How to Make Side Money For The Holidays!

Make Side Money Before the Holidays

This Friday I wanted to feature something that I think a lot of people may be interested in: Ways to make extra money for holiday spending. I like to try out different ways to earn money (mostly online or through mobile apps) and I wanted to share my personal experience and favorites with you. I figured this would be especially helpful during the holiday season when money may be extra tight.

Please note that everything listed below are websites and apps that I use regularly and are all easy to use. I like to use these sites throughout the year and then cash out my earnings near the holidays to help with the extra expense. None of the suggestions below will get you rich but will hopefully pay for a holiday gift or two.

Shopkick:

Shopkick is really the perfect app for the holidays. If you are unfamiliar, it is a shopping app that gives you points for checking into stores. You don’t even need to buy anything, and the best part is there’s often extra bonuses, points and missions, especially during the holiday season. For example, if I walk-in to Best Buy with the app open, I will receive 80 points! This can add up quickly, especially if you are at the mall and/or do missions on top of check-ins.

You can redeem your rewards straight from your smartphone and use your gift card from your smartphone. If memory serves me right, these gift cards get loaded to your account fast too!

My Holiday Progress: $50 in Gifts Cards, with kicks remaining for next time.

Mobee:

Mobee is another great app for people who are out and about a lot! Mobee is a mystery shopping type app that pays in rewards for reviewing different restaurants, fast food chains, retailers, and more. The surveys are usually pretty quick and different missions pay different amounts, but you can easily select missions on the go. If you sign up, use my referral code RWLH for 300 points. You can make a donation to charity at 350 points and earn gift cards at 500 so you are already really close to redemption after sign up!

You can redeem points for rewards with a good variety of gift cards and more. Gift Cards may take a few days to reach your e-mail attached to your Mobee account.

My Holiday Progress: $75 in Gift Cards

Ebates, Shop At Home, etc:

If you haven’t signed up for a cashback site yet and plan to do any online shopping, please do. Cashback sites are insanely easy to use and the savings can add up quick if you make a large or a lot of online purchases! The two I use often and like a lot are Ebates and Shop At Home.

If you are not familiar, you sign up for account and then search for the store you will be making a purchase from. If I am going to buy something at Kohl’s, I will search for Kohl’s and see they offer 6.5% cashback for my purchase. I click the link that takes me to Kohl’s, and then I act like a regular shopper and make my purchase. If I spent $100 at Kohls, I will receive an e-mail from the cashback site within a few days stating I earned $6.25. I will get this money every quarter in my PayPal account, but there’s other payment options too! This definitely adds up, especially for savvy online shoppers!

Depending on the Cashback website, typically these get paid through PayPal or by check every Quarter. You won’t receive the cashback before the holiday season is over but it will be nice extra money in 2015. However, Ebates offers a $10 gift card after first purchase for new users so you may receive it soon depending on when you sign up!

My Holiday Progress: $0 (because I didn’t save it for Christmas and the next check is after the holidays)

Swagbucks:

Swagbucks is a website that pays you to do certain things on the internet from taking surveys, searching the internet, participating in polls, printing coupons and more! I mostly use Swagbucks for the occasional search and coupon print but points can add up!

You can redeem Swagbucks for Gift Cards and more, and it takes a few days to receive the gift card in your inbox. I like redeeming for Amazon Gift Cards because they are only 450 points!

My Holiday Progress: $30 Amazon Gift Card

Ibotta, Checkout 51, Snap by Groupon, SavingStar, etc.:

The above are all coupon apps and websites that gives you cashback in your account when you buy certain items, mainly grocery and household items. For example, if there’s a coupon available for $1 off any milk, I would submit my receipt through the app to get the $1 back. I can use the same receipt for many different offers. (SavingStar works a little differently since it can be attached to your reward card so you would get that money automatically). Sometimes I hate uploading the receipts, but it really takes less than a minute and some of the offers are really worth it. I already have over $20 from Snap and I’ve only had it for a month since you can get multiple savings for one item on certain offers.

Depending on the company, there may be a minimum limit of $10-$20 before you can redeem. Most are offered through PayPal with other payments available, however, I haven’t redeemed these yet since most are fairly new to me.

If you are just starting out, I would recommend SavingStar, Snap, Checkout 51 and Ibotta in that order. Both SavingStar and Snap do not require a Smartphone either, but the other two do.

