This resource page shares 52 different websites, apps, and stores our thrifty family uses to help us keep our expenses low. Consider it your one-stop resource for tools that will help you spend less money this year.
52 Thrifty Tools That Will Help You Spend Less This Year
(Links in this post are affiliate links. I will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking those links. See my disclosure page for more information)
If you have read my book, Thrifty & Thriving: More Life For Less Money, you know that I have been practicing thrifty ways since my teenage years, with only a small bump in the road while I was dating this really cute guy in college that later became my husband. But once child number one was on the way, I returned to thrifty living and my husband willingly came along for the ride.
A quarter-century later, plus a few years, we have become thrifty ninjas–finding ways to save money on practically every purchase we make. This list shares a lot of our favorite websites and apps for stretching our dollars further than some would deem possible. It also shares recent thrifty finds that we might not use ourselves but want to share with those who could benefit from the savings, or earning potential they offer.
Apps That Saves Us Money At The Gas Pump
Upside is an app that gives you cash back when you get gas. In our area my family is able to use this app at several different gas stations, saving anywhere from 1 cent per gallon to as much as 10 cents per gallon
The Upside app is simple to use; it takes less than a minute to find a gas station, claim the offer, and then enter the information needed to start processing the cash back. Generally, it takes less than 24 hours to receive your cash back in the “Cash Out” area of the app. You can opt to receive your cash out through PayPal, a mailed check, or a gift card (starting at $10).
Use my referral code YG5ZB during sign up and you will receive a one-time 15¢/gal bonus. Go here to sign up for Upside.
Download the BPme app, register your BPme Rewards account and save. Get 5 cents per gallon off your fill-ups during your first month.
Where we live there are cheaper gas stations so we don’t personally use this app but in your area, BP might be the cheapest or most convenient station and in that case, it is a good way for you to save money.
3. Pilot Flying J App
When we travel, especially with our travel trailer, we stop at Pilot Travel Centers often.
Because we frequent them, I have their app and use it regularly to save 3 cents per gallon on fuel. It gives out a lot of freebies or significant discounts for drinks such as coffee and pop and food too.
Use my referral code victoriah1164 during sign-up in the app and start your account with a coupon for a free coffee or fountain drink of any size.
For more ways to save at the pump read How To Save Money Using the Upside App. In it, I share a list full list of gas money-saving apps.
Apps That Save Me Money On My In-Store Purchases
I have been using Ibotta for several years now and have earned dozens of gift cards. The app keeps getting better and better with each new update. It is good for so much more than saving money on groceries; they work with all types of businesses, both brick and mortar and online. Go here to sign up for Ibotta.
5. Fetch Rewards
Use my referral code RE9FU at sign-up and receive bonus points when you complete your first receipt.
Fetch Rewards allows you to earn 25 points from each grocery receipt you scan (any store). However, you earn even more points when the receipt has items on it that are a particular brand or part of one of their current promotions. I love that you can cash out at just 3,000 points for a $3 gift card–it doesn’t take long to earn enough points to reach that level.
Open up the CoinOut app, hit scan, and snap a photo of your receipt. CoinOut will then reward you with a random amount of cents. I have earned as high as .08 cents for one receipt. The best part–you can cash out for an Amazon gift card whenever you want, although I would wait until you at least have a few dollars. Go here to sign-up for CoinOut.
7. Receipt Hog
Receipt Hog is a slow earner, but it is simple to use and fun! You can upload almost any type of receipt, and when you do, you receive either coins or spins. When you spin and get 3 in a row, you earn coins. Go here to sign up for Receipt Hog and use my referral code YECT1667 during sign-up to start your account off with a few spins.
Point Programs I Use To Earn Gift Cards
I have been using point programs since my kids were toddlers, and now two of the three are in college, and the third one graduates high school this year. I often try new ones out and when I find ones that are worth the time, I add them to this list.
Here are my current top three:
Two things I like about Swagbucks is that it offers over 20 ways to earn points, which means you will probably find a few ways to earn points doing things you already do online. The other thing I like is that cash outs for gift cards start at just 300 points for a $3 gift card–no waiting forever to earn enough points to get a return for your time spent. Go here to sign-up for Swagbucks.
