I am continuously flirting with switching to a discount cell phone plan.
I want to slice my phone bill in half frugal-ninja style. But, when I actually think about having to give up my beloved iPhone, I become as terrified as if a giant camel spider plopped itself onto my lap (warning: do not Google it).
I really, really like my iPhone. I use it every single minute that I’m working (literally; I record my working hours on it). Plus, it has a great side benefit: I use money-making apps on it to earn hundreds of extra dollars each year.
Does it make up for the price of a costly cell phone plan? No. But, does it make the phone work a little bit for its keep? Yes.
If you’d like to put your phone to work too, here are some of my favorite money-making apps I use every week.
Ibotta is one of my absolute favorite apps. I’ve been using it for about a year, and have earned $85.75 in that time.
It’s basically a simple rebate program: you buy the item, snap a receipt and scan the product barcode when you get home, and boom! You’ll get paid cash that you can withdraw into your Paypal account.
My favorite thing about the Ibotta app is that it often has rebates for generic food items, like “bread,” “eggs,” or “ground beef,” in addition to brand-name items. There’s not always a ton of generic-item rebates to choose from, but still. It’s a heck of a lot easier than finding a coupon for a generic item in the Sunday papers (hint: you have about an ice cube’s chance in Hell).
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Swagbucks is my second-favorite app (although it has a great website as well). I’ve earned $56.73 since I started using this app about six months ago.
You can earn points called Swagbucks (SB; worth one penny each) by doing all kinds of things, like surveys, watching videos, checking websites out, and even using their search engine. I’ll be honest, their search engine is total BS if you’re actually trying to find Google-quality search results (I once searched for “water bottle” and got a porn result on the first page).
My favorite way to use Swagbucks is actually with my old iPhone. They have a bunch of different TV apps (Sportly, Lifestylz, SBTV, EntertaiNow, MovieCli.ps). I simply set up my old iPhone to play these all day while I’m working. I can earn about a buck a day by doing this.
The Pact app is really cool. It actually pays you to exercise, track your calories, and eat healthy food. I just fired this baby up about four months ago, and in that time, I’ve earned $35.46.
The idea behind this is that you create a pact with the Pact community: I will exercise/track calories/eat a vegetable for X days per week. If I miss a day, I’ll pay X dollars per day. If I am successful, I’ll get paid by the other people who weren’t.
I only do the exercise/track calories Pacts right now because the veggie Pact doesn’t work on my phone for some reason (I think I need to update it but I’m lazy). Each week, I earn between a buck or two, depending on how many other people didn’t uphold their Pacts. So far I’ve only had to pay $10 for missing two days in my Pacts.
It sure is an extra swift kick in the ass to get to the gym some days!
OK, so Charity Miles doesn’t actually pay you.
Rather, you fire up the app before you start a running/walking/biking/hiking workout. For each mile you complete, some bigwig corporate sponsors will donate money to a charity of your choice. For biking workouts, you can earn up to 10 cents per mile. For running/walking/hiking workouts, you can earn up to 25 cents per mile.
This app even works on exercise machines like treadmills or ellipticals if you move your arms while wearing a smartphone armband. It doesn’t work on stationary bikes because you don’t typically move your arms back and forth on these machines.
Related: Belkin Slim-Fit Plus Armband
I still make it work though. I just flap my arm around like an out-of-control Ostrich to trigger the accelerometer for the Pact app, which I always have running at the same time while I’m working out. It makes the immediate area around me smell like armpits, which is great for when you need to scare people away.
My charity of choice is She’s The First—a charity to educate girls in low-income countries. I’ve recorded 364.37 miles with this app, which theoretically means I’ve donated $91.09 to this charity so far.
Even though I’ve mostly switched to using the library for my reading needs, I still pop into an independent bookstore every now and then. I can’t help it. I’m more addicted to books than a crack addict towards drugs.
After I read these books I’m usually left in a hangover-like state. I knew I shouldn’t have bought this book. I know I’m not going to read this book again (I’ve got 92 books on my Goodreads to-read list; are you kidding me?!).
So, I wait until I have a decent amount of such books piled up, and then I sell them with the help of the BookScouter app. You scan the book’s barcode and it’ll tell you the buyback price from a whole slew of websites. You can even sell the book back right through the app.
I made about $100 the first time I used this app because I had a ton of books to clean out. Because do you know who has two thumbs, lives in a second-floor apartment, and doesn’t want to carry around a metric fuckton of books the next time she moves? This girl.
This is another survey-based app.
1Q will push questions to your phone. If you respond within a set period of time (usually a few hours or so), they’ll deposit 25 cents into your Paypal account right then and there. None of these points shenanigans—instant money. Plus, it’s not an hours-long survey. It’s usually just 1-5 short questions, so it only takes a second to earn the money.
I haven’t actually gotten any questions on this app in quite some time. I need to look into it more. But so far, at least, I’ve earned a sweet $19.
What are your favorite money-making apps? I’m always on the hunt for more. Leave a comment below!