Carson Kohler - The Penny Hoarder

Fact: More than 80% of Americans admit to wasting money.

And much of that money, they say, comes in the form of food and drink.

Nearly 70% of people said they spent too much on going out to eat, according to the 2,000 folks who responded to Hloom’s recent “The United States of Financial Waste” survey.

Additionally, more than 25% of respondents admitted to wasting money on alcohol. (Here’s how to get paid to buy it, instead.)

The good news is these respondents said, yes, they’d be willing to cut back on this spending.

The bad news is that temptations are difficult to curve. They’re not traditional restaurant discounts or coupons, but here are some easy ways to earn money back each time you eat (or drink) out.

It’s basically getting paid to eat at restaurants.

1. Never, Ever Throw Your Receipt Away

We’ve earned hundreds of dollars back on groceries thanks to Ibotta.

But, what many consumers don’t realize, is the free cash-back app also offers cash-back rewards for restaurants and bars.

If you haven’t already, download the app, tap “Find Rebates,” then scroll down to the “Restaurants & Bars” category. There, you’ll find nearby deals, including 10% cash back at Krispy Kreme and Buffalo Wild Wings.

The best part is you can find cash-back opportunities for any restaurant or any bar.

For example, order a Shock Top and any food item from anywhere your heart desires and score $2 cash back.

Plus, Ibotta will give you a $10 welcome bonus just for signing up.

See what’s available in your area.

2. Show Your Server a Barcode

Rather than planning your meal around coupons and rebates, here’s a cash-back opportunity you don’t have to think about until after dessert.

When your server brings you the bill, whip out your phone and open the Subtotal app.

Peruse its list of over 70 restaurants, find the one you’re dining at, and enter the bill’s total. Add a tip (no math required), and pay through the app.

The Subtotal app then generates a barcode that you show your server. It works similarly to a gift card

By using the free app, you can score up to 10% cash back, which automatically pops into your credit or debit card account within a week.

Some of our favorite restaurants in the app include 8.1% cash back at Applebee’s, 5.25% cash back at BJs Restaurants and 7.5% cash back at California Pizza Kitchen. There’s also 8.1% cash back at Krispy Kreme and 6.75% back at Papa John’s.

Check out the full list of eateries, and download the app for free here (iOS/Android).

3. Pay With a Cash-Back Card

Something like 1% back on a meal might not seem like much, but it can add up quickly, especially if you’re feeding a family.

If you’re eating out, you might as well use a rewards credit card to get something back from your meal.

One of our favorites is the Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®. Not only does its name sound super fancy, you’ll accumulate 1.5% cash back on any and every purchase you make.

For example, if you spend $250 a month when you eat out, you’ll bank $45 back at the end of the year. Plus, if you (responsibly) spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening your account, you can snag a $200 bonus. Just make sure to pay it off in full each month to avoid interest.

Take a look at all the fine print, and see if it might be a good fit for you.

Bonus: Here are a few more reward opportunities.

4. Get Cash Back on Restaurant Gift Cards

You may already know that Swagbucks can help you earn SBs by taking surveys or watching videos online. Well, now you can earn more SBs by purchasing gift cards through the site.

Stick with us. It’s pretty easy.

First, buy a gift card from MyGiftCardsPlus through Swagbucks. Search for your favorite restaurant and buy the gift card. Swagbucks will give you cash back on the purchase.

Some of our favorites include Chipotle, Panera, Chili’s, IHOP, The Cheesecake Factory, Krispy Kreme, Domino's and Papa Johns.

Then go eat. You’ll earn SBs from the gift card purchase you can use toward future gift cards.

Plus, if you sign up now, you can get a $5 bonus when you make your first purchase.

5. Stack Those Deals

Each of these methods can earn you some money back on your meals. But true Penny Hoarders stack ’em up for ultimate savings.

For example, try deal-stacking some of these offers — like paying through Subtotal with a cash-back card. You’ll earn points back on both platforms. Then, scan your receipt through Ibotta for even more cash back.

Exercise some creativity with your restaurant discounts and see how close to free your meal can be!

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which The Penny Hoarder receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). We do not feature all available credit card offers or all credit card issuers.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Tweet at her and tell her your favorite way to earn cash back when you dine out (because she goes out to eat a little too often.)

In 2007, the No. 1 song was Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable.”

Obama hadn’t yet moved into the White House, and Bob Barker retired from “The Price is Right.” Apple released the first iPhone, and the final Harry Potter book was published.

And the financial crisis was ramping up.

That was 10 years ago, and today’s market is soaring high. But investors are still reeling — especially millennials.

This Study Says Millennials Aren’t Investing Because of This

More than half of millennials (57%) say they’re “strongly influenced” by the financial crisis of 2007-2008 when it comes to their investing decisions, according to a recent Legg Mason investor survey.

In turn, 52% of millennials reported being “strongly conservative” when it comes to risk.

Comparatively, of all the 15,300 investors surveyed, 36% considered themselves strongly conservative.

The survey notes other factors for not investing, like student loans, but it concludes that the biggest issue is the memory of this financial crisis.

“Given the scale of economic carnage that many young investors witnessed firsthand in their own lives and those of their families — and the degree to which attitudes are shaped in late adolescence and early adulthood — this isn’t entirely surprising,” the study acknowledges.

It also warns the dangers of being conservative so young.

“Shrinking from risk early on in adulthood could mean sacrificing the immense potential for long-term gains, compounded over time,” it states.

This isn’t new information.

Investing is your friend,” writes Vicki Zhou, co-founder and co-CEO of WiseBanyan. “The sooner you start, the more money you have the potential to earn, the closer you are to financial freedom.”

Don’t believe it? If you save just $25 a week, you’ll potentially be able to retire comfortably at 65.

How to Start Investing Today -- Painlessly and Safely

There are not-so-scary ways to start investing, ones that don’t require following the stock market or hiring an investment adviser.

You can start small, for instance, using these two apps.

1. Start Investing With $5 When You Use Stash

Until last year, Penny Hoarder (and millennial) Jamie Cattanach didn’t know anything about investing — except that she should be doing it.

To alleviate some of her anxiety, she started out simple with an app called Stash. You only need $5 to get started. (Plus, you can snag a $5 bonus when you sign up.)

Cattanach loved that Stash walked her through the investing process and defined terms in an easy-to-understand manner (err, easier than your economics book did).

She set up her account to tuck away $5 into it each week. Then, Stash takes care of the rest, investing your money into groups of small stocks, based on your beliefs and values.

It’s an easy, mindless way to automate investments. And, if your account is under $5,000, it only charges $1 a month — which is a lot cheaper than hiring an investment advisor.

Go ahead and invest $5 to get that free $5.

2. Dump Your Change into Investments With Acorns

Another easy-to-use investing app we love is Acorns.

This one works a little differently than Stash in that it rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and dumps the change into your investment account. Ideally, you won’t miss those few cents.

Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar tried out the app, and she put aside an average of $35 each month.

Without thinking about it, she’s saving about $420 a year.

Acorns invests her money, so with the settings she chose, she’s expected to gain more than $1,100 over 10 years, which will leave her with a balance of more than $5,300 — a nice little surprise nest egg for doing nothing at all!

