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Everybody: There’s no such thing as free money.
Me: Uhm, yes there is!
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, there’re a ton of free ways to make money – especially in our digital age. If you’re scratching your head wondering how you can get free money fast, sit tight and drop everything you’re doing. You won’t want to miss this. But first...
Is free money really free?
You’re understandably skeptical. To clear any open questions you have, we’ll first clarify what we mean by free money.
Free refers to any cash bonus or rewards you receive for signing up for and using a service. It’s as simple as receiving a welcome bonus of $10 when you sign up for a new savings account. Or it’s the redeemable points you accumulate for sharing your opinion with a company.
So this money is absolutely free in the sense that you’re not trading hours of hard labor in exchange for it but instead, you’re receiving additional benefits while you perform your day-to-day activities.
Is that clear now? OK, let’s dive in!
How to get free money
1. Take advantage of your employers 401(K) match at work
Some jobs come with amazing perks. One of these is matching your 401(K) contributions that you make towards your retirement savings. This is where your employer contributes a certain amount towards your retirement account based on what you are already contributing each month.
It is often structured such that the employer matches a percentage of the employee’s contributions. However, employers will only do so up to a certain limit.
It’s a great deal and if your employer offers the option, be sure you’re fully signed up for it.
2. Get paid interest on your savings
Looking for an effortless way to earn free money? Look no further than your bank.
One of the advantages of having a savings account or more liquid forms of money such as certificates of deposit or money market accounts is that they earn interest for you while you sleep.
The key is to compare options to ensure you’re getting the best interest rates out there.
A quick trick will be to focus on online savings banks that tend to offer higher interest rates than traditional banks. This is because online banks have lower overhead costs and can truly focus on maximizing returns for their customers.
3. Get paid when you watch TV or use the internet
Nielsen is one of the leading providers of media and marketing information including TV ratings. So, naturally, they have to keep their ears to the ground on what viewers and consumers of media and content are into. In order to do this, they offer paid panels where you can share your TV and internet usage as well as your opinions on the different media you consume.
Similar to other apps you'll learn about below, Nielsen asks you to provide your basic information and then to download and install their app to your devices.
And that’s it. You won’t hear a peep from their software except for “ka-ching” as you earn more money!
Making money from home is the 21st-century dream. And it’s not out of reach for you as long as you have a computer and a working internet connection.
Inbox Dollars is a fun rewards program that will pay you cash for your everyday online activities such as searching the web, taking surveys, or watching trending content.
Like other sites, you accumulate cash as you go and when you’re ready, you’re able to request payment in the form of a gift card, check, or PayPal.
Inbox Dollars has been around since 2000 and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon!
4. Earn money while you shop online and in-store
Known previously as Ebates, Rakuten is another go-to source for great cashback deals. Offering up to 40% cash back at over 2,500 stores (online and in-store), who wouldn’t want to sign up?
What’s even cooler is that unlike other sites, with Rakuten there are no points, no fees, and no forms.
How it works
- Go to the Rakuten site
- Shop at your favorite retailer using their browser plugin, on their site, or via their app
- Earn cash back on your purchases. Cashback will be added to your account.
- Get paid by check or through Paypal
If you sign-up today, you’ll get $25 for every friend you refer (while the offer lasts).
You’re not one to turn down a free gift card, are you? Didn’t think so!
If you’re looking for a legit way to earn free gift cards, look no further than Swagbucks.
In just 3 easy steps done from the comfort of your home, you’ll be well on your way to snagging some cool gift cards. All you have to do is:
- Sign up for free for Swagbucks
- Earn points by shopping online, answering surveys, or watching cool videos
- Once you’ve accumulated some points, redeem them for free gift cards at your favorite stores like Amazon or get cash back through Paypal
As a partner site to Swagbucks, My Points lets you earn points from shopping online, taking surveys, and watching videos.
As you do so, you accumulate more and more points that you can redeem for gift cards, miles or cash through PayPal.
If you want to maximize both your in-store and online purchases (especially grocery shopping), you’ll definitely want to download the Ibotta app.
To earn in-store, all you have to do is:
- Open the app and choose “Find offers” which lets you select offers by store type e.g. grocery, pharmacy or restaurants and bars among others
- Choose the offers you’re looking to redeem and hit the “Add” button
- Go to the store and make purchases
- Upload your receipt
- Earn cash back on your purchases
As you can see, it's simple and takes all of a few quick minutes.
Want even more cashback? Be Frugal offers even more opportunities to earn some dollars back in your pocket.
Offering up to 40% cash back at 5,000+ stores, the site guarantees that it offers the highest cashback rates in the market and it has reviews to support it!
