The spouse and I have been looking for ways to easily increase side income.  The spouse has always donated blood, and gets Amazon points for that.  He generally makes between $5 and $20 per month, and that’s how he funds his entertainment (books, music, movies, TV, etc.).  I go to the library, listen to NPR, and too much TV makes me nervous, so I’ve sort of ignored his hustle.

However, when I found out that it was possible to earn money grocery shopping, now I was on board.  We have to buy food anyway, so why not get paid to do it, right?  As it turns out, it really depends on WHAT you buy, more than anything else.  The Ibotta app comes relatively highly recommended, so we thought we would start there.  The link there is my referral link – if you want to give me free money go ahead and sign up with that code, if not you can go directly to their homepage here.

As a bit of background, keep in mind that I have stomach issues that require a relatively strict diet – no glutens, onions, garlic, high fructose corn syrup, soy additives, or “creamy” dairy (soft cheeses and milk, mostly).  Then there’s the random selection of fruits and vegetables that are sorted into “do not eat,” “might be ok,” and “no problem” categories.  So take my review with a grain of salt – if you can eat more of the foods in the app, you may make more money than we did.

There are a few steps to getting paid – you have to decide what you’re going to purchase, and where, go to the store, buy the item and scan a receipt.  As long as you have selected the items you want to buy, and the item is shown on the receipt, you’ll get money.  You can also form groups and pool your points to get even more rewards.

We started the app back in summer of 2016.  Just so no one is in suspense, we deleted the app off our phones in January of 2017.  We had earned $21.  There is a $5 bonus for signing up, and they hook you with “extra” points early on, so we really earned about $16 for six months of picking food and uploading receipts.

The biggest problem is the lack of variety in fruits and vegetables.  We don’t keep a lot of alcohol in the house, and what we do is usually local craft beer that doesn’t participate.  Most of our groceries are bulk meat and vegetables, with some potatoes, rice, and pasta thrown in for good measure.  Rarely do we get snack foods or other processed food.  However, the app usually only has one or two bulk meat products on at a time, and only about three produce items.  When we were using it, the produce items were often specific and you could only get the money if you bought at a specific store.  According to a friend who uses the app still, some of that has changed so that more stores qualify.

What that meant, was that most of our groceries simply didn’t qualify for any rebate.  I also have a pretty strict rule about not using coupons to get “extras” just because they’re slightly cheaper with a coupon.  For example, we don’t usually buy hummus (since I can’t eat it, and the spouse couldn’t care less about hummus) so when hummus gets a $1 rebate in the app, I’m not spending $3 to buy a tub because then I’ve wasted $2.  If we’re not planning to get something already because of how we’ve planned our meals for the week, we’re just spending extra money if we get something we don’t need.

On the other hand, my friend who still uses the app has made close to $150 in a few months.  She plans her meals around what’s on sale in the app, eats a lot more frozen and processed food, and buys a lot more alcohol.  So, she plans better and has more opportunities.

In the end, it just didn’t work out for how we eat, but it might work for you.  If nothing else, we did end up with $21 we didn’t have before, it was just too much effort for the payout.  Your lifestyle may be different, so it’s worth a shot.