MyPoints is the first point rewards program I ever joined, and I am still a member today over a decade later. My favorite way to earn points with MyPoints is through their emails, where you can earn 5 points just for clicking through to the website advertised in the email. I earn several $3 gift cards to Amazon each year just by doing this one point earning action–and MyPoints offers many more ways to earn points. Go here to sign-up for MyPoints.
The “insta” in InstaGC stands for what I love most about this point rewards company–you get your gift cards instantly. No waiting days or sometimes weeks for your hard-earned rewards. And cash outs for gift cards start at just 100 points for a $1 gift card for some options. Go here to sign-up for InstaGC.
Here Are A Few More Point Programs I Have Not Tried
I am always hesitant to share sites that I have yet to try. However, I don’t have enough time to sign up and try every program out there. I do however take a few minutes to read a few online reviews before I share companies with my readers. The below programs at least had a few people saying they have successfully earned and cashed out with the company.
Get points for shopping, eating in a restaurant, and turning on your location in the app. Go here to sign up.
12. Inbox Dollars
Although I am currently not an active member with Inbox Dollars, I was a member at one time and found it to be a valid company. I took the time to check out their rating on Trust Pilot and read a few recent reviews before adding them to my list. After doing so, I feel like it is still a company where you can earn a small amount of money in short bursts of time by filling out surveys, playing games, reading emails, and more
Mistplay pays you to play games! Discover new games in your mixlist, choose a game and start earning units! Redeem your units for gift cards to Visa, Amazon, the Google Play Store, and more. Currently available only for Android. Need to be 13 years or older to redeem points. Go here to sign up for Mistplay.
Survey Programs That I Have Found To Be Worth The Time
I don’t fill out as many surveys as I did before I started blogging, but I do still try different survey companies out to figure out which ones are worth my reader’s time. I do still take short surveys at some of these places below from time to time to make sure they are still worth recommending to my readers.
What I like about PrizeRebel is that they offer a few other ways to earn points beyond filling out surveys–such as watching videos. I also like the lower cash out options, such as the $2 Amazon gift card available for just 200 points (or 194 if you are at Diamond level). If you reach Gold level or higher most rewards (not all) are delivered instantly! Go here to sign-up for PrizeRebel.
PaidViewpoint is still on my daily “do it” list. Each day I hop over to PaidViewpoint and check and see if they have any surveys for me. I spend the time doing so because the surveys are always short and sweet. Sure they don’t pay much per survey, but I also don’t have to deal with the frustrating and time-consuming survey screening process. Go here to sign up for PaidViewpoint.
17. Survey Junkie
I tried out Survey Junkie after a reader recommended it. Yes, there are surveys there with those irritating screening questions, but Survey Junkie usually gives you a few points for your troubles if you should get screened out. When I tried it out, I was able to reach the $10 cash-out level within a few short sessions of working at the site. Go here to sign-up for Survey Junkie.
18. Branded Surveys
I go to Branded Surveys every day and take the daily poll for 5 points. It takes a while for me to earn a gift card doing just the daily poll, but if you do take the longer surveys, it won’t take you long. When I tried it out to see if it was a good fit for my readers, I liked the fact that they tell you how much time each survey will take so you can skip the long ones if you want. Go here to sign-up for Branded Surveys.
Here is a list of ones I haven’t tried but have good reviews on SurveyPolice and or Trustpilot
Get paid in PayPal or Amazon gift cards to take surveys online. Backed by the largest cashback shopping site in the world, Rakuten Insights give you a chance to voice your opinion to premier brands. Go here to sign-up for Rakuten Incentive.
20. Survey Club
You can earn gift cards for participating in online surveys, private panels, focus groups, clinical trials, in-home usage tests, online bulletin boards, taste tests, and mystery shopping studies. Go here to sign-up for Survey Club. Go here to sign-up for Survey Club.
Save On Campground Fees With These Websites
My husband and I have used Boondocker’s Welcome to be able to not only keep the cost of camping down but also to secure a spot in an area where traditional campsites were booked. Boondocker’s welcome sells annual memberships to RV owners. The membership allows them access to a network of thousands of private landowners who are willing to host RV’ers on their property for free (if dry camping) or at a minimal cost (if using hook-ups). Go here to get more information on Boondockers Welcome and to sign-up to become a member.
