If you have an Ebates account, you may have noticed something new in the banner area –
Ebates is now Rakuten
Why Did Ebates Change its Name?
According to the Ebates/Rakuten website, “taking the Rakuten name most accurately reflects who we are today: a company that gives you all the Cash Back you’re used to, with even more opportunities to save.”
Frankly, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner!
Disclosure: This post contain a referral link, which means I’ll be receive a monetary bonus should you choose to sign up. For more information on my policies and disclosures, visit this page.
What is Rakuten?
Rakuten is a Japanese marketing company that acquired Ebates in 2014, but it wasn’t until the 2019 Superbowl that they began to really publicize the merge.
Rakuten itself was originally Buy.com (founded in 1997) but they were then bought out by the Japanese company in 2010 as an attempt to enter the American market. They actually became a very close competitor with Amazon before the buy out!
Not only that, but if you were someone who made money selling on Ebay around 2008, you may very well remember Buy.com. They formed a partnership with Ebay and quickly became their top seller, but were not charged listing fees – something that angered a lot of independent sellers.
Maybe this is my nerdy side coming out, but I find the growth of this company to be fascinating (all the more with their Ebates merge, too!)
How do You Pronounce Rakuten?
It’s certainly not as easy to say as Ebates, but it’s still just as easy to use!
If you’re new to Ebates (or Rakuten), it’s a site that allows you to earn cash back if you click through their links before shopping. Even better, they’ve recently added an “in-store” option!
The best part is that you don’t have to do anything special, you just click through and shop like you normally would.
How to Sign Up for Rakuten
First, create an account by clicking HERE! By signing up through this link, you’ll earn an automatic $10 after your first $25+ shopping trip – not bad for 30 seconds of work, yeah?
How Does Rakuten Work?
Rakuten incentivizes shoppers to go through their platform by offering a certain percentage back on their purchase. While this may seem nonsensical on the surface, it’s actually a win-win for everyone.
A customer may not be set on buying anything today, until they see that the shop is offering 8% back through Rakuten today only – a win for the shop as the buyer is now all the more eager to buy.
Then not only does the buyer earn that 8% back, but Rakuten will get a small commission from the shop as well.
If you know ahead of time that you’ll be shopping at a certain retailer, be on the lookout for discounted gift cards through sites like Raise.com. Even if you don’t do a lot of online shopping, be sure to check out Raise.com – if you know you spend money on a regular basis somewhere (like a certain gas station!), why not buy gift cards for yourself and save even more?
For example, I recently purchased a $50 Kohl’s gift card for $41.90. Then I made a purchase through Rakuten for $53, using mainly that gift card and earning myself a nice $4.24 back. So instead of spending the full $53, I’m actually only looking at a total spent of $37.66.
Just check out the bottom of the Rakuten homepage to download. This way you don’t even have to worry about going through the site first when you’re browsing your favorite shopping site – seriously, could it get any easier to make money with this?
Just check out the footer on their homepage for more information, but basically it allows you to earn even MORE cash back (typically an additional 3%). So in my above gift card example, if I used my Rakuten card, I could’ve only spent $36.07 on a $53 purchase. LOVE IT!
In-Store Shopping with Rakuten
Something else you can do to make even more money back is to choose to “pick up in-store” while still shopping online. This is especially great if you’re prone to impulse purchases at your favorite store or if you want to save time when running errands. Not only will you earn that cash back you wouldn’t otherwise, but you can run in, pick up your stuff, and get on your way!
Coupon Codes with Rakuten
Another great thing about Rakuten is that you can combine the cash back you’re earning with any coupons available. They even have coupon codes right there for you – no need to hunt down a mailer you got or sift through e-mails. It’s especially easy if you’re using the mobile app or the browser extension.
How to Refer Friends to Rakuten
Finally, you can of course refer your friends to Rakuten. By just referring THREE friends, you can earn $75! How awesome is that?
