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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

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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