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How to make big money with your cellphone

Posted at 7:23 AM, May 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-20 07:23:41-04

Cell phones are not cheap. At an average of $85 a month for a smartphone, that's almost a thousand dollars a year, not including the cost of the phone. But some savvy people like Teresa Kannenberg are earning back some of those dollars by making money on their cellphone.

We caught up with Kannenberg as she grabbed a shopping cart and headed into Target, where she planned to make some money.  No, this mom doesn't work at the store. Rather, she shops with apps that pay her back.

So far, she says, she has earned more than $800 in one year.

Her favorite? Ibotta.

I've saved over $450 just with Ibotta," she said.

How does it work? She buys items that are up for rebates and listed on the Ibotta app that week. For instance, she says, "You would go into Target, you would buy chips, and you would get 20 cents when you submitted your receipt."

Other products give her a bigger rebate:

  • She'll get 50 cents back on Ajax cleanser.
  • She'll earn a dollar back on a pack of granola bars.
  • She will receive 75 cents back from buying Juicy Juice this week.

"You buy the items that are on the list, submit your receipt, and you get money," she said.

Clearly, it's no secret you can make money using various apps on your smart phone, but knowing which apps that will work best for you will only help increase your earnings.

We've found the top apps that will earn you cash and organized them into categories so you can find exactly what apps will work for you. Even better, they are all free to download.

Most of the grocery store apps work by the products you purchase. If it's something you'd already be purchasing, you can earn additional money back. Another way to earn money while shopping is by uploading your receipt to the app by snapping a photo.

Among the best:

  • Groupon Snap:  Snap gives you cash back on grocery purchases; no matter where you shop. Available on iPhones, Android devices and even computers, search for cash-back offers on the grocery items you need, then 'snap' a photo of your receipt to start earning.
  • Saving Star: This is another popular app to receive cash back. As a bonus, you can use it to get cash back when shopping online as long as you have an account and go through their website. Saving Star is available on iPhones, Android devices and computers.
  • Favado: Favado helps shoppers stop overspending by notifying them when their favorite items are on sale. According to their website, Favado has money saving experts who hand select sales and coupons every week -- in more than 65,000 grocery and drugstores nationwide.
  • Checkout51: Earn cash by buying certain products at the grocery. Once your account balance reaches $20, you can request your money and they'll issue it as a check. Available on iPhones, Android devices and computers.
  • Swagbucks TV: Watch your choice of over 1,000 movie, DVD and game trailers, scenes, interviews and comedy clips. For each video you watch, you'll earn 'Swag Bucks'; which can then be used to redeem gift cards. Reading reviews, some say the payment isn't substantial, but it's worth a try as the app is free to download.  Swagbucks TV is available on iPhone and Android phones
  • Ibotta: Shop any of the nearly sixty chains stores that support Ibotta. Then, when you’re shopping at any one of those stores and you buy any of the things listed on your offer wall, you’ll earn the dollar amount listed under the item! The money is then delivered to your account through Pay Pal. Ibotta is available on iPhone and Apple products.
  • Mobee: The Mobee app is another fun shopping app that allows you to shop at the stores you love, but incognito -- as a mystery shopper. If you allow the app to use your location, it will show stores around you that are looking for feedback through Mobee. You'll be asked a series of questions and upon approval, you'll earn points that can be redeemed for gift or cash. Mobee is available on iPhone and Apple products.

One downside of all these apps:  your privacy.  They know what you buy, and where you buy it.  If you are signing up with an email address, use a generic Gmail or Yahoo address, not your main email, as you may start getting more emails than you want.

As always, don’t waste your money.