Rakuten Proof of Payment
Just in case you’re still not totally sold on Rakuten, check out just how much money I would have otherwise lost out on last quarter were it not for shopping with this cash back app:
So to re-cap:
Rakuten membership is free.
There’s no limit to how much Cash Back you can earn.
There are no rebate forms to mail in or points to count— they just send you your Cash Back, no strings attached.
Saving money and cutting expenses are never the favorite dinner table topic, but they are vitally important for individuals and families to discuss. And while there are quite a few drastic ways to save money on your monthly bills, there are actually quite a few small but simple ways to save that you can start TODAY. These seemingly easy adjustments probably won’t have that big of an impact on your day-to-day, but could result in some substantial savings.
Here are five very simple budget cuts that you can make today:
Change Your Thermostat
Did you know that adjusting your thermostat by just one degree can result in up to 10% energy savings? Keeping our homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter is expensive, and takes a lot of energy. And, the amount of energy that you save by adjusting the temperature is substantial. Depending on where you live, the results could be even more staggering.
Part of the reason the energy savings are so high is because most electric companies charge in a tiered rating system, which means that higher users get charged substantially more. This is why even cutting back a little bit can have a dramatic effect, because it can move you out of a higher tier and into a lower one.
Start by seeing if you can handle a temperature of 68 degrees in the winter and 74 degrees in the summer. Throw on a sweater in the winter if it feels a little cool, and make use of a few box fans in the summer if it’s still a bit hot.
Continue pushing until you find a temperature that you are comfortable with, even if it isn’t perfect. If you want to take it a step further, try adding insulation to your attic, and making sure that all your doors and windows are sealed tight.
Make Coffee at Home
Grabbing coffee on the go is convenient, but it’s also extremely expensive. Cut this habit out and you’ll see immediate savings. And, it isn’t very hard to do.
Figure out how to make the equivalent of what you buy at home. If you drink regular drip coffee, this should be pretty simple. Get a cheap coffeemaker, and make sure it has a timer. Set it up the night before, so that your coffee is ready when you get up to leave. One of the biggest reasons people pick up coffee on the go is because they ran out of time to make it in the morning.
If you tend to prefer a fancier drink, like a latte, look into purchasing a used espresso machine. This will add time to your daily routine, as making a latte can take 5 minutes. But, you’ll save yourself quite a bit of money. You can also try purchasing a machine that makes the drink for you, like a Nespresso.
If possible, try cutting back on the expensive coffee drinks. Perhaps only grab one on a special occasion, or once a week.
Turn your Hot Water Heater Down
Similar to point #1, keeping your hot water heater warm takes a lot of energy. Your hot water heater has to keep an entire drum of water hot all the time, so that you have hot water when you want it. Depending on what temperature you have it set to, this ongoing process can take a lot of energy.
You would be surprised how hot you actually need the temperature set to. You might have the temperature set much higher than needed. Test different temperature settings to see how low you can go.
Cut Out On Subscription
Chances are, you have at least one monthly subscription you don’t utilize to the fullest of it’s extent. Perhaps this is a daily newspaper delivery, or the more obvious one: your cable TV subscription. Either way, try finding one subscription that you aren’t making use of, and get rid of it.
If you have an expensive gym membership, perhaps try making a portable home made gym out of a spare bedroom and picking up a few used dumbbells and kettlebells. Or make exercising a family event and workout with your kids!
The list goes on, but for most families, you’ll be able to find at least one subscription to cut out.
Stop Drying with the Dishwasher
Another easy one to put into place right now, stop using the dry setting on your dishwasher. While dishwashers have become a lot more efficient in their water usage, their energy usage for drying has not gotten a lot better. Dishwashers use a tremendous amount of energy when drying dishes, and you don’t really need to use them for this task.
Just wash, and then open the dishwasher up and let the dishes air dry. It doesn’t take any extra work out of you, except to just wait a few hours for the dishes to try.
