Okay, so not everyday does one get to score a zippered purse full of cash while rummaging through old boxes in the basement. It was my late mother-in-law’s stuff we had packed up from when she lived with us. The woman had a penchant for hiding money which means I’ll be ripping up the floor boards as soon as I’m done with this post!
But coming across a score like this is few and far between so I’ve compiled several ways we can find hidden cash in our everyday lives:
Consigning. I did an extensive post about how to effectively consign items for passive income. Personally, this is my preferred method to selling items via an online site such as Craigslist or eBay. I like just taking my stuff, dropping it off and picking up a check later on. We all have stuff around the house that’s in good, like-new (or, in some cases, still with the price tag on them) and working condition. Take some time on the weekend to go through closets, shelves, drawers, basement and garage. If it hasn’t been used/worn in the last year or so nor has any sentimental value then what’s the reason for holding onto it? (my hub’s excuse, “because you never know!” doesn’t fly with me). Gather your stuff up and follow the instructions in the post above.
Coupons. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’m a not-so-extreme couponer. I don’t think I’ll every score $500 worth of grocers for $6.58. I just don’t know how they do it so rather than agonize over trying to replicate it, I just stick to my own process. I have a coupon binder which has sections for each store I frequent as well as for different merchandise categories. I know a lot of couponing sites tout printing out ALL the coupons because you never know when you can score something for free. If I spent the 30-40 hours/week some of these extremepouners do then I could take the time to do the math. But I just follow a few simple rules – I only buy what we need and only print coupons for products we use. I then peruse the two grocery and 3 pharmacy flyers every Sunday (and Target if I’m feeling ambitious) to see if anything we need that I have a coupon for is on sale. Also watch for deals in Target where you combine items to get either a $5 or $10 gift card in return as well as CVS where certain product purchases yield Extra Bucks – money you can use during your next purchase. Yes, it takes a little time to coordinate this, but I assure you it’s less than 30-40 hours! Don’t come across coupons for stuff you use? Then request them
Bottle Returns: Buy lots of soda, water, beer, etc? Then don’t toss those glass, aluminum or plastic bottles in the recycling bin because it’s just not worth it to fight for a machine in the bottle return center. I keep a large trash bag in the garage to toss empty bottles into until I can’t stuff anymore into it. Sometimes I have two because I always forget about them (that’s when it becomes an actionable task in my planner) Before work, I load the bag(s) in the back of my car then return them during my lunch hour errands (not many people are returning bottles at 1pm on a Tuesday as opposed to noon on Saturday). 5 cents per bottle times the amount I had stuff in those bags can yield up to $4 to be used towards future grocery purchases. That’s a family-sized package of chicken legs or thighs right there!
Store Receipts. I also did a blog post about not tossing your store receipts before reviewing it for hidden cash. Some print out clippable coupons at the bottom. Others have codes you can punch in at the store’s online site to get free stuff or points on your rewards cards. Some stores advertise rebates on certain product purchases for which you need the receipt as proof of purchase. My grocery store offers ___ cents off per gallon with a participating gas station for every $____ spent. The receipt carries a cumulative total so I know how much I’ve got off per gallon the next time I fuel up. I’ve gotten as much as .60 cents off per gallon. I barely spent $30 to sink the needle on my SUV crossover – wow! Never – EVER – toss a receipt until you’ve checked the print at the bottom to see if there’s any special offers
Rewards cards: I love my rewards cards! I keep them on a big ring so they don’t clutter up my wallet I have them for my two grocery stores plus CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Panera and Staples to name a few. These serve a purpose. They not only entitle you to flyer-advertised sale prices, but, when they’re connected to rewards programs, you collect points (much like the gas points above) when you purchase either a certain dollar amount or quantity. These points either translate into cash that you can use on future purchases or you can redeem them for goods and services. When you get a rewards card, immediately sign up and register your card online so you can receive even more offers. Most recently I wanted to try Frixion pens and Walgreens had two-packs each with different colors for $3.69/ea. I got 2 packs that I didn’t have to pay for because I had $10 in Balance Rewards. On your birthday, Panera offers you a free pastry (which is good to use up to 30 days). Staples sends you rewards coupons that can be used as cash towards future purchases when you accumulate a certain number of them. Speaking of Staples……
Recycling Ink Cartridges. I have a desktop printer at the office and hub and I each have one at home. When we have to change the cartridges, we save the empty one and return to Staples for a $2.00 credit. It used to be that they only took a certain number of cartridges per person/per day, but I think they eased up on that. Once I had returned (7) cartridges and received a cash coupon for $14. They also sent me a $10 off in-store purchase of $30 or more. I had purchased my Franklin Covey Classic Binder (that was $36, on sale for $30) for only $6!!!
Loose Change. Yeah, nothing new here, but let me tell you, you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you try it. I keep a Target Dollarspot tin on my dresser where I toss all silver into all year long.
When the new year rolls along, I place a towel on the living room floor, empty the contents on it and begin sorting. I have pre-formed coin wrappers and a denomination tube to make filling them a breeze. I easily have anywhere from $75 – $90 in coins at year end.
Rebate Apps. There are a lot out there, but my favorite is Ibotta. I can’t tell you how addicted I am to this and I never – ever – toss a store receipt without scrolling through available rebates on Ibotta to see if I can earn cash back. I’ve been using it for 2 months and already accumulated $8 in rebates that you can withdraw once you receive a $10 minimum. And it isn’t just on brand products – they offer cash back on the purchase of any brand of potatoes, onions, spinach, flour tortillas, cookies, ketchup,bacon, bananas, sugar, coffee, eggs, etc. just to name a few. We’re talking commonly-used items here. You can get anywhere from .20 cents to $4.00 depending upon the item. One of my best scores was ZzzQuil . My pharmacy had buy one, get one free. I then had (2) $1.00 coupons to use on both the one I purchased and the free one then had a $1.50 Ibotta rebate. I think I got both bottles for around $3 after all was said and done.
These are just some of the ways I’ve discovered to find hidden cash and save. What are yours?