4 Smart Apps to Save Money on Back to School Shopping

This post originally appeared on Forbes.

This week past week has been a whirlwind of preparations for my son to head back to school for first grade. Between supply lists, a few new wardrobe items, a backpack and lunchbox, new shoes and gear for his first season of soccer, we’ve been spending quite a bit.

save money back to school shopping
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

We were able to reuse some supplies from last year and got like-new soccer cleats at a resale shop. Beyond that, I’ve tried to maximize our savings by taking advantage of a handful of money-saving apps.

Here’s a look at some of my favorites.

Honey

Every time I shop online, I hunt for a coupon code before I hit that “Place Order” button. But scouring the internet for coupon codes can be a huge time suck. Honey handles that for you.

It’s a free browser extension that automatically aggregates and applies discount codes at checkout when shopping online. Once downloaded, the work is done.

Once you’re on a site that is supported by Honey, click on the Honey icon in your browser to see coupons that are available for that store. When you’re on a checkout page with a promo code field, Honey will pop up. You just click Apply Coupons and Honey will automatically try all known coupon codes for that shopping site. They even have some Honey-exclusive codes. If it finds a code that works, it will apply the one that saves you the most money.

Discounts and coupon codes are available for purchases at over 3,000 shopping sites. It will even stack coupon codes when possible, ensuring you get the best deal possible. According to analytics provided by Honey, during August and September of 2017, Honey users spend $2,190,851.61 at stores like Office Max, Staples, etc. and save $1,101,328.88 in that time period due to Honey.

Visit joinhoney.com and download the extension. It currently works on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Edge.

Dosh

If you want to make saving money online hands-free, check out Dosh. Unlike other cashback apps, you don’t need to scan receipts, initiate a purchase from their website, or apply coupon codes. Just connect your credit card or debit card. When you pay with a linked card, Dosh gets you up to 8% cash back whenever you make a qualifying purchase.

Currently Dosh gets you cash back at thousands of stores, including Gap, Nike, Target, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond, Forever 21, TOMS Shoes, and The Container Store.  and get up to 8% cash back instantly in your Dosh wallet. Brands like

Once you have at least $25 in your Dosh account, you can transfer your cash to a bank account, PayPal or donate it to charity. Visit dosh.cash or download the app on the iPhone App Store or Google Play. Right now, you can earn $5 just for linking your first card.

Spent

Spent is another app that lets you save money on purchased without any extra steps. Simply connect a credit or debit card to the app and earn cash back with you use the linked card with select brands and retailers.

For example, browsing the app right now I see I can earn 1% back at Whole Foods, Costco, Starbucks, Walgreens and Netflix.

You can transfer your cash back to your PayPal account once you have at least $20 in rewards. Since many of the offers are in the 1% range, that may take a while. But since earning happens in the background, it’s just another easy way to save money on shopping you’d be doing anyway without any effort beyond setting up your account and linking your card.

Visit spentapp.com or download the app on the iPhone App Store or Google Play.

Drop

Is your wallet or keychain crammed with loyalty cards? I still have a few but I find I use them less and less now that almost everything is electronic.

Drop can replace most of those loyalty cards. It works by matching up purchases you make with offers you’ve selected on the Drop app. You just link a debit or credit card and select five of your favorite brands. These are usually prominent retailers. I chose Target, Starbucks, Chipotle, Walgreens and Sephora. Choose wisely, because you can’t change your favorite brands once you’ve selected them. But you’ll earn points every time you shop at those retailers with a linked card.

You can also earn points by shopping with certain retailers, linking a second account, inviting your friends to sign up for Drop, and checking out the brand on social media. Once you’ve earned at least 5,000 points, you can exchange those points for gift cards. Five thousand points is worth a $5 gift card.

Visit earnwithdrop.com or download the app on the iPhone App Store or Google Play. Enter code 5dc69 to get an extra 1,000 Drop points upon signup.

Keep in mind, you can often stack rewards from these apps with other coupons or cash back apps like Ebates or BeFrugal. It might take a little research to find the combination of apps and offers that maximize your savings, but even if you just connect your cards in Drop, Spent and Dosh and download the Honey extension, you should be able to earn some decent money back on the back-to-school shopping you’re doing anyway.

save money back to school shopping
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on my website are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products I link and recommend them because they are companies that I have found to be helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the products or services I recommend!

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Are two incomes better than one?

This weekend I’m going wedding dress shopping with my younger sister. She and her fiance got engaged at the beginning of this summer and are planning an October wedding.

Seeing their flurry of wedding preparations reminded me of a piece I wrote recently for Credit Karma, Are Two Incomes Better Than One for Tax Purposes?

Invest in yourself.Your career is tHe engine of youR wealth. (1)
Photo by Paul García on Unsplash

In it, I cover the changes that occur when you get married and how they impact your taxes. We’re talking filing status, the marriage penalty, ways in which you might actually get a tax break by getting married, and whether it makes sense to file separately from your spouse. (Spoiler alert: it’s rarely advantageous!)

Check it out and let me know in the comments: If you are married, did you have any tax surprises as a result of tying the knot?

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on my website are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products I link and recommend them because they are companies that I have found to be helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the products or services I recommend!

Want to Save Money Shopping Online? There’s an App for That

This post is an old one I wrote for Forbes, but it’s about an app that’s still one of my favorites.

I shop online a lot and I am not alone. A recent PWC survey of 23,000 shoppers in 25 countries found that 54% buy products online weekly or monthly. In our house, we have staples like tissues, paper towels, and multivitamins delivered right to our front door monthly. We recently celebrated our son’s birthday and everything from gifts to the party favors and food were ordered online. If I had my way, I’d never set foot in a store again.


Online shopping is great for price comparisons and saving money, but what happens when you buy an item online, only to see that the price drop – sometimes by several dollars – just days after your purchase? Many stores and even some credit card companies offer price protection policies and will refund the difference if the price drops within a week or two of your purchase. The problem is, who has time to track that? In all my years of online shopping, I’ve never bothered to take advantage of price protection because with a career and a family, I just don’t have the time to keep track of price fluctuations and send emails to retailers requesting refunds.

But if that chore can be done for me? Sign me up.

Enter Paribus, a startup launched in 2015, that monitors your online purchases, keeps track of price fluctuations, and requests refunds on your behalf.

Paribus works by scanning your email inbox for online shopping receipts from more than 20 participating retailers. When Paribus identifies a purchase, they’ll monitor opportunities to get money back, including price drops, better deals found elsewhere, and even missed coupons. When Paribus finds a money-saving opportunity, they’ll alert you and either negotiate a refund on your behalf or give you instructions for requesting a refund on your own.

For my son’s birthday, we bought him a Huffy Star Wars bike from Target and paid $64. A week later, the price dropped to $60. That morning, I received an email from Paribus alerting me to the price drop and letting me know they’ve requested the refund.

A few months ago, I ordered four curtain panels from Target for our family room and the price dropped by almost $5 per panel just a few days later! With a quick phone call to customer service, I was able to have close to $20 refunded to my Target card.

Paribus is completely free! Initially, they charged a fee of 25% of the amount saved but eliminated the fee when they became a part of Capital One in 2017. Now you can save time and money AND keep 100% of your savings.

Have you tried Paribus? I’d love you hear your money-saving stories!

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on my website are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products I link and recommend them because they are companies that I have found to be helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the products or services I recommend!