If your account is below, $5,000 the service is only $1 a month plus 0.5%.

When you sign up make your first investment today, Acorns will give you $10.

If you can’t decide which app you want to use, we wrote a comparison guide here. Or you can use both.

Do note these aren’t serious investing strategies. These are just simple, non-intimidating ways to ease into investing without feeling totally overwhelmed or like your money might disappear at any second.

Disclosure: A toast to savings! Thanks for allowing us to place affiliate links in this post.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s also slightly terrified of investing, but she feels better now understanding that fear and knowing she’s not alone.

For a lot of people, working from home signifies a steadier work-life balance.

Which can be true — if you find the right job (and know how to stay sane).

NexRep, a home agent contract center, offers a number of flexible work-from-home opportunities. Yup. Like the set-your-own-hours type of gigs.

Right now, the company is recruiting independent contractors for three different companies.

However, do note the state restrictions. You can live anywhere in the U.S. — except Arkansas, California, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington. (Here are some reasons why.)

Before you waste too much time, go ahead and fill out this short form to see if you qualify for any of these work-from-home jobs. From there, you can peruse the job listings.

Now, here’s what’s up for grabs.

1. Grubhub is Ordering Weekend Work-From-Home Reps

If know you a thing or two about how to not leave your couch, you’ve likely heard of Grubhub.

Download the app, and it’ll find food for you and deliver it to your door. It partners with more than 50,000 restaurants across the U.S. and London.

Right now, the company needs weekend warriors to deliver food.

As an independent contractor, you’ll take orders from hungry customers, enter data and document issues.

You’ll need to work at least 20 hours a week sometime between Friday and Tuesday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. EST. (You pick!) There’s no cap on the amount of hours you log, though you won’t be paid overtime.

Pay starts at $10 to $11 an hour.

However, you will need to pay for a $25 background check and complete a 30-hour certification before you earn your first paycheck.

Interested in setting up shop on your couch and making extra money on the weekends? Check to see if you could qualify here.

2. Vroom Needs Customer Care Agents

I mentioned Vroom in an article about buying used cars. It’s an online car-buying platform. (Yeah, you can do anything online these days.)

But the company’s customer care agents don’t need to be car experts to snag a job.

Vroom simply needs people who can answer customer questions and offer warranty and delivery details.

Shifts will be part time — though you must work at least 25 hours a week — and range between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., seven days a week.

Pay starts at $10 an hour. For more details, check out the job listing. Then apply right online.

3. Priceline is Seeking Customer Support Agents

NexRep is looking for about 75 to 80 customer support agents to help out Priceline, one of the country’s largest travel sites.

You’ll answer incoming calls from customers and assist these folks with questions about lodging and transportation.

The job isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. Think: Multitasking between several applications, researching solutions, speaking with customers, adjusting agendas…

However, don’t fret. You’ll have an opportunity to learn the ropes during the certification process.

The gig is open seven days a week from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. EST, and NexRep asks that you work at least 10 weekend hours (five hours on both Saturday and Sunday).

In total, you’ll need to work 25 hours a week. But it’s all on your schedule.

And you’re welcome to work more, as long as you schedule hours within Priceline’s hours of operation (1 p.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week).

Pay starts at $10 an hour.

If you’re interested in working for Priceline, go ahead and check out all the required qualifications, and fill out the job application here.

All these applications are rolling, so these work-from-home jobs remain open as long as NexRep needs more agents.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She loves working from home, except her cat’s favorite hobby is to sit on her keyboard in front of the computer screen.

Amazon Prime is a lifesaver.

No, I can’t tell you an inspirational story about how it delivers diapers to my door or gives me access to thousands of books that I read nonstop.

I mean it could. But my favorite part of Prime is the free two-hour, same-day and two-day shipping options.

Because when I impulsively order something online, I want it now.

I also get access to video streaming (I binged “Good Girls Revolt”), millions of songs and thousands of books. It also offers free unlimited photo storage, which is convenient when my phone constantly says I’m out of space. I also get early-bird access to the “Lightning Deals.”

If you don’t have Prime and are an avid Amazon shopper, you’re missing out on tons of savings. However, you’ll have to pay a membership fee.

If you’re too thrifty to indulge in a Prime membership, or have been waiting for an excuse, here you go: You can get $20 back when you sign up for Amazon Prime through Ibotta.

How to Get a $20 Amazon Prime Discount

On any given day, you can snag a free, 30-day trial to Prime. After that, it’ll cost you $10.99 a month — or you can opt to pay $99 for the year.

But when you sign up for Prime through Ibotta, our go-to cash-back app, you’ll score a $20 Amazon gift card.

That knocks your yearly price down to $79. Or you can get (almost) two months for free.

Use that $20 to stock up on a pack of 252 diapers, nab a pair of our favorite headphones or score some essential oils.

Signing up for Ibotta is easy. Plus, click here and you’ll get a $10 welcome bonus.

In addition to the $20 off Prime deal, Ibotta also just launched a slew of Amazon shopping rebates.

Once you’re in Ibotta, you’ll navigate to “Find Rebates” then select mobile shopping. There, you’ll see all the Amazon rebates, including:

  • 5% cash back on home services
  • 3% cash back on home, kitchen and garden items
  • 3% cash back on fashion
  • 3% cash back on pet supplies
  • 3% cash back on luggage
  • 3% cash back on devices, including Kindles, Fire Tablets and Fire TV.

You’ll just need to launch Ibotta and shop through the app to score these rebates.

Bonus: Once you redeem one mobile shopping rebate (anything on Amazon), you’ll get a $2 bonus. That offer ends July 6, 2017.

So, really, if you sign up for Ibotta and purchase a Prime membership, you can bank up to $32!

Disclosure: Here’s a toast to the affiliate links in this post. May we all be just a little richer today.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s kind of ticked she already has a Prime membership because she’d love to score $32 in Ibotta rebates. And increase her saving rankings amongst her co-workers…

Here’s what I feel like when I check my bank account and realize it’s payday:

Not only am I excited to see my inflated balance, I’m also excited for a fresh start -- to finally get my assets organized.

Then, suddenly, all those goals and plans dissipate, and the immediate gratification of ordering products on Amazon Prime and Zappos takes over.

But this time I’m going to do it.

I’m going to do smart things with my money.

Let me tell you exactly what I have planned -- for my own financial health, and your inspiration.

1. Open a high-yield checking account.

Right now, all of my paychecks funnel into my one and only checking account, which is very, very dangerous. (See above: Amazon and Zappos)

It also doesn’t embody the whole “make your money work for you” mantra because I’m not earning any interest -- not even 0.01%.

I’ve been meaning to follow in the steps of my cohort, Dana Sitar, who redirects a portion of her paycheck to her Aspiration Summit Checking Account.

But what about a savings account?, you ask. Well, here’s why Sitar prefers Aspiration:

  • It’s online only, so she doesn’t have to leave her apartment to handle her finances.
  • It offers 1% APY on a balance of $2,500 or more. If her balance is less, it offers 0.25% APY. In context, the average savings account has a 0.06% interest rate.
  • It’s free.
  • There are no ATM fees.
  • Also, 10% of the company’s revenue goes to charity, so that makes her feel like a good person.

I plan to open an account with Aspiration and set up automatic transfers for every two weeks (payday).

