Finances,  Side Hustle

The Concept of Beer Money and Making Money Online

The Concept of Beer Money and Making Money Online

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My recent foray into survey websites has got me thinking about the overall concept of beer money.

What is Beer Money?

In simple terms, beer money is extra money earned via online methods for non-essential payments. The term comes from the idea that you can make a few bucks via various methods for your beer expenses. However, during these trying times it can be a bridge between paychecks or some extra cash when it’s not coming in via other methods.

You take a survey here, watch a video there and suddenly you’ve got enough money for your weekly 6-pack. That’s not a bad deal if you’ve got plenty of free time outside of your regular responsibilities or just need some extra cash.

After all, I don’t know about you, but I can waste a ton of time on the internet. That’s why I’ve been thinking about taking that time and turning it into something productive. My Survey Junkie experience showed me that I can make some money rather easily. It wasn’t a huge amount but it did pay for a thing or two on Amazon for me.

However it’s named, beer money is simply money you can spend on anything. It’s discretionary income that you gather outside of your job and spend on whatever you want. That’s especially important now. It can also help those newly to the work at home environment earn some extra dollars here and there.

The beautiful thing about the internet is that money making opportunities began to crop up that could be accessed by anyone. Those opportunities are really what gave birth to the concept of beer money. Suddenly, you could sign up for a variety of websites and do a variety of tasks and actually get paid for them.

These can include anything from surveys, to watching videos, getting rebates for purchases or singing up for services. The common thread is that these things are all entirely online and can be done without leaving your home. That’s really what makes the concept of beer money so appealing to me and others. I can make extra money beyond my job without leaving my home.

However, as good as that sounds, there’s obvious negatives.

Most importantly, the pay on these sites can often be very bad. You can be paid pennies for tasks that take minutes. There’s no need to do the math to figure out that’s a bad hourly wage. It may seem like making money online is a good thing for workers.

However, it’s often a better thing for companies. They can get their tedious tasks done by people without paying a living wage. That’s not great for us.

On top of that, these tasks are often rather boring and repetitive. If you’ve ever done surveys online, you know they’re not the most exciting thing. In fact, exciting online work is rather rare. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Really, once I learned about beer money, I wanted to see exactly what it entailed. I wanted to see if I could find something that was worth doing and actually paid a decent wage.

In the last few months, I’ve signed up for a variety of websites and have tested a bunch. I realized that there’s more to online work than just surveys and found that some of it was actually decent.

Honestly, I was expecting most of these sites to be low hourly wage work. It’s very prevalent out there. However, that’s not always the case. Below, you’ll find the various beer money websites I tried and my opinion of them.

Microwork or Multi Task Oriented Sites

These websites are all about doing small short tasks for pay. In essence, companies will contract out certain things to workers online. Often, these websites can offer a variety of tasks or be focused on one specific task. This is the closest thing to a “job” that I’ve found out there and many people do this as their only source of income.

Amazon Mechanical Turk is the most famous of these type of sites. As a worker, you complete HITs(human intelligence tasks) for a certain amount of money. These hits can be surveys, psychological tests, rating images, sounds or videos or transcribing data. That’s just a small sample of everything that’s out there.

I signed up for Turk a year ago and will give you some examples of what I’ve done. First, there’s a ton of surveys. That’s common on these sites. However, the best part about surveys on Turk is that they’re often quick, relatively well paid and you never get disqualified in the middle.

Second, I’ve done simple rating tasks like one that has me rate dating pictures of people for money. Next, I’ve done tasks that have me listen to a song and give my opinion of it. Next, I’ve done various game tasks that allow me to participate in some psychological studies with other people.

The good part about Turk is the variety and that’s why it’s become on of my favorite beer money sites in short order.

The reason why Turk is so popular is that it’s one of the biggest sites of its kind out there. There’s A TON of work and a ton of workers competing for that work. As with many online sites, some of this work is very bad. There are a ton of tasks that pay 1 cent and will take you more than a minute to complete.

It’s very easy to get discouraged and give up with that type of payment system. However, knowing how to use Turk is key in doing well on that platform.

The reality of Turk is that scripts and browser extensions are a HUGE part of doing well there. There’s a lot of people requesting work on Turk and not all of them are fair or pay well. Some reject a lot which can impact the types of jobs you can get as well. It’s important to avoid those if you want to do well.

