9 Ways to Earn Money From Your Worst Spending Habits

Coffee and a muffin enjoyed on a budget
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder


Whether you are great with your finances or a bit shaky, you probably have that one little glitch. Your bugaboo. Your Achilles’ heel when it comes to how you spend money. If you were to look at your bank account for the last month, what trends would you see?

Too many morning lattes? Late-night web browsing that led to random purchases? It’s OK. We all have them. Here’s our list of ways you can come to terms with your weakness without giving it up.

The Fine Diner: Earn Rewards for Your Sophisticated Taste

Girl in coffee shop
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Dining out is pure joy. Great food made for you by pros and brought right to your table. No cooking. No dishes to do later. What’s not to love?

Then you get the bill.

There are plenty of cash-back credit cards out there that’ll give you rebates whenever you dine at a restaurant, buy an airline ticket or fill up your gas tank. These rewards are pretty common.

But what about a card that gives you three times the points for eating out or ordering in?

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card does that. This card was just revamped so it rewards more of the kinds of purchases consumers make today.

That’s three times the rewards for having pizza driven right to your house. That’s three times the rewards for taking a date night out to the swankiest place in town.

We get it. Dining out beats cooking and cleaning any day. Make the most of the experience by earning bonus points that you can use later to make that bill hurt just a little less.

The information for the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

The Impulse Shopper: Let This Company Find You the Best Deal

Woman holding her kitten while shopping online
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

A blanket that has sleeves! A fish that sings on your wall! Gotta have it right now!

We’ve all been there. Something catches your eye, and you just can’t help yourself.

Add this Chrome extension to your browser if you’re an avid impulse buyer or Amazon shopper. Whenever you browse the ’Zon, you can click Wikibuy to get more info about the items you want to buy.

Click it to find coupon codes, add to your watchlist (to be notified when the price drops), see the price history or see a price comparison from other sellers, including Walmart, Target, eBay and Jet.

With all that info, Wikibuy will let you know if this is the best time to buy.

It even tells you when your items will be delivered. If you like what you see, click the “Add to Wikibuy Cart” button that shows up automatically on Amazon, and Wikibuy places and tracks the order for you.

After a simple free install, browsing to check out just takes two clicks, and your savings are instant. You can close your million Chrome tabs now — you’re welcome.

The Late-Night TV Shopper: Earn Rewards by Using the Right Card

Woman holding credit cards
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Who hasn’t watched a little Home Shopping Network and been intrigued? I really need that! That weight that you shake looks pretty darn amazing. Take my money!

OK, maybe you’re smarter than that. Let’s say the stuff you buy is cool, useful and just plain awesome. Great! But could you do a little better with those purchases? Probably — you could be earning cash back.

Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.

There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire.

Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

The Wardrobe Stuffer: Get a $10 Gift Card for Shopping Online

Wardrobe inside of a closet
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Who doesn’t love clothes? For every season there’s a new wardrobe; for every wardrobe you can find a season. It’s always best of have options. Lots and lots of options.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little more frugal with that blouse and those skinny jeans.

One of our favorite ways to save is with Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something online. For example, Ebates gives you 10% cash-back on online purchases at Walmart.

Plus, you’ll get a free $10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.

To earn your gift card:

  1. Sign up for Ebates with your email or Facebook account.
  2. Use the Ebates portal the next time you need to buy something. It’s connected to thousands of stores, including Walmart, Amazon and Target. You’ll need to make your first purchase through the site within 90 days and spend at least $25.
  3. Your account will be credited with rewards points you can cash in for your $10 Walmart gift card.

The Hungry Grocery Shopper: Take a Pic of Your Receipt to Get Cash Back

Man with a shopping bag of food
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

We all need to eat, right? But you’re not so good at making lists, and sometimes you can only make it to the store right before dinner, and you’re hungry, oh so hungry. What looks good?

Everything. Everything looks good when you shop hungry.

Here’s how you can save a little money from your shopping weakness: Take a picture of your receipt.

We know it sounds strange, but Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts.

Here’s how it works:

Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.

Bam. Cash back.

Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

The Escape Artist: Bank Travel Rewards

Packing for vacation
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder.

So many places and so little time! When you have the time, you love to get out of town and see something new.

That’s admirable. But it can also be expensive. Make the most of your love of travelling with a card that loves it as much as you do, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.

Here are the benefits this card packs:

  • Bank a $625 sign-up bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases (airline tickets, anyone?) in the first three months.
  • Earn two times points on travel and dining at restaurants.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel. Seriously, this card is begging you to take a trip!
  • No travel restrictions or blackout dates when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Tahiti for Christmas? Book it!

The Procrastinator: Get Money Back If the Price Drops

Shoes on money
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

You knew you needed a new pair of shoes for that wedding. You knew it weeks ago. Then you thought about it again a few days ago. By the time you bought them, you didn’t have time to find a great deal or sale.

You paid full price. Cue ominous music!

Luckily, you’ll probably get an email receipt for that purchase, and it could be your lifesaver.

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It's free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

The Subscription Hoarder: Let This App Find the Duds

Woman listening to music on her phone
Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

We’ve all done it. It’s a free trial! I’ll just cancel before they bill me.

Then, a year and a half later, you realize you still have — and are paying for — that streaming channel, music service or what have you. Do you even know how many subscriptions are stacked up in your accounts?

Ugh.

Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees.

The app will remind you of all those sneaky subscriptions you’ve signed up for through the years, so you can cancel what you don’t use and reclaim your monthly budget.

Signing up and using the service is free, though there are some paid premium services that are totally optional — but could totally be worth it.

It can set you free from those forgotten subscriptions and help you save money elsewhere, too. Win win!

The Daily Latte Fanatic: Earn Some Gift Cards to Feed the Habit

Friends sharing drinks at a coffee shop
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder.

I know. You’re so over people telling you to stop wasting your money on gourmet coffee.

We get it. It’s awesome, and it kick-starts your day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to help fund that weakness a little bit.

If you want to have a little fun shopping and earn some gift cards to soften the financial burden of a well-caffeinated life, download the Shopkick app.

Once you sign up, the app pays you in “kicks” for walking into certain stores (including Walmart, Target, TJMaxx and more). You can redeem them for gift cards to a number of retailers, including your beloved Starbucks.

It pays you even more kicks for photos of receipts that include qualifying items you purchased in-store with a connected credit or debit card. You can also earn kicks for online purchases. You don’t have to do anything; your linked cards will automatically apply your kicks.

But don’t make the mistake of buying things you don’t need just for kicks; you know better than that.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. He’s an I-forgot-to-bring-lunch-today-so-I’ll-just-grab-something kind of spender. Shhh… Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

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