2. Start investing.

I’ve been meaning to invest, but sometimes I get overwhelmed.

So I just stall.

However, there are apps out there that make it super easy, like Stash.

All I’d have to do is click download and set up automatic transfers. Each payday, a set amount would sneak away from my account and into an investment. Even only $5 would help plan for my future.

You don’t have to know anything about investing, either. You can invest in causes you care about, like “Clean Energy.”

Also, if I sign up now, I can snag a $5 bonus, which will help me get started on this whole investing endeavor.

3. Maintain (and improve) my credit score by paying off my credit card.

One thing I already do but keep on my to-do checklist so I always remember?

Keep tabs on my credit score.

These days I only use my credit card to make purchases so I can earn points, which in turn pay for my flights.

But lately my credit card spending has been gnarly. Still, one of the first things I do at the beginning of each month is pay that sucker off. (Probably because I’m a millennial.)

It stings to see those hard-earned dollars disappear so quickly, but the last thing I want is credit card debt -- and to ruin my young credit score.

I use a free service called Credit Sesame to monitor that super important, three-digit number. The best part is I get email notifications when my score fluctuates, which holds me accountable.

It also gives me personalized recommendations on how to increase my score, so even if credit card debt isn’t your thing, it’ll point out your other weaknesses. Then hopefully you can put that paycheck to good use.

4. Keep tabs on my spending habits.

Each time I get paid, I feel a little more confident about my financial situation, so naturally I tend to splurge -- even on routine trips to the grocery store.

Oh, this cheese looks nice… of course it is because it’s $9. High time to try it with all the money I just earned…

No. No. No. I don’t need $9 cheese because the cheaper stuff tastes just fine, too.

To keep tabs on my spending habits, I just downloaded the Clarity Money app, so I’m going to start using it to hold myself more accountable.

It shows me my spending percentages, so I can see I’ve already spent way too much money in the shopping category this month. And food is up there, too, with a recent hefty Publix charge. (Cheese, probably.)

By simply analyzing and keeping tabs on my spending habits with Clarity Money, I’m reminded of my larger financial goals.

5. Use every darn rebate app.

In order to wring the most out of every paycheck, I need to start using rebate apps, so I can actually earn some money back on those essential purchases.

Again, I’ve been meaning to do this…

Here are a few I’ve had my eye on:

  • Ebates: This platform has everything -- from rebates to deals to promo codes to discounts. It’s always worth checking before venturing out (or online) for a shopping trip.
  • Ibotta: This gem helps save big on groceries. All I’d have to do is scan my receipt after shopping. (We’ve got 11 more grocery-savings ideas here.)
  • Paribus: This tool is too easy not to use. Paribus basically scans your emails for online-shopping receipts. If the price decreases during the return period, it reimburses you. It also checks the tracking info for your online orders. If something shows up late, Paribus will help you get money back for what you paid for shipping -- up to a full shipping refund.
  • MyPoints: Shopping through the online MyPoints portal earns you points with each purchase, which go toward gift cards.

Yes, I have big plans next payday. I always do, but I plan to execute this time around -- and finally get my finances in order.

Plus, these are too easy, so why not?

Your Turn: Do you have big money goals, too? Share ’em with me to keep us accountable after next payday.

Disclosure: Clink! Clink! Clink! That’s the sound of pennies hitting our piggy bank, thanks to the affiliate links in this post. It’s a better savings plan than stopping traffic to pick up loose change -- and safer, too!

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Sites that pay you to take surveys, play games, watch videos or search the web are appealing, no?

You’re mindlessly making money — or at least more mindlessly than your 9-to-5 gig.

But finding legitimate reward sites might seem near impossible. You’re either plagued with pop-up ads, bombarded with emails or, even worse, scammed.

That’s why we test all the sites we write about. So I signed up for InboxDollars, an online rewards club.

The site claims you’ll earn cash — not points — for taking surveys, playing games, watching videos or searching the web.

But do you really? Here’s what my experience was like.

How to Sign Up for InboxDollars

Signing up was easy, which is always promising.

I clicked over to the page that claimed I’d get a free $5 sign-up bonus. Sweet.

I entered my email, created a password and confirmed my account via email. Then I started answering questions (because nothing in life is free). I answered quite a few questions — about my race, income, degree, marital status, kids (or not), even my medical history.

The types of questions seemed on par with every other survey site I’ve visited. And although there was a generous number of questions, the survey itself breezed by quickly. Then I watched some introductory tutorials — none of which lasted more than a minute or two.

That was it; I earned my first $5.

I got distracted a few times, but I suspect the process didn’t take more than about 15 minutes.

How to Start Earning Cash With InboxDollars

Once you bank your initial $5, you can start earning cash.

Keep in mind you need to earn at least $30 to cash out. Users have reported that InboxDollars will waive a $3 transaction fee if you wait to cash out at $40.

Here are some ways to stack up that $40.

Make Money Taking Surveys

Navigate over to the “Surveys” tab at the top of the webpage.

There, you’ll find your notification dashboard, which aggregates surveys you might qualify for (based on those answers you gave when you signed up).

Each survey lists the estimated completion time, as well as how much you can earn and the topic at hand.

Many of the offers I’ve seen offer something like 50 cents for a 26-minute survey. Or 25 cents for a 9-minute survey. I saw a couple that offered up to $4.50.

You’ll also earn “spins,” which you can use on the “Billy’s Spin & Win” game. You’ll find your number of spins at the top of the “Surveys” page.

I had somehow accumulated 18, so I spun and won some “sweeps” (more on that later), cents and survey tokens, which banked me an extra 25 cents after I finished my subsequent survey.

Also, if for some reason you’re caught BSing the answers and clicking through these surveys mindlessly, it’ll affect which surveys you qualify for in the future. That’s what InboxDollars says, at least. I’m not sure how it knows.

Make Money Watching TV and Videos

Watching TV and watching videos are two separate categories on InboxDollars, but they offer essentially the same thing: cents for views.

The TV shows and videos are just segments from random channels you probably haven’t heard of. I watched something about football on “The Fumble.” My co-worker also caught me watching a video about how to make maple-glazed butternut squash. Yum.

For each video, you’ll earn a cent or two. More often than not, a scratch-off card will pop up at the end. This is a fun tool the InboxDollars team is testing out.

You’ll click and hold down your mouse to scratch off the card. If three of the six results match, that’s what you get. I’ve earned anywhere from nada to 5 cents. There’s also a $10 result — but I haven’t scored that yet. I typically win a cent

Each show I’ve watched thus far has been less than 2 minutes, and I found that earning money this way was more mindless (and more fun) than taking the surveys.

Make Money Surfing the Web

This is another super easy way to add some cents to your cash count.

For any four random searches you make through the InboxDollars search engine, you’ll earn 1 cent and three sweeps.

What’s a sweep, you’ve been wondering? It’s short for sweepstakes.

Each sweep represents an entry, like a raffle. (You’ll see how many sweeps you have next to the ticket-stub icon on your dashboard.) You can enter your sweeps into contests to win more sweeps or cash.

I entered all of mine in to win $25 in cash. (For that one, it was 20 sweeps for one entry.)

Fingers crossed.

