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3 Pieces of the Money-Saving Puzzle that All Work Together

3 Pieces of the Money-Saving Puzzle that All Work Together

Lately my wife and I have been on a kick: a money-saving kick. This has involved thinking carefully about every purchase we make and how we can maximize our savings without venturing into extreme couponing territory. From these exercises and experiments I’ve realized that there are three elements that work beautifully together to save you the most money possible: loyalty offers, coupons, and credit card rewards.

Here’s how they each work and how they can be combined:

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Loyalty offers

It seems most places now offer some sort of loyalty-rewards program. They come in many different forms. For example, the “buy X get 1 free” model seems popular among many restaurants, while other retailers might offer a points-per-dollar based system for earning rewards. Walmart also offers a unique twist on a loyalty program through their Savings Catcher app that reimburses you the difference in price should the app find a better deal from a nearby competitor.

Nine times out of ten these programs are free to sign up for and, if you frequent the location enough, they can serve you quite well. Those that do charge an annual or monthly fee to join are less likely to pay off unless they’re places you visit a lot. To be fair, if they are charging they usually make up for it with better perks, so it’s really a question of how much use you’ll get out of it.

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Coupons

Everyone knows about coupons, but have you ever realized how many different ways there are of obtaining them these days? While weekly mailings and newspaper circulars are still going strong, mobile coupons, e-mail blasts, and promo codes from sites like RetailMeNot are great sources for more money-saving offers. Sadly, you’ll likely have to read the fine print to see if a given coupon or promo code will actually work for your purchase, but it’s always worth a try — especially if you’re shopping online where no one will judge you for attempting to use 50 different coupons.

Credit card rewards

Depending on what kind of card you have there could be several different ways to put it to good use. Some cards offer a flat amount of cash back or points no matter what you’re buying, while others will give more for purchases made in certain categories. That’s pretty well-known, but what’s less talked about are the bonus offers that many cards offer for specific retailers and restaurants. Typically these offers are hiding somewhere on the cardholder website, so it’s probably worth logging in and poking around. Lastly, you may be able to use your cash back to purchase gift cards at a discount, so watch out for those offers as well.

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Using them all together

The problem with most coupons is that they aren’t “stackable,” meaning that you can’t use them with any other coupons or offers. However, that rarely applies to earning loyalty points in addition to using your coupon and should really never apply to earning credit card cash back in addition. Thus the unstackable suddenly become stacked when you play your cards (pun intended) correctly.

Last week I reached the pinnacle of this theory when I was able to a) use a coupon for my purchase at Sears b) while earning Shop Your Way points and c) earning 5% cash back since “department stores” are this quarter’s bonus on my Discover It card. Similarly successful scenarios include using your rewards credit card to reload your Starbucks Gold Card and taking advantage of Frappy Hour (half off drinks) or perhaps using a coupon at Red Robin, earning Royalty points, and paying the bill with your cash back credit card — the possibilities are endless!

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The key is to plan ahead and think your purchases through so that you can figure out how to reach maximum savings. In some cases there might be multiple routes so, if you’re truly dedicated, there may be a bit of math involved in choosing which one you’ll take. While it might take extra thought on your part when you’re first getting started, you’ll be a money-saving pro in no time.

In conclusion

Today there are several different mediums for savings, but why stick to just one? In many cases you can double or triple down on your savings by taking advantage of loyalty programs, coupons of all kinds, and credit card rewards all at the same time. Best of luck on your savings adventures.

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Published on July 4, 2018

Top 10 Recommendations on Money Management Apps

Top 10 Recommendations on Money Management Apps

Don’t want to overspend your budget, swipe your credit card too many times, and feel like a financial mess? Instead of beating yourself up for the bad financial decisions you’ve ever made, create a new plan!

The solution is simple, save more and spend less. But, we all know it’s easier said than done.

One problem is finding quality apps that save you time and money, and aren’t just hype.

Luckily, there’re many great money management apps available at your fingertips. Here are 10 reliable money management apps that can help you save money, and crush debt.

1. Personal Capital

    When was the last time you’ve tracked your net worth? Probably months ago or maybe never. Personal Capital allows you to easily track your net worth and plan for retirement.

    Here are some of its main features:

    • Sync many investment accounts, and expenses (mortgage, credit cards, etc.) in one place
    • Discover hidden fees and how much they’re affecting your retirement plan
    • Wealth management for investors requiring a long-term strategy

    With Personal you’re free to track your expenses and net worth.

    Available for: iOS and Android

    2. Mint

      If your smartphone could only install a few apps, Mint would be one of them. Why? Because Mint tracks all your balances and bills in one place.

