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Best Cashback Sites for the Holidays

Best Cashback Sites for the Holidays

Whether you are getting ready to complete some last-minute holiday shopping or are looking for a good way to save money in the New Year, there are some websites that can help you reduce your expenses. Cashback sites promise to make online purchases less expensive, and some of them are definitely the real deal.

How Do Cashback Sites Work?

Each cashback site has its own specific rules, but the basic formula remains the same. These websites make money by having an affiliate link to popular e-retailers, and they share part of their earnings with their users. Before you buy something, you need to click through the cashback site to your online store of choice. Any qualifying purchases will then earn you a credit with the cashback site. After you have accumulated enough credit, you will be able to receive a cashback reward.

There are several cashback sites available, but it is typically best to stick with just one or two of them so that you can earn rewards more quickly. Here is a starter list of ten of the best cashback sites to help you get started.

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1. Ebates

Ebates users have accumulated more than $325 million in cashback rewards since this site was launched in 1999. This makes Ebates one of the top choices for consumers who want to earn money on their purchases. The perks that make this one of the best cashback sites for members includes a combination of coupons and a reward that is equal to anywhere from 1 to 40 percent of the purchase price. When you put these two methods together, it is easy for people to end up saving a lot of money on holiday gifts.

2. BeFrugal

BeFrugal has been helping consumers save money since 2009. This cashback site utilizes a program that is similar to Ebates, and users can save up to 30 percent on items from more than 4,000 stores. Additionally, Be Frugal offers online coupon codes and printable coupons that can be used at approximately 250 national restaurant chains. Users can also take advantage of the Fly or Drive Calculator to determine which option makes the most sense from a financial perspective.

3. FatWallet

FatWallet is owned by the same parent company as Ebates, but they both manage to offer unique functionality that sets them apart from each other. FatWallet follows the same basic formula by offering cashback and online coupons. However, this site places a bigger emphasis on deals and coupons, and consumers can sign up to receive alerts when a specific item goes on sale. Because of these variances, it may make sense for frugal online shoppers to use FatWallet to track sales prices even if they choose a different cashback site for other purposes.

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4. Extrabux

Extrabux is also part of the Ebates family, and users have reportedly earned a combined $34 million in cashback rewards to date. Entrepreneur.com has called the company a “Social-Shopping Goldmine, and coupons and up to 30 percent in cashback are available for 2,500 e-retailers, and users instantly earn $5 just for signing up. Extrabux features a comparison shopping tool that makes it possible to quickly determine what online store has the best price on anything that you are looking for.

5. ShopAtHome

ShopAtHome was launched in 1986, which makes it the oldest surviving cashback site. Between the app and the website, consumers can search through more than 100,000 active coupon codes and earn up to 30 percent cashback from a list of 3,000 stores. ShopAtHome has an impressive 98 million users, and they have paid out more than $50 million in cashback rewards. The app contains exclusive discounts and rewards. Users can request a payment after they rack up $20 in their account.

6. Mr. Rebates

Mr. Rebates has been offering deals to consumers since 2002, and there is even a $5 cashback sign bonus making its rounds on youtube. Members can also earn a cashback percentage of up to 30 percent for each purchase they make, and some companies offer a flat dollar amount. There are also coupons offered for more than 2,000 online stores. Mr. Rebates pays members after they earn $10 in cashback rewards, and payments are offered via check or PayPal.

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7. TopCashBack

TopCashBack began as a U.K. cashback site in 2005, and the company launched their U.S. version six years later. The website has discount codes and cashback rewards just like every other option on this list, but with one major difference: TopCashBack promises to rate match if you find a better deal on another site. In other words, if TopCashBack is offering 3 percent back for an online retailer but ShopAtHome will give you 4 percent, you can get TopCashBack to honor the 4 percent rate. ShopAtHome also makes all of its revenue from ads, which means that they give 100 percent of the cashback that e-retailers offer directly to consumers.

8. Swagbucks

Swagbucks embraces the typical formula of giving users discount codes and cashback on purchases. This site also provides an expanded list of options for earning account credits. For example, there are several surveys that users can take, and you can also watch short video advertisements to add more Swagbucks into your account. As an added bonus, Swagbucks has its own search engine, and this means that you can earn rewards by simply surfing the web. This combination has led to payouts that total more than $116.7 million.

9. MyPoints

MyPoints predates Swagbucks, but the two have a very similar platform. You can print coupons and earn 10 points each time you redeem one in a local store. Facebook credits can be earned and points are also awarded for taking surveys and playing games. Making an online purchase through an affiliate will typically provide you with a pre-specified number of points. After you accumulate enough points to order a reward, you can choose between gift cards, cash or travel miles.

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10. Main Street Shares

Main Street Shares was formerly known as BigCrumbs, but this cashback site has decided to up the ante by making users eligible to earn additional money if the startup is acquired in the future by a bigger company. Therefore, while you are taking advantage of coupons and cashback rewards, you will also see your msSHARES amount continuously increase. Main Street Shares has pledged to share at least 50 percent of any future acquisition revenue with members who have earned msSHARES.

As you can see, all of these cashback sites have at least a couple of things in common, so it would be wise to determine which ones offer deals for your favorite online stores. From there, you can add at least one of these sites to your existing list of ways to save money. With a little time and patience, you can earn enough cashback to dramatically cut back on your holiday expenses.

Featured photo credit: Cash Back/GotCredit via flic.kr

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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