Other Ways to Make Money With InboxDollars

You can also earn points by playing games, shopping, reading emails and signing up for products or services.

For example, if you sign up for the Fabletics VIP membership, you can bank a $20 reward. You can also join VIP Voice to earn $1.75, or opt in for free samples of socks for 25 cents. Been meaning to sign up for that Target REDcard? Get $3 if you do it through InboxDollars.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on InboxDollars’ social media channels.

There, it posts WinIt codes. Copy and paste the code into the WinIt box. (Click the “My Stuff” tab, then WinIt.) You can win a number of items. I scored eight sweeps, which I then put toward more rewards.

My Final Review: The Pros and Cons of InboxDollars

Overall, InboxDollars is super easy to navigate. I’ve tried other paid survey sites and just end up overwhelmed.

It also does a nice job of breaking down the offers by categories. And you’ll always see the amount of money you’ve earned at the top your window, which is exhilarating… in its own Penny-Hoarding way.

Which leads to another point: I love that the site rewards you in dollars — not points. On similar sites, it always looks like you’ve racked up so many points. But when you cash out, you get, say, a $10 Amazon card. Here, you know exactly what you’re getting.

You’ve probably figured out by now, though, this isn’t going to bring you big bucks.

I’ve played with the site for about 24 hours now, and I’ve earned $7.63, which includes the $5 sign-up bonus. InboxDollars does say it’s dealt out more than $50 million to its users, as of last year.

You also have to earn at least $30 to cash out, so at the rate I’m moving, it’s going to take a while. However, I could sign up for offers — like VIP Fabletics or those free socks — to hit that threshold more quickly.

I mentioned at the beginning that InboxDollars doesn’t plague your inbox either. And it really doesn’t — if you know what you’re doing.

When you sign up, you’ll opt in for three “PaidMail” opportunities a day, which pop in your inbox. These can bank you a few cents just for opening. But you can also get these sent to your InboxDollars inbox, so I opted out and just view them from there.

On the surveys side, I grew a bit frustrated.

I mentioned a 9-minute survey for 25 cents earlier. Well, I took that survey, and I know it took me way longer than nine minutes.

Also, just because a survey is suggested in your dashboard doesn’t mean you’ll qualify. I’d answer up to 10 questions before being told that I can’t take it.

However, I do think it says something that the site entertained me. I even found myself growing a bit addicted, feeling like I was checking in on my Neopet or something. I kept checking for new surveys, spinning Bob’s wheel and watching videos about how to prep sweet potato quiche — all of which actually earned me some money.

In conclusion, InboxDollars probably won’t supplement your income, but it’s a fun way to poke around the internet and waste some time. If you’re already doing that, you might as well earn some extra money… right?

If you want to give the site a try, sign up for that $5 bonus here.

Let me know what you think of InboxDollars. I’d love to chat with a pro to hear about all the moola you’ve made!

Disclosure: Clink! Clink! Clink! That’s the sound of pennies hitting our piggy bank, thanks to the affiliate links in this post. It’s a better savings plan than stopping traffic to pick up loose change -- and safer, too!

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After work, she plans to go home and learn how to make cupcakes… while earning a few cents. Thanks, InboxDollars!

Whenever I think of Priceline, I think of this guy:

It’s the Priceline Negotiator. The one with the frantic chorus that sings out behind him. “Priceline Negotiator!!!” (Yes, the exclamation points are necessary.)

Well, the Negotiator needs your help now.

Priceline, one of the country’s largest travel sites, is recruiting about 75 work-from-home customer support agents between now and the end of the year.

Priceline is Hiring Work-From-Home Customer Support Agents

Your job as a customer support agent is to answer incoming calls from Priceline customers. Chances are, you’ll assist these folks with changes to their lodging or transportation needs.

The job can be challenging. Think: Multitasking between several applications, researching solutions, speaking with customers, adjusting agendas…

However, don’t fret. You’ll have an opportunity to learn the ropes during the certification process.

Do You Meet Priceline’s Job Qualifications?

First, you’ll want to see if you meet the basic qualifications.

For that, fill out this quick application through NexRep (that’s the company who’s hiring for Priceline; they’re cool, we swear). It doesn’t take long, and no, it won’t spam your inbox.

In short, it basically spells out the requirements including:

  • You’ll need two monitors. But honestly, having two monitors is super nice. And you can snag one for something like $80 on Amazon.
  • You’ll need to have Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer.
  • You’ll need to be able to do basic internet searches and be familiar with Mac OS or Windows operating systems.
  • You’ll need to be able to type at least 35-40 WPM. (Check your WPM -- and practice -- with these free tools.)
  • You should have customer service experience. A call center background is a plus.
  • Major plus? Travel or hospitality industry work experience.
  • You should have some travel experience… as in you travel at least once a year and have used an online site to research and book your reservations. Maybe this is the perfect excuse to book your vacay now.

Priceline’s Hours of Operation and, Most Importantly, Pay

The gig is open seven days a week from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. EST, and NexRep asks that you work at least 10 weekend hours (five hours on both Saturday and Sunday).

In total, you’ll need to work 25 hours a week. But it’s all on your schedule.

And you’re welcome to work more, as long as you schedule hours within Priceline’s hours of operation (1 p.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week).

Pay starts at $10 an hour.

If you’re interested, go ahead and fill out the job application here. It’s pretty quick and painless, I have to say.

And if you’re not? We have plenty of other work-from-home opportunities on our Facebook jobs page.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s booking her vacation riiiiighhhhtttt now.

This time last year, I was interning at a magazine, churning out a 200-page graduate school project and looking for a job.

That last task was the most daunting one of all. And, between hours of scrolling through job sites and crafting cover letters, it unwittingly became a part-time job itself.

I even lost money in the process -- signing up for those promising premium job board accounts.

So, now that my full-time job is to write about jobs… I want to help you, job seekers.

I’ve compiled a list of online resources to help you find the perfect job -- whether you want to work in an office, start your own business or work from home.

Online Resources to Help You Find the Perfect Full-Time Office Job

This is what I was looking for -- a plain ole, full-time office job.

But there were so many factors working against me.

First of all, when I searched “writing” or “writer” on a generic job site, I got all kinds of crazy jobs popping up requiring “efficient written communication skills” -- or something of the sort.

Also, I had no geographic dreams in mind. I was happy to relocate.

If you’re running into just as many problems as I was, here are some resources that might help you along the way.

1. Find a job search site that caters to your needs.

Sometimes tapping into those big, all-consuming sites seems like the best route, but it might just trigger exhaustion and make you feel hopeless.

Rather than digging through 100 pages of generic listings, find a job site that caters specifically to your needs.

Take Après, for example: It’s a site that caters to women returning to the workforce and helps them secure full-time jobs.

Not only does Après curate a list of jobs from companies that pledge to hire women returning to the workforce, it also offers career coaches and a network.

“We are working tirelessly to help create professional opportunities for women who chose to temporarily focus on personal responsibilities and/or other priorities but are now ready to return to the workforce,” says co-founder Niccole Kroll.

If this sounds like your niche, you can join for free.

Other sites cater to specific demographics, too, including Military.com, Out and Equal, and Black Career Network.

2. Create -- and rely on -- a network.

I secured my job with The Penny Hoarder through my network.

