Assorted Links: Eating Doritos While Doing The ChaCha

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Lots of links to share, so I thought I’d do the shotgun approach to blogging tonight.

What The World Eats, Part 1. This is a cool piece that shows what 12 different families from around the world eat in a week, and how much it costs. In Time magazine, based on the book Hungry Planet, via Bogleheads.

Speaking of eating… what about the incredible shrinking Doritos bag “Big companies are protecting profits with subtle repackaging, putting a little less into boxes of cereal, containers of ice cream, rolls of paper towels and other products. Guess who’s paying for it.” One thing I’ve also noticed is that means generic packages often hold more product despite the outside box being the same size. This makes store brands an even better buy these situations.

ChaCha is a service where you can call or SMS text a question and a human will text you back the answer. Currently free. You can also apply to be one of those humans (“Guides”) and get 10-20 cents per query answered. Thanks to Frank, who says you can earn a flexible $6-8/hr. Use his e-mail as referrer when signing up.

A related site is Mahalo Greenhouse, where you get paid to research and write up results for the Mahalo search engine. Pay rates unknown, and you only get paid if accepted.

AishCafe is paying college students $250 to take an online course to learn more about Judaism. Interesting idea. Seems like a decent time commitment, must go through interviews.

Frugal Freedom has shared her early retirement budget, and it’s only $600 per month! I’m worried that her healthcare costs are too low, but she is living in an paid-off RV so her housing costs are minimal.

Is tipping really so hard? The Freakonomics blog notices that “out of 59 apps in the finance section [of the iPhone App website], at least 15 of them help you calculate a restaurant tip.” Seriously, what’s wrong with using the built-in calculator?

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  1. I am a ChaCha Guide and I guarantee you, there is no chance that you will make anywhere close to $6/hr.

    The current payscale (It changes often) is .10 cents per question that you answer. They say that most guides average 2 minutes per question, which would mean you could answer 30 questions per hour for $3.00.

    If you make “Top Guide*”, something you must do each and every week, you will get .20 cents per question, which is where I imagine the potential for $6/hr comes from.

    In reality, latency issues with the ChaCha system, coupled with the fact that they only get a high volume of questions at certain times of the evening and weekend means that you rarely get a steady stream of questions, which directly impacts your ability to take more questions.

    Another thing is that you basically HAVE to find a legitimate answer or your “Accuracy*” goes down. In many instances this will take you much longer than 2 minutes. The most I’ve spent on a question is 8 minutes.

    * To make Top Guide (each week) and qualify for the .20 cents a question, you must complete a minimum of 200 searches per week and have 95% Accuracy in your answers. Now, how they determine accuracy is beyond me. They don’t have the manpower to individually check everyones’ questions, plus the fact that at least 50% of the questions you get will be unanswerable, like “Is Steve Gay?” or “How many gallons of water are in the ocean?”

    There ultimately is no way to refute whether or not you have achieved the proper level of accuracy either. Once weekly they come out with a Top Guide list and you just hope your name is on it.

    Now that all of that is out of the way. IF you are home and online and have nothing to search for yourself. And, if you enjoy using your excellent searching abilities to find answers for people, and learning new things for yourself, then you can earn a few extra bucks while doing it. The real reason to participate is because it can be fun finding answers for people, not because of the money.

  2. It’s amazing how much more air we buy when we get a bag of chips now. It used to be that the bags were bigger and just contained less… but now the bags are even smaller… and still contain less!

    Unfortunately, I haven’t found an acceptable replacement for Dorito’s. Does anyone know of quality store-brand nacho cheese or ranch chips that are close to the Dorito’s quality?

  3. Thanks for the information, js6664. I’ve signed up for ChaCha… sounds like it’s worth a try. I’m wondering how they determine who is selected. (The application was very general.)

    I also looked into Mahalo Greenhouse… you get paid $10 to $15 per page that you write. (I didn’t find it listed on their website, but it was on a review.)

    For AishCafe, there are 7 videos, 3 mp3s, and and 2 live classes that you have six weeks to complete. I would probably do it were it not for the live class requirement. The locations aren’t listed, but they say the classes should be “on or around your campus.”