My Holiday Progress: Roughly $70 between the four sites

Discover Credit Cashback:

It’s not for everyone, but I like to use my credit card for purchases to receive cashback to save for Christmas. You do need to be careful if you use your credit card for everything since you want to make sure you pay off your credit card each month to avoid charges. There’s a lot of different options for cashback cards and you may prefer air miles over cashback. I do like using my Discover card and there’s options for 5% cashback but there’s really a ton of credit card options. I recommend doing a lot of research to see if cashback credit cards are a good fit for you and your spending habits.

Depending on the credit card, there many be certain terms or restrictions. With Discover I can use my cashback directly on Amazon purchases, gift cards, statement credit and more!

My Holiday Progress: Roughly $140

Total Earned for Extra Side Money to put Towards Holiday Gifts: $365!

My extra side money total for the holidays might not seem impressive, but I didn’t put a lot of time and effort in these earnings either. I also cashed a little throughout the year at certain sites, so I may have been able to get a little more spending cash for the holidays.

I also really hate and avoid survey sites and things that are really tedious like Amazon’s MTurk, but it is an option if you are a bit more patient. If you are interested in taking surveys, the only one I really liked was Pinecone Research and they paid $3 per survey and paid timely.

All the websites and apps used above were routine and didn’t take too much extra time. I recommended an app (that I no longer recommend) to my father-in-law and he earned five times more than I did with a lot more effort and a little more trial and error. You can definitely have more success than me, or earn less depending how active you are.

If you use any of these websites and apps, how did you do this year? Did you save your earnings for holiday gifts too?

What are your favorite ways to earn side money for the holidays?

Please let me know in the comments below if I missed any of your favorite ways to earn a little extra side money online or through mobile apps!

*This post does contain some affiliate and referral links if you sign up through my link. However, I do use and recommend these sites whether or not you sign up through my link. If you have any questions, please see my disclosure policy. Thanks!

For more Feature Friday posts please head here. To subscribe to Boston On Budget’s nightly newsletter, please enter your e-mail here.

Cheap Weekend Fun in Boston for November 22-23, 2014!

Cheap Weekend Events in Boston

There’s a lot of fun things to do this weekend in Boston without spending too much money! As always, please let me know in the comments below if I missed any fun and cheap events in and around Boston!

Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting Spectacular: Saturday, November 22, 2014 from 8-9pm. Enjoy the first tree lighting of the holiday season in Boston with holiday events and the start of Blink!

Blink begins: November 22, 2014 to January 4, 2014 at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Enjoy a light and sound extravaganza with music of the Holiday Pops.

VIP Shopping Party: Saturday, November 22, 2014 from 9am to 11am at Microsoft Stores. Receive exclusive deals at Microsoft, a free breakfast and more on Saturday morning at local Microsoft stores with LivingSocial RSVP!

Jordan’s Enchanted Village Begins: November 15, 2014 from January 5, 2015. The Enchanted Village is up and running for the season so come relive childhood memories! Free.

Harvard Museum of Natural History: Massachusetts residents are admitted free every Sunday morning from 9am to Noon year-round with proof of residency.

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology: Massachusetts residents are admitted free every Sunday morning from 9am to Noon year-round with proof of residency

There’s also a giveaway on Boston on Budget for a free $50 credit to GrubHub that ends on Sunday night so make sure to enter if you want to win! I’m getting hungry reading all the entries :)

Hope you have a great weekend whatever you decide to do!

Dine Within 45 Minutes or Have a Meal on the House!

Precinct Kitchen and Bar Boston Are you familiar with promotions that guarantee your meal will arrive within X amount of minutes and more? Well, Precinct Kitchen + Bar at the Loews Boston Hotel in the Back Bay has a new lunch special that will have you checking your watch!

Precinct Kitchen + Bar has an express business lunch that will help you dine within 45 minutes or less. If not, the meal is on the Boston restaurant! The 45 minute window begins when you are seated and ends when the check is presented.

The promotion is offered daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Precint Kitchen + Bar in the Back Bay. For more information, please head here.

Free Delivery from GrubHub + $50 Giveaway!

Grub Hub Boston Free Delivery

The giveaway has now ended. Thank you all you has entered. Congratulations Melanie!!

Are you familiar with GrubHub Boston? With GrubHub, you can easily order and pay for food without picking up the phone! Right now there are more than 70 Boston restaurants offering free delivery on GrubHub!

I love using GrubHub when I don’t feel like cooking or leaving the house to grab food. GrubHub will be handy this winter and holiday season when life gets really busy (and chilly).

Starting today, enter to win $50 to GrubHub! To win a $50 credit to GrubHub, simply leave a comment below with your favorite lazy day (or winter) food! The $50 credit does expire at the end of the year, so make sure to order some takeout or whatever before than if you do end up winning!

