Four smart phone apps to save money and earn cash back

Who DOESN’T have a smart phone these days? How smart are they really, though? If you use them correctly, they can certainly help you be more money smart! I am LOVING the apps that give you cash back and allow you to earn gift cards. “EARNED gift cards” loosely translates into FREE STUFF. There are 4 major apps that I am currently using to make a little extra. I like to call it Lagniappe Money! I have already touched on some of them for you, but they are definitely worthy of another mention! So, I want to break down my current favorites for you.

Please note that the links below to SavingStars, Ibotta, Endorse and Shopkick are affiliate links, meaning that I will receive a referral credit if you use them to sign up.

Saving Star


The one I have used the longest is SavingStar. I have discussed it in the past, but it’s totally worth another mention. When you set up your account, you attach your CVS, Winn Dixie and RiteAid (in this area) card numbers to it. You load e-coupons that are connected to your SavingStar account, which is now connected to your store loyalty cards. You choose your coupons and then when you buy THOSE items at one of THOSE stores and swipe your card, you get THAT coupon value back into your SavingStar account a couple of days later. Since this is an “after the fact” deal that occurs “in the background,” you can use store and/or manufacturer’s coupons at the register, too! So, it’s a little double dip. Once you have accumulated $5 of your coupons’ savings in your account, you can cash out for Amazon gift cards or Paypal credits, among a few other options. These coupons are mostly one-hit-wonders and will only come off of one item unless the value is $1.00 off 2 or something like that. If you haven’t signed up yet, do so today!

It’s not massive amounts of money or stockpiling worthy. But, every little bit helps, and why spend it if you can get it back in cash?! I’ve been using SavingStar for about a year and a half and really love it! I save up and cash out right before Christmas in Amazon cards. I usually have around $20-$30 worth.


Just last month I discovered Ibotta which gives you cash back for completing offers on certain products. Again, I have mentioned this one before, but it just keeps getting better! Just last week, they added Winn Dixie, Dollar General and Family Dollar to the available stores! That pretty much covers all of our local stores!

Ibotta chapstick

Here’s how it works: we were offered $1.00 back on Green Apple Chapstick. You could get $0.25 for reading how to use this product, $0.25 for answering a trivia question about it, then $0.50 for watching a very short video about it. You can complete any or all of these as you desire. The beauty of this offer was that the product was only $0.98 at Walmart. So, you got all of your money back! (This deal is no longer available. But it is available for $0.50 back.) You purchase this product, then complete the offers, go to the menu, and choose REDEEM, select the store, scan your receipt, indicate what completed offers you are redeeming and then scan the bar code from the chapstick. Within about 20 minutes, you will get a notification saying that they have credited you $1.00. Once that offer is completed, redeemed and paid, it will vanish from your gallery and a new offer will appear. We’ve had some GREAT ones the last few weeks!

Now, Ibotta can be used at just about ANY of our stores locally. Walmart, Target, CVS, RiteAid, Walgreens, Winn Dixie, Family Dollar and Dollar General as well as 7-11 and the Commissaries for you military mamas!

Like SavingStar, you must have $5 before you cash out, but when you do, the money is in your PayPal rather quickly. If you haven’t started this program yet, be sure to set up your account and start earning right away! Then, be sure to refer your friends, because you will get $1 for each of them that signs up through your link BEFORE they download the app. Once they install the app using the account credentials that they set their account up with, you get the dollar! If the app is just downloaded without going through a link, then you won’t get the referral dollar. So, be sure your friends understand that!



Endorse is similar to Ibotta, but instead of specific amounts on specific products at specific stores, some offers are for 50% off ANY brand of an item at ANY store. For example, the offer pictured is for 10% on ANY brand of coffee. This includes a CUP of coffee from Starbucks or a bag of coffee from a grocery store. ANY Coffee purchase from ANY store! But, if you choose to upgrade and share the offer to Facebook, then, you will get 100% back on that purchase instead of 10%! Up to a maximum of $3.00. There are also upgrade-able deals for as much as 50% back on any brand of diapers up to $5!

These are GREAT deals, but Endorse has a few more restrictions than Ibotta or SavingStar. They claim that they can’t give you a percentage back unless they take any coupons that you used into account. They only give you the percentage based on what you actually spent. That’s fair enough, but I learned from another local blogger that if you use coupons (including store coupons or ExtraBucks) that are not specified on the receipt, then they assume that the coupons are for the items you are redeeming and they take those coupons – ALL OF THEM – and spread them evenly over your entire purchase. If you paid for your entire order with Extra Bucks or had a coupon for every item, you would not get the full allowed amount from Endorse. I think that stinks!

But, what you can do is to make sure your Endorse offers are done in separate transactions. Sometimes, that is not feasible if you are needing that amount to use your order for a $5/$55 coupon, for example. In that case, you will have to weigh your options and see what works best for you.

If you are receiving your cash in Paypal, Endorse does not require a minimum for cash out. If you want a paper check, you have to be at $25 to cash out. They also give you $1 per referral who signs up prior to app installation. FREE MONEY! So refer your friends, too! If you haven’t started this program yet, be sure to set up your account, then start earning right away! Like Ibotta, if the app is just downloaded without going through your link, you won’t get the referral dollar. So, be sure to refer your friends properly!


shopkick logo

This is my newest venture. You can use it to earn gift cards to Target, Starbucks, BestBuy and even more elaborate rewards like Coach bags!

Shopkick is a FREE app available on iPhone or Droid. While you are setting up your account, be sure to choose Target as one of your faves. If you do that, you will be able to tap Target to see their offers after you are set up.

With this app, shoppers can collect points or “kicks” and exchange them for cool rewards. Plus, you can get 50 Bonus Kicks when you sign up. Once you sign up, you will then receive a text message with a link to download the app. Once the app is downloaded, the kicks will automatically be added to your account.

You can earn more kicks for walking into stores like Target, BestBuy and even Macy’s! You can earn more by scanning certain items. This part is kind of like a scavenger hunt and can be pretty fun! If you have time to kill waiting for prescriptions at Target or even CVS, go scan some items and get your kicks!

This is an app that offers referrals and points earned from them. So, be sure to refer a friend.

About Northshore Mama

Kari headshotKari, born and raised on the Northshore, began Northshore Mama after her family experienced a couple of rough financial years.  Kari shares the tips and tricks to maneuvering each store’s different marketing of their sales, as well as introducing her readers to various programs and websites where she earns free stuff every day.  Northshore Mama’s mission is to bring you the coupon deals and show you how to match them up with each store’s weekly sales to get the most bang for your buck!




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