If you sign-up today, you’ll be able to redeem their $10 bonus (while the offer lasts).
There’s nothing quite like accumulating freebies while shopping from your phone. And that’s precisely what Drop does for you. With over 3 million users, Drop is an app that lets you shop at your favorite brands and gives you rewards for it.
Intrigued? It’s not just your favorite clothing brands like Asos, Nike, or Adidas that are on there, you’ll also find your favorite food sites such as GrubHub and Starbucks as well as services such as Uber or Lyft. All at the tips of your fingers.
For every purchase you make through the Drop app, you earn points that can be redeemed on the most popular sites out there such as Netflix, Amazon, and Starbucks. Totally worth it if you ask me.
5. Get refunds with Paribus
So, you think the IRS is the only one that can send you a cool refund, huh? If you answered yes, you clearly haven’t heard of Paribus.
Developed by Capital One Bank, their amazing software tracks your purchases and figures out if a store owes you a refund.
How does it work?
- You shop for your favorite items online.
- Paribus tracks the purchase and monitors pricing after you’ve bought the item.
- If the price goes down, Paribus gets right to work, notifies you, and helps you to get the difference in price back.
6. Use apps to track and save your money
The internet is amazing because you have so many options at the tips of your fingers. And while that is great in theory - in practice, it can be paralyzing because let’s face it, you can quickly suffer from decision fatigue making it so easy to leave money on the table.
Fiona is a fast way to search for a range of financial services from providers without going through each option one by one. If you’re looking for the best savings accounts, best credit card offers, or most affordable loans, Fiona will aggregate the data for you and show you your options in a few easy steps.
The best part? Fiona doesn’t ask for any of your personal details!
Billshark can help you save up to 25% on monthly bills in just minutes! They work to negotiate the price on your internet, wireless phone, TV, satellite radio, and more.
Why we love Billshark
- You can use their online calculator to estimate your bill savings
- It's easy to upload your bill info so they can get to work negotiating on your behalf
- There are absolutely no fees until your bills are successfully negotiated!
Like BillShark, Trim helps you get to the bottom of where your money is really going. By managing your subscriptions and lowering your bills, this app may be just what you need to get free money fast. All you need to do is to download the app and connect your accounts to start saving.
Savings account. Checking account. 401(K). Mortgage. Car Loan. Online savings account. Credit card. It’s a lot to keep track of, isn’t it?
If you’re diligent about tracking each penny in each account, then great – you can stop here. But, if you’re like the rest of us, a little help with managing multiple accounts can go a really long way. That’s where Personal Capital comes in.
The site lets you link all of your accounts to their platform allowing you to see your finances in one place. You’ll be able to see all your investments, your net worth, and to set your spending and savings goals.
You’ll also be able to quickly see sneaky hidden fees such as expensive mutual fund fees that you might not need to be paying.
7. Get paid to share your opinions
Who said making money has to be boring? With Survey Junkie, you can have a say in the direction your favorite brands take by sharing your opinion with them and getting paid to do so.
Not only will you challenge your favorite brands to improve on their products and services, but you also make some extra cash while doing so.
To get started, sign up and create a profile. Your profile information will determine what types of surveys are sent your way. Once your account is up and running, you can begin taking surveys and earning virtual points.
Points can be redeemed in two ways – either as cash through Paypal or as an e-gift card.
It’s no secret that the world runs on data. And companies get it from no one else but you, so why not get paid for it?
SurveySavvy is another survey site that links you to companies looking for user feedback in exchange for cash. They have a few ways to do this:
- Once you’ve completed your profile, Survey Savvy matches your information to criteria determined by the company.
- You will then receive an email invitation prompting you to participate in a survey.
- A screening test will be required before you can start taking the survey so once you’ve answered all the questions and submitted your information, you’ll then be able to take the survey.
- At the end of the survey, you’ll be credit with the amount promised.
Behavioral science is a huge deal in the e-commerce and tech space. Companies like SavvyConnect (owned by SurveySavvy) pay big bucks to know exactly what people are doing on their computers. Their spending habits, their favorite sites, and what draws people to those sites.
While it sounds creepy, you can totally make some money from this without sharing too much personal information. If privacy is a concern, you can switch to the Incognito mode of your browser and Savvy will not be able to access information on your screen.
SavvyConnect lets you download a desktop application that works silently in the background while you browse the internet.
What’s that? A $1 bonus is too little you say? If that’s your first thought when you go to sign-up for Vindale Research, you should take a moment to think of the positives. While the site might not welcome you with a windfall of cash, the incentive may be just what you need to get started on your journey to earning free money.
