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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 May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

Reference

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