Saving money is not necessarily a fun topic, but there are simple things you can do right away to start saving. Once you see how easy it can be to save money, you’ll have the motivation to tackle the bigger and more challenging money saving tactics.
Allen Michael is the founder and editor of The Stick Vacuums (https://thestickvacuums.com/), a website focused on helping others keep a clean home as efficiently as possible. Allen stumbled onto stick vacuums while trying to help his family keep their home clean with less work, and has since become an expert on saving money and time in your home.
Overwhelmed by health insurance options? For Americans, few things conjure the financial dread of an unexpected hospital or doctor’s visit because let’s be real – even with insurance it can be painfully expensive.
Getting your financial life in order does not mean that you should ignore your health, something that could be far more costly in the long run. That said, with the future of healthcare and insurance so up in the air right now, the fear regarding this facet of American life has probably never been more heightened, but don’t fret!
This list, while only a mere starting point, can help you identify some of your options when it comes to healthcare and ideally keep you from over/underpaying to keep yourself (and your family) protected.
Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare – What’s the difference?
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. If you don’t earn much money, you can qualify for one or more of these programs. They’re designed to assist the most vulnerable members of our society; Medicaid and CHIP for lower income families and families with children respectively, and Medicare for seniors.
Medicaid is a state-run program and the rules that govern the program can vary a bit state-to-state. The criteria for qualification is established by your state legislature, so you can check your state government website to find out more about income criteria. For most, it’s being under ~115% of the poverty level.
Here in Illinois that’s about $1,337 a month, but the Affordable Care Act expanded those mandates – people ages 19-64 who have income less than 138% of the federal poverty level are eligible. Again, that’s about $1,350 as an individual or $1,845 as a couple.
The coverage also differs, with various co-insurances, copays, deductibles, and premiums based on your income level, but it prevents you from going bankrupt from medical expenses. Many people won’t pay much of anything, so it’s a very good option when you’re getting back on your feet, financially.
CHIP is the same as Medicaid in terms of criteria being based on income, but it expands coverage significantly for people with children (Children’s Health Insurance Program).
Medicare is a program open to Americans aged 65 years or older, people with certain disabilities under the age of 65, and everyone who has end-stage renal failure or ALS. Like Medicaid, this program covers certain things more or less, depending on the level of coverage you want. Premiums and deductibles also change.
The enrollment for all of these programs has been simplified (to an extent) with the introduction of www.healthcare.gov, following the introduction of the ACA. You can go to that site and look up your specific state, determining if you qualify for any of the above programs. They’re not completely on-par with many private insurers, but can be better in some cases, depending on your income level.
Free Clinics & Teaching Hospitals
Many cities – particularly larger ones – have teaching hospitals with free clinics. These are a great place to get checked out without spending much or any money. Most don’t even check income levels – you simply sign in and wait to be seen.
The problems that arise from these clinics is that they are often understaffed or inundated with patients. If you yourself have the patience to wait, however, you can be seen essentially for free, but you may not be seen as thoroughly as you need to be. So be mindful that a free clinic may seem great, but it’s not necessarily a great choice unless it’s the only choice.
Thought not exactly medical, some cities also have teaching clinics for dentistry, where you can get very low cost cleanings, fillings, etc done. Again, it’s a waiting game, but it may be better than paying all your savings for a cavity, or worse, not getting the care you need.
Many hospitals – particularly religiously affiliated ones – offer a program called “Charity Care” or something similar. Essentially, you need to prove financial burden or sufficiently low income, and they will pay off some or all of your bills.
Quick story here – When my husband and I first started dating (like maybe four dates in), he sent me a text at 3am saying “You probably won’t want to date me anymore…”
Yeah, anyone else thinking he cheated? Because I did. And I lost it. Like what the hey, we JUST started dating and you’re already cheating??!
