Saturday, 19 February 2011

Earning While Spending... a look at getting cash back.


This has to be my all time favourite cashback site and I could still kick myself that it took me so long to get into the habit of logging in to use their links to claim my free cash!

Unlike affiliate links you see in websites, having your very own account with a site like Topcashback means that YOU earn the equivalent of advertising revenue rather than it going to the website owners. It won't actually earn you a living, but why pay full price when online shopping when you can access discounts AND get a percentage of what you pay returned to you? It's all the pennies that make the pounds.

To let you understand the concept, almost all companies who sell anything need to advertise themselves. Advertising and marketing is big business, so there's always a good deal of money ploughed into that side of things.

Now, imagine if you are that company and you discovered that you didn't need to sink as many £millions into glossy, shiny, traditional adverts. Imagine if you discovered that millions of people were prepared to advertise your company FREE OF CHARGE, simply by placing links on each of their own websites! It's an amazingly simple concept but, as with all things, few people like to help big companies earn even more money without being rewarded. That's where commissions come into it. Affiliate marketing is all about promoting and advertising other people's goods and services in exchange for a tiny percentage of any sales you generate on their behalf.

Great! Website owners everywhere can generate a flow of cash by way of advertising in exchange for sales commissions... but that still doesn't help you, the price conscious customer.

Step forward the concept of CASH BACK. It's such a simple idea that most shoppers still think it's too good to be true. This is where many of you are now losing out on some completely FREE MONEY! This is my story of how I discovered the joys of being paid cash back, simply by shopping online via someone else's links. It goes completely against the whole concept of cutting out the middle man because, in this case, you NEED the middle man! This is, afterall, the person who pays your share of the advertising revenue simply for your being a customer on their website.

Late in 2007, I discovered a website called Topcashback. Like many, I was dubious of their third party links and didn't like registering my details for anything. I disliked the idea of having to do my research online and then still having to log into yet another site to seach for the appropriate companies - it was as though time was so precious that I couldn't afford the hassle of doing all this extra 'farfing' around when I could simply go directly to my chosen website, be it Tesco, Argos or eBay etc. But I decided to give it a go.

Woolworths was still trading in its original form and I had a large order going in during their pre-Christmas sale. I say large, as it was for me! I'm a frugal pennypincher! However, this order was Christmas shopping for the family and it amounted to almost £300 by the time a friend added a few items to share the delivery costs! I took the time (a few seconds) to log into Topcashback, I used their link - I even used a discount code! I paid using my cashback credit card, which gets paid in full, faithfully, every month. As you'll perhaps know, followers of the frugaldom lifestyle are hell bent on clearing (and then avoiding) all forms of debt. But I digress... My Woolies' order went through as normal and there was no resulting deluge of spam emails and no financial repercussions with regards to my having registered through an unheard of (to me) website.

That was it! Nothing else happened - my order arrived safely, Christmas 2007 came and went and I eventually remembered to check my Topcashback account... and there it was! My FREE cash! It was only £6, but it was mine and it went sailing straight into my bank account without any problems, whatsoever. That was how I discovered the joys of cashback!

Being a frugaler means I don't spend an awful lot on non-essentials, it's necessities only and nothing more. But we still need things like home insurance, car insurace and gifts. I began playing the cashback game. By the end of that first year, I had claimed back over £100 from Topcashback. Not only that, I was spreading the word about the site - advertising it for free on my own and encoraging all my friends to join, too. In return for this, the site allocates you a unique link for recommending friends so you can track the success of your own advertising campaign carried out on behalf of the cashback site. In return, they will pay you a small fee if and when any of your friends generates sufficient cashback to warrant such a payment.

To my utter disbelief, having told everyone I know about Topcashback both in person and online. 778 people clicked through my referal link to read about it but of those, only 50 individuals decided to register and try it out for themselves. How many of those people do you think actually continued to log into their accounts and start to claim free cashback?

The answer to the above question is 10! Their loss, I guess, but I'm delighted with the results produced by my sparing a few minutes extra to check for cashback before buying anything online. I mean, why would you NOT want to get paid a few pence every time you buy something on eBay or shop online? Why would you NOT want up to £50 in free cash just for going via a cashback link for your insurance or to switch your utilities service provider? I'm dumbfounded!

Since joining Topcashback, I have generated a grand total of £536.79 and I'm an extremely frugal online shopper!

What's more, there is an option to transfer your cashback into Amazon vouchers, which is what I am doing for 2011. This means I get about an extra 0.5% on top of the cash amount. THIS is how I intend to pay for family gifts during my 2011 Frugal Living Challenge. I don't need to set aside a budget for such things when Topcashback is giving me money! It's a no brainer!

Insurance companies pay top rates of cash back and often have great deals available. In 2009, I paid around £55 for my home contents insurance and the cashback promotion was offering about £75... it meant that I GOT PAID to insure my own belongings. The economic climate has changed over the past couple of years, so I only clocked up £35 cashback on my contents policy for this year... how much did you pay for your insurance? What did you receive in return, other than a policy?

And lest we forget - cashback credit cards are still an option. American Express is often cited as being one of the best introductory deals and guess what? You can even get cash back for applying online through, you got it... Topcashback!

So, not only have I generated my Topcashback money, I've also been accruing a tidy little cashback sum by paying with a credit card. I've paid not a penny in interest, because the bill is always cleared in full each month, and the card company pays out my cashback once a year, around April. Now that's what I call cyberdosh - extra cash generated through the wonderful world of the Internet.

Don't forget to join us for some fun money-making, debt-busting or money-saving challenges in the free Frugaldom Forums... unless, of course, you're too rich to care about the pennies that make the pounds. :)

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