Friday Favorites: Saving Money Edition


I’m a big fan of saving money. I pick up coins I find on the ground, I check store flyers for weekly specials, and I even return our empty soda cans to the grocery store. (I paid for that deposit, and I like to get it back!) There are countless ways to save money, and I try to use as many as possible, within the time constraints of my life. Here are some of my favorite, easy ways to save money:


I clued into the idea of buying discounted gift cards fairly recently, and I’m so glad I did. It’s like getting a discount on my purchase, right off the bat! I use Cardpool to purchase my discounted gift cards. Their website says you can get cards for up to 35% off the value, but I’ve generally saved in the range of 10-20%. Since I do a decent amount of shopping online, I always check Cardpool before I make a purchase, to see if I can snag a discounted gift card to use. (They sell both physical and electronic gift cards.) And I haven’t done this, but you can sell them your unwanted gift cards for cash, too.


I’ve been using Ebates for over ten years!! If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a great tool for saving money when shopping online. Before I make a purchase, I check to see if the store is an Ebates partner. (I’ve encountered very few stores that aren’t partners. Amazon, Gap, Macy’s, Target, Ann Taylor, Gymboree, Best Buy, and many, many more are all there.) Then I simply click through the Ebates site to go to the store, and shop like I normally would. I earn 1%, 2%, 3%, 6%, and sometimes more in cash back on these purchases. In fact, since I started using Ebates in January, 2006, I’ve received $863.78 in cash back!! I haven’t tried it yet, but Ebates recently started offering cash back on in-store purchases at some stores, using credit cards that you link to their site.

Rewards Websites

In my view, sites like Swagbucks, InboxDollars, and MyPoints are fairly similar. They all award users points for engaging in a variety of relatively quick and easy tasks: answering daily poll questions, clicking through links in promotional emails, printing and using grocery coupons, taking surveys, watching videos, and more. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can cash them in for gifts cards. I don’t use any other them to their maximum potential, mainly because I don’t have the time. But I always click through the emails I receive from MyPoints, answer the Swagbucks daily poll question, and occasionally, if there’s a higher cash-back percentage for a given store than offered by Ebates, I click through the store’s shopping link on one of these sites. I know some people earn hundreds of dollars or more each year with these sites, but I tend to collect a few $10 Amazon gift cards from them each quarter.

Grocery Savings Apps

Inspired by the show, Extreme Couponing, I went through a phase of religiously clipping and using paper coupons when I went grocery shopping. I still clip and use the occasional paper coupon (and earn rewards points for doing so!) from MyPoints, but these days I mainly use three apps to get cash back on my grocery purchases: SavingStar, Ibotta, and Checkout51. All of them work with my favorite, regular stores – Price Chopper, Hannaford, Target, and CVS- and all of them use either my store loyalty card numbers to automatically credit me for my purchases, and/or simply require a quick submission of a photograph of my receipt. Over time, I’ve earned $262.52 in cash back from SavingStar, $38.50 from Checkout51, and $18.75 from Ibotta, all for items I regularly purchase. I’m talking milk, produce, and toilet paper, not just processed food! (If you want to try Ibotta for yourself, click here and use my referral code, rbkhnjf, when you sign up. You’ll receive a $10, just for signing up!)

Amazon Prime

While it may seem counter-intuitive that a service with a $99 annual fee actually saves me money, hear me out. Amazon sells pretty much everything known to man. My husband and I purchase a couple of things from them every month. Before we decided to spring for Prime, the item(s) we purchased didn’t always meet the ever-increasing minimum dollar amount for free shipping, and we would play Amazon’s game of adding something else to our cart to qualify. When the minimum amount for free shipping increased to $49, we decided it was time to sign up for Prime. Now, it’s much easier – and less costly! – for us to make smaller purchases from Amazon. Plus, we love that the free shipping takes only two days, and our daughter loves that she can listen to as many KidzBop songs as she wants for free through the Prime music benefit.

What are your favorite tools for saving money??

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Author: My Upstate Life

Wife, mom, and lover of books, podcasts, and blogs. Not a fan of cooking, winter, and snakes.

15 thoughts on “Friday Favorites: Saving Money Edition”

  1. Honey is an app I have installed in my web browser. Anytime I shop online it looks for discount codes. It’s a great automated tool. I also use googles cross media panel. Its another app that rewards you for surfing the internet. I earned over $100 in gift cards this year.

  2. I love eBates. I’m a huge fan of Raise too, which is just like GiftCardGranny – I use it for Starbucks gift cards all the time. I feel like, even if I’m budgeting for my Starbucks habit, why not make it as cheap as possible? I buy the discounted cards from Raise and then cross load them onto my Gold Card and it usually works out to about 5-6 free drinks for every $100 spent.

  3. These are terrific ideas I will need to research Canadian availability. I wasn’t aware of how much you could actually save. If the Prime is available in Canada for Amazon I am going to be all over it. Thanks for the advice.

  4. I love Ibotta, Savings Star and Checkout 51, especially when you can get free produce! I like that I can use it on groceries I usually buy, fresh stuff, eggs, milk, etc. instead of just processed foods.

    I haven’t tried ebates or cardpool, but I will be checking them out! Thanks!

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