LinkedIn was my best friend for a while. I pride myself on my 400+ professional connections. And the platform really is a great asset -- but sometimes you need more personalized connections.

That’s why I signed up for my soon-to-be alma mater’s emailing list. We call it the “Mizzou Mafia” at Missouri’s School of Journalism, and folks send job listings right to your inbox -- plus the connection. I got one from a guy who works at Buzzfeed, and he knew The Penny Hoarder’s executive editor.

I timidly reached out with a short introduction, my resume and some writing samples.

It worked. He passed my information along, and I was able to bypass the flooded inbox of others who’d applied for the job.

So find your own way to network and make personal connections. Sign up for email lists, visit your college’s career center (if you’re still there) and attend local recruiting events.

Online Resources to Help You Start the Perfect Freelance Business

Starting a business might sound daunting -- yeah, no, it definitely sounds daunting. But one of the best approaches is to start a work-from-home freelance business.

And no, this doesn’t have to be writing. There’s a real demand for other tasks such as transcribing, proofreading and bookkeeping.

I found some resources to get your creative, freelance juices flowing.

3. Read all the online advice you can.

When it comes to starting your own freelance business, it’s important to consider all the pros and cons and soak up the advice that’s out there. (Hint: There’s a lot of it!)

One such site is called I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Ramit Sethi started this site while he was a Stanford student. He kept seeing tons of expert financial advice (think: make a budget). But were people actually doing that?

So Sethi took a new approach. By twisting some psychology into his programs, he teaches people stuff they’ll actually do to make money -- including starting a freelance business. Plus, he’s a New York Times best-selling author.

He has a program titled “Make $1,000 in the time you’d spend watching Netflix this weekend.”

And one of my favorite pieces of advice -- which I’m going to take to heart -- is this:

“Most people try to reinvent the wheel when they’re starting a business. That’s a huge mistake. The world is a big place, trying to think of something that nobody else has thought of is almost impossible.”

Yes. Yes. Yes.

If you want more golden nuggets of advice, you can check out his free program.

There are so many other resources out there -- including our site. First-person stories are great inspiring motivators -- such as this one about a mom who makes $6,000 a month through her blog.

4. Consider taking a free class.

Not all of us majored in business or entrepreneurship.

But there are plenty of specialized classes out there to teach you a work-from-home trade and how to set up virtual shop.

I recently wrote about these three services: Transcribe Anywhere, Learn to be a Bookkeeper and Proofread Anywhere. Each of these online courses teaches you how to become a professional transcriber, bookkeeper and proofreader.

I spoke to three professionals who used the courses to jump-start their careers. Each former student mentioned the wealth of information each course offered about starting and maintaining an online business -- from creating a website to marketing your services.

Even if you have zero experience.

Online Resources to Help You Find the Perfect Work-From-Home Job

You could say this is The Penny Hoarder’s niche… *brushes invisible dirt off shoulder*

We love work-from-home jobs.

However, there’s a lot you need to know before wetting your toes -- which might remain tucked under your sheets all day if you actually end up working from home…

Here are some resources to get you started.

5. Use specialized job boards.

To be honest, I didn’t know work-from-home jobs were so prevalent when I was job-searching. But that’s probably because I wasn’t looking in the right places.

Job boards featuring work-from-home jobs are going to be your sanity-savers. Last year, I compiled a list of 12 sites that’ll help you land a work-from-home job.

In fact, we follow these sites closely to bring promising, legitimate jobs straight to you.

So go ahead and bookmark one or two or all of these sites because I really think you might be able to find the perfect job.

You can also follow companies that are known for hiring work-from-home employees. This list will be useful for that.

We also feature tons of work-from-home jobs each week on The Penny Hoarder Jobs Facebook page.

6. Start creating the perfect home office space.

I can already tell you, many of these work-from-home job listings are going to have a list of home office requirements.

No, you don’t need to stock up on every single piece of technological equipment right now, but you can go ahead and ready your space.

Plus, it’ll probably become your job-searching sanctuary.

If you’re like me and love drooling over photos of other people’s spaces, drown in the beauty that is Pinterest.

You can simply search “home office” for some eye-googling photos, but there are also niche boards out there, including Architectural Digest’s “Home Offices” board and Thrifty Home Decor’s “Home Offices” board.

And if you just don’t have the space -- or environment -- for a home office, you can look into co-working spaces. Here’s a guide about how to pick the perfect one.

Other important things…

Be sure to have your resume polished up -- and avoid any awkward mistakes.

Prep for your interviews. Here are 20 common questions and how to best answer them. Some people say, if you have the time, accept any interview -- that way you can practice.

In the end, I wish you the best of luck!

Your Turn: What’s your strategy for finding the perfect job?

Disclosure: You wouldn’t believe how much coffee The Penny Hoarder team goes through. This post contains affiliate links so we can keep the grinds stocked!

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

You’ve probably heard the term passive income.

It sounds appealing right? According to the definition of passive, it’d mean you’re earning income without participating or having to do anything at all.

Free money? Sign me up!

Unfortunately, that’s a common misconception. Just like you can’t pluck money from a tree, you can’t expect to earn passive income by being, well, totally passive.

However, it’s a viable way to make money, and offers you security and freedom.

If you’re interested in establishing a flow of passive income, here’s your guide to understanding the term and getting started.

What is Passive Income?

To gain the best understanding of passive income, I chatted with some passive income experts.

Todd Tresidder is a wealth coach and the founder of Financial Mentor. He’s a big proponent of passive income. In fact, he has several passive income streams set up.

Tresidder defines passive income as, most simply, “income that comes in without regard to your time.”

But -- and this is a big “but” -- it’s not mailbox money; it’s not money that just appears.

He also calls it “lagged income.”

“Often in passive income, you have to commit the time and energy up front,” he says. He describes it as a machine; you need to build the machinery before the machine can work without your assistance. The income is lagged.

Brad Hines is another big fan of passive income. He estimates about 10% to 15% of his income is passive. He first heard the term years ago and was immediately intrigued. However, he admits it’s been a longer and more difficult process than he thought (think: The time required up front).

He compares passive income to its counterpart, active income. That’s the money you’re actively working to make, like at your day job.

“When zero of your money is passive income, that inherently means every minute you’re not working, you’re not making money,” he says.

What’s the Importance of Passive Income?

“Freedom,” Tresidder says when I ask him this question.

“The reason you establish a passive income is because it’s not connected to your time, which gives you the freedom to do other things with your time,” he explains.

Because Tresidder has multiple channels of passive income, he uses his freedom to travel when his kids are on summer break. For example, last year the family took a two-month trip to Europe where they hiked Spain’s 500-mile Camino de Santiago.

“I’ve designed my life to be free and flexible,” he says.

So has Hines.

“The more you’re earning passively, the less you’re becoming a slave to money,” he says. “I can go where I want, when I want.”

Passive income is also important for the financial security it can offer. Although you might take a risk when first establishing it, if it proves to be a steady flow, it offers great security because it’s not connected to your time.

So, for example, if your spouse gets sick or if you can’t work, the idea is you’ll still be earning passive income to pay those never-ending bills.

“No matter who you are -- especially if you have debt or student loans or kids or whatever -- the more you can get your annual income switched to passive, the better off you are in the future,” Hines says.

