10 Innovative But Obscure Sites That Put Money In Your Pocket

By Greg Go on 1 February 2009 (Updated 24 November 2009) 24 comments
Photo: iStockphoto

These ten websites help you save or make money in innovative ways, yet they are relatively unknown.  We learned of these guys while doing research for the Wise Bread book coming out in May.  You've got your copy pre-ordered, right?  Enjoy the list, and share with your friends!  Don't forget to chime in with more money-saving sites in the comments.

1. Zilok - Weird name but incredibly cool concept. Zilok is basically "eBay for rentals".  You can rent your stuff out or rent someone else's stuff for a day. For owners, get more out of your purchases -- just a few rentals could pay for the item! For renters, you can save money by renting, instead of buying, seldomly used items. Stuff like canoes, laptops, cameras, cars, books, baby strollers, and everything in between is available for rent from someone near you.

2. Shop It To Me - It's like having your own personal shopper constantly on the lookout for sales!  Rather than scour through all the deals on the web, create your own wish list of clothes, then wait for a bargain to appear. Select your size, brand, and other preferences, and Shop It To Me will email you when there's a relevant sale.  This is perfect for lazy but cheap shoppers like me.

3. UPromise - Save money and build a college fund at the same time. You get 1-25% back from shopping online through UPromise, or by shopping at over 30,000 offline restaurants, drug stores, and supermarkets. Your discounted savings can be automatically deposited into a 529 college savings plan.

4. Covestor - Covestor lets you follow the trades of top performing investors. Piggyback off proven winners to grow your wealth. If you're one of those proven winners, Covestor will pay you for every person who follows your stock trades.

5. BeatThat! - 100% community driven, this site rewards members for finding the lowest price with cold, hard cash. It's the perfect shortcut for deal hunters who don't want to run through multiple sites to verify the best price on a product.  Because deal hounds all over the Web are getting bounties for finding better deals (versus a staff who may not be giving it 110%), you'll find some really great bargains here.  And if you're one of those deal hounds, you could make some beer money for all that time you spend those deals sites.

6. Freecycle - One man's trash is another man's treasure. Find your location and see if anyone is giving away something you need, and vice versa. What a great way to be green and frugal at the same time.

7. Smart Hippo - Crowdsource your mortgage rate research. Smart Hippo is a community of people who post their reviews of mortgages, banks, and lenders. You can use this information to find the best rates and loan officers in your area.

8. BillShrink - Get a list of cell phone plans or credit cards that are better than what you have in less than 5 minutes. Answer a few questions about your current credit card or cell phone plan (or have BillShrink do it automatically by uploading your last statement), and BillShrink will recommend better phone plans or credit cards that fit your needs.

9. SmartyPig - Hands-free savings account for specific goals or purchases. You set a goal and choose the amount you want to contribute each month to reach that goal, and SmartyPig automatically pulls that amount from your checking account each month. You can make your goals public to friends and family, so they can contribute to your goal if they want to. Just like a savings account at your local bank, SmartyPig pays an interest on the money deposited and all deposits are insured by the FDIC. You can withdraw your money at any time via a debit card or electronic transfer.

10. CrossLoop - For finding PC help and/or getting paid to fix a PC problem.  CrossLoop is a remote desktop application and marketplace.  The help requester must give the helper a single-use code in order for the helper's computer to see and control the helpee's computer.  This is great for fixing your parents computer, getting help fixing that nagging Windows issue, or make a few bucks helping others fix their PC problems.  It's free to use CrossLoop.  If you're a PC whiz, you can make money at the marketplace by helping those without geeky kids to help them.  You can set your own rates and determine your own specific services.  Windows only at the moment, but a Mac version is in development.

Do you know of an obscure site that saves you a ton of cash?  Well, don't keep it a secret!  Please share in the comments.

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Guest's picture
Avdi

The "Zilok" link is coming up broken for me - spelling issue perhaps?

Otherwise nice post!

Will Chen's picture

Avdi, the link redirects me to: us.zilok.com/

Is it trying to redirect you to a specific country url that is broken?

Guest's picture
kmd

great post... 1 &2 are good ideas!!
freecycle is agoo didea but there are many flaws to it .. i wa spart of that here in my area and did nt pan out with anything that was a decnt saveable anything.. seemed for us( this area) only a select few who were running the show and all they seemed to be free gifting was absolute junk ... anyway hopefully it isnt like that anywhere else because i know they are i believe world wide with it..

Guest's picture

What an awesome compilation. I'm excited to check some of these out. My own personal online shopper? I'm in heaven!

Guest's picture
Guest

I was on my area's list for about a year. I finally got off as there were too many no-shows, i.e., they say they want something but then don't bother coming to get it. Or people will list something as available that they are putting on the curb so there is a mad rush of people to get there only to find it's gone--what a waste of gas. And, truly, some of what people offer is just junk that they don't want to have to pay to get rid of through their garbage service.