  4. A little off topic but what do you think is the better student loan scenario:

    Scenario 1:
    Pay ($2400 towards loan and $1500 savings)/month x 3 years and have $56000 at the end adjusting for tax and no debt.

    Scenario 2:
    Pay ($400 (min) towards loan and $3500 savings) x 3 years and have $49000 in the bank after paying loan.

    I am leaning toward scenario 1 even though people always say don’t worry about student loans.

  5. is that Frugal Freedom or is it Frugal Prison? $240 for christmas… scrooge. it isnt about the amount you spend, but do something decent for your friends and enemies at christmas, birthdays, etc. you only live once, i have no plan to spend my entire life scrimping to survive on as little as humanly possible… id rather be at work.

  6. regarding tipping…

    I don’t find it difficult, but my wife does. The simpler the challenge is, the more complex it is for her. She is smart but simple percentages present a challenge. Its strange because she always did well in AP High School classes and college level calc+ mathematics…

    go figure.


  7. Thanks js6664, that was just the info I was looking for when I came to the comments. How long have you done this and how long has cha cha been around? Is the usage steadily increasing from what you can tell?

  8. As I was going through the slide show with the foods that different families in different countries were eating, it seemed as if Americans eat a lot less fruits and vegetables than other nations. I suppose it should not be so surprising due to the amount of processed goods in our country, but seeing it compared to other countries just made it seem shocking.

  9. In the meantime, the World is having food crisis.

    From Time magazine: “Rocketing food prices — some of which have more than doubled in two years — have sparked riots in numerous countries recently. Millions are reeling from sticker shock and governments are scrambling to staunch a fast-moving crisis before it spins out of control. From Mexico to Pakistan, protests have turned violent.”

  10. I noticed the size change with Edys Slow Churn Yogurt. Stuff is like crack. But with a tiny little container, I may eat a bit less at a time, so it isnt all bad. When its gone, its gone, Im not headed back to the store for more.

  11. From Wikipedia article on ChaCha:

    ChaCha uses two types of guides to provide users with answers. Text guides answer text and voice questions, while transcribers (or voice guides) transcribe questions made by phone calls and send them on to be researched and answered via text message.

    Guides are paid a flat fee for each answer or message; as of August 2008, transcribers received $.04 to transcribe a message, guides received $.10 for each answer and those ranked as “top guides” received $.20 per answer. ChaCha changed its payment plan in August 2008, then modified it after multiple complaints so top guides” will continue to earn at 20 cents, while lower quality and/or lower volume guides will receive a reduced payment of 10 cents per transaction.[9] Guides report that the average pay per hour is between $3-8.[10]

  12. Interesting websites.

    I suppose that I would be a millionaire in Chad if one could live on $1.23 for a week, but would I want to live in Chad.

  13. Safeway displays “per unit pricing” that way the price and size and what’s the best deal is figured out for me… thus these size changing tricks won’t derail me from picking the best deal. Also I buy at safeway because they have a diverse selection of “loss leaders.” I can usually buy my goceries with 80-90% loss leaders. I consistantly save 25-50% off non-sale total.

  14. Thanks for the link and I’m glad I followed it back to find your blog. My $600 budget is just my bare minimum security blanket. I don’t know why everyone thinks that is all I am ever going to make and spend. It will allow me to work part time or jump from job to job in search of my passion. A part time job at $8/h would bring in an additional $550/m or it might be something full time but seasonal. The idea is more freedom and fun! I just can’t stand only having 2 weeks vacation.

  15. We also noticed the smaller Edy’s container. *Sigh* I guess it a good thing since we shouldn’t be eating so much fatty ice cream. Still, can’t help but feel cheated!

  16. about the tipping… i live in texas where tax is 8.25%… so when it comes to calculate the tip amount i just double the tax and i’m good 🙂

  17. I have been with ChaCha for 3 months and average $7 an hour. It won’t make me rich but it makes for good blow money. It seems to have slowed down since the election is over but I am not complaining. I was going to be sitting at my computer doing nothing anyway, why not search for an answer and make some money. I have even learned quite a bit doing it.

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