Posts

The PBJ Theory, Please Quit Complaining About Food Budgets

Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

I’m about to save you thousands of dollars.

All the money you spend in your life, or even an average month. Chances are one of your largest expenses is food. It happens, literally to everyone.

Eating Out Is The Worst For Your Wallet

So when people start to track their budgets, they always come to the same conclusion. “I need to quit eating out more”. Get this, the average person eats out 4.5 times per week costing them $12.14 per meal on a national average according to a 2016 survey conducted by Zagat.

“the average person eats out 4.5 times per week costing them $12.14 per meal on a national average”

That means the average person spends $54.63 eating out a week or $218.52 a month on just eating out. Unless you earn lots of money, is the obvious answer to eat in?

What About Eating In?

Most people think they can quit going out to start having nice and relaxing meals in. Here’s the thing with eating in, the movies get it wrong.

It’s not always a romantic and soothing experience.

Often times it’s a “Crap, I need to eat. What should I cook?” experience that you pray to the food gods you have the right ingredients in your fridge and dishes are clean.

Let’s face it, we are busy in our lives and don’t have the time to visit the store every day buying new ingredients for a new recipe we found on the internet.

In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, researcher Eddie Yoon over two decades collected data as consultants for consumer packaged goods companies. He found that:

  • 15% of people say they LOVE to cook
  • 50% of people say they HATE to cook
  • 35% of people say they are ambivalent about cooking (mixed feelings)

If you’re one of the people that hate cooking, you should create a meal plan to make it as easy as possible. Plan a week in advance what you’re going to eat for each meal and know how to cook it. This way you’ll have the ingredients and can plan accordingly for time.

However, not all plans work out.

Introduce The Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

When meal plans fail, let me introduce Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, otherwise known as a PBJ.

Let me first admit that I have an addiction to commenting on Finance forums, Facebook Groups, and Blogs. The mechanics of building wealth are simple and I’m always happy to remind people that things are often more simple than they appear. Like how I responded this comment and created “The Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory”.

I get it, you want to start saving money on food and you’re looking for suggestions from the personal finance community to help.

Answers ranged from getting a crockpot to make meals simple, cooking large meals on Sunday and eating leftovers throughout the week, to buying frozen meals that may not be great for you, but easy to prepare.

All of the responses skirted around the idea that a solid weekly meal plan is the best option to help you save money on food. However, sometimes these meals don’t work out for a number of reasons and one fall off the wagon can end up at the local McDonalds.

So I introduced the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory. The cost-effective, quickest meal ever to keep your budget on track.

This is easily the most actionable thing you can do to start immediately saving on your food budget. In many cases when people eat out, it’s due to convenience because they don’t have anything at home that sounds appealing. That’s when the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory comes in handy.

Stash emergency PB&J supplies in your kitchen. When hungry but have nothing else, eat a PB&J. If you’re not hungry for a PB&J, wait 2 hours until you’re hungry enough to eat a PB&J.

Sometimes a PBJ isn’t exactly what you’re craving and your favorite restaurant sounds better, or your “husband would not be happy about that” (see comment). Well suck it up, you’ll soon be out of debt and you can buy your husband a jet ski. Everyone loves a jet ski.

Try the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

If you want to save THOUSANDS on food budgets, you should try the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory! Meals cost less than $1 to make, you’ll save time and money. Most importantly, you’ll have a secret stash of PBJs to make when you get those cravings to go out and spend money.

You’re welcome.

Disclaimer: Wallet Squirrel did not invent the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, just an advocate of saving money. Wallet Squirrel was not sponsored by big PBJ corporations to promote their superior and delicious product.

10 Ways to switch to a minimalist lifestyle to make the most of money

Today’s post is contributed by Amy Nickson, a passionate writer on finance. Amy is a professional blogger whom has started her own blog and also works as a contributor for the Oak View Law Group. Please share your opinions by commenting below.

10 Ways to switch to a minimalist lifestyle to make the most of money

Living a minimalist lifestyle has many benefits; it offers more free time, more money in the bank account, and a meaningful way to live the life. Once you adopt a minimalist lifestyle, it will change the way you live your life. Such a lifestyle can change the idea of spending a day, finding happiness, and fulfilling a dream.