Oh. But no…
He had a blood pressure issue and passed out at a friend’s house, concussing himself on the way down. Unfortunately, his insurance had lapsed, because he’d just graduated college two days prior. The ER bill total was around $3,500 – a bill that was pretty insurmountable for a guy working at a sandwich shop with no insurance. He spoke to the financial services department and got the bill reduced substantially, and fortunately was able to pay the rest of it off with no problems.
Along the lines of #3, many hospitals are very willing to work with you on your bills, provided you contact them as soon as possible after the services. Solutions include bill reduction, payment plans (some will take anything over $10/month, no matter the size of the bill), or temporary forbearance of the bill for a period of time. Failing everything else, this is almost always going to work in some way to alleviate the burden of a huge bill all at once, so don’t hesitate out of fear. The longer you put off talking to them, the harder it’ll be to reach a deal that benefits you both.
This goes back to #1, because the same website – www.healthcare.gov – that you use to qualify for Medicaid will also bring you to the exchanges if you make over the Medicaid limit. The exchanges are set up to offer a premium discount on the insurance you end up buying.
The amount is, once again, dependent on your income. The issue here, however, is the exchanges appear to have a rather sizeable blind spot; for a single person without children, income amounts between around $18,000/year and $29,000 a year don’t get any assistance. Under that amount, and you probably qualify for Medicaid. Over it, you get the premium assistance. It’s frustrating at times, but it’s another tool to ensure that you’re insured, and the premium assistance is actually pretty significant – typically at least half.
Because of the ACA, most colleges – particularly state colleges – have started mandating that their students are covered by some level of insurance. Because of this, those same colleges usually offer student insurance at a significantly reduced rate.
For instance, a local University’s plan looks like this:
Blue Cross Blue Shield
~ $110/month premium
They pay 80% after your deductible is met and they only require copay on prescriptions
This is incredible coverage, even if the price were doubled. The only caveat is you need to be taking at least 1 credit hour of on-campus classes, but one credit + the cost of insurance would still only be about $210/month.
Enrollment is automatic, and even with class fees and tuition, you’re still possibly looking at less total cost than healthcare on the exchanges, depending on your situation. In addition, if you’re already going to college, it’s totally worth it in most cases to be enrolled in the student insurance (unless you’re still under your parent’s plan).
Along the lines of charity cares specific to a hospital, local charities often help pay difficult medical bills for families in need. Check with local churches, and often food banks or crisis/domestic violence care centers will have contact information. Again, this is more of an “emergency” sort of situation, but it’s worth asking if you need the help.
Health shares are newer programs that are typically structured around faith communities. In it, people share the cost of medical procedures across a very large group. This creates a scenario where someone will be covered for anything because everyone pays into the pool, and everyone benefits. These are typically tied to Christian communities, but if you’ve got the option, they may be great for you.
Living frugal means living healthy!
Medicine is about helping people, not bankrupting them. Without going into a broader, more convoluted conversation, let me just say that health insurance shouldn’t be as intimidating as it is. We all deserve the opportunity to make healthy choices and see a doctor when needed. And as I said, I know this list is just a small dip into the world of health insurance, but hopefully it’ll help you get started on making better choices today.
Do you find making health insurance choices overwhelming?
Sound off in the comments below and let me know what you think!
If you’re like me, your grandparents had at least one chest or deep freezer or a spare fridge/freezer combo in their basement. My grandparents had both – a 30 year old fridge/freezer and a newer chest freezer and they were both stocked ALL the time. I believe it’s a byproduct of growing up in the Depression and not knowing if you’d have food at a later date, but in any case it was good economy to keep these simple appliances on hand.
My grandfather grew two extensive gardens (probably 1/8th acre altogether which was impressive for city living) and my grandmother was a master grocery-shopper and canner. With their powers combined, there was always canning, harvesting, freezing, and meal-smithing going on in their household, and I reaped the benefits: fresh produce all summer and fall, and delicious pickled and canned foods in the winter. Because of this, their freezers were always full of veggies, fruit, and meat – all homegrown or bought when it was on sale. This saved immense amounts of money in the long run because they planned meals on what was handy and on sale, not based on what sounded good at that exact moment.