The GrubHub Giveaway will end on Sunday, November 23, 2014 by 11:59pm and I will notify the randomly selected winner on Monday, 11/24/14, so make sure you keep an eye on your e-mail then!

For more information about GrubHub or any of 70+ Boston Restaurants with free food delivery, please head here.

Thank you to GrubHub for supplying the $50 credit for this giveaway. All thoughts and opinions regarding GrubHub are my own.

Free Gifts and Glam Event at the Prudential Center!

Gifts and Glam Prudential Center

On November 20, 2014, the Prudential Center is hosting a night of Gifts and Glam from 5-8pm!

The event will feature exclusive shopping discounts at the Pru, styling tips & makeovers, free snacks, holiday entertainment and more. Attendees can also enter to win a $500 Holiday Party Makeover sweepstakes at the event! Good luck if you enter!

In addition to the shopping discounts, many restaurants and dining options are also offering a little something!

  • 5 Napkin Burger: $5 Promo Card for every $25 in gift cards purchase
  • Au Bon Pain: Get $5 back for every $25 you purchase in ABP gift cards
  • Ben & Jerry’s: Buy 1, get 1 free (cups and cones)
  • Boston Chowda: Free cup of any chowda or soup with purchase of a sandwich or wrap
  • California Pizza Kitchen: Spend $100 on gift cards and receive a free $20 rewards card
  • Crazy Dough’s Pizza: Buy 1 slice, get 1 free
  • Fruitata: Buy a $50 gift card and get a smoothie/juice free; or get 10% off your purchase
  • L’Espalier: Spend $1,000 on gift cards and receive a $100 gift card
  • Paradise Bakery: Free cookie with purchase of peppermint latte or chocolate chip marshmallow hot chocolate
  • Regina Pizzeria: 1 slice of your choice and a 16oz. drink
  • Wagamama: $10 off orders of $40 or more (excluding tip & alcohol)

This Prudential Center event is free and open to the public. For the most up-to-date information, please head here.

North Station Commuters, Free Dunkin’ Donuts Cronuts!

Dunkin' Donuts Boston

If you work near or commute through North Station from 7-9am, make sure to keep an eye out for Dunkin’ Donuts tomorrow morning!

On Tuesday, November 18, 2014, Dunkin’ Donuts fans can sample a free Croissant Donut at the TD Garden Parking lot from 7am to 9pm!

For more information about free Dunkin’ Donuts Cronuts or how to win free donuts for a year, please head here.

Money Saving Monday: How to Recognize a Good Deal

Money Saving Tips

*Every Monday throughout 2014 I will be sharing Money Savings Tips to help stick to and expand your budget!

Recognizing and finding a good deal is important, and with so many marketing ploys and strategies it can sometimes be difficult to recognize a good deal, especially during the holiday season.

Below are a few tips and strategies that I use to help me find a good deal, especially when it comes to holiday shopping.

1. Find the Average Price: Far in advance, I will get a rough idea of the cost of the product from many different retailers, especially for pricy items and/or must-buy items on my list. This will give me an idea of what the going rate is, and when I see it for far less I will know it’s a good price.

2. Look at Sales History: I do this a lot when I find a deal that seems like a great deal but it wasn’t really on my radar to buy and I’m not familiar with price and sales history too much. I will go to large deal site with a huge archives (or sometimes even Google) and put in the item and click on “show expired deals”. I can then see all the sales and deals for product or brand to see how often they run promotions and what the average savings is. Some companies run “A HUGE” sale everyday and some products rarely go on sale, so it’s nice to see the history on products and stores.

3. Put the Item in Your Cart, But Don’t Buy: This trick works especially well on sites like Amazon. I like to put an item that I am interested in but I just leave it in my cart. Amazon will alert you with any price changes in your cart whether it is increases or decreases. This is a great way to keep track of items, and even score a great price when the item drops. It so nice when you get alerted to price drops and you don’t have to do a lot of searching.

4. Talk About it out Loud: I like doing this for an item that may have not been on my radar and/or I’m not sure about. I love running items and deals through my husband to get another perspective. Also, I’m not always the best with tech specs, and I will run a lot of technology deals through him and friends and family who know more than I would and they may do something similar for different types of items.

Last but not least, if I’m not sure if something is truly a good deal or not, I’ll pass on it, especially if I don’t need it. Deals tend to come up again and you may even get a better deal next time it comes around.

Do you have any tips for finding a great deal?

To find more Money Saving Tips from Boston On Budget, please head here.