Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gimmicks and Schemes

One thing I learned reading Confessions of a Shopaholic, is that the ways to get out of debt or save are SL and MMM i.e. Spend Less and Make More Money--always easier said than done. To that end, I have tried all manner of schemes and gimmicks to bring in little bits more money here and there. All of this money goes directly into my travel fund, where it earns interest until my next adventure or comes in the form of giftcards. Even though the pay for these schemes isn't great, they usually don't take much time and tend to add up.

Online surveys: My favorite two online survey places are Lightspeed and Pinecone. I've also heard good things about Opinion Outpost, and MySurvey. As with all things, there are pros and cons.

Pros: Survey opportunities are frequent, and some are worth a lot of points, points can be redeemed for gift certificates for a number of places including Amazon, and also cash via Paypal.

Cons: Though there are a lot of surveys to try, you frequently get kicked out of them and get nothing for your effort. This is all down to demographics, it's not personal, but I've spent up to five minutes answering questions only to get dropped like a hot potato. You get points instead of cash and it may take a while to accrue enough points to get anything back.

Pine Cone:
Pros: You get $3 for each survey completed, and you never get kicked out of one. Once I even got a free sample of fitness water to try, and another survey about that, which paid another three dollars. The pay is prompt, usually within hours of completing the survey.

Cons: Surveys are pretty infrequent, so this is no way to get rich. I'd estimate that I get a survey in my inbox every other week, but money is money, so who cares.

Secret Shopping: I don't do a ton of secret shopping, but every now and then it's a decent way to make a little bit of cash. I've signed up with ath Power Consulting and Bare International. Both require you to take and pass a test before you start working for them, but once that's done, you have access to the job boards, and can get emails of shops in your area. Shops typically pay between $5-$20 dollars depending on how involved they are, but every now and then you find one that pays really well.

Pros: Easy money, often for something you were going to do anyway like go to the bank or go to the mall. I made $12 once just by going into Sephora, looking around and requesting a sample which I then got to use.

Cons: A lot of the shops are a lot of work and not much pay. I recently shopped Urban Outfitter and had to go to the store twice, once for the purchase, once for the return, and on the initial visit inspect three areas of the store and try something on. Maybe it's just because I don't like that store, but it was way too much work for $16.

Text message answering: I've only worked for kgb, but there's also ChaCha. Both are pretty much the same service except kgb charges the user $.99 per answer. People text in questions to the service, and you, the operator, answer those questions through an online platform. They're both open 24 hours a day so you can work around your class/work schedule.

Pros: Flexibility and you can work in your jammies. You also get some hilarious (often unintentionally) questions,so it can be pretty entertaining.

Cons: You only make $.10 for each answer you send out, and it can take a while to find good answers to some questions. Some answers you can bang out in a few seconds depending upon typing speed, but others, like sports statistics when you know nothing about sports...yeah.

Medical Studies: I was always quite skeptical of this route, but then I actually did one last summer, and it wasn't bad at all.

Pros: They pay well, the longer the study goes on, the more you make.

Cons: This can take a lot of time and be a bit embarrassing. I had a friend, when I was in college, who basically did this professionally--he had no other job. Because of that, he'd often get locked in at the research place every weekend from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. If you already work a 9-5, this is not a soothing way to spend the weekend.

Pet Sitting: I love cats, and don't mind dogs, so all of my pet-having friends know that they can call on me when they go out of town to administer love and foodstuffs to their little buddies. Some also give me money, those that don't, often get called on to watch my cat at some point. It's a win-win.

Freelancing within your field: I'm a librarian, but I'm also a writer, so there are lots of little things I can (potentially) do to exploit my skills. To date, I've hired myself out as a research assistant to a person who couldn't travel to do her own research, I've done programs at other libraries for a fee, I've done freelance editing and I've worked for online content generators as well as actual publications. Finding writing work that actually pays is a bit tricky, sadly, but it is out there. Whatever it is that you do, keep your ears open, you might stumble across something.

1 comment:

  1. This seems like a delayed reaction, but I've just found your blog and I've been reading it in reverse order. ;) I read your other blog and I started doing kgb because you mentioned it. I'd love to try the survey sites you mentioned on here, but I cannot figure out for the life of me how to sign up on the websites.

    Thanks for your help! I'm really loving all the tips you have. I'm putting my husband through grad school right now (which will add on to our student loan debt) so every dollar helps!