Ah, 2018. It's time to celebrate a new year with new beginnings!
This year I'm all about doing what it takes to save money, make more time for myself, and push for causes that I care about-- so these are a few of my favorite apps that made it past the holiday season and will help me stay on track with my goals this year.
1. The Side Hustle - Shopkick
Before I made my shopping trips, I used to try to convince myself into staying home instead. Do I have to put my game face on and compete for the closest parking spot? Do I have to touch those sticky shopping carts that are contagious with the flu all year long? And do I have to wait in that amusement park line for one available cashier or kiosk to pay for my items? Ugh, so painful.
But not anymore. Shopkick changed the game and made shopping a rewarding experience for me. This is going to sound like a plug, but I'm being honest: I saved $75 on holiday shopping last year and it's all because of this app!
I started 'shopkicking' in October and I have my mother to thank for this. She downloaded the free app last summer and began her quest for kicks, or rewards points, so she could redeem them for gift cards to her favorite stores. After she raved about earning her second, third and fourth gift card in less than 3 months, I had to jump on this opportunity for myself.
There are multiple ways you can earn kicks.
1) Download and open the Shopkick app on your smartphone and walk into a participating retailer nearby. Easy right? Well it gets better. Just walk in and ding, the app awards you anywhere from 25 to 150 kicks just for stopping by. You don't even have to make a purchase!
Keep in mind: some stores offer walk-in kicks and some don't. Also, make sure your bluetooth and location services are on or else the app will not give you kicks.
2) Through the app, visit online stores such as Groupon and Amazon for example, and view their select products under the "Discover" tab on the menu to get a few kicks. Check this tab daily!
3) Complete the surveys that Shopkick sends you via email and get 500 kicks. They send them every few weeks, so don't delete those emails!
Here's the best part...
You can get the most kicks by using your smartphone to scan barcodes of featured products inside a participating store. This is what makes Shopkick fun, because now shopping becomes a scavenger hunt instead of a dreadful chore.
Also, your kicks will never expire, so you can accumulate kicks for as long as you want, and when you're ready you can redeem them at any store that Shopkick is partnered with-- and believe me, there are tons of them!
Some stores even offer additional kicks if you purchase a promoted product. So long as you snap a picture of your receipt and submit it through the app, then they'll hook you up.
Here's an example: During the holidays, Outback Steakhouse offered 100 kicks for every dollar spent at their restaurant. It didn't matter what the menu item was; all I had to do was sit back, order whatever I wanted, and watch the kicks roll in. Promotions like these are a rare find...maybe even rarer than finding Willy Wonka's golden ticket!
My fiancé and I took advantage of this offer and spent $58 for dinner. Then I snapped a photo of our receipt, submitted it through the app and earned 5,800 kicks, which is a few hundred kicks shy of redeeming a $25 gift card from that visit alone! Insane.
Keep in mind...
When submitting your receipts, Shopkick will take a day or two to review it before awarding your kicks.
Save your receipts because there could be a time when they need you to resend a photo of it for any given reason. In my experience, Shopkick has been good about fixing discrepancies, so if you weren't awarded kicks because of a connectivity issue, notify them by going into your settings on the app and they respond rather quickly.
The gift card balances range from $2-$100 and are given in increments of $25. When you want to get a gift card, all you have to do is select a reward from the Kicks Center on your app, click redeem, visit the store you've selected for your reward, and use the barcode on your screen to transfer the balance onto a physical gift card at the register or have the cashier scan it when you buy stuff to save!
Just a head's up: I've had better experiences redeeming my kicks at the self-checkout counter instead of the cashier because half the time they don't know about Shopkick. If you're interested in getting a video tutorial on this process, comment below!
America's shopping malls are slowly going out of business and Shopkick wants to bring shoppers back and reward them for their patronage.
But here's the kicker: shopkicking requires patience, especially on those slow weeks when there aren't many kicks floating out there, but if you stick with it you will reap the benefits sooner than you think.
I currently have a balance of 11,000 kicks on the app. By mid-January I expect to have enough for a $50 gift card to Walmart! This will be my third gift card since I started in October.
Ultimately, my goal is to earn several gift cards throughout the year so I don't have to come out of pocket for household items and gifts during the holidays. See my friends, it now pays to shop! Download the app here.
2. Move With Purpose - Charity Miles
I cruised through the app store on my phone recently and stumbled upon Charity Miles. It got my attention and I decided to make exercise beneficial in more ways than one.
Here's why I dig it: you can monetize your workouts, so every mile matters.
Here's the best part...
You can choose from over 30 charities to raise money for just by walking your dogs or going for a bike ride. Ten cents a mile seems like a measly donation, but if you're active then this app makes a difference, especially from someone like me who runs more than 18 miles a week for half marathon training!
The app also offers the ability to join teams, read inspiring stories, and join challenges to keep you on your feet.
Studies have shown that there are health benefits to giving back, and the Charity Miles app exemplifies this by encouraging people to get moving while helping a charitable cause of their choice. It's fun and interactive, but most importantly, it keeps me motivated to make time for myself and others. Download the app here.
3. Get Lost- Detour
Detour is an immersive way to explore a new city through the lens of someone who knows it best.
Get an audio walk-through tour of Boston's North End narrated by a local Italian shop-owner who can tell you where to eat the best cannolis, or if you're visiting San Francisco, pull out your phone and a San Francisco-based architect will show you why Market Street is one of the most iconic places in the world.
Detour puts it best: think of this experience as an urban hike. I took the Venice Beach Skate Park audio tour and thought it was really neat!
Here's the best part...
The app gives you a fresh look at popular spots and also takes you off the tourist path to explore interesting places. Since it's an audio-tour, you can go at your own pace and your own time. If you're on the walking tour and stray from the area, Detour will stop the tour and guide you back to where you're supposed to be.
You can also listen to the audio tour remotely in case you're curious to learn about a place while you're on the road or sitting on the couch at home. A price per detour is less than $10-- can't beat that!
Every detour is different in that some have age requirements, and the app will bullet point key notes for you-- like the hours of operation for designated spots, for example. It will also tell you when the best times are to take the detour so you can make the most of your experience.
Traveling doesn't always have to come at a high cost. So next time someone tells you to get lost, ask them if they want to join you! Download the app here.
Thank you for reading! Now tell me, what apps are you crazy about? Share them below!