Please note some of the links within this post may be affiliate links and therefore clicking them may earn me a commission at no additional cost to you.
To Freeze or Not to Freeze
If you don’t already have a chest freezer, the first step is getting one of course. I can’t speak to the most efficient new models, but what I CAN suggest is looking on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or garage sales and finding one that way. Chest freezers ideally should be incredibly simple – a rectangular, insulated box with a compressor to keep food frozen. That’s it – it doesn’t need dials, buttons or whistles to work. A decent freezer might run between $150-$500 new, but a good used one will cost a fraction of that. I’ve seen them going for $50-100 in some cases, and at those prices it would be a steal. So once you’ve found a freezer, the next thing is to learn how best to utilize it.
Farmer’s Market Finds
Depending on where you are in the country, your local farmer’s market or co-op is probably winding down its offerings, coming into fall crops like squash, corn, apples, etc. It’s at this point that, as peak season for a lot of summer offerings is waning, that you can find drastically reduced produce that is nearing the end of its optimal eating period. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth picking up, though! Pretty much any vegetation, save for maybe lettuce, is freezable without reducing quality or nutrition to any significant degree. Chop up fruit into bite-size pieces and freeze in freezer bags and they should be good for up to 9 months. Berries are great because you don’t need to do anything really, and frozen berries are absolutely perfect for smoothies, straight from your chest freezer. Hit up the farmer’s market and pick up everything you can think you’d eat and cool it down!
You can almost always find great deals on meat and produce at the grocery store. I already love Aldi (and have written about it on several occasions) and one main reason is, as meat gets close to its “sell by” date, they mark it down drastically. It’s not uncommon to see meat, at their already very low prices, marked $1, $2, or even more off the marked price. Taking it home and freezing it immediately (or after some minor prep work) will save a tremendous amount of money in the future. Most meat is still great up to about 6 months.
Fruits and vegetables are the same way – an excessive influx of produce or reduced sales one week might mean deep discounts the next. Get in there and reap the benefit! You can peel and freeze nearly overripe bananas and use them in smoothies or as a base for healthy ice cream.
You can even freeze eggs and butter, if you’re so inclined. Butter freezes very well because of its low water content, and eggs can be cracked into ice cube trays to freeze them for up to 6 months.
Keeping your eye out for cheap meat and produce, as well as some great sales on pasta or other staples can actually aid in another money-and-time-saving technique I love: meal prep!
I have a friend who bought a tremendous amount of green peppers for essentially .25c a pepper, and then ground beef in bulk. Coupled with rice she had on hand and some cheap tomato sauce, she prepped up dozens of stuffed peppers and froze them in her chest freezer. Prepped meals like this keep great for generally at least 3 months, and can be popped out of the freezer on a busy night or for a quick lunch in the microwave. Saving time and money? Absolutely, sign me up!
Hurry Up and Freeze!
With a bit of preparation and some investigation, and a little patience, you can find a cheap deep freezer and put it to good use. Whether you’ve got a bumper crop from your garden, a healthy CSA (community supported agriculture/co-op) or a neighbor who likes to give you all their extra tomatoes and zucchini, you can find use for all of it. Being able to meal prep, store, and save money all at the same time makes a chest freezer a brilliant investment that is cheap to maintain and fix, making it an incredible tool in your money-saving arsenal!
Do you own an extra fridge or deep freezer?
What’s your favorite thing to freeze and save up on?
Every day more and more people begin the adventure that is working from home. While I’d never say it’s “easy money” getting started doesn’t have to be a huge investment (of time or money!) When I first got started as a blogger, I found all sorts of different ways to make money online so that I could eventually invest in the tools needed tolaunch an e-course and today we’ve got Alexe Chasanov to share with us a few of her favorite ways to work online and make extra income from home.
