Haven't we all been there: an unexpected bill comes up and you're a little short on cash. In a tough economy where cereal boxes are shrinking to doll-house sizes, it seems that everything costs more and it's harder to save --- let alone save up a nice and tidy sum in an emergency fund that virtually every financial guru says is a 'must have'. When it's hard to pull cash out of your paycheck to save, it's time to think outside the box and turn your eyes to points/rewards sites to provide cash for that emergency fund you thought was impossible. Here's a run down of some sites to use to help you build your cash reserves.
Discover Card, or really any credit card that offers a cash back reward bonus
Make those purchases pay off by taking your cash back bonus back as cash. Discover Card allows you to redeem your cash back bonus in $50 increments and have it direct deposited to your bank account within about 72 hours. This is a great way to bump up your savings because they offer many programs that increase the amount of cash back bonus you earn. For instance, they have a program now that allows you to earn extra cash back for having certain utility bills paid via credit card (such as satellite dish, cable, and certain telephones). Easy cash for just a few moments of your time. Check your credit card company for ways you can take your bonus back as cash, which you can use to help keep your emergency fund flush.
Cash Back sites like Ebates
Do you shop online? Make sure you're shopping at sites that pay you back for shopping. Ebates will send you a check once you meet the payout threshold (every three months, once you meet the $5.01 threshold). Be sure to treat your Ebates check like found money and deposit it into the account where you're keeping your emergency funds. You can even have it sent to your PayPal account. Join today and refer your friends, as they do have incentives for having your friends sign up under your referral link.
Points sites like Swag Bucks, SuperPoints, and more
Get paid for online activities such as searching the web, watching videos, printing and redeeming coupons, and more.
Redeem your Swag Bucks for PayPal cash that you can use to build your emergency fund. Currently, $5 in PayPal will cost you 700 Swag Bucks and a $10 PayPal redemption is slightly cheaper at 1,335 Swag Bucks. Refer your friends and let them help you earn your way to a nice nest egg. The best ways to earn Swag Bucks are online searches, Swag Codes, watching videos, and doing offers. Keep an eye on their social media pages for codes and contests.
Spinning that Lucky Button and watching videos will earn you rewards such as PayPal, as well as other gift cards. The key to success at SuperPoints is to refer your friends. Once you have a few friends as referrals, the redemption threshold drops and you can redeem faster and in smaller amounts. Referring friends will earn you a referral bonus on top of matching points for any SuperPoints they win spinning the lucky button once they complete their basic profile. Worst case scenario, you'll need 2,500 SuperPoints to redeem for a $25 PayPal prize. Referring two friends who achieve basic membership (that is, completing their profile) or above drops the redemption threshold to 1,000 points, or a $10 PayPal prize once you have accrued enough points to redeem. Spinning the wheel is easy to do while you're surfing or you can even let your kids do it and is an easy way to earn money online that you can use for your emergency fund.
Cash your points in for PayPal at Zoombucks where 650 Zoombucks = $5 PayPal. How I earn ZB at Zoombucks is by searching, watching videos, completing offers, and visiting Zdaily to win points. It takes just a few minutes per day and though the points build slower for me than other sites, I still am able to redeem every few months at least. The main thing is to be consistent and to visit the site daily to get all the Zoombucks that you can, particularly since you typically get about 5ZB from Zdaily at least once per day. Referring friends is also a way to earn extra, though the matching isn't as good as other sites (you receive approx. 10%)
If you're a blogger, or just social in general, check out SocialMoms.com. You earn points for participating in blogging opportunities, commenting on posts, tweeting out links, and even submitting articles (which pay if accepted). These points can translate into PayPal, which is roughly at 4,000 points for $20 in PayPal. If you have a knack for writing, this could be an easy way for you to earn cash for your emergency fund in your spare time.
Do you have some airline miles or hotel points that you'll never use or would prefer to have cash? Points.com can help you trade them in for cold, hard cash by allowing you to redeem your unwanted points/miles for PayPal.
Do you have a point site to add to the list? Let me know in a comment! It can seem daunting to think about establishing an emergency fund when you are already pinching your pennies, but any savings is better than no savings when those unexpected bills (for me, it's usually the vet!) come in.