Google creates Tip Jar, help consumers save money

Posted by Rick C. Hodgin

Mountain View (CA) - Google has created a Tip Jar designed to help consumers "discover the most effective ways to save money." The tools is an experiment, and is being powered by Google Moderator. With Tip Jar, people can share their deepest trinkets of helpful knowledge. Buddy, can you spare a tip?





Google says, "Ideas are everywhere, but how do we know which ones actually work? At Google, we put a lot of stock in both the wisdom of crowds — the idea that lots of people responding to a given question can collectively find the best answer — and the value of community. We believe that people working together can help one another through even the most difficult times."



Tips are collected from users and arranged into various categories, including:


At Home
At Work
Finance
Kids & Family
Shopping
Food
Cars & Transit
Travel



Since the service launched this morning, there have been 1,013 tips from 1,231 people with 12,120 votes cast ranking the tips. Here are some popular examples:

Vacation - "Forget about Starbucks while in Europe! Try local coffee shops - they're zillion times better and you can go to a new one every day."

Finance - "My best tip is never to spend a $5 Bill that comes into my possession. And at the end of the month I deposit at least $50 into my savings account."

At Home - "Buy books from your local bookstore. Authors need money too."

At Work - "Use ALL the surface of paper towels. You can save a lot of trees."



As you can see, some of the tips aren't the best, some of them are common sense, and some of them might actually be helpful.

Users are able to vote on a tip, increasing its popularity with the check-mark, the equivalent of a thumbs-up, or to decrease it with the X. A relative bar showing the percentage of each vote is shown, allowing users to quickly sift through less helpful tips.

The Tip Jar also has a search utility. Searching for the word "ski" brought up one tip: "To save money on food during a ski trip, bring top-ramen to the resort for lunch and use the hot water and cup from the cafeteria to mix the noodles, but your body will be starving for nutrients by the time you get home. A tight-budget strategy." Starving for nutrients during a ski trip ... Hmmm, good idea?



How useful will this service be overall? I think it's a demonstration of what Google can muscle its way into. Were a non-name startup to create something like this, I doubt it would see the light of day. Though I must say, I am surprised it's only had 1,013 tips since opening up this morning. I would've thought at least 5,000.

I'm curious to hear what our readers think about that question -- how useful is it?