And doing well is the second reason why Turk is so popular. It’s that you can actually make pretty decent money on it. Since signing up, I’ve made over $1000 using Amazon Turk part time. Here’s a sample of when I was doing it often during my first few weeks of testing.

Beer Money

In my first few days, I made $17.56 while doing 287 HITs. You can see that number soared in the following weeks as I began to concentrate on HITs that actually pay well.

Like I said, there’s A TON of work out there that pays almost nothing. What’s key about using Turk well is concentrating on the work that pays well. That’s where websites like Turker View come into play.

There people post HITs worth doing and share scripts that modify your Turk pages to include valuable information that allow you to decide whether something is worthwhile or not. There’s a huge community of people who rate requesters and help you decide whether HITs are worth taking. What a great group to help each other out like that.

Beyond that, addons like MTurk Suite and scripts like Panda Crazy are a must to do well on this site. These allow you to automatically queue certain jobs and accept them behind the scenes. As I said, there’s A TON of people doing work on these sites and the good jobs are limited. If you can automate some of the tedious tasks of looking for work and accepting HITs, it’s a big advantage.

Another thing to remember is that certain HITs also require certain qualifications. An example is that many will require you to have at least 100 or 1000 hits completed before you can take on a certain job. This can mean your early weeks on Turk are less lucrative than your latter times. There’s also special qualifications that you may need for certain jobs.

You may say that 1000 hits seems like a lot but many of these are things that take seconds.

Here’s an example; there’s a HIT that allows you to rate someone’s dating profile picture. It pays 3 cents and takes seconds. It’s not hard to do dozens of hits a day without spending too much time on the site.

In fact, ever since I got to 1000 hits, the types of jobs available to me have been better. While my total rewards recently have been lower, that’s because I’ve spent less time in general on the site while trying others.

Lately, now that I work at home, I’ve been putting more time into Turk again.

However, during this time, since I’m working, I only do it on breaks and focus on work that pays $20/hr or more. I can spent 30 minutes on the site and make $10 and that’s not bad at all.

Now, I only focus on tasks that pay well and don’t take a long time.

Here’s another example; I recently did a survey about some new frozen Costco products. It paid $3 and took me six minutes. It was great and now I have that requester saved in a script that will tell me when another request from him pops up and I can queue it up to auto accept it when available. It’s good stuff once you learn the system!

Many people use Turk as almost a full time job and for me, that wouldn’t work. The amount of great HITs is low and keeping an hourly wage that high across a full 8 hr day is hard.

However, as beer money, MTurk is one of the best websites I’ve found. It’s especially awesome if you work at home and can run scripts in the background all day and only do the good HITs. My best days are days when I work at home so I can turk while working. I can easily make $10 on those days in no time at all. In fact, I’ve set my goal to be $10/day and have no trouble reaching it since I started working at home. My best day last week was just north of $25.

One thing to note is that MTurk can be hard to master and learn. There’s a lot of scripts and qualifiers and other things out there. There’s also a Masters qualifier that long term Turk users can get that opens up more HITs to you but that’s rare and only achieved after doing tens of thousands of HITs. Maybe one day I’ll get it as I don’t plan to quit anytime soon.

There’s other websites like turk out there like Microworkers but from what I’ve read, Turk is the best of breed. However, I’ve heard that Amazon Turk can be selective in who they approve so you might not get welcomed in right away when you sign up. It’s also focused on USA users so you might not do well if you’re outside the states.

Online Focus Group or Testing Groups

Focus groups are a more in depth survey type. You exchange your time and opinion for some sort of payment. There’s a variety of these online but many require your personal attendance.

The best way to find ones local to area is to simply search Focus Group State(your state) if you’re in the USA. These often pay pretty well($50-$100/hr) but you won’t get them too often. If you like in a big city like NYC then you’re in luck because that’s where they often happen. However, these may not be an option right now with the various shut downs in place today.

Thankfully, online focus group type websites do exist.

The best one I’ve found so far is Respondent. Respondent is a website that pairs researchers with high quality research participants for group or one on one studies.

The reality of Respondent is that it’s targeting professionals in certain industries. That means you likely won’t have any luck on it if you’re not already working. You also have to be ready to talk to people on the phone if you want to make money on Respondent as a lot of these projects are one on one discussions with the researcher.

However, the great part of respondent is that the pay can be REALLY good. I’ve participated in a ten minute discussion that paid me $15. I’m also currently in an online message board project that pays $140 for 4 hours of estimated work(it ended up being closer to 2 so $70/hr).

