I’m branching out from my normal topics today to talk about our Milwaukee house and ultimately, why we made the decision to rent it instead of sell it in late 2015. Long story short, Jake and I bought a house in Milwaukee when we moved there for his medical residency. A little over four years later, we moved for Jake’s new job. We didn’t have much equity in the house. If we’d sold it, most likely we would have broken even or lost a little money. We’ve always talked about owning a small business or having another means of eventual passive income. We were able to work out our finances to allow us to buy our current house without selling the Milwaukee house. So instead of selling the house, we kept it and started renting it out.
I’ve had acid reflux my entire life. After a bad flare-up during my senior year of high school, I started taking medication and have been managing it actively ever since (~15 years). Until about 2010, taking medication and adhering to best acid reflux practices (i.e. not laying down after eating, not eating several hours before heading to bed) kept my acid reflux at bay the majority of the time. I didn’t have any food triggers.
Then one day, it was like a light switch flipped and chocolate started triggering reflux. I don’t think chocolate was the only thing triggering reflux during this period. But I went through a bad reflux flare-up, one of the worst I’ve had since high school. It was really frustrating, and the fact that chocolate was playing a clear role in it made the flare-up that much more frustrating.
[Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. It includes several affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own.]
Did you know that Groupon offers coupons? I’ve been using Groupon to save on restaurants and other local businesses for years. But I just recently learned that Groupon offers coupons for thousands of stores and have been using these coupons to save even more money. As of writing this post, there are 75,011 free coupons for 11,408 stores. Wow! With so many stores in over 12 categories ranging from baby gear to craft supplies to travel, you’re almost guaranteed to find a few stores you shop at regularly.
Today I’m taking a few minutes to share my top 10 posts for 2016. I started roseclearfield.com just six months ago and have been blown away by what all I’ve been able to accomplish in those six months. Of course, I owe so much of that to you, my readers! I wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you!
Today I’m talking about my single favorite way to save money shopping online: Ebates. I find that most money saving apps and coupons are more effort than they’re worth or they just aren’t applicable to my shopping routines. For example, there are always tons of ways to save on brand name products. It doesn’t make sense for me to spend an hour each week sorting through brand name offers to save a couple dollars on a brand name cracker or cereal I buy frequently. Most of these coupons are for multiple products (i.e. save $1.00 on 3 boxes) and/or involve scanning a receipt or taking another extra step to cash in on the offer. Again, it’s not worth it. If you can relate, keep reading because Ebates is different. I promise.
If you’d told me a year ago that in 2016, I’d earn over $180 in cash back by using Ebates for online purchases, I wouldn’t have believed it. But since I signed up in late November 2016, I’ve earned $181.73, all on purchases I would have made anyway. I didn’t have to take advantage of any crazy special offers or other deals. I simply signed up for Ebates and saved using the Ebates browser button or smartphone app.
How does it work?
Ebates has a very simple signup process. Click here to start the signup process. I chose to sign up using my Facebook account, but you can also create a standard username and password. Once you’re signed up, go to My Account settings and enter your Big Fat Check Settings so you get your cash back. I chose payment via PayPal, which I’m sure is what most of you will choose as well. You can also get your cash back via check in the mail.
The next step is to install the Ebates button on your web browser. At the bottom of the site, under the Apps, Tools, & Services menu, click on the Ebates Button link. Follow the instructions to install the button. When you visit a retail site and there is an Ebates cash back offer available, the Ebates button blinks red. Click on it to activate cash back. The button will also alert you to other available deals, such as sales or a free shipping coupon, which may offer further savings. The button will have a green square around it when it’s activated. Make sure the square is green before you check out so you get your cash back. If the Ebates cash button isn’t working for some reason or you want to know more about current offers with a particular store, you can also go to the Ebates website, search for the store, and open a shopping trip to earn cash back.
If you shop online on your smartphone or other mobile device, get the Ebates app. Search the Google Play or Apple store and install the free app. When you’re ready to shop online, open the app and search for the store to create an Ebates shopping trip. The app is great. You complete your entire purchase within the app so there’s no question about whether or not Ebates is activated for the purchase.
After you’ve completed a purchase with cash back, you’ll receive an email from Ebates letting you know how much you’ve earned. Typically, you’ll receive the email with 48 hours of your purchase. The one exception I’ve found is Expedia, which doesn’t seem to pay out until you’ve taken the flight or finished the hotel stay.
Every three months, Ebates issues a cash back payment, either via check or PayPal. Their Payments page outlines when you’ll receive your payments for each cash back period. I’ve never had any issue receiving my payment on the specified date.
What sort of stores offer cash back with Ebates?
There are so many stores that offer cash back with Ebates. You can browse by category (i.e. women’s clothing, outdoors, baby) or search the site to see if a certain store has offers. Currently, there are over 2,000 stores in 13 categories with new stores getting added every month. I’ve earned cash back on everything from furniture to airline tickets to vintage jewelry. To give you a better idea of their range of offerings, during the last month, I’ve earned cash back on purchases at Etsy, Crate and Barrel, eBay, and Toys ‘R Us.
But 2% doesn’t sound like very much money. Do I really get any significant cash back?
The majority of stores on Ebates offer 2-5% cash back. When you’re making purchases of $30 or less and earning 2-5% back, at most, you’ll get $1.50 back. No, it isn’t much. But it’s something. You’d use a manufacturer coupon at Target or the grocery store for $1.50, right? Over time, those coupons add up. Most of my Ebates cash back earnings have been $5.00 or less, but clearly, over a year, it does build up. When you’re making bigger purchases, the 2-5% is more significant, further boosting your total cash back.
Ebates also offers periodic higher cash back offers. Again, it varies. Some stores remain at 2% year round while others offer higher percentages pretty regularly. Not surprisingly, during the holidays, many stores have fantastic cash back rates. I’ve gotten a few other great deals as well, which make up a large portion of my $181.73 total. In August 2016, I booked our hotel and flights for our New Orleans trip through Expedia. I received 4% back on the flights and 2% back on the hotel, which equaled $54.60. In September 2016, prior to the same trip, I also purchased new luggage through eBags where I received 14% cash back, which equaled $27.30.
Is Ebates worth it?
Ebates is absolutely worth it. With an extra click of a button, I’m able to earn cash back on online purchases I would have made anyway. The Ebates button is easy to use and I’ve never had an issue receiving a payment via Paypal.
If you haven’t already created an account, click here to sign up now using my referral code. Once you’ve created your account, install the browser plug-in so you’ll start getting notifications for savings opportunities as soon as possible.
[Disclaimer: I was not sponsored to write this post. All of the Ebates links in this post are affiliate links. Using one of my affiliate links to create your own Ebates account is a simple way to support my blog without costing you anything extra. Thank you!]
Do you use Ebates? I’d love to hear your thoughts on their cash back program!