10 Ways Parents Can Prep Financially for Back-to-School or Zoom-School Season

child coloring on a table with parent in background with laptop
Disclosure: We’re letting you know that this post contains sponsored links which The Smart Wallet receives compensation for, which may impact their order of appearance because talking about money should always be an honest discussion.

As the nation wrestles with the pandemic, it’s also battling the back-and-forth debate of how to handle back-to-school season this fall.

Even if schools do open, 58% of parents don’t think their children should go back.*

They’re also planning to spend even more money during home school or “Zoom-school” because indoor activities will be needed to keep children learning and entertained at the same time. More “busy work” to keep them occupied as well as more snacks, groceries, water, and sanitizing products too.

Obviously all these costs will add up. And if your financials could use a little boost to help prep for this uncertain school season, here are some useful (and fun!) ways below.

1. The Secret to Getting Free Cash Back

Alice Ly / The Bill Wizard

$860 million dollars. That’s how much free money members have gotten back so far just by using Ibotta, a free app that pays you real money on your everyday purchases.

That includes your groceries (online/in-store), essentials, food delivery, online shopping, basically anything. All they need is a receipt.

It’s super simple, just check Ibotta first before:

  • Shopping at your fav stores and services like Target, Ralph’s, Trade Joe’s, Uber Eats, and more
  • Ordering groceries and delivery services like Walmart Grocery, Instacart, Shipt, and more. Link the accounts together and maximize on free cash back!
  • Online shopping from retailers like Amazon, Sephora, Under Armour, Gap, and more

Ibotta is free to download and you’ll also get up to $20 in Welcome Bonuses when you sign up! It’s like you’re getting paid to shop.

2. Take Control of Your Money When Things Seem Out of Control

Investments are down. 401(k)s are down. As indicative of the red arrows aiming down, things just seem to be out of control during these uncertain times.

There are, however, ways for you to control your money now. Through proper budgeting as well as getting rid of any non-essential subscriptions through Truebill, a free finance app that helps you track your money and offers services to make your life way easier.

Quarantine life is the best time to really go through on what you need, so let Truebill find all your current subscriptions (even ones you forgot about) and have them cancel any for you. They’ll also negotiate for lower bills (like cable, internet, and cellphone bills) and with job insecurities at the moment, knowing that you’re not overpaying for bills is a relief!

In addition, their solid budgeting feature helps everyone see where their money is going and how to handle it. Even if you don’t know how to budget!

3. Play Games, Get Gift Cards. Play More to Earn More

Alice Ly | The Smart Wallet

You love playing mobile games so why not get rewarded for it? Earn your first $5 gift card within 48 hours for something you were already going to do!

Just play through Rewarded Play, a free-to-download Android app with hundreds of games to choose from; including Yahtzee, Scrabble Go, and Design Home.

You can also play board games, dice games, card games, casino games, and a lot more.

Then redeem points for gift cards from 20+ retailers including favorites like Target, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. The games are fun and an easy way to earn some cash. As a bonus, there is an active customer support team!

4. Free Money for Your Grocery Receipts Online, Offline, and Friends

If you’re already using Fetch Rewards, you’re ahead of the game and you know you can scan in any grocery receipt (both online and offline!) to earn points towards free money. Get bonus cash when you refer friends and your friends will get a bonus too! There’s no limit to referrals.

Take a picture of your receipt with the app as well as connect your email accounts to automatically earn points from your e-receipts from popular retailers like Instacart, Target, Walmart, Costco, and more. Yes, get points for cash for your grocery deliveries!

There’s no minimum spend, no need to manually select items, just scan in any receipt from a store that sells groceries (even if you didn’t actually buy any groceries) and boom, points for money.

Grab 2,000 welcome points when you use promo code REWARD before scanning your first receipt.

5. Never Overpay for Car Insurance - Save $826 a Year

On average you’re spending $826/year more than you need to on car insurance but in general, people don’t make the effort to check.

But you can check how much you can save in literally 30 seconds. It’s easy:

  1. Head over to The Smart Wallet’s auto insurance portal and connect your current insurance (no long form to fill out!)
  2. We’ll instantly check for a better deal
  3. See your savings!

Once we find you a better deal and you choose to switch, we’ll help you cancel your old policy, enroll you in the better one, and get a full refund on the unused portion of your prior payments. It’s the simplest and easiest way to get a refund on your overpriced car insurance policy.