However, adopting a minimalist lifestyle is not easy; it is a total transformation of lifestyle.

Most of us have materialistic mindset; therefore, living a minimalist lifestyle can be difficult at the beginning.

However, nothing is impossible; you can try to adopt the simple living mantra to understand the differences between living life with a lot of stuff and living with less.

Keeping in mind that most of you are a beginner when it comes to living a minimalist lifestyle, I am sharing some easy ways to help you to adopt it.

Minimalism is simplifying everything in your life

“Simplifying everything in life” – What does it mean? Well, it means you need to simplify your entire lifestyle including the diet, stuff, debt, health, home, and time.

Sounds scary! Here are 8 easy tips, which can simplify your lifestyle without taking a lot of stress.

1. Write down your minimalism goals

Since living as a minimalist is not easy; you have to be focused on it consistently. Thus, it is important to write down the motive of living a simple life. If debt problem is the main reason you want to simplify your lifestyle, then note it down. Similarly, you can write down other problems that are the reasons behind adopting the minimalist lifestyle, it can be getting no free time for family, feeling stressed out after work, failing to save money, wasting food, and craving for stuff.

If you think it is too difficult to keep going with the minimalist lifestyle, write down the goals. It will motivate you to follow your changed lifestyle.

2. Donate the extra things

Living with unnecessary things often overwhelm us, especially things that are extra. You should find out the extra things and keep them out of your sight. If you don’t need them for at least a month, then you should donate them to people who need them more than you. Once you start living with less stuff, your life will become blissful and less burdened.

Related: Sell stuff on Craigslist or eBay.

3. Carry less things while traveling

Travelling is for refreshment, not for becoming a fashionista. People often take stress regarding the packing for their trip. If they are going for a 4-day trip, they usually pack for 8 days, which is wrong. Pack for 2 day for a 4-day trip. Wash clothes, dry them and wear the same clothes while on a trip. Instead of concentrating on dress up, enjoy the trip wholeheartedly. Carrying less baggage can allow you to move more freely and feel relaxed.

4. Declutter your home

A clean home is blissful. A home full of clutter makes you stressed, irritated, and busy all the time. Thus, you should try to make your home clutter-free, as much as possible. Though the task is not easy, yet you can give it a try. Make your home clutter-free, step by step. Start with your living room, kitchen counter top, bed room, dining space, etc. One day, you will find a neat and clean home with stuff that is necessary.

5. Simplify your style

If you are not a fashion blogger, who needs a lot of stuff to come with fashion tips, then you must try to simplify your everyday style. Don’t go mad with watches, shoes, dresses, bags, jewelry, accessories, etc. Honestly, you know how much is too much. So, show your commitment to other more challenging things in your life instead of wasting money and time on getting dressed up.

6. Go back to the basic

We all are now tech savvy and think all the gadgets are making our life simple. Yes, some are useful, but some are just making your life complicated. How?

The phone is not a necessity; you need to call someone in an emergency. But, now you have a smartphone with sufficient data. You are doing nothing but surfing the phone all the day. A basic phone is enough to contact someone. I agree that smartphone makes our life easier like easy banking, paying money by offering easy banking digital wallet, easy booking, etc. But, it also makes us engaged all the day and you don’t have time to talk to the person who is sitting just beside you.

It is way better to use such gadgets when in need. Enjoy some time with your dear ones to feel alive.

7. Cut down the cable cord

Now cable operators charge about $100 a month for 500 different channels. Out of all the channels, you watch only 7-10. I don’t know why do people pay so much money for things they don’t need at all. Simply pay for channels that you watch mostly and cut down the expenses for those unseen channels.

8. Simplify your meals

Having food is necessary, but thinking what you should eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day is not necessary. Set the meals for the whole week and rotate it. You will able to eat all the meals that are necessary to intake without wasting time at the grocery store.

9. Build an emergency fund

Financial problem is no doubt one of the biggest stress givers. If you don’t be good with money, it will always create problems. Most of the times, an emergency makes people financially stressful. To fight back with the emergency, people use some easy solutions like using a credit card, taking out a loan, borrowing money from 401(k) fund, etc. All these are financial blunders.

