If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you may feel the stress from not making an income. Sure, you’re raising your babies and saving on daycare; but it’s still hard to not feel like a burden sometimes. I know I do, being married to an educator in a humble little house. Or hell, maybe you just want some extra spending money. But although the guilt can be significant, it’s not like you can really have a full-time career while caring for your children at home.
Still, wouldn’t it be nice if you could make some extra money with little effort?
I’ve been working on this list of apps for over nine months, and I’m here to report that there are some pretty low-effort ways to make some bonus cash on the side, without taking oodles of your time.
So, without further delay, here are my favorite money making apps for busy moms!
And note: none of these apps are paying me anything so I am not bound to sugarcoat any issues. These truly are what work for me.
To make the list, an app has to be free and easy to use. The app also has to be very minimal effort on my part: no watching videos or clicking through mindless surveys. Basically these apps reward me for doing things I was going to do anyway, like go to the store.
Receipt Apps: Receipt Hog, Receipt Pal
These apps just want your receipts, so it’s literally as simple as snapping a photo. The rewards take a while to accumulate, but you can get payout for restaurants, Amazon, iTunes, or just good old PayPal! Since summer 2016, I’ve made over $50 with just these two alone!
Units: coins; payout to Amazon, PayPal, magazine subscriptions
Receipt Hog is pretty straightforward: you log in and press the camera button on the lower center. You take a photo of your receipt, which uploads after asking you who shopped and how you’d rate your experience. Receipt Hog also does little extras, like giving you spins to win extra coins or challenges to “snap” every week of the month.
Units: points; payout to Amazon, Restaurant.com, various retailers
Receipt Pal is exceedingly simple: snap a photo, and fill a card with every four receipts. There are not really any extra bonuses here (though they do one sweepstakes per month); but the best thing about this app is that you can also email them your online purchase receipts.
And, as you’ll find as you continue reading, some of your purchases can get you points with multiple apps.
Scanning Apps: National Consumer Panel, Ibotta
These barcode-scanning apps require a teensy bit more work, as you have to scan a barcode after a purchase. The rewards add up much quicker though; since summer 2016, I’ve earned more than $100 on these two!
NCP: National Consumer Panel
Units: points and levels; payout via Amazon, iTunes, overstock.com
You have to be accepted as a member of NCP, but once you are you’ll be able to download and log in to their app or website. They do have occasional surveys, but the big thing is that they want you scan the barcodes of your purchases. Most retailers can be found on their registry, and then you fill out a few details about the purchase like the total amount and how you paid. If you scan at least one purchase a month, then you get bonuses on a regular basis; they also do occasional challenges.
You can scan purchases made online once you receive them, too.
Edit: as of August 2017, I have quit working for NCP. They’ve changed their reward system so that you can no longer earn gift cards. (I believe they said it was a security thing, but that this is a permanent change.) They do now allow you to use your points to enter giveaways or to order from their “catalog” of things like electric shavers or food processors, but I’m not interested in doing that. So I spent my points, and informed them that I want off the panel.
Units: dollars; payout to Paypal or Venmo ($20 minimum)
Ibotta (pronounced “I-bought-uh”, I think) is a great app if you know how to use it intelligently. It gives you rebates for purchasing certain products, which change on a regular basis. Some items will be very specific, like a particular kind of shampoo or toilet paper; others will say something like “buy one gallon of white milk, any brand.” They are affiliated with tons of stores, from HEB to Wal Mart to Target.
You go purchase your items as you usually would, and then afterwards pick the eligible items off of Ibotta. The app will have you scan the barcode of those items, then snap a photo of your receipt. Your money shows up in your Ibotta account within 24 hours, and once you get $20 you can cash out!
This app does work much better if you check out its offers before you go shopping: for example, I do my meal planning on Sundays and my shopping on Tuesdays, so I usually check out the app on Mondays. I select the rebates I think I’ll use, then compare at the store while I’m there. This is because sometimes Ibotta’s deals won’t save you as much money as just buying the store brand. Even if I get $2 back on Ibotta for buying a name-brand item, I’ll still choose the store brand if it’s cheaper.
This app can also “get” you if you decide to buy tons of items with rebates, just for the sake of rebates. We try to avoid junk food and sodas, even though Ibotta frequently has those deals. So just make sure you’re choosing the items you were already going to buy anyway, and that you’re really getting the most affordable option.