It's a good idea in theory; in reality, less so.

Myscha Theriault's picture

With Freecycle, I've had mixed luck. With the group in northern Maine, it worked great. I've just joined the one in my area here in Florida. Some of the people seem to be unloading things. The one item I put up thus far had a ton of initial responses, but most of them didn't respond when I followed up with them on whether they were still interested. That being said, I did have two people who were serious. One didn't have transport large enough to pick up the piece and the other wanted something a bit more formal. I think it can have a lot to do with those who join and moderate the group.

Great post though, Greg! Numbers 2 and 10 really caught my eye. Thanks for compiling these.

 

Guest's picture

I really like your post. Good work on this!

Guest's picture

Zilok sounds genius ... many times I've said "we only need this for ONE DAY ..." - like the squirrel trap we had to buy for $45 when a rodent was in our attic!

We've had mixed luck with Freecycle too. It is so crowded now that it's hard to obtain anything. Craigslist does list free items as well.

At first I thought UPromise wouldn't be worth it (I don't buy that many brand names). But I use the shopping toolbar on my computer, one grandparent signed up for the credit card, and a childless aunt & uncle registered their cards on my daughter's behalf. In the past year or two we've received $418 in college fund contributions from UPromise - that's not chump change.

Guest's picture

These are great websites for saving money. Here are some more that I use all the time-
America's Cheapest Family http://www.homeeconomiser.com/
Act Your Wage http://www.daveramsey.com/
Buying and Selling Locally-Craigslist www.craigslist.org

Guest's picture
MikiP

Most of these sites only work the USA. That's... disappointing, I would have done a good use of number one

Guest's picture
Sally

Hey Bummer,
I just commented about a site called www.goeyeball.com
I think I'm comment 20. It's a canadian based site. I think you'll like this one, I hope.
Canada has good things to offer too!

Guest's picture
Greg

Thanks for chiming in with your experiences, guys!

I'm also super-stoked about Shop It To Me. It's a godsend for lazy bargain shoppers. It's one of the few email newsletters I let into my inbox. :)

@MikiP - Yeah, a lot of new services are only good in the U.S. for now. It should be really exciting to see these Web2.0-ish services go global in the next 5 years.

Guest's picture

Greg, it is a very cool list. I will have to check out some of these websites for myself! I noticed you mentioned BeatThat. I am a co-founder of Buxr which is a shopping deals site which is based on similar concept with the difference being that we don't limit the deals our members can submit to a fixed set of products. With Buxr you can make money by sharing any hot deal. Every day (and every month) we offer several cash prizes to the members who gain most votes with their deals, some of our active members made over $1000 in prizes over the past few months!

Guest's picture
David

You can sell your old electronics at http://www.gazelle.com
The best part is, they pay the shipping. This is a great topic. Thanks for posting on it.

Guest's picture
weston

I've tried smart hippo half a dozen times because we are thinking of doing a refi.

Nothing ever comes up. It just shows "loading mortgage rates" for an eternity without ever giving any results.

Guest's picture

My name is Kelly and I'm the community manager at SmartHippo. I'm sorry you're having trouble with our site and would like to help.

Would you mind sending me an email to kelly (at) smarthippo (dot) com so I can follow up with you?

Guest's picture
Cheryl
Guest's picture

Thanks, Greg, for such an interesting list. I'd never heard of several of these. I'm going to link to this so even more people can see :)

Guest's picture
Kito

These are really cool-list .Even,I 've never heard the name of some sites .

( But ,I think almost of these sites only work in the US.)

;-)

Guest's picture
Sally

Hi there,
I got a site to contribute that has helped me save my time from flipping through websites weekly on items I want. The site monitors the prices for you whether it is american or canadian sites. You can use it as a tool to help you price match and price adjust too. The site is a bit misleading as they have a deals list on the home page but if you log in and start creating your monitors = eyeballs it's quite different. I've saved $40 bucks on a panasonic phone so far when i got my email notification from the site. now i'm least likely to miss out on a sale on something i want.
http://www.goeyeball.com

Guest's picture
Guest

These are some interesting sites - thanks! Here is site with lots of money making/saving tips: www.momswallet.com

Guest's picture
tex

Very interesting i never realised that any such sites existed.

Guest's picture

great posting and share the good ideas for all...................

Guest's picture
Dawn R

You forgot www.freepricealerts.com! I LOVE this free web browser tool. I usually start my shopping at Amazon.com and click on a product I'm interested in purchasing. The FreePriceAlerts tool automatically scans sellers and other online resources to hunt for a lower price. If one is found, I get a small pop-up in the left hand corner of the screen with a link to the best deal. I've saved on everything from electronics to toys, sometimes as much as $150!