Are You Leaving Money on the Table?
I love a DEAL, don’t you?
In this blog, I’m going to talk to you about a few ways you may be leaving your good, hard-earned money on the table.
But, before we get started, let’s remember we want to worry about $300 or $3000 decisions, not $3 decisions. Life is way too short to worry about losing $3 bucks!
With that said, a deal is a deal and who doesn’t love a deal! 💃 💃 💃
#1 Cashback rewards/rebate apps
I used to think cashback apps like Rakuten, CapitalOne Shopping, and Befrugal were a bunch of bunk - and trying to steal my information, to boot! But, I am here to tell you, they are the real deal (pun intended!). I used Rakuten during my Christmas shopping last year and got a check for $68 bucks in January! And, all I did was shop at the stores I would have normally shopped at anyway.
Okay, $68 bucks isn’t life-changing, but it’s better than zero! Plus, it became a game to see where I could find the best deal and get the highest cashback reward. :-)
Rakuten is my favorite cash back app because it’s simple to use. You install it in your browser and whenever you are on a site that has an available discount the little “R” will bounce. Simply click the “R” and you’ll get a drop-down explaining the discount available. Accept the reward percentage and you’re done!
You can also install Rakuten as an app on your phone or tablet. In that case, open the app and from inside the app go to the website/store you want to shop at. Rakuten automatically keeps track of where you’re at and will let you know what the cash back percentage is.
CapitalOne Shopping is similar, but it’s not the same. CapitalOne Shopping is also a browser extension app and it will let you know when you’re on a site that has a potential offer and will apply the coupon code. However, CapitalOne Shopping doesn’t send you a check, you earn points towards gift cards or “shopping rewards”. Shopping Rewards can be used on retail websites which accept those points towards purchases. Which is fine, but I’d rather have the cold, hard cash, so most of the time I prefer Rakuten. 🤑 🤑 🤑
Cashback rewards apps like Rakuten and CapitalOne make their money by getting you to shop at the stores where they offer discounts. They are effectively a lead generation company for the store you’re shopping at. The store pays Rakuten or CapitalOne a commission based on what you spent (at no cost to you) and then they send you part of the commission they made.
BeFrugal is another cashback rewards app that has a browser plugin, but I didn’t find that it had the same level of deals for the stores I shop at as Rakuten and CapitalOne shopping. With that said, it’s worth checking out in case it’s a better place for you based on where you shop.
If you decide to experiment with a cashback rewards app, do take a look at what stores they work with to decide which app will be right for you.
#2 Your Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
Okay, this one you might want to obsess over a little. But just a little!
If you participate in the Flexible Spending Account program at your employer, don’t forget to use up all your funds! The best way to make sure you aren’t leaving money on the table when it comes to your FSA is to use all of the funds by December 31.
But, if that’s not possible, then, you have one of two options depending on which plan your employer has set up:
- You may carry over up to $550 to next year AND you can still fully fund your FSA for next year! #WINNING
- OR, You may be required to use the funds within two and a half months after the end of the year. The IRS wording is weird, but basically, you have until March 15 to use the funds.
The program you are participating in with your employer will offer ONE of those choices, but not BOTH! So, contact your Human Resources department and ask them what plan is in place so you know how much time you have to spend those funds.
Did you know you can use your Health FSA funds for things like band-aids, ibuprofen, and heating pads? There’s a whole online FSA Store you can shop in, too!
Go to the FSA Store HERE
As I said, the BEST way to make sure you aren’t leaving money on the table is to spend ALL of your FSA funds, whether Health FSA or Dependent Care FSA, by DECEMBER 31. So go buy those glasses or get that tooth filled or grab some ibuprofen at the FSA Store!
But, if you can’t, then see if your funds will carry over or if you only have until March 15 to spend them - and don’t leave money on the table!
#3 Cash Back Apps for Prescriptions
The older we get, the more likely we are to take some kind of medication on a regular basis. The GoodRx app is here to keep you from paying too much and leaving money on the table!
The GoodRx app is completely free to use and can save you hundreds of dollars per year on your prescriptions. As of the date this blog was written, the GoodRx app is accepted at over 70,000 pharmacies, which means it’s quite likely it will be accepted at yours. With this app, they source coupons for you to use to decrease the cost of your prescriptions.
However, GoodRx can help you before you even get to the pharmacy by telling you which pharmacy has the best price for your medication. Once you’ve found the best price, you can then have your doctor send your prescription to that pharmacy. Once at the pharmacy, don’t forget to show the pharmacist any relevant coupons sourced by the app.
In 2020 I saved $350 using the coupons provided by GoodRx. As a matter of fact, I saved $200 on just ONE prescription! That particular coupon could only be used once, but for $200 I’ll take it!
There are a couple of pretty good competitors to GoodRx that are also worth checking out, particularly if you run into single use coupons. You can always check the other apps and see if they also have a coupon available for the next time you have to fill that prescription.
