcome these obstacles. By taking simple actions to save in your daily life while seeking your next job opportunity, you can make it through this challenging time.
Ready to make a budget and stick to it? Get actionable tips and advice from Real Life With Heather. Browse the blog today to start getting your personal finances under control.
Other than cash back from receipts there are additional bonuses for shopping online through them or earning various 'badges'. These badges can be earned by joining partner apps and websites. I rarely get additional badges as I am typically not interested in the services offered but when there is one that is for a website I have been looking at you better believe I go through CoinOut to get that extra bonus.
The website states:
With CoinOut, you'll get a random reward for every receipt you upload! You can also earn by shopping through CoinOut for email receipts and signing up to CoinOut partners.
The average cash back for me is about $5 per month but could go up now that they are rolling out a program to link some of my online shopping to the app. Again, if I earned badges I could easily make $30-40 each month on this app but I am not currently interested in doing so. That may be something I look at in the future though. In order to cash out with PayPal I have to get to the $20 threshold (they also have Amazon gift cards and bank transfers). Here is one of my previous PayPal notifications showing that I received payment. It showed up in my account the same day in my case.
I do have a referral code for this app if you are looking to get started with a little extra right from the start. Using my referral code is worth $1.75 currently. If you would like to join using my code it is RCZ9JND.
Until next time,