      Here are some of its main features:

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      • Effortlessly track all your bills and balances in one dashboard
      • Categorized expenses to understand where you spend your money
      • Uncover hidden fees, and determine your investment style with sophisticated retirement tools.

      Feel at ease with managing your money by a reputable company that isn’t going anywhere.

      Available for: iOS and Android

      3. YNAB

        Everyone needs a budget, there’s no way around it. YNAB (You Need A Budget) is an easy to use app that will change the way you think about money. Their motto is to “give every dollar a job”, and you’ll quickly discover why.

        Here are some of its main features:

        • Easily sync all bank accounts in one place
        • Visually see your debt paying progress with eye-catching charts and notifications
        • Customized categories setting saving goals

        The best part about YNAB is the community that comes along with it. You can hop on the YNAB forum to receive support, listen to the YNAB Podcast or stay tuned for their weekly videos.

        Available for: iOS and Android

        4. Wealthfront

          Albert Einstein once said “compound interest is the eight wonder in the world”, and for a very good reason. The problem is, most people are scared or unwilling to learn the basics of investing. This is why Wealthfront is the perfect solution for the hands-off investors.

          Here are some of its main features:

          • Variety of investment account options including IRA, Roth IRA, and more
          • Your portfolio composed of 7 different asset classes
          • Automatically rebalanced portfolio
          • Daily tax loss harvesting

          Wealthfront is perfect for people requiring investment guidance, or prefer a hands-off solution.

          Available for: iOS and Android

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          5. Clarity Money

            If you’re staying on top of your budget but want to take your finances to the next level, Clarity Money can help you. Clarity Money helps you stay under budget and build a personalized savings plan.

            Here are some of its main features:

            • Easily cancel subscriptions with one click
            • Synchronize bank accounts fast
            • Transfer money effortlessly between different accounts

            Clarity Money isn’t an app that does it all. But, it does make transferring money and canceling subscriptions fast and efficient.

            Available for: iOS and Android

            6. Acorns

              What if there was a way to quickly gain confidence in investing your money, without too much risk? There is, and Acorns is your solution. With Acorns’s technology, you’re able to make investments as small as $5.

              Here are some of its main features:

              • Automatic contribution option
              • Customized portfolio tailored to your needs
              • Low management fees ranging from $1-$2 per month

              Stop wasting dollars on expensive coffee. Instead, invest them towards a brighter financial future.

              Available for: iOS and Android

              7. Albert

                Do you budget by only subtracting your expenses from your income? If so, how would you discover any overpayments or extra money you could save? This is where Albert shines, and it does it all free.

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                Here are some of its main features:

                • Receive notifications for overpayments, hidden fees, and low balances
                • An Automatic budget that’s built around your spending and income
                • Easily track debt and set new financial goals

                While Albert does offer a paid option, most of its core features are FREE. So, what better option to save?

                Available for: iOS

                8. Prism

                  Have you recently forgot to pay a bill because life got in the way? Prism automatically tracks your bills and syncs your bank accounts in one place.

                  Here are some of its main features:

                  • View all your account balances in one glance
                  • Bill due dates are automatically pulled and tracked
                  • Receive early reminders for upcoming bills

                  If your budget is on “fleek” but can’t seem to stay on top of your bills, Prism is your go-to app.

                  Available for: iOS, Android, Windows, Amazon

                  9. Mvelopes

                    Remember hearing about people using envelopes to budget their money? Well, Mvelopes is the new envelope system for this generation. Easily create monthly budgets and track your saving goals.

                    Here are some of its main features:

                    • Connect unlimited bank accounts
                    • Real-time budgeting with auto transaction syncing
                    • Low monthly $4 fee or $40 annual

                    Mvelopes can help you crush debt, save more, and help you stop overspending. With its low monthly fee, it’s worth a try.

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                    Available for: iOS and Android

                    10. Wallaby

                      Most people don’t have time to track their credit card’s changing rewards and interest rates. Because of this, you need help reaping the most of your credit card’s rewards. Wallaby is the app that will help you do just that.

                      Here are some of its main features:

                      • Automatic recommendations for the best credit card to use for each transaction
                      • A friendly user interface, displaying credit cards with their corresponding images
                      • Free to use

                      If you’re using the same credit card to make your purchases, you may be leaving money on the table. Give Wallaby a try if you’re ready to maximize your credit card’s rewards.

                      Available for: iOS and Android

                      Take control of your finances and experience financial freedom

                      Picture yourself staying on budget and saving more money than you’d ever imagined.

                      It took hard work and dedication but you’d finally learned how to manage your money. You have to start taking control of your spending and saving habits.

                      You now have a list of reliable apps that can help you build better money habits, what are you waiting for?

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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