How to Make Passive Income

Just like everyone else, passive income has various definitions. The one you’ll want to study is from the IRS, which has its own, very specific definition. Take a look at that before next tax season.

In the meantime, you can start small with these ideas then work your way up like Tresidder and Hines did. Think really big like starting a business or investing in real estate.

Really, the possibilities are endless, so don’t begin to consider this is a finite list – but here are some passive income ideas to get you started.

1. Make Money Off Your Extra Space

Got a room? A garage apartment? A tent? Establishing passive income in real estate doesn’t have to start with a huge investment.

You can list your space through Airbnb.

But that’s not totally passive, you’re thinking. You can establish a truly passive income by hiring a management company to handle the essentials: booking, cleaning and communicating with guests.

If you just want to handle that yourself, that’s something Hines calls hybrid passive income because you’ll have to do some regular work. However, it’s still considered passive because it’s not like you’re spending the whole weekend with your guests; therefore, time is not attached the your income.

2. Use Cash-Back Apps While Shopping

Just like the cash-back credit cards, remember that you have to actually be shopping and buying this stuff -- with zero regards to the rebates.

If that’s the case, this can be considered passive income, according to Hines.

While grocery shopping, you can use an app such as Ibotta. Peruse the cash-back deals: $5 on a case of beer, $1.75 on a half gallon of organic milk… If these are essentials that are already on your list, go ahead and reap that passive income.

3. Sell Your Photos (Nope, You Don’t Have to Be a Professional)

Those thought-out photos you take can get you more than just Instagram “likes.”

Hines uploads his iPhone photos to stock photography sites. He says many of them are trying to get away from the “perfect” photo and are looking for more realistic images. After a quick upload, he’ll get email notifications when someone purchases his work.

You likely won’t become a millionaire; sites like Foap pay about $5 per purchase. However, if you have a nicer camera, you can step up your game like Eliza Snow, who quit her corporate job to sell photos full time.

4. Create a Website

…like everyone else you know, right?

Hines says starting a profitable website can be difficult because the competition is fierce; you’ll have better luck breaking into a niche market.

The upside is that it costs little money to start one -- and there’s little risk. Your startup expenses might only include purchasing a hosting package. For a new blog, this is affordable through channels such as Bluehost, which offer packages starting at $2.95 a month when you sign up here.

To earn money through your site, learn about affiliate sales. For example, Hines has a site called Nerd Playthings. He lists about 45 toys and gadgets -- only a few of which he made, but mostly all linking back to Amazon via Amazon Affiliates. If a consumer clicks on a link and buys the product, he’ll bag some money.

To learn more about this, we have a whole guide on how to make money blogging.

5. Buy a Gumball Machine

Scratching your head yet? Hines actually used to make money from those gumball machines you see in restaurants; he’d get 80% of the profit.

You can also look into the same idea with vending machines. There will be some management you have to do, but, again, it’s one of those hybrid passive income sources.

Plus, it’d be kind of cool to say, “Fun fact: I own a gumball machine.”

6. Design Greeting Cards

We wrote about companies that’ll pay you to write greeting cards -- some up to $300.

We also included a bonus site at the end, one where you can design your own greeting card through a site like Card Gnome. It’s basically an Etsy for greeting cards. All you have to do is design the card and put it up for sell.

Each time someone buys your card, you’ll get 5% of the purchase. Once you hit $10, you’ll be able to cash out.

One and done.

7. Create an E-Course

One of Hines’ biggest pieces of advice was to “take whatever you’re doing as a day job, and teach what you know by creating an information product and get money from that.”

For example, this math teacher created an online course on programming, and he made $1 million in under a year.

Now, don’t go in setting your expectations that high, but with these tips and a solid platform like Udemy, you could start raking in passive income this year.

8. Sell Random Stuff on Sites Like Zazzle

By random, we mean… pretty random

Hines sent me a link to a coffee mug he designed and has for sale on Zazzle. It has a large picture of a Siamese cat’s face. He put it up for sale about a year ago and still receives royalties from it.

If you have art, designs or photos, you can publish them on any kind of product you can think of: invitations, T-shirts, mugs, pillows, phone cases… Then set your own royalty rate (that’s the percentage you’ll rake in from 5% to 99% ), and you’re done.

You won’t have an inventory to handle (no production, no shipping).

Find out more about selling on Zazzle, or look into other platforms, like Amazon.

9. Get Cash-Back with Credit Cards

You’re already shopping, right? A passive way to earn income is to sign up for credit cards that offer cash, or points, back.

We created a list of cash-back cards that offer sign-up bonuses -- and are free of fees.

It’s important to remember is that for this to truly be passive, you’re not spending money for the sake of earning points or cash back; you’re spending it like you normally do.

10. Teachers (or Not): Sell Lesson Plans

This idea is especially useful for teachers who are already frantically cranking out lesson plans. If you find one you’re really digging, put it up for sale on a platform like Teachers Pay Teachers. This helps other teachers across the world as well as gives you some income.

Hines isn’t a teacher, but he wrote up a lesson plan about nutrition a few years back. Because the content is evergreen, teachers are still buying it today. To date, he says he’s made about $1,000.

11. Stick an Ad on Your Car

Do you already drive a lot? If so, consider slapping an ad on the side of your car.

Our contributor Steve Gillman explored the method of income. For example, you could earn $100 a month from a platform like Carvertise with no upfront costs.

You’ll likely have to answer questions about your driving habits, and you’ll have a better chance of getting selected if you live in a bigger city and drive a lot.

If you drive for Uber or other ride-sharing services, this might be perfect for you.

12. Make YouTube Videos

Think you have something that might go viral? Or have expertise in something folks might be interested to learn? Make a YouTube video, and establish a passive income.

Contributor Steven Gillman has done just that. He’s monetized his YouTube videos with Google AdSense. For example, he shot ten videos about ultralight backpacking. No, they didn’t become huge hits, but he has made more than $1,000 over the years.

He outlines how you can start a YouTube channel.

13. Publish an E-book

If you have a way with words, or an intriguing life experience, you could write a book. But there’s no need to send it off to all the major publishing houses in New York City.

You can publish e-books through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Again, our contributor Steven Gillman did this (because what has he not done?!).

He wrote a book in a week. Note: E-books don’t have be hundreds of pages long. They can be as short as 6,000 words.

After publishing it on Amazon, he started making $350 a month. He outlines exactly how he did it and the best tips and tricks for you.

14. Rent Out Your Car -- or Other Stuff You Don’t Use Regularly

Got a car? A driveway? Some tools? Baby gear? Whatever it is you have, you can probably rent it out.

Just like renting out your space, this will require some maintenance and upkeep unless you go through a broker, but it can yield some solid passive income.

As mentioned, there are tons of ways to establish a passive income; these are just a few. Just be sure the offer is legitimate. Do your research, and remember that if it’s too good to be true… it probably is.

Disclosure: Here’s a toast to the affiliate links in this post. May we all be just a little richer today.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Two years ago, Kelli White submitted two online applications.

One was to become a flight attendant with United Airlines, and the other was to become a contestant on The Bachelor.

She had just moved back to her home state of South Carolina to be closer to her boyfriend. However, the relationship ended shortly after her move.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” White, then 24, remembers thinking.