22. Harvest Hosts
Use my referral link and get 15% off your membership to Harvest Hosts. You can use this program to camp at unique small businesses across the USA. Although there is no cost for the camping spot after you purchase a Harvest Host membership you are expected to spend at least $20 at the business you stay at.
Use my referral code VICTORIAH0E8BCE or my referral link and earn a $10 Hipcamp credit towards your first campsite booking. Hipcamp opens up a world of unique campsites. Some offer great views, experiences, hiking trails, or more. Unlike Boondocker’s Welcome or Harvest Hosts you don’t need an RV to use HipCamp –tent campsites are available. They also offer glamping sites where all you need to bring with you is your change of clothes and your toothbrush.
Cash Back Sites I Use
If you frequently shop online, get the Rakuten browser tool, which makes it easy to start earning cash back at all qualifying websites. Rakuten does have a $5 cash out threshold and it does only give out payments each quarter, but it is well worth using. I have received as much as $15 in cash back from one order. Go here to sign-up for Rakuten.
25. Mr. Rebates
Mr. Rebates doesn’t seem to get mentioned by many other bloggers and I am not sure why, as it is a great program. The simplest way to use Mr. Rebates is to download the browser tool so that it will alert you if Mr. Rebates offers a cash back to the website you are about to buy something from. You do need to have a balance of $10 to be able to cash out, but once you do, you can cash out at any time. Go here to sign up for Mr.Rebates.
There are things I like about TopCashBack, such as the fact that there is no cash out threshold, and you get a bonus for cashing out for certain gift cards. However, there are also a few things I don’t like, such as no browser tool, meaning you have to remember to go to the TopCashBack site first and then the site you are shopping at, and it sometimes takes weeks for your cash back to become available. However, I feel like TopCashBacks no cash out threshold makes it an excellent fit for those that don’t shop online often, so I still like mentioning it to my readers. Go here to sign up for TopCashBack.
My Favorite Company For Finding Promo Codes
Honey has saved me so much money! On average, it saves me $10 for each website that it can find me a promo code for. And the best part is that it is instant savings–I don’t have to wait for cash back with Honey (unless you use the Honey Points cash back area, which I don’t tend to). Honey has a browser app too, which makes applying a promo code a breeze; in fact, at a lot of sites Honey can enter the promo code for you with just one click. Go here to sign up for Honey.
How We Keep The Cost Of Smartphones To $20 to $30 Per Person
28. Express VPN
One way we keep our smartphone bill down to around $20 per smartphone is by using public wifi. Yes, I know, “That means your information could be at risk!” To prevent that risk, we use Express VPN, which encrypts our personal information. It cost less than $9 a month and can be used on up to 5 devices.
I don’t understand how it works; I just know it does and that using one gives me peace of mind should I have to open up a banking app or another app that has important private information. One Express VPN account can cover up to 5 devices, which means one account is big enough for most families. Go here to sign up and when you use my link, you get your first 30 days free.
We used Tracfone for at least one of our cell phones for close to two decades because we love their coverage and low rates that much. A few of us switch for a while to Ting but went back to Tracfone because their coverage was better not only in the area we live but in the areas we travel to.
Currently, our three adult children are using Tracfone with their plans costing from $22 to $28 a month per phone.
If you try Tracfone, make sure you join their rewards program too. When you do, you will earn points that you can cash in for data and more. During sign-up, use my Tracfone rewards referral code YEUQ-AB4F to start your reward with bonus points.
30. Mint Mobile
Our family hasn’t personally used Mint Mobile but it is highly rated on Trustpilot with over 76 percent of reviewers giving it a 5-star rating! Mint Mobile lets you buy in bulk for big savings with unlimited talk, text, and data plans. Plans start as low as $15/month. Get 6 months of free wireless service with Mint Mobile when you buy a new phone and a 6-month plan.
Where We Get Prescription Glasses For Less
31. Zenni Optical
All three of our kids wear glasses and my husband wears readers. Now readers can be purchased for just $1 at Dollar Tree, but our children’s prescriptions are way stronger than readers so for them, I head to Zenni Optical.