Affiliate marketing is an easy job and a source of easy money. It said to be the art of promoting or advertising a companies’ product with the main goal of having a percent share in every product sold.
It is a stress-free job that you can look for online. Amazon is a site where you can find a job as an affiliate marketer. There are some guides on the internet how to sell products on Amazon. In selling a product on a network, remember that you have to be sure and settled about your choice of brand and after that join the affiliate network in order for you to sell more. Promote your ID and stay online, the affiliate gives you a link alongside your ID once you join the network. When they are checking through your link, then click and buy the product, and that’s it, you will automatically get a commission and earn.
One of the coolest ways to earn money online is by starting a blog. Be sure to keep on updating your blog site with interesting topics and latest happenings. If you are able to do it right, your blog will surely generate hundreds of viewers, and that will be the time you’ll start earning money out of it. If you are able to generate enough number of people, you can also incorporate affiliate marketing by using your own website instead of using Amazon or any other related sites.
In doing this, you will earn money easily plus you do not have to work under pressure with someone who bosses you around. But remember, it is not that easy as it sounds as problems may arise due to competitors and the customer’s method of payment. And there are so many things you have to learn if you just started as a blogger, you have to familiarize yourself with the systems and the things you can and you can’t. Blogging is indeed a cool way of making money online while being comfortable in your home.
Work From Home Ideas You Can Start Today
Content writing can be an easy task if you do it with passion and if it is a product of your pure fancy. You can write an article related to any topic as long as you clearly know how to present ideas and efficiently use your experiences in writing as a freelancer. This job is highly in demand especially for businesses around the web, and you are lucky because there are a lot of different clients who need your service for their business and brands.
Writing articles related to random topics can help you in making money online. Here, you will be paid based on the number of words you used or based on the level of your writing skills. Content writing only needs your focused attention, a good reading habit, and hard work. But another challenging part of this kind job is balancing your time, trying to ignore distractions, and meeting the deadlines. If you have a strong passion for writing and you are simply good at expressing ideas, content writing is the best cool way for you to make money online from the comfort of your home.
A virtual assistant must be good in managing time, making a schedule, preparing online meetings, and planning. One must have strong communication skills that can be used in customer service duties, answering calls, and responding to emails. A virtual assistant should help the business owner since he or she has many tasks to do and must be responsible for keeping the owner on track and updated of what is happening in the business. So as a virtual assistant, prepare yourself on doing calendar management, telephone inquiries, booking of appointments or tickets, client follow up, emails of your boss and clients, and lastly is the database and file management.
A virtual assistant earns an average of $10 up to $30 on an hourly basis but this may vary depending on your expert level. And if you are looking for a job as a secretary while enjoying your home, the virtual assistant job will be the coolest way for you to earn money online.
Freelance jobs are the best job for people who wish to enjoy home while earning money. Due to advancement and high technology, it is not possible to have an online job offered by the virtual world. Freelance jobs involve providing a different kind of services asked by random people online. This kind of jobs let you work either full time or part time and it depends on your decision.
Another privileged of being a freelancer is that you will be the one to set the terms of your work and you have the freedom to arrange it in a way that it can let you work on different projects at a time. There are so many services offered by freelancers and it includes web developer, web designer, search engine optimization, article writer, and social media marketing.
Making money while home-based cannot be easier than this that is why you need to get started as a freelancer immediately. And in choosing what service to offer, think of any skills you have that may fit the jobs mentioned above, you can also try looking on the freelance marketplace and apply there or jobs. Remember that in looking for the best freelance job, align it to your passion and interests so that you don’t have to worry procrastinating in finishing your project and meet the deadlines.
Alexe Chasanov is an e-commerce community manager in California. She also works as a consultant for a start-up company to help them in their marketing and growth hacking efforts. She loves writing about fashion trends here and there, and on her free time, she loves outdoor sports and martial arts.