6. Scan the Stuff You Buy & Get Free Rewards

The exclusive National Consumer Panel (NCP) program is opening up again for more participants! This is your opportunity to make your consumer voice heard! (And get paid for it!)

When you become a panelist, just use the app to scan the barcodes of items you purchase, provide a few additional transaction details, and you’ll earn points for:

  • Gift Cards
  • Tablets
  • Electronic Equipment
  • Flat Screen TVs
  • and much more from their gift catalog!

Plus, all panelists are automatically entered into weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual drawings to win extra points and gift cards – even a quarterly sweepstakes to win $5,000!

The more you share your shopping habits (scan barcodes), the more rewards you can get. You can also answer surveys and share information about your overall shopping trip.

“Scanning my purchases is fun! I also enjoy taking the surveys. Earning points is fast and easy and they have a great selection of rewards.” – Jennifer B.

It’s a fun way to earn more rewards on items you’ve already purchased and at no extra cost to you.

Register now to see if you’re eligible to be a National Consumer Panelist. Eligibility will be based on your location. If you don’t get accepted this time, don’t worry! They’re always expanding locations, so check back again.

7. This Paid Survey Panel Gives Out 7,000 Gift Cards Daily

There are a lot of survey programs out there, but none as popular as Swagbucks, a free rewards program where you can earn cash for your time and opinion. Members can earn an average of $50 a month!

You get rewarded for doing surveys, searching the web, reading articles, watching videos, and playing fun games but the one activity that earns you the most points is completing surveys. (Don’t skip out on those!)

Points can then be redeemed for free gift cards, cash, and sweepstakes entries. All just by completing fun activities and giving your opinions.

New members can get a free $5 just for signing up, so join the other 10 million members already part of Swagbucks and start earning free rewards!

8. Never Pay Overdraft Fees Again - Banking That Has Your Back

On average, people pay $250/year just on overdraft fees!

Instead of charging you for silly fees, Chime, has your back. It’s an award-winning (and free to use) mobile banking app that lets you overdraft up to $200 with no fees1 via their SpotMe benefit. This means that $8 you were short on at the grocery store gets spotted and your account won’t overdraft, saving you money. Plus, you get a sleek-looking debit card!

Combined with no hidden fees, the ability to get paid up to 2 days earlier,2 and auto-savings starting at 0.50% APY3 makes Chime a stellar online banking option that doesn’t focus on profiting off of you like traditional banks.

Since Chime is free to use, give it a shot and see how you like it.

9. Get Paid to Try New Games. Every Gamer’s Dream.

Adobe

Who would’ve thought you can play games to make some money? Especially now when that’s easy to do from home.

All you need is Mistplay, an Android game platform where you can try new games to earn points redeemable for gift cards like Amazon, VISA, PlayStation Network, XBOX Live, and more.

In this Google Play app, all available free games are listed so just take your pick to try, especially high unit multiplier games! For example, the 4x unit multiplier games will earn you 8 times more units (and dollars) per level than the 0.5x unit multiplier games.

You’ll only get paid for playing games if Mistplay is running so be sure to always install games from the Mistplay app!

10. Find Curated Remote and Flexible Jobs With This Site

@bongkarn-thanyakij | Pexels

With a record 40 million people that filed for unemployment,* it’s crucial to be able to hold a remote or flexible full-time or part-time position in these uncertain times.

Instead of searching through irrelevant job boards, use FlexJobs, a 13+ year old company that specializes in finding only remote and flexible schedule jobs. For a limited time, their membership plans are 30% off (with promo code SAVE30) making them just:

  • $4.95 /week
  • $9.95 /month
  • $23.95 /three months (most popular!)
  • $44.95 /year (best value)

Memberships include access to jobs as well as resources like Career Coaching, Resume Review, 170 expert skills tests to better assess and promote your skills, and more.

Lori S. from Colorado Springs, CO said, “I would have spent hours trying to find these jobs on my own. I LOVE this website!! These are jobs that are not easy to find—I found the membership fee very reasonable and worth every penny considering I have found two wonderful jobs through FlexJobs.”

Non-essential workers are being asked to stay home during these times but making money is essential to everyone so take advantage of the 30% off membership plans to look at what could be your next new job! Remember to use promo code SAVE30.