Why commit these painful financial blunders when you have an easy solution to combat with uncertain emergencies. What is the solution? The answer is keeping an emergency fund. Yes, by building an emergency fund, you can cope up with every unforeseen financial challenges without incurring additional debts. You just need to set aside a certain amount into an emergency fund. After a certain time, you will have enough money for any unforeseen emergencies. It will reduce your financial stress to a great extent.

10. Practice frugal living

Frugal living and minimalist living go hand in hand. Frugal living is all about living life in a meaningful way. Frugal living encourages to live within your means. By doing so, you can afford to live a life that you always wanted to live. Living frugally unlocks the world of financial prospects. It will help you save money, pay off debt, fund your children’s education, build a retirement fund (see Andrew’s Investments), plan for a trip, and so on.

Novice minimalists should avoid living an extreme minimalist lifestyle

Living a minimalist lifestyle has many benefits, but you shouldn’t live it in an extreme way. By living an extreme minimalist lifestyle, you will lose the focus and feel demotivated soon. So, you can read books on minimalist living to adopt a minimalist lifestyle in a proper way. The proper guide to minimalist living is important to live with less stuff while feeling delighted. Take small steps to adopt the new lifestyle with less stuff, less debt, and less worry.

My Honest Ibotta App Review – Is it worth the time?

ibotta-app-review

My Honest Ibotta App Review – Is it worth the time?

Today I want to give you my honest ibotta app review. We will look at the application together to see if it is worth the time spent for the cash they give you back.

Today’s ibotta app review is fairly short. This is because ibotta’s process is just that simple. As I write this review, I keep scrolling through the ibotta app to try to find more to talk about. This is why I was thoroughly impressed with the overall process of getting the rebate deposited into my account.

The question is, “Was it worth my time?”

Spoiler Alert! Yes, it is very much worth the time. Here is why…

Who is ibotta (I bought a…)?

First, let us start off with a quick review who ibotta is.

Ibotta is a start up based in Denver, Colorado that specializes in giving you cash back for purchases you make at particular stores. In fact, they have over 300 stores to select from including Amazon, Uber, Target, Kroger, and so on.

Ibotta makes their money off of affiliate income from the stores they partner with. A consumer goes to a store to purchase an item and redeems the rebate within the ibotta app. That store then credits ibotta for pointing the consumer to them. Ibotta also makes some money off of the little tasks you have to complete before adding a rebate (more up next).

Here is how that works. A consumer goes to a store to purchase an item and redeems the rebate within the ibotta app. That store then credits ibotta for pointing the consumer to them. Ibotta also makes some money off of the little tasks you have to complete before adding a rebate (more up next).

Ibotta also makes some money off of the little tasks you have to complete before adding a rebate (more up next).

How does the app work?

Within the ibotta app, you will want to add rebates from your favorite stores. This is done in the ‘Find Rebates’ section and clicking on the plus symbol on items that interest you.

Every time you do add a rebate, you must complete a very short task. So far all I have seen are one question surveys. I am not sure if there are other tasks or not though I have heard there are videos they have you watch. So far these tasks have been really simple.

There are three different ways to get money back through the ibotta app. The first is by sending a receipt back to ibotta. Secondly, you can link a loyalty card from your favorite stores. Lastly, you can make mobile in-app purchases.

My favorites are the last two methods because they require essentially no work. We will walk through all three methods for this ibotta app review though.

ibotta-app-review

By Receipt

The process was fairly simple as it only consists of four major steps:

1. Find Rebates
Here you will want to hop into ibotta app to search for rebates. I like to go into the ‘Find Rebates’ section which allows me to see my favorite stores that I bookmarked. Once I selected a
store, I start searching for any rebate that applied to what I needed.
2. Go Shopping
After you get the rebates locked and loaded, it is time to go shopping! Don’t forget to head to the store before the rebate expires.
3. Redeem
Once you get back from the store it is time to hop back into the ibotta application. Here you will want to select the ‘Redeem’ button to take a picture of the receipt as well as the bar code of the
product you bought.
4. Get Cash
They promise you will get your rebate within 48 hours. Mine was dropped to me within an hour. I was really impressed at the speed!

