If there is one thing I can pride myself on doing well, it's smart spending. And nothing says smart spending (to me) like cash back programs. When I discovered the world of cash back rewards programs, I was hooked. And today I am a big, fat cash back junkie. In fact, I earn over $300 a month in cash back savings on things I need to buy and pay for anyway, and I have four time-tested resources that help me do it.
My Perkstreet debit card pays me 2 to 5 percent cash back on everything I buy. I preload this debit card each month with enough money to pay my bills, get my gas and purchase my groceries. On any given month, that's about $5,000. Using my Perkstreet card, I make $100 a month, and sometimes more.
I am a planner, and planning my monthly expenses is no exception. I deposit money into my Smarty Pig account regularly and establish goals for each month, setting aside enough to cover my living expenses for upcoming months. For example, in the month of May, I assigned $5,000 a month for my July living expenses - June was paid for in April. I earn $4.16 a month in interest for not touching that money -- it's not a lot, but it adds up.
I also set Smarty Pig goals for things like graduations, birthday presents, family outings and the like, and I earn interest while the money sits and waits, and earn extra cash with my Smart Pig cash back card when redeeming those goals. From this resource, I earn an extra $100 a month.
As a freelancer, most of my contracts are paid via PayPal. On payday, I transfer money to my Perkstreet card, have an additional allocation direct to my Smart Pig account, but I also leave some "mad money" or rainy day money in my PayPal account because my PayPal MasterCard pays me 1 percent cash back on my purchases. From this resource, I bank an additional $50.
Ebates is one of my favorite cash back generators. I log on to popular stores like Drugstore.com, Old Navy, Target and Wal-Mart through their portal and order my family's toiletries, household supplies, and hygiene and make-up items once per month. I also plan my school supply shopping and even holiday shopping from the comfort of my pajamas using this resource, and I make 2 to 15 percent cash back on the total of each of my purchases. And of course, I only opt in for free shipping offers and I pay using my Perkstreet card, increasing my cash back even more.
Last year, I earned $1,500 cash back from Ebates - buying only what I needed to buy and avoided the hazards of impulse spending. This handy dandy resource nets me another $100 a month.
Between the $100 I earn from PerkStreet, the $100 I earn from Smarty Pig, the $50 I net from my Pay Pal account and the $125 a month I get from Ebates, I am banking $375 a month in cash back. And 100 percent of that $4,500 cash back goes to my various savings and investments.
Creative saving often requires creative spending, at least in my book.
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