By taking surveys on their site, you’ll find hundreds of new opportunities that are added to the site daily that can be taken from any device whether mobile or on the computer at home.
8. Get the best shopping deals with Dosh Cash
It’s no secret that every year millions, if not billions of dollars are wasted on purchases. Whether it’s from buying seriously overpriced items when you could have gotten them cheaper a few blocks over or unclaimed rewards when making purchases.
Dosh helps to make sure you don’t leave any money on the table. It lets you connect your credit or debit card securely to their platform. You can then shop at thousands of shops and restaurants and get up to 10% cashback.
Once the money shows up in your app, you’re free to do as you will with it – you can transfer it to your bank accounts, send it to your PayPal or even donate to charity.
9. Ditch gifts for gift cards
A gift is such a precious gesture and can be such a treat to receive. However, sometimes someone can go out of their way to get you an expensive gift when you’d much rather have cash instead.
If you’re comfortable with doing so, don’t hesitate to vocalize your preference. After all, you’ll be saving someone the trouble of gift shopping and you’ll be able to get a gift card instead that will give you more flexibility.
10. Make money from your old devices
It’s not uncommon to retire electronics after a few years, even if they’re still functional. A lot of the time, they’re outdated and are so far behind all the latest technology that seems to change at a moment’s notice.
But what do you do with your old devices? You could just keep them till who knows when.
Decluttr is a great site where you can sell your old tech gadgets hassle-free. And you know what’s really great about the site? You get a free instant evaluation upfront for goods you want to sell. That way, you know exactly how much you’re getting upfront and without having to stress about hidden fees.
Once you decide to move forward with the purchase, simply pack your goods into a box, print a free shipping label and once your items arrive at the warehouse and get screened for approval, expect to receive next day payment either as a check, PayPal, direct deposit or as a donation to charity.
11. Make money renting rooms in your home with Airbnb
If you have extra unused rooms in your home, Airbnb can be a great way to cash in on it. You’ll get to welcome guests from all over the world into your home and you can be as present or as absent as you want to be during their stay.
Some guests never meet their hosts while other guests get to spend time with their hosts and learning one or two things about the city they’re in.
Whatever the case, the tone is 100% set by you as the host. You also have the freedom to choose which days you want to open your home for Airbnb hosting and you can block out the days you prefer not to host.
12. Sell your photos
Reckon you’re a good photographer? You may want to consider expanding your horizons from being your family and friends’ free photographer. In a matter of a few clicks, you can find perfect strangers who will be more than willing to drop their hard-earned money on your photos.
There are a ton of stock photography sites that will gladly accept your images and pay you sometimes $100 per image or more. These sites include SmugMug Pro, iStock Photo, and Shutterstock among many others.
13. Revisit your tax return
In a dash to beat the annual April 15 tax filing deadline, you may have overlooked a thing or two on your taxes such as a tax deduction that applied to you.
However, it is not the end of the road. There’s room for redemption. If you overpaid, you can file an amendment to your original tax return and get your hard-earned money back in your pocket. Learn more on IRS.gov
14. Look out for unclaimed money
Did you know that every state has unclaimed property programs that find owners of forgotten assets? In 2015, $3.325 billion, was returned to its rightful owners by the government. What’s really neat is that claims can be made into perpetuity, even by heirs. So, if your great, great, great grandparents were cousins with the Rockefellers, you may just be in for a treat! You just never know!
I have free money, now what?
You’ve done all you needed to do and you managed to rake in some good free money – what should you do with it? Here are a few suggestions that may help you make the most of your additional income.
Fill the gaps in your budget
Some months, it can be tough to nail your budget with perfect accuracy and a cash injection may be just what you need to keep everything balanced.
If you’ve overspent in one category causing you to fall short in another, you could use the free money you earned to fill in that hole.
You’ll be well on your way to spending the rest of the month with peace of mind financially.
Buy the things you really need
A number of free money opportunities can be cashed in the form of a credit on large retail sites such as Amazon. This may be a perfect opportunity for you to purchase items you need but have had to lay them aside for a while. Be mindful not to overspend.
If you get cash, pay down debt
Paying down debt is never a bad idea because every dollar that remains unpaid keeps accruing interest. A smart way to handle the extra free cash would be to direct it towards your debt or to invest it. Alternatively, you could add it to your emergency fund or sinking fund and save up for a rainy day.
As you can see, there are a ton of ways for you to make free money that requires little to no effort on your part but could make a world of difference to your finances. Many of these require you to simply sign up and do the bare minimum.
You just have to pick and choose which one suits you best. Need some help managing all that money you'll find? Check out our personal finance courses!