5 apps and websites to make money simply by living

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The Zebra

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“Having money isn’t everything, not having it is.” 

Whether or not you agree with Kanye West’s latest antics, he makes a good point in his song “Good Life.” It helps to have money to maintain our financial responsibilities, whether they’re our monthly bills, student loans, car payments, or unexpected costs that pop up, like repairing your home after a flood.

Luckily, as the internet expands and we get even more glued to our phones, companies are finding creative ways to help people earn money. Here are five apps that can give you passive income simply by doing the things you’d normally do.



Do you put together a list when you go to the grocery store? Or do you wander around aimlessly, grabbing whatever sounds good as you walk up and down the aisles?

Whatever your preference, you’ll want to add Ibotta to your rotation. This app gives you cash back simply by shopping, with a large focus on grocery stores — and yes, this even applies to pickup and delivery services. 

There are offers on general items, such as bananas or milk, and offers for buying a particular brand, such as a certain pasta or cereal. You can link the app with loyalty cards to save even more. If you don’t want to link anything, you can upload a photo of your receipt to confirm what you’ve purchased and get cash back that way.

In all, you can use Ibotta at more than 500 physical stores and more than 700 online retailers. The app works with popular grocery delivery and shipping locations, too, like Walmart, Instacart and Shipt. 

If that’s not enough incentive, you can get a $20 bonus just for signing up.

Potential Payoff: $180 per year



Even in the midst of a pandemic, we still need to eat. Restaurants have done a great job weathering the storm by offering takeout and curbside options while their indoor seating remains limited or closed.

Now, you can save on your dining bills by using Dosh. Simply connect your credit and debit cards and get cash back from more than 100,000 places, including restaurants, retailers and hotels. Dosh currently works with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express credit cards.

Another cool feature: If you’ve already got a loyalty or rewards card with a certain restaurant or retailer, you can add your credit or debit cards to stack the rewards.  

Dosh operates under a “set it and forget it” model, so you don’t have to worry about cashing in a rebate or sending a photo of your receipt — you’ll just let the passive income roll in when you get cash back. The app will let you know whenever an establishment has a special deal to maximize your earnings. 

Finally, Dosh doesn’t actually store any credit cards or debit cards within the app itself — all credit and debit card information is stored through Braintree’s secure tokenization and vaulting systems. Braintree is a PayPal service used by over a billion credit cards and offers an extra layer of protection.

Potential payoff: $120 per year — more if you book a hotel through Dosh



If you often find yourself lacking the motivation to get a workout in, Achievement just may be the app for you. 

More than three million members are on Achievement, which combines exercise and surveys into a way to make money. Connect Achievement with more than 20 fitness apps, such as Fitbit, MapMyFitness, or MyFitnessPal and earn points for your workouts. Achievement works with the Apple Health app that comes on iPhones, and will also award points for sending out healthy tweets via Twitter. 

Even if you never physically go to a gym, you can still accumulate plenty of points by walking around your neighborhood and fill out surveys on various topics to score additional points. Some surveys take only a few moments — answering one question or reading a short article — while others are more extensive. On top of earning points, your answers go toward research studies, which can help scientists achieve new medical breakthroughs.

Once you’ve racked up 10,000 points, you can redeem them for $10, deposited directly to your bank or PayPal account. Achievement also lets you donate your money directly to charity, which is a cool way to give back.

Potential Payoff: $40 per year



More than 4.5 billion people are online around the world, and, on average, we spend about six hours and 43 minutes online every day. That amount is a slight decrease from the previous year, but it’s still more than a quarter of every day — and depending on how much sleep you get, anywhere from 35 to 45 percent of our waking hours.

UserTesting takes that online time and turns it into market research. The site’s goal is to help companies close the empathy gap with their customers. Per UserTesting, 75 percent of organizations believe they’re customer-centric, while only 30 percent of consumers actually think the same.

The fastest way to close that empathy gap? Get quick, real-time feedback from users. UserTesting has partnered with more than 35,000 brands, including Adobe, Facebook and eBay, and is looking for feedback from users on the experience of using brand websites, usually testing out certain features.

You’ll apply through the site and take a practice test. If you pass that test, you’ll download the UserTesting screen recorder and begin offering feedback to brands. You can earn $10 for every 20-minute test you take and even more for leaving video feedback. 

To become a UserTesting user, you’ll need a functioning computer that runs Windows or MacOS, a reliable Internet connection, a microphone, and a PayPal account to receive money.

Potential Payoff: $240 per year



The average American spends $640 per year on subscription services like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify. That total breaks down to about $53.33 per month, and while you could argue you’re getting good value out of one or two subscriptions, you probably aren’t using all of yours to their fullest potential.

Enter Trim, an app that can get you money back in a slightly different way. Trim provides a personalized dashboard and works on your behalf, fighting for overdraft fees and canceling subscriptions you don’t use.

The cancellation feature alone can save you money, but Trim also offers paid features, like a savings account and negotiation options. Instead of calling up your cable company to adjust your bill, Trim will do it for you and pass the savings onto you.

Trim takes 33 percent of whatever it saves you. For example, if it lowered your monthly bill by $10 per month for the year ($120 total), it would take $40 and you’d save $80. If Trim is unable to save any money, you don’t pay them anything — a win-win situation.

Potential Payoff: $80 per year — and more if you have more subscriptions


These five apps and websites aren’t the only ways to make money, but they don’t require much effort to use and can lead up to some significant savings. Sometimes, that makes all the difference.