She told herself whichever application was successful was her new path forward.

Within two weeks, she heard from United. They wanted an interview.

How This Twentysomething Became a Flight Attendant

[caption id="attachment_57201" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Flight attendant Kelli White, a new flight attendant for United Airlines, stands in a plane during a shift. Photos from travelwithkell/Instagram[/caption]

White earned a parks, recreation and tourism management degree from Clemson University. After graduating, she managed a clothing boutique in Louisiana. But other than a ton of customer service experience, she didn’t know much about flight attending.

“I’ve always been fascinated with planes and have loved flying,” White says. “It’s something I’d considered growing up, but I never considered it seriously.”

That is, until she found herself walking into her first day of flight-attendant training in Houston.

The five-week program ran six days a week. White describes it as 98% safety-based.

She remembers one day in particular when the group of trainees practiced evacuation procedures on a real plane in a hangar. They ran through three possible emergency scenarios more than 15 times. Each time, they slid down the emergency slides.

“Exhausting,” White says.

Ironically, she only had two days of “first-class service” training, “which is funny because when we started [our jobs] we felt comfortable evacuating the plane but not serving a drink,” White says.

At the end of training, she had a certificate and an official Federal Aviation Administration flight attendant license. A little over a week later, she boarded her first plane.

Living Life 39,000 Feet in the Air

[caption id="attachment_57203" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Flight attendant Kelli White has seen almost all 50 states and 18 different countries as a flight attendant for United Airlines. Photos from travelwithkell/Instagram[/caption]

Since becoming a full-time flight attendant for United, White has relocated to United’s base in the New York/New Jersey area. There, she rents an apartment with other flight attendants, though she’s only there about six nights a month.

The other 24 nights? She’s either in the air or sleeping in a hotel out of the state -- or the country.

She says she takes, on average, about two to three flights a day, depending on the flight time. If it’s an international trip, it’s just one flight. This equates to about eight- or nine-hour workdays, including layovers. Sometimes, workdays last up to 14 hours, she says.

White’s daily duties include checking in and briefing with the crew after she clocks in. Once on board, White performs safety checks and sets up the plane. She helps passengers board and runs through the pre-flight announcements and safety briefings. In the air, she serves drinks and snacks.

White says she’s not allowed to sleep in sight of passengers (on the plane or in the airport), so during layovers she keeps herself busy by eating meals, catching up with phone calls, watching Netflix or just walking around the terminal.

After her last flight of the day, she catches a shuttle to her designated hotel if she’s not home.

How Much Do Flight Attendants Get Paid?

[caption id="attachment_57208" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]flight attendant White is pictured in Paris, France on one of her many work trips. Photos from travelwithkell/Instagram

White admits that financially surviving the five-week training period was difficult financially. At the time, United paid her $20 a day. Sure, she received free housing, as well as lunch and dinner. But she was still paying rent in South Carolina, so she had to dip deep into her savings account.[/caption]

Since working full time, she aims to stack about 100 hours of flight time in her schedule a month.

Really, flight time is what matters. When in the air, she gets paid $27 to $28 an hour, which is the starting pay at United.

But compared to her previous job as a manager at a boutique, her paychecks have been cut in half, she says.

That’s because when she’s not in the air -- that is, when she’s boarding the plane or hanging out during layovers, for example -- she’s paid $2 an hour. This includes any time she spends away from her home base, so if she’s hanging out poolside in Nicaragua, for example, she’s getting paid -- but only a little.

After five years, she says her pay will double. Then, after about 15 years, White says United’s flight attendants can earn up to $68 an hour.

So What’s It Like to Get Paid to Travel?

[caption id="attachment_57209" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]flight attendant White swings in the San Francisco Bay Area. Photos from travelwithkell/Instagram[/caption]

White’s favorite part about being a flight attendant is getting paid to go places she otherwise wouldn’t be able to visit.

She’s seen almost all 50 states and hit 18 different countries in about two years. “It’s been so cool to be paid to travel,” White says. “It’s sort of like a vacation within work depending on your trip.”

Her Instagram is stocked with beautiful photos of her latest jaunts. Her favorite destination thus far has been Italy.

She’s also had a blast meeting crew members, some of whom have become fast friends.

United also gives her health benefits, a 401(k) and free travel on standby anywhere domestically. Family members can get free flights (she chose her parents), as does one lucky buddy.

In addition, since her promotion, White can work as much or as little as she likes, as long as she takes a nine-hour break between domestic flights or a 24-hour break between international flights more than eight hours long.

She could also opt to take a whole month off, if she wanted.

[caption id="attachment_57211" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]flight attendant White poses on an airplane in her flight attendant uniform. Photos from travelwithkell/Instagram[/caption]

But Being a Flight Attendant Isn’t Entirely Glamorous

When White started out as a flight attendant, she worked reserve, which basically translates to being on call. She worked six days straight with three days off. Two more days on, two days off.

“There’s no telling where you’re going,” White says of the reserve class. “Sometimes I’d find out four hours before departure.”

Getting time off was difficult, too. For example, White worked Dec. 22 through Dec. 27 this past year.

She got lucky, though, and only worked reserve for four months before getting promoted to what’s called “holding a line,” which means she knows her schedule an entire month ahead of time and can drop shifts, pick up extra or switch trips around.

But she says those first few months were tough to get through.

White is single (and has plans to stay that way for a while), but she says the constant work commute proves difficult for her coworkers with spouses and kids.

She says the job can be very lonely, too, and it’s hard on her body. She’s constantly changing time zones and packing, then unpacking, then packing again. She says she lives off Diet Coke and airport junk food.

And she never knows that day it is. “We’re not on the same wavelength as the rest of the world,” White says.

She notes honestly, too, that flights can be trying. She’s talking about the passengers: “Sometimes we have to deal with passengers yelling at us for things completely out of our control. Sometimes we deal with very rude people, and we just have to press on and treat them with kindness.”

Flying Into Her Future…

[caption id="attachment_57205" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Flight attendant White just earned her private pilot’s license and hopes to enter the Air Force Reserves train to become a commercial pilot. Photos from travelwithkell/Instagram[/caption]

White doesn’t plan to be a flight attendant forever, but it’s been a great, telling experience for her.

“I realized my passion for flying was more based on being in the flight deck, rather than in the back of the airplane,” White says.

Down the road (or runway), White sees her career as a pilot. She just earned her private pilot’s license, and now she’s trying enter the Air Force Reserves so she can gain enough flight hours to return as a commercial pilot.

However, she suspects that will take her five to eight years to complete, so for now she’ll continue to attend flights -- and make everyone jealous through her Instagram account.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She went to college with Kelli White and recently reconnected after ogling over her Instagram and thinking, “That’s gotta be the coolest job ever.”

“It kept us from living on Ramen.”

That’s according to Colleen Rice, The Penny Hoarder’s email marketing specialist.

She’s also a huge fan of Ibotta, an app that gives you cash back on purchases from your favorite stores.

Rice has been using Ibotta since 2013, and has earned $233.72 back so far.

“We were so broke when we first moved to Florida,” she says. “It’s really helped me a lot.”

Although she’s made it through that tough time, she still uses the app religiously. She loves that she’s earning money on something she’d otherwise be doing (spending money).

