Make Money with your Smart Phone – 3 quick, easy apps to put more dough in your holiday shopping!

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“It’s the holiday season! So whoop-de-do, and hickory dock…”

I always thought that was the strangest lyric in a Christmas song ever. Maybe whoop-de-do had a better connotation in the days of Andy Williams? Maybe it wasn’t as sarcastic as it is today… Who knows!?

Point of fact- Andy Williams was born in my wonderful state of Iowa. There’s some great trivia for you the next time someone wants some good Christmas trivia. Which happens all the time, I’m sure.

At any rate – IT’S THE HOLIDAY SEASON! And while I feel a lot more excited than I do whoop-de-do about Christmas time, it’s a strain on the budget, even when I’m taking it easy. I attribute it to my love language of gift giving – I’m a giving person. It’s hard to reign me in once the Christmas music starts playing in stores and I see wrapping paper and tinsel and bows…

Here are three apps I’ve used to make some extra spending cash this season, along with the pros and cons of each. Hopefully you can find these useful like I did and make a little something on the side!

Poshmark

Poshmark calls itself a fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion, and I do agree with it being simple. Fun? Well, I suppose if you find fun out of buying clothes on your phone, you won’t find this not-fun, so, sure!

Poshmark is a buying and selling marketplace for all things clothing & accessory related. Much of it is second hand clothes being sold by people like you and I – although it does appear that there are some retailers using it – or people that appear to be acting as retailers.

I have used it both to buy and sell items, and I do agree that they make the process rather simple. To buy, you simply find an item you’d like to buy using their easy to use search functions and can choose to purchase it. You can link it through your PayPal account for convenience, and you can even make offers on items if you don’t agree with the price the seller has listed. Sellers have ratings that you can read from other people that have bought from them. Once you receive a package, you have three days to accept it or reject it and send it back, using a shipping label provided to you by Poshmark. So you don’t need to worry about buyer’s remorse.

I’ve actually used this app more for selling, and somewhat successfully! To sell an item, you can simply take a picture of it using your smartphone. You can take up to four pictures and load them all on the item listing. Then you need to provide a description, including the color, size, type of item, and state it is in (brand new, hardly worn, in good condition…). Before the listing goes public, you can enter the price you’d like to list it at. The app automatically shows you what your earnings would be if it were to sell at that price. Yes – Poshmark does take some off the top. But with the calculation done for you, it is easy to set the selling price at one that will make you happy with the earnings. You can also go in later if your item isn’t selling and adjust the price.

When your item does sell, sending it to the buyer is easy as long as you have a shipping container lying around and a printer. Poshmark covers the shipping, and you can download a shipping label and print it out at home, tape it to the box, and just drop the box in your mailbox. Once the buyer has received and accepted the purchase, Poshmark will hold your funds either in a Poshmark account for you to use to buy from, or they can transfer them to your Paypal.

I have found this a great way to not only get rid of clothes I hardly wear, but to get money for items that I would have otherwise just sent to the Goodwill. And it’s a great way to save money on clothes if you’re willing to buy clothes from your phone. This is actually the app that I’ve had the best luck with, believe it or not!

PROS – Simple & quick to use, shipping to a buyer is simple, and it’s easy to see how to price your item for maximum earnings.

CONS – If you have your phone set to allow notifications (which I would recommend as I originally did not have notifications set and it took me two days to realize I had my first sale), you will get A LOT of notifications. There are “parties” that you can be invited to, which I imagine is a way to get your item seen by more people, and I get notifications for at least 10 of those a day.

Words of Advice – Before you list, take a look at similar items and their prices & descriptions to get an idea of how to price competitively and what sort of information to share in the listing.

Ibotta

 

Ibotta is an app that gives rebates for products you’ve bought. You need to have your smartphone to be able to not only scan the barcode of the item, but to take a picture of your receipt. There are many different categories of rebates, as well as categories of stores you can browse. To earn a rebate, you select the item that is shown for rebate and for some, have to watch a quick commercial video or answer a quick market research survey question. So there truly is no such thing as a free rebate…

You can cash out on your accumulated rebates in a few different ways. One way to cash out is to receive a gift card of your choice with the amount of your rebates credited onto it. There are many different stores/restaurants/etc. to choose your gift card from. Another way you can get your earnings is to have Ibotta deposit them in your PayPal account. However – the minimum amount of earnings required for this is $20, which doesn’t seem like much, but for me, took a long time to reach.

