Love a good deal? Here 4 ways to save even more money at Walmart

Published: Monday, October 30, 2017 @ 3:57 PM

If you love a good deal, Walmart is a no-brainer. America’s largest retailer offers huge savings — and if you’re a savvy shopper, there are ways to save even more money.

Sure, the place isn’t perfect. In fact, there are certain items you shouldn’t buy at Walmart if you want to score the best deal. The retailer also ended price matching at 500 stores last year.

But with that said, Walmart still offers some great everyday low prices!

So to help you stretch your budget, we found four ways for you to save even more money on your next trip. And the good news is they’re pretty low-effort — and completely free — so check them out!

RELATED: See all the best deals available right now at Walmart!

4 ways to save more on your next trip to Walmart

1. Use coupons

OK – “use coupons” isn’t revolutionary advice for saving money. But if you have a coupon that’s worth more than the price of an item, did you know Walmart will actually give you the difference?

Walmart’s policy states: “if a coupon value exceeds the price of the item, the excess may be given to the customer as cash or applied toward the basket purchase.”

While the giant retailer doesn’t double coupons or allow coupon stacking, this is a pretty nice perk. So keep your eyes peeled for the right deal and the right coupon at the right time!

To find deals, check your local newspaper and the Walmart app (more on that later), and use coupon and daily deal websites!

2. Download cash-back apps

Using these apps regularly is a great way to save money. Typically, you buy an eligible item at full price, then receive some money back after making the purchase and completing a couple of tasks. Ibotta and Checkout 51 are two of my favorites.

Here’s how it works: Say, for example, a name-brand loaf of bread has a rebate for 50 cents on Ibotta. I’d pay full price upfront, scan the bar code on the bag, complete a quick task (such as view a recipe, or answer a yes or no question), and then wait a couple of days for the rebate to be added to my account.

For regular trips like grocery shopping, using these apps is a great way to put a little cash back in your pocket.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Ibotta and Checkout 51:

  • Ibotta: Download the app and sign up for a free account. After buying your items, scan each item’s bar code. For most items, you’ll have to watch a quick video or answer a short quiz to add the rebate to your account. Afterward, scan the bar code or QR code at the bottom of your receipt to add them to your account. Once you meet the payment thresholds, you can redeem money for gift cards or transfer it to your PayPal account. (You can do the latter once your account hits $20.)
  • Checkout 51: Download the app and sign up for a free account. After buying your items, take a clear picture of the receipt with your smartphone. You’ll have to check off the items and quantities you bought in the app. Once approved, the rebates will be credited to your account. After your account balance reaches $20, you can cash out; Checkout 51 will mail you a check.

Pro tip: Make your shopping list ahead of opening up the apps and looking at that week’s deals. This helps curb overspending (because you don’t want to buy that fancy green juice you’ll never drink just because it has a rebate for 25 cents).

Bonus: Ibotta and Checkout 51 sometimes offer the same discounts, which means you can save on one item through both apps!

RELATED: Need extra cash? Here’s how I earned $1,500 using just 3 apps

3. Get the Walmart app

Of course America’s largest retailer has its own app! You can use it to view the weekly ad, link your payment method to Walmart Pay — which allows you to pay with the app in lieu of cash or cards at the register — and more.

Important tip: Connecting a credit card to the Walmart Pay feature is a much safer option than using a debit card,because if something goes wrong or there are errors, a credit card provides you much better protections when it comes to getting your money back.

Find a lower price? Get some money back!

My favorite part of the app is Savings Catcher. If a Walmart competitor advertises a lower price, you get the difference!

Here’s how it works: Download the Walmart app and sign up for a free account. Next, complete your shopping trip and upload the receipt. From there, the app will do the work for you — it will search for currently advertised deals, and then credit you the difference if a competitor is offering a lower price on an item you just bought.

After a couple days, you’ll be notified if your account was credited any money, which you can redeem via a Walmart e-gift card. After less than two years of weekly Walmart trips and using the app, I’ve earned over $86!

4. Sign up for Paribus

Shop online at Walmart.com? Then you need to sign up for this next tool.

Paribus is a free service that scans your inbox for order confirmations. (You can read Paribus’ security overview here.) Its algorithms monitor and compare price changes in real time. If Paribus detects a change within a certain time frame, it will reach out on your behalf and request a price adjustment.

Per Walmart’s policy, the store will “price adjust an item for up to seven days after the order date” and if it’s “within its eligible return window.” Paribus also reaches out if items with paid shipping arrive later than guaranteed.

Another plus: As of September 2017, Paribus no longer takes a portion of your refund, which means you get to keep the entire amount!

READ MORE: Check out “A Month-by-Month Guide to Saving $1,000 and Ending the Paycheck to Paycheck Lifestyle” for more ways to pad your bank account.

How restaurant loyalty apps can save you some cash!

4 of the best ways to turn your home into a cash cow

Published: Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 4:17 PM

Sites like Airbnb let you rent out your home to make money.
Sites like Airbnb let you rent out your home to make money.