With that being said, I’ve made almost $100 on this app alone. They do usually have a few generic produce deals, like “Get $.25 back with purchase of any fresh apples.” And other than checking out the rebates weekly, it’s very little effort. I’ll take it!
If you’d like an extra $10 added to your account when you sign up, use my referral code axjoohw. Or you can jusr click this link! Thanks!
Purchase Apps: Ebates, Top Cash Back
If you’re going to buy something online, use one of these apps instead (or log in on your web browser on your computer). You then shop at your favorite stores within these services, and you get a percent of your purchase back! As if we needed another excuse to browse Target online…
Units: dollars; payout via PayPal
Ebates is my go-to when shopping online (including when you shop from your device). For example, instead of going to Target.com, I open my Ebates app. Then I select which store I’m shopping at, and it opens that store’s website from within Ebates. Then I shop like normal, including using my own login, and check out.
If I bought qualifying items, then a percentage of my purchase goes back into my Ebates account. Then when I’ve saved enough, I cash it back out. (And you get a $10 bonus if you use my referral link here.)
Pretty nice, huh?
Top Cash Back
Units: dollars; payout via PayPal
Top Cash Back is the exact same idea as Ebates, except that they have some different stores and can potentially get you more money from some of them. I focus on Ebates when applicable, so that I can cash out faster; but I have a small balance on Top Cash Back, too.
Health/Weight Loss Apps: Pact, DietBet
Since I know a lot of us are trying to be healthier, we might as well get paid to do it! Bet on yourself and make money while working out, eating veggies, and losing weight!
Pact is like a new love/hate in my life. You set up various pacts, or bets, on yourself. The pacts run Sunday-Sunday. There are three main categories (and you can have multiple pacts going on at once):
- workouts (must be at least 30 minutes and there are restrictions on how you get a workout to count);
- tracking your meals via My Fitness Pal, which is another free app that syncs to basically evertyhing;
- snapping photos of you eating servings of fruits and/or veggies, which get voted on by other Pact members.
For every week that you complete your goal – for instance, pledging to work out three times in a week – you’ll get paid. For every week that you don’t complete your goal, you’re docked a few bucks. Where do your winnings come from? From the people who had to pay up, of course!
I’ll honestly tell you that I’ve had to report a few bugs/issues with this app: it’s rather picky on tracking workouts if you’re doing one at home, though you also have the option to walk 10k steps in a day, or check into a gym for at least 30 minutes. It also wasn’t uploading my veggie photos, which was really frustrating since I eat a ton of them… and I want money, damnit!
But I will say that Pact’s customer service is fantastic. They’re polite, they’re speedy, and they’re very fair. So I never have to pay up for their mistakes. I’m just waiting on the update which gives me full functionality, and then I’ll really love it!
DietBet is like Pact on steroids. It’s all about making money while completing various weight-loss challenges. You search for various “bets”, like losing 10% of your body weight in 6 months. Then you pay up to join the bet, usually between $25-35. Sounds like a lot upfront, but here’s why.
DietBet has specifications on how to prove you’ve hit the goal, by how you upload photos of yourself. And the pot of money is built on everyone’s entry fees: so, for example, if 500 people enter the “lose 6 pounds in 4 weeks” bet at $25/person, you’re looking at a pot of $12,500. No that’s not a typo. Hellooo motivation!
After the bet has ended, moderators will see who truly completed the bet successfully. And those people split that pot. Oh. My. Goodness. People make hundreds of dollars. It’s amazing!
I’m honestly not using DietBet yet, because I’m saving up to join a challenge. Luckily, all of these other apps are helping me get the cash I need to join! And I’m excited to start!
Pro Tip: Use Apps Together!
If you choose to get these apps, you can combine them in ways so that one purchase effectively gives you benefits on multiple apps. Here are a few examples:
- I shop at HEB after checking my Ibotta rebates; when I get home, I scan my purchase onto NCP, snap the receipts onto Receipt Hog and Receipt Pal, and scan/snap onto Ibotta.
- I shop on Target online via Ebates and email my receipt to Receipt Pal; when my purchase arrives, I scan it onto NCP.
- Every receipt that my husband or I accumulate, including for gasoline or fast food, can be snapped in both Receipt Hog and Receipt Pal.
I hope that this list has been helpful to you! Try some out and let me know what you think!