Happily Budgeting Series: Shopping Apps that Save You Money

This is the first post in my “Happily Budgeting Series”. There was such a great response to my Disney College Program Series: How to Save Money on the DCP post that I thought I would create a whole series about saving money. I’m calling it “Happily Budgeting” because I think it is absolutely possible to be happy while staying on a budget. So often that word BUDGET gets a bad wrap. It makes you think you have to do without anything fun or enjoyable or positive in any way.

But I submit, and will hopefully prove in every edition of this series, that you can be happy, have fun AND budget! Today, we’re going to talk about Shopping Apps that Save You Money!

#1- Ibotta app

If you haven’t tried this app, you need to! You’re already going to be buying groceries, so why not make a little extra? You get “cash back” for certain purchases (verified with a receipt you scan into the app) as well as for completing certain challenges within the app. Then you can redeem your cash back via Venmo (this is my new favorite method because it’s actually cash right into my bank account) or various gift cards. You can also get bonus cash back by inviting your friends to join in the savings fun. I’ve earned almost $300 by using this app!

You can use Ibotta to earn cash back not only in stores, but also while shopping online at Amazon, Apple, Hotels.com and MANY others!

 ***Join by following this link https://ibotta.com/r/hskqwnc or download the app and put in my referral code hskqwnc. The app is available for android and iOS users. By following my referral link or using my code, you’ll get a $10 bonus when you redeem your first offer!***

#2- Shopkick app
I don’t find this one to be as lucrative as Ibotta, but it’s good for an extra $25-50. And that could cover a meal or souvenir at Disney! Shopkick is still evolving and you can use it similarly to Ibotta or you can use your phone and scan items in the store to earn “kicks”. The nice thing about Shopkick is that you can redeem your kicks for a Disney Gift Card! You’ll get an email with a digital code that you can use to pay for your trip or to pay for things on your vacation. Invite Friends and you each earn 250 kicks!

Today I went to Target to grocery shop and I earned 340 Kicks just from scanning items on the list! I earned an extra 175 when I bought Rice Krispies. And just like Ibotta, you can earn by shopping in stores or online! Be sure and take a look at all of the ways you can earn your way to gift cards!

***Try Shopkick and we’ll both get points toward a free gift card! 😀 Use code GIFT503676 or download http://getsk.co/gift503676

#3- Cartwheel by Target
This is part of the Target app. You can look at the App, but you can also search through specific products you can save on. Just add the products to your Cartwheel and then make sure to scan your Cartwheel barcode at checkout! Over the course of a few years, I’ve saved quite a bit just by checking to see if any items I need are on the cartwheel app.

#4- Specific Store Apps
Many stores have their own apps, like Target, that help you save money. Publix, Smiths, Kroger, Michaels, JoAnns…the list goes on. They all offer special coupons and sometimes freebies through their app! Find the ones you visit most!

I love to see my savings growing every time I use the apps! These apps really do make budgeting fun for me. On my single trip to Target today, I saved/earned over $10. In less than an hour. And I still got everything that I needed, I just paid a little bit less. And every little bit adds up!

Does anyone else have a money saving app that they love? I’m always looking for new ones to try! Leave a Comment!

How to Become the Favorite Aunt

Moving across the country was hard, and not just because the drive was SO LONG (have I mentioned how LONG the drive was?). Leaving family and friends is never an easy thing. I’ve done it before, but not when I had nieces and nephews. This time was a whole different ballgame. I love spending time with my kiddos. Over the last 8.5 years (HOW DID THEY GET SO OLD? I didn’t age, how did they?), we’ve gone on many adventures together, we’ve learned about music, we’ve sung songs, learned dances, watched “Baldy and Cheeny” together, fought with lightsabers, made cookies and brownies and I just have loved every minute of it.

Basically, I’ve spent a decent amount of time thinking about the cuties I left back west and I’ve wondered about how I *hope* I’ve made a difference in their lives. Obviously, distance doesn’t mean what it once did and I look forward to finding new and creative ways to stay involved in their lives. But these are Five Steps I’ve come with to put you on the road to being “The Favorite Aunt” (or uncle).

Step One: Have nieces and/or nephews or, you know, borrow some. Maybe you’re an only child, so biological nieces and nephews are out of the question. I was “Aunt Wendi” long before my siblings had kids. When my close friends had kids, that’s just who I became. And it was a title I happily embraced. I felt lucky to be invited to all of the important life events and be part of their lives. When my brother and sister started their families, I’d already had a few years of practice being a pretty awesome aunt.

Step Two: Care about what they do and say. I love listening to the kids tell me about their day, or about their dance class, or about how mean their sister was at breakfast. I like when my nephew tells me about the newest addition to his Transformers collection or how he built legos with his dad on the weekend. I love having these little people conversations. They have interests and feelings too and sometimes it’s a struggle for them to get the words out, but if you sit patiently and listen, they’ll realize they have an ally and an advocate and someone they can always talk to, no matter what.

Step Three: Share with them what is important to you. My kiddlets might not want to sit and listen to me talk about the history of Musical Theatre or spout random Disney facts at them all day. I mean, they like Disney stuff, but they’d rather watch POV’s of Disney rides on YouTube than listen to me talk about the food booths at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. So I try to sneak in some of my favorite things whenever I can. My niece “A” is 4 years old and one day we were watching some YouTube video and I told her about Puccini and Vivaldi because their music was part of the videos we were watching. And then I showed her some other videos, including The Piano Guys. And now she regularly comes up to me and asks if we can watch “Cheeny and Baldy” together. I think she thinks those are the names of The Piano Guys, but it’s a step.

Step Four: Spend time with them. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, friend, whatever, the #1 thing any child wants from you is your time. In a world where a state feels it necessary to legalize “Free Range Parenting”, I think it’s important that while we’re providing plenty of freedom for kids to explore their creativity, kids also need meaningful interaction with their parents and other influential adults. I’ve been lucky enough to live close to my nieces and nephews so I get to see them regularly. Sometimes they come with me to run errands. Sometimes we read together. Sometimes we watch Julie’s Greenroom together on Netflix. Sometimes we just have wild and crazy dance parties. Last weekend, my niece “K” helped me make brownies for our studio recital. Or we play hide and seek or some other game the kids request. They really thrive with this personalized attention, and they remember that you were willing to give it to them.

Step Five: Bribery is a thing too. I mean, I definitely have expectations for my nieces and nephews and I’m not just the “fun aunt”, but sometimes it’s fun to “sugar ‘em up” and ship them home to their parents. Haha.

Obviously I call myself the “favorite aunt” as a joke. These kids are lucky to have so many aunts and uncles who love them so much. I do take my responsibility as an aunt pretty seriously. I’ve told Adam multiple times that if I would be embarrassed to tell my nieces or nephews about something I did, I probably shouldn’t do it. I want them to be able to look up to me and follow my example. I want them to be excited when they find things they have in common with me. And I want them to see what they can do if they work hard and try to make good decisions. I love my nieces and nephews so much and I hope they always know that.

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