Your house is a large expense with many associated costs like a mortgage payment, insurance, maintenance and more.

RELATED: How to Cash In on Short-Term Rentals Like Airbnb, VRBO

It provides a roof over your head, of course, but since it usually costs you money each month, why not put it to work for you and earn some cash in the process?

The following are four ways your house can make you money:

You can relax on the lake, in the woods or even in the back of a van when you're looking for a staycation in Gwinnett County.(Airbnb)

List your home with Airbnb or VRBO.

If you're planning to be out of town for a few days or don't mind bunking with a friend, you may be able to make some money by renting out your home through sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

Before jumping in, you'll need to take time to learn about the market, your expenses and any taxes you may need to pay. And before you list your property, you'll need to understand how to make it stand out with a good listing, including compelling photos and competitive pricing. Airbnb has a series of toolkits to help with this.

RELATED: Atlanta has Airbnb's most desired rental property in the world.

Rent it out to the area's growing TV and film industry.

When TV, film and commercial producers want to depict a home on screen, many times they'll rent the real thing, according to Money. It can be inconvenient for owners, however, since their homes may be taken over by a large crew and be completely rearranged.

On the other hand, homeowners often have fun with the experience while making some extra money. And while you're watching TV or a movie, you may be able to spot your home.

Host a foreign exchange student or faculty member.

Temporarily hosting a foreign exchange student or faculty member who's studying or teaching in this country can help you make some extra cash for anywhere from six weeks to six months at a time. You'll also be exposed to a different culture and language, and the experience could help you form a bond that lasts even when your guest returns home.

The Penny Hoarder suggests contacting student housing offices at local community colleges and universities, asking to be placed on their list of host families. After this, you'll have to apply, be interviewed, and allow your home to be toured. You'll also need to pass background and reference checks.

The 4-bedroom house sits on a corner lot with a concrete driveway that leads up to the two 2-car garages both having rear service doors. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS BY KATHY TYLER

Rent out your driveway or storage space.

If you have extra space in your driveway, you may be able to make some money by letting others park there, according to Men's Health. This is especially true if you live near a commuter rail line or sports stadium, but you'll need to check to make sure you're not violating any local ordinances. Check out websites like JustPark to get started.

The Balance also suggests renting out any extra storage space you may have. From vehicles to personal items, your garage or home could help you make money through a site like StoreAtMyHouse.

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5 ways to get the most out of your health insurance plan

Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 3:15 PM

Here are five ways to ensure you're getting the most out of your health insurance Choose your plan carefully Take advantage of preventative care benefits Work within your formulary Utilize HSAs and FSAs Watch out for surprise out-of-network charges

Health insurance has a large impact on your finances, so it pays to get the most out of your plan.

Understanding its ins and outs can be confusing, but it's worth your time to check on benefits you could be losing out on or mistakes that could cost you money.

Here are five ways to ensure you're getting the most out of your health insurance:

Choose your plan carefully.

When it's time to renew your health care coverage, consumer adviser Clark Howard recommends not just blindly signing up for your current plan, even if you've been happy with it.

Your plan – as well as other options you may be able to sign up for – may have changed. Take a close look at the co-pays, deductibles, in-network providers and other specifics to make sure you're making the best possible choice.

Take advantage of preventative care benefits.

Almost every plan, according to healthcare.gov, offers preventative care benefits that are free. You won't have to pay a co-pay or meet your deductible to get these services at no charge.

Services for adults include age-appropriate vaccinations and colorectal cancer screenings for patients over 50.

RELATED: 8 ways to get the cheapest car insurance possible

Work within your formulary.

Health care plans typically have a formulary, which is a list of medications that they're willing to pay part of or the entire cost of. It may include a list of preferred medications, for which it will pay the highest percentage of the cost.

It pays to be familiar with your formulary before you get an unpleasant surprise at the pharmacy, according to NerdWallet. Print out a copy of the document from your health insurance company's website, or call up an online copy at your doctor's office. Your doctor can work with you to make sure you get an effective medication that you can afford.

Utilize HSAs and FSAs.

If your health insurance plans allow you to put aside tax-free dollars in a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you should learn how they can help you. Consumer advisor Clark Howard's website, Clark.com, has a chart that explains the pros and cons of each.

An HSA is usually associated with high-deductible plans, and like an FSA, it helps you save money to pay for health care expenses. These can include everything from prescription eyeglasses to medication.

Watch out for surprise out-of-network charges.

Your insurance plan has a list of network providers, and when you can, you should stay in-network. That's easy enough if you're visiting a single doctor, but if you need to have surgery, things can get more complicated.

For pre-planned surgery, Consumer Reports recommends talking with your doctor's billing department to get a list of everyone who will provide your care, including radiologists and anesthesiologists. Call your health care company to see if they're in-network, and if not, ask your doctor if in-network providers can be used.