Some GoodRx competitors to check out are SingleCare and Blink Health. However, each of these competitors are only accepted at 35,000 pharmacies, not the 70,000 (and counting) pharmacies that accept GoodRx. RxSaver by RetailMeNot is another competitor. Their website doesn’t say how many pharmacies the app is accepted at but I’ve used it at Walgreens, CVS and Kroger without a problem.
#4 High-yield Savings Accounts
Okay, this is kind of a $3 decision, but, percentage-wise it’s HUGE!
If you don’t at least have your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account you are missing out on a lot of interest. Let’s be real, in general banks don’t pay hardly anything for interest. But, high-yield savings accounts pay very competitive interest rates, and are where I currently keep my emergency fund.
I prefer Marcus by Goldman Sachs or Chime. As of the date I’m writing this, if you decide to go with Chime, you’ll get a .50% rate. Plus, if you sign up for Rakuten and then go to the Chime website, you’ll also get a cashback reward of $50 for signing up with Chime!!
Talk about not leaving money on the table! 🤑 🤑 🤑
Another HYSA that I’m keeping my eye on is Affirm. Affirm is mostly known as a pay over time option. They just did a huge deal with Amazon, so expect to start seeing them a lot. However, they also have a high-yield savings option. As of the date I’m writing this, their HYSA has a rate of .65% - the highest on the market!
If you already have your Emergency Fund in an HYSA like I’ve talked about HERE and HERE, then I wouldn’t go to the trouble of moving that money. BUT, if you still have your Emergency Fund in a regular savings account and are considering an HYSA, then you might as well consider the current highest rate option.
Additionally, there might be a possibility to use Affirm’s services to increase your credit score. I’m planning to do a full blog on Affirm, especially now that they’ve done a deal with Amazon, but I need to do a little more research and read all that lovely minuscule fine print. So stay tuned.
#5 Employer Wellness Programs
HR and People Teams quite often have gone above and beyond to offer wellness programs to help their fellow employees get healthy and stay healthy. Some of these programs will actually pay you money - to get healthy!
Some examples of wellness programs features include gift cards or cash for taking a health assessment, paying all or part of a gym membership, or perhaps offsetting the cost of mental health apps like Talkspace.
Why do employers offer these programs? Well, especially in the current competitive hiring environment, every little perk helps. But, the bigger picture reason is that the healthier the “population” of your company is, the cheaper health care costs are. Most employers pay at least a portion of each employee's medical benefits costs. Incentivizing employees to get healthier decreases medical benefits costs.
According to Anthem employers who offer wellness programs see a reduction in absenteeism costs equal to $2.73 for every dollar spent on their wellness program. That’s a huge return on investment for your employer!
Which means keeping you healthy is just good business. Contact your people team today and make sure you aren’t leaving any of your employee wellness dollars on the table!
#6 Lost PTO/Vacation Hours
This one just breaks my heart. PTO hours aren’t money...except that they kind of are. When I have friends and loved ones tell me they lost vacation hours because they reached the maximum number of hours they can accrue and still didn’t take any days off, it just kills me!
Not taking your vacation time is literally leaving money on the table! You earned those hours. They are actually part of your salary and benefits package. When you take a day off, you still get paid - because those hours are money!
Don’t think so? Take this little test:
- Divide your gross salary by 2080 to get your hourly rate
- Contact your payroll department and ask them how many hours you haven’t accrued because you’re accrual has stopped
- Multiply the number of hours by the hourly rate
- That’s the amount of money you left on the table!
- Sit down with your calendar and give yourself the gift of a three day weekend by taking every other friday off for awhile
- Thank me in the DMs 😉 😉 😉
I already know that someone is going to DM me and tell me that some employers will simply cut you a check for your vacation hours so you don’t lose that money, and that’s absolutely true.
However, and Arianna Huffington will happily back me up here, NONE of us get the amount of rest we need. I try very hard to manage my sleep and my rest. At a friend's suggestion, I recently downloaded the Rise app and I was shocked at how much sleep debt I was carrying each week! Give it try, you might be shocked, too!
The moral of the story is to take your vacation time. You earned it, you deserve it, and it’s real money! Yes, you might be able to get a check instead, but most of us need the rest and the time with our family and friends. Time with family is not an infinite thing, and is the one thing I hate wasting more than I hate wasting money!
Those are all my tips this week on how to stop yourself from leaving money on the table. Remember, it’s more important to worry about $3000 decisions, not $3 decisions. But, it’s also fun to get a deal! 😉 😉 😉
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**I am not a licensed financial advisor. I am a money expert and I offer education, tips, tricks, and my opinions around money. You should consult a professional who understands your needs in order to make the best decisions for you! Additionally, some links in this blog may be affiliate links, which means if you click the link and buy the product I may earn a small commission - at NO COST to You! It’s one of the ways I keep the lights on around here so TYIA! 😉
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