Link a Loyalty Card

This is my favorite method to gain rebates through the ibotta app. Here you only have to link up a loyalty card to your favorite stores, for me, King Soopers.

Here is what you need to do to get it set up:

1. Link Loyalty Card
Link up your loyalty card from your favorite stores (that are in the ibotta network) to your ibotta account. You can either use your loyalty card number or phone number. How cool is that?!?!
2. Find Rebates
Just like in the ‘By Receipt’ method head over to the ibotta app to search for rebates. Add the rebates you want.
3. Go Shopping
Head to the store you linked up to, using your loyalty card or phone number during check out. Because ibotta can see that transaction through your loyalty card they will take care of the rest.
4. Get Cash
Within 48 hours you should see the rebate deposited into your account.

Mobile In-App Purchases

1. Find Rebates
Before heading to any of the shopping mobile apps that ibotta has partnered with, find the right rebate for what you need.
2. Launch App
Within the ibotta app, open up the shopping mobile app such as Amazon.
3. Go Shopping
Find the product you are looking for. Make sure it qualifies for the rebate!
4. Get Cash
Ibotta will confirm that the rebate is pending. Within 48 hours you should see the rebate deposited into your account.

Getting Your Cashback

When I first set out to start researching for this ibotta app review I thought to myself, “There is no way it is going to be this easy to get the rebate back.” I found from past experiences that most companies make you go through so many loop holes just to get paid.

To my surprise, receiving the rebate back was super-efficient. It was not 60 minutes later when I received my cash into my ibotta account.

There are many options to withdraw this cash to be able to use. They give you the option to deposit to your PayPal or Venmo account. There are also options to buy gift cards as well!

Sadly, there is one loop hole you have to jump through. There is a $20 minimum before you can withdraw your rebate cash.

But, Hey! This ibotta app review could not be all positive news!

I guess that is better compared to the $100 minimum the Stock Photography sites that I participate with have.

ibotta-app-review

Other Helpful Tips

When I first launched the ibotta app for this review, it prompts me to find favorite stores. Do not skip this step as I enjoy having my favorite stores easy to find at the top of the ‘Find Rebates’ section. On the ‘Featured’ page, this will also automatically pull to the top any featured item from your favorite stores making it easier to find more awesome stuff.

Secondly, there is a teamwork feature that allows you to link with friends through Facebook. This program allows you to earn cash quicker. I have not tried this feature yet but ibotta claims, “The bigger your team, the faster and easier it is to earn Teamwork Bonuses.”

Finally, check out the ‘Bonuses’ page under your ‘Account’ page. Here there are some more direct rebates from companies. You might find something special for you.

ibotta-app-review

My Final Thoughts

So, now that we have looked over all of the major elements, let’s take a final glance for this ibotta app review.

I really like the app and the concept it has brought to the shopping front. They really have nailed the process down to a science which provides a smooth experience. Because everything runs like a well-oiled machine, I do not see this company slowing down at all.

I am not totally sure that my shopping methods work well for ibotta or any couponing. My personal belief is that I do not need to go shopping just because I have a coupon. My wife and I make a menu for the up and coming week based on recipes we enjoy a lot. Then we see if there are any coupons for those recipes. Typically, there are not many.

Maybe we need to change our menu’s to revolve around the coupons instead.

How do you handle coupons? Have you tried Honey yet?

Ready to Sign Up?

Does this review have you excited to get signed up for ibotta? That’s awesome news!

Head over there now and sign up using our Affiliate Link. This helps us fund Wallet Squirrel so we can continue to bring more awesome reviews like this one.

More Ways to Make Money

Looking for more ways to make money for you and your family? Well, the search is over!

Head over to our Ways to Make Money page.

Here Andrew and I research, test out and review over the different way to make money. Check it out yourself!

AppMatch Review: A Test to Find the Perfect App for You

The team at AppMatch recently reached out to Wallet Squirrel to ask if we could do an AppMatch Review for the latest version of their app. At first, I laughed because I thought it was an app to tell you about other apps and it absolutely was. However, it was more like a StubleUpon for Apps, curating tons of apps to find those that fit your interests.