Related

5 ways to ensure you're getting the best mortgage rate

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 5:11 PM

The following are five ways to ensure that you're getting the best mortgage rate possible Look beyond a 30-year fixed rate Improve your credit score if it's low Beef up your down payment Get more than one quote Consider paying points

When you're buying a home, getting the best possible mortgage rate can have a positive effect on your finances for years to come.

RELATED: 7 clever ways to cut the costs of buying your first home

Depending on how large your mortgage is and how long you stay in your home, it can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

The following are five ways to ensure that you're getting the best mortgage rate possible:

Look beyond a 30-year fixed rate.

A 30-year fixed rate is the standard loan, but it's not the only option. If you can handle a higher monthly payment, you can save a significant amount over time by getting a 15-year mortgage.

Although you'll pay more each month, you'll get a lower interest rate and be able to pay off your home much quicker. In addition, more of your early payments go toward paying down the principal, according to The Motley Fool.

Improve your credit score if it's low.

It's important to keep your credit score in good shape because it helps determine how many loan options you'll have as well as the interest rate you'll pay. Check your score with each agency – EquifaxExperian and TransUnion – and correct any mistakes. If needed, delay getting a loan until you can improve your score by paying off debt and paying every bill on time.

The Simple Dollar looked at mortgage interest rates based on three different credit rates. The lowest credit score used (620) would cost the borrower more than $99,000 over the life of the loan when compared to a higher score (over 760).

Beef up your down payment.

Most lenders like to see at least a 20 percent down payment in order to get the best mortgage loan rate, according to Forbes. If you pay less, you may have a higher rate since the lender will consider you to be at higher risk of defaulting.

You'll also have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the lender's interests in case you default on the loan.

Get more than one quote.

Most people get just one mortgage quote, consumer adviser Clark Howard says. He recommends shopping around and getting quotes from multiple lenders, including a local bank, a credit union and a few online lenders.

Each inquiry will be recorded on your credit report, so you should get your quotes within a two-week period. That way, it doesn't look like you're applying for multiple loans.

Consider paying points.

Lenders will often give you the option of paying for discount points up front in exchange for lowering your interest rate. These fees are paid directly to the lender, and one point costs 1 percent of your mortgage amount.

The reduction in interest depends on the lender, and you'll need to run the numbers to determine when you'll break even by consulting a mortgage point calculator. If you plan to live in your home for a long time, paying points may make sense, according to Money.

Related

Piggy bank vs. savings account: Which is the best way to save?

Published: Wednesday, November 08, 2017 @ 2:33 PM

The following are some advantages of piggy banks versus savings accounts, so you can choose the one that works best for you A piggy bank can help break your goal down into manageable amounts A piggy bank lets you literally see your savings grow You can make a game of it With a savings account, you can put your savings on autopilot Money in a member Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation bank is insured You'll earn interest on your money

If you're trying to build up your savings, you may be wondering where it's best to stash your cash – in a piggy bank or in a savings account.

The best choice depends on what works for you. Do you need to keep your money harder to access, or does seeing it accumulate give you an incentive to keep saving?

RELATED: 7 clever ways to cut the costs of buying your first home

The following are some advantages of piggy banks versus savings accounts, so you can choose the one that works best for you:

Piggy bank

It allows you to save a little at a time.

A piggy bank can help break your goal down into manageable amounts, according to a financial planner writing for USA Today. He says it's a good reminder of the value of saving consistently. When broken down into small daily goals, even a large purchase, trip or other expense seems much more achievable, he says.

It reinforces the idea of saving.

A piggy bank lets you literally see your savings grow. This is not only a good lesson for kids, but it also helps remind adults to "always be saving," according to Great Midwest Bank.

It's painless and simple.

Clark.com's Michael Timmerman touts the "$5 and change savings challenge" that encourages participants to stash their $5 bills and change in a piggy bank. He likes its simplicity and the fact that you can easily customize it, saving $1 bills if you'd prefer.

You can make a game of it.

An editor at Get Rich Slowly started saving coins at home, and soon it became a game to see how much could be accumulated. The editor began altering purchases in order to get more change back, and in seven months, without any deprivation, the coins added up to $723.

Savings account

You can put your savings on autopilot.

You can pay yourself before you ever see your paycheck if you sign up to have a small percentage of each check diverted to your savings account. Bankrate says this "out of sight, out of mind" strategy works for many people.

Your money is safe.

A stash of money at home could be stolen or destroyed in a fire or other disaster. Money in a member Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation bank is insured, according to Ally.

You'll earn interest on your money.

Savings account interest rates are at historic lows, Forbes says, but online banks tend to offer rates that are a little bit better than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. The site also says that several online banks have raised their rates in recent months.

It's harder to spend.

Money stashed at home is easy to raid, and even small amounts of cash for a pizza or coffee shop run can deplete your savings over time, according to Wise Bread. Since it takes a little more effort to access a savings account, and you're not as tempted to withdraw small amounts, it tends to accumulate faster.

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