Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Saving on Groceries without Using Coupons

Title sounds a little strange I know.  But as I explained in my previous message, I haven't been using coupons a great deal.  Oh I still use them, but I am a great deal more selective now.  First of all, I don't use coupons that are $.50 or $.75 or $1.00 off of three or four of the same products.  To me they aren't worth it.  Another reason I don't use as many is because I am cooking from scratch a lot more than I was before.  Unfortunately for the manufacturers, I watched a show one evening talking about all of the  not so easily identifiable ingredients in products these days.  Definitely an eye opener.  These are the two reasons I don't use coupons near as much as I used to.

So how am I saving money on groceries without using coupons?  It's called crowd sourcing.  Crowd sourcing is the process of taking a group of tasks and outsourcing them to people for a nominal amount of pay.  Crowd sourcing has become a great deal more popular in the last couple of years.  Companies love it because they literally pay pennies on the dollar to get work accomplished that they would pay substantially more for.  Workers love it because they can make a little bit of cash here and there and use it where ever they want.

Amazon Mechanical Turk or ( is my crowd sourcing/crowd working website of choice.

If you have followed me at all, then you know that I love to do surveys.  They are easy.  I get to voice my opinion.  I get paid.  What's not to love?  With Mturk I can do surveys whenever I want and get paid for them and not worry about not being qualified.

Now, before I go further, this is another area where I tell you that you won't get rich doing this.  However, you can make some extra money to offset your groceries, etc.  This year I decided to keep a list of all of the items that I have gotten from using the money I earn on Mturk.  So far I have gotten the following:

2 25.4 ounce Bottles of Pantene Shampoo/Conditioner (will last a few months)
1 45 Count Glad Trash Bags (won't have to purchase again till end of year)
1 36 ct. Kelloggs Strawberry Frosted Poptarts (will last all year)
12 4-Count Packages of Angel Soft Double Roll Tissue Paper (will last 24 weeks)
1 18-Count box of SOS Pads (who knows? LOL)

Doesn't seem like much to you?  It's only the 23rd of the month and I haven't done any work on Mturk this week as I have been pretty busy.  Price these items for your area and that's how much I have saved.  In my area, this would have cost me right around $56.00.  So for the year I have purchased $56.00 worth of products by doing some very easy simple surveys and I didn't use any of my own money.

Here's how it works.  First of all, you have to have an account on  Simple enough.  Then you go to and fill out an application of sorts.  It took about 5 days before I was approved.  Once you are approved, then you can start completing "Hits".  Hits can be anything from surveys to copying information from business cards to transcription to search engines, etc.

The pay can range any where from $.01/hit to $6.00/hit (or more) depending on what they want you to do.  I generally stay with the surveys.  They range in price from around $.20/hit to $1.00 and some times you can receive a bonus from the producer of the survey.

I generally stick with the surveys, but I have done some business cards and I played a game once that was pretty interesting.  You can just scroll through the hits until you find a job/hit that you want to do.  There will be brief instructions or a little history about the hit so you can decide if you want to complete it or not.  Once you decide to complete the hit you click the accept button and then are taken to the hit to complete it.  All of the hits I did, with the exception of the business cards, gave you a completion code at the end of it.  You just copy and post the completion code into the box and press submit and your work is completed.

The thing I love about doing surveys on Mturk is that they are generally only 5 to 10 minutes long and you don't have to go through the ordeal of working on a survey only to be about half way through it to find out you don't qualify.  Unless there are particular age or race requirements, which are always noted, everyone is qualified to complete the surveys.  

Generally if I am watching t.v. I will log on to Mturk and do about a half hour to hours worth of surveys.  I generally get in about $2.00 to $3.00 a night.  There are two ways to get paid.  One is to have the money transferred into a banking account of your choice.  You just simply fill out the banking information and in about 10 days the money will hit your account.  The other way is have the money transferred over to Gift Cards.  With the bank account I believe the minimum you can transfer is $10.00 at a time.  With the gift cards you can literally transfer $1 at a time.  

I just let the money build up until there is something I need and then I transfer it over to and then purchase what I need from Amazon.

Here's an interesting part about the pay.  You are not getting paid from Amazon.  You are getting paid from the provider of the hit.  So, if you are doing a survey for the psychology department of a university in California, that is who your pay comes from.  My point is that I don't expect to do enough work from any one job/hit provider to receive a 1099 form at the end of the year.  To me, this is free money for a few moments of my time and I use the money to purchase grocery items that we need and use.  I choose to not have the money deposited into my bank account so that it doesn't get mixed up with the money I earn from my day job.  It definitely helps me cut down on my budget.  Remember the list above is only what I have been able to purchase from this year.   I started doing surveys on Mturk about 3 months ago and purchased quite a few items with the money I earned, including some unplanned Christmas gifts.  Off the top of my head I know I purchased kidney beans, canned corn, shampoo, tissue paper, an aluminum wallet, dog food, chips, cereal and crackers.  I'm sure there was more, but I can't remember all as I sit here.

One of the things that I purchased last year was an 18 count package of Kidney Beans that my husband loves.  He generally requests Bacon Sandwiches and kidney beans twice a month so I have now have enough to last almost the year.  It takes us 2 weeks to go through 1 4-pack of double roll tissue paper so I know that what I have will last 24 weeks.  Once I start getting closer to the end of the 24 week period, then I will go online and purchase more.

My goal is to earn $25.00 to $30.00/week and purchase grocery items that we use around the house.  Everything that I can purchase online with money I never actually see or touch, is less that comes out of my actual home budget.  Doesn't seem like a lot of money I'm sure, but remember we are a household of only two now.

I only purchase items we use and only purchase items that qualify for the free super saver shipping.  Items are received within 5 to 8 days.  

We all know that Amazon has a great deal of grocery and hygiene products for sell.  Even though this is money that is not coming out of my bank account, I am realistic about it and don't use it for products that cost a ridiculous amount and that I could get much cheaper in the store (coffee is one example).  One of the things that I have paid attention to and am thrilled about is the expiration dates.  I was concerned when I first started doing this that the expiration dates on multi-count packages would be too soon and I would end up with products that expired before I could use them.  So far all edible items I have purchased have had an expiration date for at least a year out.

If I see that I am getting low on something, then that is the next product I purchase.  I try to keep a running list of items that we will be needing within the next month or so and that is what I focus on.  

For me it is an easy way to earn a few bucks here and there and save the money from coming out of my  checking account.  And like I said, I use the money for other things as well, but my primary goal is using it towards grocery items first.

So, that's my tip on how to save money without using coupons.  Hopefully it will help some of you out there in cyber land.

Have a great day!

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