How much can you save by shopping Zenni? Well, I purchased my son a pair of scratch-resistant, blue-light-blocking glasses for just $80 at Zenni and I was quoted over $300 on a similar pair at our eye doctor’s–that is a savings of $220! Go to Zenni and get $5 off your first order when you use my referral link (these words in blue).
How We Save Money On The Cost Of Printer Ink
We have had several HP printers over the years and have been super impressed with how long they last. When we replaced our last one, we switched over to a wireless printer that was compatible with HP Instant Ink Service. I am so pleased with this program; the ink comes right to your door before you need it–no more late-night trips to 24-hour stores for ink so you can print your child’s paper that they need to hand in first thing in the morning.
Plus, it is cheaper than purchasing ink in-store. Currently I am on the $4.99 a month plan that allows for up to 100 printed pages per month. That is $60 a year for ink, and it doesn’t matter if I use color ink; they send whichever one I need at no extra cost. I also get to save up to 200 sheets in a rollover account so that if I am under 100 printed pages one month, I can save them for another month when I use more pages.
My Favorite Way To Get Free Paperback and Hardback Books
If you like Christian fiction or non-fiction, then you are going to love My Reader Rewards Club. You collect points by answering short surveys, reviewing books, referring friends, and a few other ways. You can cash those points in for books that are then mailed out to you for free. Go here to sign up for My Reader Rewards Club. Start your account with 25 points when you use my referral link.
My Favorite Place To Find New Workout Clothing At Great Prices
Roughly 90 percent of my workout wardrobe is made up of New With Tag pieces that I got off ThredUp for lower prices than I would have paid if I bought the items new in-store. I also use ThredUp to find new in-season name-brand basic pieces at lower prices than I can in-store, such as tank tops in summer and sweaters in winter. You can enjoy $10 off your first order from ThredUp when you use my referral link to sign up and place your first order.
Where I Find New Name Brand Clothing and Home Items For 50% Off
I suffer from Plantar Fasciitis, or at least I did until I used these methods to make it go into remission. I do not want to experience the pain of another flair-up, so I am cautious about the type of shoes I wear. Birkenstocks are my go-to summer shoe brand and they are not cheap! I do, however, find that I can get new pairs at least 50% off by browsing the Poshmark app until a great deal becomes available on a new pair.
Use my referral code SNAILPACER when you download the Poshmark app and join Poshmark. When you do, you will get $10 off your first order.
You can also try Ru La la and Zulily for great deals on clothing and home items.
Online Stores I Use To Buy This Season’s Hottest Trend Items For Less
Yes, it is thriftier to stick to classic clothing pieces, but it is also nice to have a trendy item now and again and when I want to do that, I head to these companies listed below. I have personally ordered items from all three of these online stores and have been happy with the quality of my purchases and the customer service at each site.
36. Cents of Style
Where I Go To Learn The Skills I Need To Work Online For One Low Price
Sometimes it can be frustrating to spend hours Googling to find out the information you need to take your business to the next level, only to not find anything in-depth enough to help. However, digital courses can be expensive and it can be annoying to purchase one and find out it doesn’t live up to the hype on its sales page.
I avoid these frustrations with an affordable membership to Skillshare for around $100 a year (that is less than $10 a month) I have access to thousands of courses on hundreds of different topics, and the list is continually growing. If I get into a class I am not liking, I have no buyer’s remorse. I simply stop viewing it and begin searching for a new course that covers the topic I want to learn about.
Try skillshare out for yourself for free: You can get a free trial to skillshare when you use my referral link to create a skillshare account.
If you already have a membership to Skillshare and love it, you might also like CreativeBug.
Companies I Use (Or Used) To Keep My Blog Expenses Low
39. Blue Host
Bluehost offers a super cheap hosting plan for getting your blog up and running. I used them myself for two years with no issues; however, as my blog grew, I found that the inexpensive service was too slow for my blog.
I am currently using BigScoots, which is relatively inexpensive compared to other hosts for a blog my size, and it more than doubled the speed of my blog–plus, they have excellent customer service.