What is AppMatch

AppMatch is a site (only accessible on your smartphone’s web browser) that provides a 5-minute questionnaire, using your answers to filter apps, finding the absolute best apps for you. Think of a BuzzFeed Quiz, but for apps.

AppMatch hopes to solve the difficulty of navigating millions of apps on the app stores by getting to know you and recommending apps based on your responses to their curated questionnaire.

What Happened When I Tried AppMatch

I started my AppMatch Review by going to their website from my computer. It’s a simple website that has a large button “Click to Start”.

AppMatch Review - Desktop Homepage

After instinctively clicking “Click to Start”. I was quick to find a pop-up that asked me to visit their website through my mobile browser rather than my desktop. They don’t have an app, so you can only access the service through the mobile browser on your phone and don’t try to search the app store for one because you’ll only find dating apps like “Match”.

They don’t have an app, you can only access the service through the mobile browser on your phone.

Not for lack of trying. I later discovered this was because the App Store doesn’t allow apps that recommend other apps in the App Store, perhaps Apple doesn’t like the competition. AppMatch did submit an app, but it was rejected, like all discovery apps. That’s why there are no other apps like this out there right now. Luckily web browsers on phones nowadays are just as powerful as apps.

So I opened AppMatch.com on my phone.

AppMatch Review - Mobile Homepage

I Took Their App Personality Test

I couldn’t resist the large “Click to Start” button and was immediately thrown into their personality test. I have to admit it was super nice to start without having to sign up or give my email address. You just start.

You have to answer some “Introductions” questions first, there are maybe 7 Introduction Questions.

AppMatch Review - Introduction Questions

Once you answer their Introduction questions, you’re pulled into their “Quizzes” section where you select different quizzes based on your preferences. I assume this is like categories in the app store. From the screenshot below, you can guess “Lifestyle”, “Finances”, “Productivity” and I’m not sure about Paranoid Android. Maybe security?

AppMatch Review - Quizzes Menu

I selected “Finances can be fun….Sometimes” and took a couple of their other personality test to see what would happen and what apps it’d match me with. I don’t know maybe it’d match me with the Fluid App or a cashback app like Ebates.

Some questions made sense: The questions asked if I’m secure with my phone, my profession, and a happy person. I’m assuming this is trying to figure out if I like phone security and light-hearted apps that centered around my profession (Marketing). OK I get that

Some questions made no sense: “How is your relationship with your mother” & “Do you have deep rooted emotional issues”? I have absolutely no idea how this will affect what apps I prefer, but I continued. Maybe they threw in some questions to make sure you were paying attention?

I’ll admit the questions during the AppMatch Review were creative and they’re not afraid to cuss. I feel like these questions were curated by someone’s sassy best friend after a few glasses of wine. Check out the fourth response down.

I Finished The Test

In the end, it recommended to me some app called “Slice”. I instinctively thought, I’ve never heard of this, this is stupid. However, upon further review, I looked up Slice and it looks really cool. Especially since I just had an Amazon package lost in the mail (FYI – Slice tracks things you buy online). I could totally see myself using this.

What was on the AppMatch Review Pro List?

  • It’s a cool idea. They are solving the problem of millions of apps on the app stores by sorting them on your personality.
  • It’s really fun to take a few funky questions and see what apps pop up specifically recommended to you. It has the fun of a BuzzFeed quiz, but without all the ads in your face.

What was on the AppMatch Review Con List?

  • On my first attempt, the website did crash on me. They explicitly state that it’s in Beta. So I can understand a few hiccups. It’s a work in progress.
  • You can ONLY take their test on your phone, so when it recommends an app after the test, you can download it from your mobile device. I’d like to see a similar feature from their desktop website since it’ my primary web surfing device.
  • There are over 2 million apps on the app store, but not all of them are cataloged on AppMatch yet. AppMatch says they are regularly sifting through the App Store and tagging apps to be filtered by their personality test, but we have no idea how many apps they currently have cataloged. So we don’t know the diversity of their recommendations.
  • I retook the test and it told me it found ZERO matches. Does that mean I have no personality? How out of all the apps out there, there are ZERO that fit me? I think this is another of the hiccups of their BETA.