If you’re in a specialized job like a doctor, there are tasks out there that can pay $300+/hr. Check out the one below which certainly pays pretty damn well if you fit the bill.

It can be really good paying beer money if you qualify. However, the reality is that most people won’t.

There are other websites that allow you to money via giving some form of feedback. UserTesting is the one I’ve tried where you give feedback to companies designing websites or mobile apps. You record yourself following directions online to help test those web pages or mobile applications.

The pay is about $10 for 20 minutes of work. However, the negative is that I rarely qualify for these recordings so I rarely do this.

Variety or GPT Websites

The most common entry to beer money for most people are variety websites. These are popular sites that offer a variety of tasks that pay you money.

Often these are also called GPT(get paid to) websites. These will run the gamut of tasks such as surveys, singing up for mailing lists, watching videos, playing games and more.

The reality is that most of the websites in this area that I’ve tried simply suck and pay very poorly. There’s a lot of scams out there and many will inundate you with spam mail quite quickly. If you ever try these websites, make sure to use a separate email. There’s a few I still plan to try and maybe I’ll write about them in the future if they’re worthwhile.

One website that I’m still using from this bunch is Swagbucks. However, I don’t think that this website is fantastic and I’ll illustrate why that’s the case.

The main one is that the pay for the majority of the tasks on there aren’t great. For example, to get 2 SB(Swagbucks pays in points called SB which are equivalent to 1 cent), you have to watch 1-2hrs of videos. No thanks!

Beyond that, Swagbucks offers surveys but has an annoying tendency to tell you you’re not eligible 90% of the time which is common with survey websites. On top of that, the Swagbucks front page can get a bit busy and show too many offers since they also offer SB for singing up for certain programs or services.

So why do I still use it? There’s four reasons.

The main one is that sometimes(rarely), the surveys are great. I check the survey list from time to time and whenever there’s a 2k+ survey, I jump on it. I’m currently in a survey about buying dog food that makes me fill out 4 polls this month. Each poll takes 5 minutes and it pays me 2000SB($20).

A few weeks ago, I was able to get on an online chat group about some broth they’re testing out. It was an hour long and asked me to respond to a few questions about broth. It paid 3000SB($30) for almost no effort.

Most of the surveys on there are bad but there are rare gems in there that keep me around.

The next reason is that Swagbucks offers can be decent if you’re already planning to buy a service. For example, they had a Hulu offer that pays you 2000SB($20) if you sign up for Hulu for the first time. If you’re planning to sign up for anything, why not check here to see if you can get some extra money.

Speaking of extra money, Swagbucks will give you cash back for shopping at certain stores. You can install an extension that will automatically tell you when that applies. I’ve gotten some cash back on things I would have bought normally already just by adding that to my browser.

Lastly, they have a daily(weekdays) trivia game that pays in SB that I enjoy playing. If you like trivia and are good at it, it’s an easy way to have fun and earn some extra $$. I already pay bar trivia all the time and this is fun too.

Beyond that, everything else on this site is pretty bad and pays a pittance. They do try to gamify it by giving you a daily to do list and giving you extra SB for completing it plus adding some games each month. If you enjoy that type of stuff, Swagbucks has it in spades.

However, it’s not for me so I’ll just focus on the stuff where the reward is worth the effort(high paying surveys) or I get cash back for doing nothing.

Cash Back Beer Money

The cash back feature on Swagbucks is the main draw for some other websites.

Rakuten is a big one and the cash back rewards often don’t overlap with Swagbucks. Some of them are really solid too and can give 10%+ in cash back at certain stores. If you’re already shopping online, you’d do well to have both extension added to your browser. I did a full review of Rakuten here too.

I don’t buy a ton of stuff so it doesn’t benefit me a ton but it can certainly make a difference for some. Combine that with your credit card cash back and you can get some pretty decent sized money back at certain stores.

If you’re shopping in stores and enjoy coupon clipping, IBotta is the place to be for that. IBotta allows you to clip digital coupons and credits them to your account when you scan a receipt with said items. Some of these coupons are simple ones like eggs of any brand or milk and they depend on store. Those that shop at a wide variety of stores and get a ton of items will benefit a lot from this.

For me, I shop at Trader Joes which barely has any offers and Costco which isn’t too great there either. However, I can see IBotta being really good for families who do a ton of shopping at other stores. On top of that, it seems like they’re starting to get into online cash back as well recently.

