My New Year’s resolution? Save every receipt in 2018.
That means receipts from every gas-station fill-up, grocery run and restaurant meal. And every other transaction that produces an itemized summary of what I bought.
No, I’m not trying to accumulate more clutter around my house. I already have enough of that. The method behind my madness is twofold: to save more money and to potentially cash in on future payoffs.
For years, I’ve been earning cash back on my everyday purchases by submitting receipts through smartphone cashback apps such as Ibotta, SavingStar and Checkout 51.
It’s easy to make money back on your groceries if you’re willing to put in a little time. I earn about $1,500 a year with the savings apps. I then use receipt apps such as ReceiptHog and ReceiptPal to digitize the receipts, which also helps track spending.
ReceiptPal also pulls in online shopping receipts when you connect your email account to the app.
Saving the receipts should come in handy to earn money with future class action lawsuit settlements.
Burger King snafu
If you submit eligible receipts for a class action lawsuit related to a Burger King coupon snafu on Croissan’wich breakfast sandwiches, you’ll get a much bigger settlement than submitting a claim without proof of purchase.
Without a receipt and regardless of how many eligible breakfast purchases you made between Oct. 1, 2015 and May 19, 2017 using the fast food chain’s buy-one, get-one free coupon, you can get a $2 Burger King gift card.
If you have receipts that prove you were affected, you can get a $5 cash settlement for each eligible receipt.
That’s a huge difference but I doubt many people saved those receipts, which need to be submitted by the Jan. 19 deadline at www.bkcbogosettlement.com.
Scott Hardy, founder and CEO of Top Class Actions website (www.topclassactions.com ), said the majority of people don’t attach receipts.
Word of warning with class action lawsuits, if you start submitting claims in 2018, you might not get checks this year.
“The wheels of justice tend to move very slowly,” Hardy said. “It takes anywhere from six months to a year or more to get paid for any kind of settlement that’s out there.”
More ways to save
Saving money is among the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Here are the top ways I save money year-round:
Earn cash back: The easiest way I save is by earning cash back on both my online and in-store shopping. Online, my first stop is to a cashback website such as Ebates.com or TopCashback.com or using a browser extension such as RetailMeNot.com Genie. To earn cash back when shopping in-store with Ebates, you need to add a Visa or American Express card to your account and then select cashback offers to link to your card. I also use an assortment of smartphone apps such as Ibotta, Shopkick, Drop and rebate apps such as SavingStar, Checkout 51 and Coupons.com which give me rebates on specific groceries.
Clip coupons: Being a coupon clipper isn’t for everyone, and honestly, it can be a lot of work. But the savings add up when using coupons from Sunday newspapers as well as printable, mobile and digital coupons. Save coupons to use for good sales and stock up. However, don’t fall into the trap of buying items you’ll never use just because the price is right unless you plan on donating them. When I shop online, popular savings website and app, RetailMeNot, is my go-to source for coupon codes.
Reward programs: Just about every major retailer and restaurant has a reward program. Some smaller, local businesses also have loyalty programs. Sign up for these programs to earn money off purchases, get birthday freebies and sign-up bonuses. Be prepared to get lots of emails from businesses and consider creating an account separate from your regular inbox. Some store rewards programs also save copies of your receipts. Some of my favorite store programs include Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Best Buy, Sears and Kmart’s Shop Your Way Rewards program and Plenti, the nation’s first coalition loyalty program developed by American Express, which can be used at Winn-Dixie, ExxonMobil, Macy’s and participating Chili’s restaurants. To save on coffee, I regularly use Starbucks Rewards, Dunkin’ Donuts’ DD Perks and Wawa Rewards. Free up room on your smartphone and find the programs that fit your tastes and needs.
Use the library: Hold off on buying the newest bestseller and see if it’s available at your local library. More libraries nationwide offer free e-books, audiobooks and you can even flip through magazines on your tablet. A growing number of libraries also offer free music and streaming videos.
Cutting the cord: It’s becoming easier and more popular to ditch cable and satellite providers or at least switch to a less expensive programming package. I’m a big fan of binge watching shows on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu using my iPad or Apple TV. I also search for shows on sites such as DailyMotion.com and YouTube.com. If you’re cutting the cord to stream, you’ll need a Smart TV or device such as a Roku, Apple TV or Google Chromecast. Other options include using an antenna or an a la carte service such as Sling TV. A strong Internet connection is key because streaming eats up a lot of data, so plan accordingly.
More apps: To save on hundreds of items each day at Target, I use Target Cartwheel, which is now available on the Target smartphone app. When shopping at Walmart, use Savings Catcher available on the Walmart smartphone app which compares prices of eligible items to the advertised prices in local competitors’ weekly ads. If it finds a price lower than what you paid for the same exact item, you’ll get back the difference on a store e-gift card. Savings Catche r also stores a digital copy of your receipt, which can make it easier to return an item if you misplace your original receipt.
Sock it away: I often take my earnings from the above strategies and make a deposit into my savings account, If you’re looking for direction on how much money to put in the bank, consider joining the 52 Week Money Challenge. The concept is simple. Deposit $1 on the first week of the year, $2 the second week, $3 the third week and so on and in a year, you’ll end up with $1,378. Because the end of the year is tighter with holiday shopping, I think it makes more sense to do the challenge in reverse and start the year putting aside $52, then $51 the second week and $50 the third week.
Kelly Tyko is a columnist for Treasure Coast Newspapers and TCPalm.com, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. This column reflects her opinion. Read her Bargainista tips at TCPalm.com/Bargainista and follow her on Twitter @KellyTyko.