Now that my blog brings in a regular income, I have a gal that proofreads all my blog posts for me before they go live. However, I wish I would have known about Grammarly when I wasn’t earning enough to afford a proofreader. I don’t think Grammarly could ever replace a real person proofreading your blog posts, but it will catch a fair amount of mistakes and the fewer grammatical errors you have, the more professional your site appears.
Even with a proofreader, though, I still use Grammarly since she can’t possibly be available at all hours to read and correct every single email, newsletter, and social media post I write. Grammarly may not edit with a human touch, but it does decrease the number of errors in my writing. Go here to sign-up for Grammarly; a yearly subscription is super affordable.
Want to learn what it takes to start a blog? Sign up for this free course by Crystal Paine, a successful blogger who earns a full-time income and then some from her blog Money Saving Mom.
Our Favorite Ways To Keep Entertainment Expenses Low
42. Living Social
Before we head out to explore an area, I like checking the Living Social app to see if there are any deals on things like restaurants, shows, museums, or other attractions that we might want to check out.
Places To Look For Printable Coupons On Groceries And More
With all the different coupon apps out there, I don’t use printable coupon sites as much as I once did, but I do still use them. My favorite thing to do is combine a sale with a printable coupon and then stack it with a rebate found in an app –now that is a triple thrifty dip!
An Online Source For Groceries We Use Every Month
45. Amazon Subscribe and Save—I am constantly adding more and more items to my Amazon Subscribe and Save monthly orders. I, of course, take full advantage of the 5 items or more 15% discount (some items are less). On a few items, I get as high as a 20 % discount because I am an Amazon Prime member.
An App That Saves Me Money On Organic And Whole Foods
If you click the rebates tab inside the Makeena app, you will find a list of rebates available on natural and organic products–from organic produce to bone broth and more. What rebates are available changes often so make sure to check it on shopping day to see what rebates you can claim. There are a few more ways to save money in the app, but that is the area I use.
Use my referral code TWNAVD during sign up to earn 1,000 points (equals $1) once you upload your first receipt.
Brand Reward Apps And Websites I Use
Check out this post for over 50 plus Restaurant apps that offer Rewards, but here are a few with referral links with rewards that I can share with you.
My husband and I take advantage of Burrito Mondays at Moe’s more often than I would like to confess so, of course, I use the app to make sure I get rewards too. Use my referral code Victor9966 during sign-up in the app and start your account with 50 points.
Oh my, the sweet tea at McAlister’s! My husband and I frequent McAlister’s regularly on our outings since we are huge fans of the soups and salads there. The app offers all sorts of random freebies and discounts.
Use my referral code VICTAV4562 during sign-up in the app and you should get a free treat (it doesn’t say what)
Two Courses That Have Helped Me Find Time In My Busy Day For Blogging
Thanks to the information found in these two courses mentioned below, I was able to find an extra hour or two each day to work on my blog, which now provides my family a stable part-time income (equivalent to what full-time minimum wage earners make in our state of Indiana).
To get a taste of the information these two courses have to offer, sign up for this FREE 5-day email series “5 Days To A Better Morning,” which was also created by Crystal Paine.
Subscription Boxes My Thrifty Family Tried And Liked
Thrifty tip: most subscription box companies offer a discount on your first box, so what I like to do is wait until the box has something in it I was planning on buying anyways and then try the box out. Rarely do I stay subscribed, but I have found it easy to cancel the boxes I have tried during the trial period.
Just because I didn’t stay subscribed doesn’t mean I think subscription boxes are a terrible deal, I think it depends on the individual and their lifestyle.
51 . Stitch Fix
Recently I tried Stitch Fix and I was surprised to find that their prices were not as high as I thought they would be. I had $50 of credit from a friend and was able to get two high-quality dressier tops and have a few dollars left over. You can get $25 in credit for Stitch Fix when you use my referral link at sign-up.
My boys and husband tried out Harry’s. One of my sons loved the products. My husband and another son however are very resistant to brand changes. It was two against one so ultimately they went back to their regular brand of razors. Go here to see if Harry’s could be a good fit for you and your family.
Become A Snail Pacer
Receive a monthly newsletter full of tips for making life changes at a realistic pace.