Survey Sites

Survey sites were the start of this journey for my. My Survey Junkie post already talked about my feelings on that websites. I’ve gotten another $10 since that post was written.

However, I’ve since learned about a few other websites and haven’t been using Survey Junkie that much lately.

The reality is that if you want to do surveys, you should be on Amazon Turk. You never get disqualified, they’re less random and they pay better.

Another website of that caliber is Prolific. Prolific is based in the UK but will ONLY show you survey that you qualify for and it only hosts surveys for schools doing research. The pay is much better than most survey websites and you’ll never be disqualified midway.

As mentioned above, Swagbucks surveys can be worthwhile but very rarely.

Overall, survey sites are the most common, reliable and easiest way to make money. There’s always surveys available. However, qualifying for them and getting paid well is another discussion all together. That’s the key part of survey websites.

If I only qualify for 20% of the surveys and have to spend 3 minutes to see if I even qualify, I’m not interested. I was fine with the low qualification rate initially but that was before I knew about these other websites where pay is better.

I think for me, going forward, I’ll focus on Turk, Prolific and Swagbucks for my surveys and ignore the rest.

Is Beer Money Worthwhile?

Initially, I thought the answer for this would be a clear no.

My experience with making money online has been very negative in the past. The pay can be crap and the work is tedious and annoying.

I think if you’re thinking of using these websites as full time work then the above still applies. The pay for a lot of this is bad and the work is tedious and annoying.

However, that’s not the point of beer money. The point of beer money is to earn extra cash online and since it’s just extra money you don’t depend on, you can focus on the things that pay well. That’s especially true during a time like today where jobs can be hard to find and layoffs are common.

That’s one of the reasons I’m enjoying this quite a bit more than I thought I would.

Take Amazon Turk as an example. I can focus on the things that work for me and only do tasks that are somewhat enjoyable. If nothing good is popping up, I can just not do it! However, knowing it’s there gives me a feeling of safety and some income flowing in spite of everything else.

That’s a beautiful spot to be in and why it helps to have a few websites you can work on any given time. For example, right now I’m working at home which means I’ll likely make a few dollars on Turk on the side during lunch. On top of that, I have an active project on Respondent that I can do anytime until Tuesday that I may finish later. I also have a

Beyond that, there’s cash back potential any time I shop from Swagbucks, IBotta or Rakuten.

Beyond that, I can work on Turk, Prolific or check out what’s new on Respondent when I get bored.

In the past few months, since I started this, I’ve probably made $1,500 which isn’t a small chunk of change. I don’t drink so it’s not going towards beer but you have to remember that that’s just a name. For me, beer money is extra money that can help me cover certain expenses each month and that’s pretty neat. It also often means more money I can save each month!

During this time of need, it’s also a great resource for those who don’t have any other streams of income coming in right now.

Generally, what else am I doing with my time? Half the time, when I’m at home, I’m sitting on Reddit doing nothing so why not do some interesting tasks from time to time. The best part about beer money is that you get to choose what you want to do. There’s no mandatory work and you can do it when you feel like it.

Yes, there’s a ton of bad websites out there that aren’t worthwhile but once you find the good ones and get the hang of them, this can be a pretty rewarding activity. My focus lately has been on things that pay at least $15-$20/hr. There’s not a ton of it out there but it does exist especially on websites like Turk or Respondent and sometimes Swagbucks.

I’m very glad it exists during a time like this where work is so uncertain.

The only annoying part of this will be the taxes but I’ll figure that out somehow. Remember to save around 25% of your earnings for taxes next year and you should be fine.

Even with that, I’m open to try out more sites and to keep doing some side hustle work on the good ones I’ve already found. There’s a ton of crap out there but hopefully this post gets you started on a few beer money sites that are worth doing!

Good luck and let me know if you have any suggestions for good sites or questions about any of the websites mentioned.


  • JoeHx

    I’ve done extremely well with MTurk in the past – I made $1,194.33 in 2016 and $733.19 in 2017.

    However, I’ve started focusing on more profitable, passive pursuits – such as Merch by Amazon (t-shirts, basically).

    I only made $115.27 on MTurk in 2018, but $2,119.11 via Merch by Amazon.

    • TimeintheMarket

      Very nice. I actually tried to sign up for Merch by Amazon and was denied back in the day so I never really tried it much. My wife is more artistic so maybe I’ll encourage her to sign up for that.

  • wealthlenial

    It’s sad to say I haven’t even heard of Turk until this article. I think I’ll try it out. Extra cash never hurts!

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