Of all of the apps, I have found the least luck with this app, but that is likely based off of my lifestyle. I heard about this originally from a blog I read that talks about couponing, and there is a lot of money to be earned if you combine an Ibotta rebate with a coupon. Additionally, it appears that at almost all times of the year, you will get a $5 bonus for your initial sign up with Ibotta, which is large compared to the size of the other rebates. However, if you’re not a coupon shopper, or a sale item grocery shopper, it may take you a long time to rack up enough rebates to cash out. The items that are available for rebate are rather random at times, and were not items I saw myself buying normally. I didn’t want to go out of my way to buy something for $4 that I wouldn’t have bought otherwise for a $0.25 rebate, so it took me almost 3 months of use alongside the $5 bonus to reach the $20.

If you are the type of person that doesn’t mind buying things that you wouldn’t otherwise to stock up on them and take advantage of the related savings, this is right up your alley.

The other thing that disappointed me about this service is their customer service and the policies that they don’t share with you until you’ve gone outside of them. To explain, I do a lot of my grocery shopping on my local grocery store’s website, and then I pick them up curbside the next day. This saves me a lot of time on the weekends where I already have so little time. It is truly a lifesaver for me. I had submitted many receipts through Ibotta this way with no problem; however, when I submitted my final receipt to reach that $20 threshold, my rebates from it were all declined because the receipt had printed on it, “DUPLICATE RECEIPT.” This happens often when I do the online with curbside pickup, I’m sure because one copy of the receipt is created when I do the online checkout, and the other is done when the person at the store puts my groceries together. At any rate, Ibotta told me – after waiting for my email to be replied to for 3 days – that the purpose of Ibotta is to get people into the store to see products, so they could not honor my rebates. Strange that they had every other time… I was frustrated, so I went to Target and bought a bottle of liquor to get the associated rebate and be able to cash out. Good deal, though, because now I have a batch of fresh vanilla extract brewing and $21.75 in my bank account.

PROS – Simple & easy to use

CONS – Policies that you aren’t aware of until after you’ve stepped outside of them, very random assortment of items up for rebate, long wait to be able to cash out your accumulated rebates

Words of Advice – combine this with coupons to increase savings or use this if you’re a stock-up grocery type of person, but if you are particular about what you buy or aren’t buying to store a surplus, the effort may not be worth the payout.

LETGO

Letgo reminds me of Craigslist in a way. It’s an app that lets you sell just about anything and ask for whatever price you’d like. You can load pictures taken with your smartphone and add your own description. What makes this different from other online secondary markets like Ebay is that it assumes you are listing locally, or that if you are looking outside of your geographical area, you’re going to figure out how to transport the item. It seems to be geared toward local buying/selling. So the items that will pop up in your listings if you are browsing are those that are close to where you are located.

The interface when it comes to listing is very easy to use and understand. I haven’t purchased anything from this app, or even browsed, so I can’t speak to how that works. But I have sold a few items from this and do think it’s a simple way to make some cash if you have something that might be worth value to anyone else. It works very similarly to the new Facebook Marketplace (before I got rid of my facebook account, that is.)

It does seem to be harder to sell items on this app than it does for me on other apps, but I don’t know if that is attributed to the types of items I am selling, or just that people are inundated with other ways to buy things. But, if you have something worth money that you’d like to part with, it’s much quicker to list with LETGO than it is on Craigslist or other types of services. There is a messaging area where you can speak back and forth with the buyer/seller without giving away any personal information like phone number or email. There are also verified sellers, but I don’t really know what it takes to be verified. It must be pretty cool, though. It is also easy to discount previous listings if they don’t appear to be selling quickly enough for you.

PROS – really quick & easy to get an item listed.

CONS – can take a long time for things to sell, if at all.

Words of Advice – as with any transaction where you are meeting a person that you don’t know, use caution & common sense! Only have a person to your house if you don’t have another alternative, and meet them outside. I would only advise having a person to your house if you have another person there to intimidate them ;).  Always have a 2nd person with you for added safety whenever you can. Only accept cash. Many Police Stations have places now at the station dedicated to these types of transactions for safety – if this does not exist in your area, consider meeting at another location that is well traveled and only in daylight. I’m a big fan of meeting at places like gas stations or grocery stores – places where there is always likely to be someone walking around that could aid if anything bad were to happen. That said – I’ve had many transactions that have all been 100% safe and legitimate by following these steps, so don’t be intimidated to give it a try.

I’d love to hear about your experience with these apps, or with any other similar apps that you’ve used and had success (or failure) with. Share with me in the comments section!

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