And the app isn’t just for groceries, though she loves deal-stacking at Publix and Target.

Rice also uses Ibotta to earn cash back at places like Jo-Ann Fabrics (when she went through a jewelry-making phase) and Hotels.com, where she earned about $45 back.

“If you can make anything a challenge, I like that,” she says. “Plus it’s more portable than coupons, and it introduces me to brands I’d otherwise not try.”

Take paper towels, for example. Before Ibotta, she only bought Viva, but if there’s a $5 rebate on a pack of Bounty… why not?

And when we told her Ibotta released a big update on May 24, she was over-the-moon stoked.

That’s because The Penny Hoarder got a sneak peek and let Rice in on a secret: The new version of the app is awesome.

Ibotta Review: 3 Key Improvements to the New App

[caption id="attachment_57341" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Ibotta review Colleen Rice, TPH email marketing specialist, uses Ibotta to search through deals at Publix. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed using the old Ibotta app -- mostly because I could earn money back. In fact, the average user earns $30/month, according to the company.

But due to the number of available rebates, the design was a bit cluttered.

Then, you have to individually scan the items’ barcodes, and then your receipt to get your cash back.

It really wasn’t that difficult, just extra minutes -- the ones that feel so valuable when you’re racing through the aisles or putting your groceries away.

Here are the major changes we’re stoked to see.

1. It Takes Half the Time to Earn Rebates

Ibotta has implemented new receipt-capture technology, which processes receipts in real time for many retailers.

Plus, it automatically finds the rebates you’ve unlocked and selected in your receipt. If it misses any, you can also go in and select the rebates, then scan the barcodes.

This was one change my editor excitedly reported back to me. “It was much easier somehow,” he said. “It finds rebates you mark in the app in your receipt automatically. Pretty cool.”

2. You Can Save Your Favorite Stores, and Recommendations are More Relevant

Ibotta’s old app had “featured stores” in its app, but they weren’t necessarily where I shopped.

Now, Ibotta will pick up my common habits and shopping venues and bring me the most relevant featured content so I can save even more. It also arranges the most relevant rebates for me.

Plus, I can add store favorites. When I do that, I see my favorites and the rebates right on the app’s home screen and don’t have to go scrolling.

3. The Navigation Bar is More Organized and Intuitive

Before, I had to tap to see the navigation bar, which wasn’t very well organized (that’s just my Type A personality).

But now there’s a sleek navigation bar at the bottom of the window. There, I find these options: “Featured,” “Find Rebates,” “Redeem,” “My Rebates” and “Account.” It’s easy to find, and I don’t even need to explain what each means.  

Ibotta has also upgraded the search functionality in the app to make it faster and easier to find the offers I’m looking for.

See these changes for yourself.

Don’t Forget: Ibotta is for More Than Just Groceries

It’s easy to associate Ibotta with groceries because that’s how the app came about. But it’s constantly adding more partners, including non-grocery retailers.

Here are a few of the more unexpected retailers that offer cash back when I wrote this article:

  • Groupon: You can earn between 2% and 10% back on Groupon purchases, a platform that’s already helping you save (like on pizza). You’ll max out at $30 back on any one order, but that’s not bad!Here’s an example: Right now, with Groupon I can get 47% off two beer flights and two souvenir pint glasses at a local brewery, totalling $19. With Ibotta, I can earn 3% cash back on that total, as well.
  • Hotels: If you’re traveling soon and booking a hotel, you can earn some big bucks back; hotels aren’t always (or ever?) cheap. With HotelTonight, you can get 3% cash back and 4% cash back at Hotels.com.
  • Sam’s Club memberships: Signing up for a new Sam’s Club membership card? You could get $10 back through Ibotta.
  • All the alcohol: Ibotta has a ton of offers for beer, wine and liquor from restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. This ranges from $5 back on a case of Bud Light to $2 back on a bottle of Seagram’s gin. There are even food and drink combinations you can receive cash back on from your favorite restaurants and bars.
  • Pharmaceutical needs: Need makeup? Vitamins? Hair products? Flea medicine for Fido? Scroll through Ibotta’s “Pharmacy” options, and you’ll likely find anything you’ve ever needed.
  • Jo-Ann Fabric: Jo-Ann has some specific cash-back offers through Ibotta, such as $1 back on certain brands of yarn, but it also offers 10% cash back on any in-store purchase. Pair that with the store’s awesome coupons, and you’re rolling in the savings!
  • Hallmark: This is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of during the holidays. If you spend $10 at Hallmark, you’ll get a $5 rebate.

There are plenty more non-grocery deals, but this gives you an idea.

Also, there’s a special right now for 25 cents back on anything with the “Any Item” rebate. So why not?

If you’re interested in checking out the new version of Ibotta, go ahead and download it. Once you claim your first rebate, those fine folks will drop $10 into your account.

Sponsorship Disclosure: A huge thanks to Ibotta for working with us to bring you this content. It's rare that we have the opportunity to share something so awesome and get paid for it!

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s a little too excited for the new release of Ibotta.

What’s someone willing to pay for your credit card number? Your airline ticket? Your Netflix account information?

Not a whole lot. Which is disappointing -- in a twisted way, I suppose.

Symantec Corporation recently released its April 2017 Internet Security Report -- 77 pages about last year’s internet happenings. We already wrote about the sobering identity theft statistics here.

But, tucked toward the end of the report is a list of underground marketplace prices. Basically, it’s how much identity thieves are getting for your stolen information.

In the past, Symantec researchers found that credit card and personal information were hot commodities, but there’s an increasing interest in media accounts (think: Netflix, Spotify).

“While the prices they can charge for these accounts are low, if an attacker has compromised a device it is likely they will have this account information anyway, so they attempt to sell it on in an effort to maximize their profits,” the report says.

The underground economy even has a demand for gift cards, airline tickets, Uber accounts… you name it.

Here are some of the going rates for your accounts and information:

  • One credit card: 5 cents to $30
  • Media streaming services: 10 cents to $10
  • Hotel reward program accounts with 100K points: $10 to $20
  • Airline frequent flyer miles account with 10K points: $5 to $20
  • Taxi app accounts with credit: 5 cents to $1
  • Online retail gift cards: 20 to 65 percent of face value
  • Restaurant gift cards: 20% to 40% of face value
  • Airline ticket and hotel bookings: 10% of face value
  • Cash-out money transfer service: 10% to 20% of the account’s value
  • Online bank accounts: 0.5% to 10% of the account’s balance
  • Retailer accounts: $20 to $50
  • Identity (name, Social Security number and birthday: 1 cent to $1.50
  • Scanned passports and other documents (like a utility bill): $1 to $3

I’m not going to lie, these price tags made me feel a little cheap (especially the social security one… come on, guys!).

However, I take extra precautions to protect myself -- and it’s free.

I signed up for a free service called Credit Sesame. There, I can check in on my credit score and see if anyone takes out any credit lines in my name. With Credit Sesame, I also get $50,000 in identity theft insurance, plus fraud resolution assistance -- for free.

Now, it won’t tell me if someone’s compromised my Uber account, but it does keep tabs on the big thing: my identity.

Now that you know what you’re worth, I encourage you to combat the thieves with me.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.