Feb 13 2017

How to decide which cash back portal to use?

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This blog uses affiliate links and maintains financial relationships with various partners.

I have used cash back portals for years for my online shopping, and I’m sure you have, too. My usual go-to has been Ebates, but sometimes it isn’t the best value. Other times, the retailer isn’t an option at all with Ebates. It can be time-consuming to compare multiple portals to weigh the best deal for your purchase. I have two suggestions:

  1. Pick one rewards portal and stick with it. If you can get a deal through there, great, if not, move on with your life. It also simplifies your follow-ups to make sure your points are properly awarded. Easier to follow up with 1-2 portals rather than a slew.
  2. Use a site that quickly compares all of your options.

I’m using Cash Back Monitor and I’m pleased with the results. I have the bookmarklet pinned in my browser and I use that before making a purchase. What’s neat about this one is it has a customizable monitor. You can add up to 8 of your favorite cash back/points back portals and quickly see the best option among choices you’re likely to use. It has a “best rate history” to get a sense of deals in the past, which is helpful for knowing if you’re getting a standard deal or a great deal.

I have added Ebates, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott, Southwest, American Airlines, Delta, Alaska Airlines, and Swagbucks. My preference is either Ebates or Chase, unless there is a standout bonus for the other options.cash back monitor screenshot

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Some portals have restrictions on which coupons you may use. For instance, Chase and Southwest both often have verbiage like “Not eligible on purchases made with coupon or discount codes that are not found on this site.” Be sure to read the terms for each offer. If you don’t have a coupon code or it is listed on the portal directly, cool, use it. If not, you might not get the rewards points and you might consider using a portal without restrictions for that purchase.
  • You sometimes have to follow up with a portal to make sure points are properly credited. Kind of a pain.
  • This doesn’t show AmEx Offers or other credit card offers of the sort. For instance, I logged in to my American Express account and saw an AmEx Offer for $10 off a $50 purchase at eBags when I used my AmEx card. That offer isn’t visible in these portals, so you just have to keep an eye out for exclusive deals. You might be able to stack such offers, say Ebates to eBags + an activated AmEx offer.
  • A point doesn’t always = a point. Eight percent back on a $100 Chase Ultimate Rewards purchase might be worth way more than $8 to me, depending on how I redeem it, since there are a variety of redemption possibilities. It depends on how you value a point. You can even assign value to points within the Cash Back Monitor interface (so, if you are getting $0.025 value for every Chase point, you can adjust that; if you are getting $0.007 per Marriott, put that in just to see it in those terms). I haven’t fiddled with assigning value within the interface, myself.

One last trick, if you’re looking for a certain item but aren’t sure which retailer might be the best deal: You can try the Marriott portal, Shop My Way. I used it recently when I was trying to find options on Smartwool socks. I typed in the search terms, clicked “search products” and I could see various prices at retailers and the points back for each.

Bottom line:

Use cash or points back portals to maximize your online purchases. Use coupon codes when applicable of course (while weighing in whether that code negates your points back), and pay with a rewards credit card to rack up the savings.

 


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Feb 02 2017

Let 2017 Be Successful For Your Business

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Take your work on the road, how about that view!

This blog uses affiliate links and maintains financial relationships with various partners.

 

Whether you’re pursuing a side business or working full-time at your own company, to be successful, consider the value of outside help. Here are some ways others can help you grow your small business.

Support groups and masterminds

Link up with other entrepreneurs with similar goals, even if you’re not in the same industry. You can bounce ideas off one another, troubleshoot areas of concern, and have support from others who want to see you succeed.

In the same vein, you can contribute your knowledge and experience to others and help them along their way.

Support groups and masterminds might be free or have a paid membership. If there is a fee, check with your tax professional to see if it is a deductible expense for you.

For more reading, see 7 Reasons to Join a Mastermind Group on Forbes and How to Start and Run a Mastermind Group on Life Hack.

Mastermind meeting

 

Enlist the help of a business consultant

No matter if you’re a new start-up or if you have years of experience as an entrepreneur, consider hiring the services of a business consultant to help you find your feet. Perhaps your day-to-day operations could run more smoothly, or you’re trying to figure out your next step. Maybe you need some help identifying achievable long-term goals and the steps it will take to get there.

A business consultant such as Trevor McClintock  can help guide you along the ins-and-outs of successfully running your business. Having an experienced pair of eyes looking at all aspects of your business can help reveal where you can improve and supply you with an action plan to achieve your goals.pexels-photo-30342

 

Outsource tasks where necessary

If you don’t have the time or skill to administer certain tasks (taxes, marketing, accounts payable/receivable), consider outsourcing. Hiring a CPA or Enrolled Agent can help you navigate the tax impact of various business decisions and identify new ways to reduce your tax burden. Rather than taking on these areas yourself and potentially making mistakes or taking away from your valuable time, you could focus your efforts on tasks that are actively building your business.

Maintaining a web presence is often a high priority for many businesses. If updating your site’s Facebook or Twitter pages or sending out email newsletters aren’t your strong suit, consider hiring these tasks out to a marketing company. You may already know someone in your network who runs their own marketing business — reach out to your mastermind to get leads.

In sum

Working for yourself can be a gamble, but it really pays off if you are successful. Enlisting the help of others can help guide you along your journey. Reach out to your support group or mastermind, outsource tasks, or meet with a business consultant (or a combination of all three!) to better meet your goals.

Even when you’re a sole proprietor, if you surround yourself with the right kind of support, you’ll have a wealth of resources available and will never be alone.

surround yourself with support


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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (8), Vivienne (6) and Amelia (3) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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