AppMatch Review - Zero Matches

How AppMatch Makes Money

To understand how a business is run you need to understand how they make money. From their website, it looks like AppMatch makes money from App Developers paying them to review their app for placement in the AppMatch ecosystem.

AppMatch has the audience of people taking their tests and App Developers will pay to be one of those apps recommended to us. Being in the AppMatch ecosystem doesn’t guarantee that the App Developer’s app will be suggested, only that it will be reviewed before the 2 million plus other apps in the App Store.

AppMatch Review Conclusion

I’ll admit it was a lot of fun (minus the small crash) testing this for the AppMatch Review. I love finding new productivity apps out there to help me do/be better. This was just another way to find those apps without scrolling through the app store, looking at description after description. I’ll admit, I was hoping for some more cool finance apps like Mint and Robinhood, but I’ll continue looking.

They still obviously have much work to be done, but I can see it as a fun solution of an overcrowded app store.

*Disclosure – I was paid for this review, even after telling them I would only give my honest opinion. 

Couponing at Its Best Using the Honey App

Couponing at Its Best Using the Honey App

Just a few months ago I stumbled upon an amazing extension for Google Chrome. This extension is called the Honey App. The Honey App sits in the background while you shop online to help you find coupons automatically. Essentially it is your own personal couponing assistant.

I must disclose right away, you will not be doing any extreme couponing with the Honey App. So you will not end up getting 728 tubes of toothpaste delivered to your front door that you only paid $1.94 for. Rather this application allows you to save some dollars that you would not know about otherwise.

Couponing with the Honey app is so simple. Video courtesy of Honey.

Setting Up the Honey App

As mentioned earlier, the Honey app helps online shoppers find coupons automatically. Honey only takes five minutes to sign up for and install.

To get started, head over to the Honey website.

In the top right hand corner of the page click on “Join Now”. Enter your email and a password. They also allow you to sign up using your Facebook account if you prefer that method.

Next, click on the giant orange “Get Honey For Free” button. This will install the Honey App extension for the browser you are using.

After that, you are done and ready to do the best couponing ever! Now you can head over to Amazon to get the best deal ever on that JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank that you have always wanted.

Using the Honey App

Really there is not much to say here. Once installed Honey does all of the work from there.

If I am on Amazon, you can see potential savings within each product page. Honey will tell you either you are getting the best deal or if you need to go to another Amazon seller for the best deal.

Bose

Showing how you could easily save $21.34 on some Bose Headphones on Amazon.

 

Bonus Points: The Honey app will also give you information about the price history of the product. This will allow you to see if you really are getting a good deal or not. Maybe the price of the product jumped up in the last month so you know to wait for it to drop again.

When shopping outside of Amazon, the Honey App will pop up during checkout in the right hand corner of the browser telling you that it has found some coupons. Click the “Apply Coupons” button to watch the magic start. Honey starts scanning through all of the coupons it found and tries to apply them. Once complete, Honey notifies you if any of them were a success or not.

Results

The results have varied for me. I really have not had much success outside of Amazon. Since the Honey app is fully integrated with Amazon, it works really well there. The application tells you what other sellers are offering better deals. This allows you to easily hop over to their product page to check out the deal. Just be careful, if you are a Prime member, make sure this other offer is eligible for that service or else you might end up spending more in shipping.

Honey found 9 coupons to save some money on these sweet Nike shoes.

Honey found 9 coupons to save some money on these sweet Nike shoes.

Outside of Amazon my success has been minimal. After scanning through the coupons that pop up, I find more often most of the coupons fail. This is because Honey scans through all of the couponing websites such as Retail Me Not. Most of the coupons are out of date from these site. I have mostly received free shipping but hey that is five or ten bucks in savings right there.

My Thoughts

I absolutely love Honey! It is truly passive. Typically I forget it is even running in the background until it pops up saying that I could save some money during check out. I personally only have experience with the Honey App within Chrome. According to their website it does work on most major browsers.

Browsers

The Honey App works on most major internet browsers.

 

For anyone that likes couponing, the Honey app is a must for your online shopping. For anyone who loves saving money this application is still a must for your online shopping.

Looking to make more money? Check out our list of Ways to Earn More Money. We continue to explore new ways to earn money. This list has ideas and links to other articles to the ideas we have tried.