Making side money is a big deal in early retirement. I would love to do side work that doesn’t have any stress associated with it (who wouldn’t right?) and make a small amount of side money. I’d preferably like to make around $100 per month. I’m looking for something easy that pays just enough to give my husband and I some spending money for lazy days on the beach. The amount of $100 may seem small, but that amount can go a long way in a foreign country like Belize or Costa Rica, which are two of our possible retirement locations.
By the time we retire at age 41, we will have rented out our current apartment and kept our rental cabin, which will give us a nice cushion for us to drive our RV around or settle down somewhere warm and permanent. However, play money (like an extra $100 per month) is always good no matter what option we end up doing long-term. So in preparation for this change, I decided I’d try to make some quick money now.
Plan #1 to Make Quick Side Money
My first adventure in earning side money is a pretty easy one: Taking Surveys. I figured I’d start with online opportunities or E-surveys first but also leave open the door for in-person surveys as well. In-person surveys, per my definition, consist of live test groups, marketing groups, or focus groups. Who knows, we may be traveling and have the opportunity to participate in focus groups for money. There’s a ton of places in Vegas that recruit tourists for short surveys to make quick money. When I lived there, I’d go to Planet Hollywood on my days off and see if I could make money participating in a focus group for an hour. I once got paid $45 to do two different shots of Baileys Irish Cream in an hour time frame. Best $45 I’ve ever made.
How Did I find Surveys?
My first step was to place my name on the mailing list of several different survey companies. I reviewed each one on Yelp before I signed up and also read through their reviews on Google. Resolution Research and I-Survey seemed to have good reviews and offered daily surveys ranging from payments of 50 cents to $20 depending on the length of time to complete the survey. Some companies offered this payment in a gift card and others would deposit the survey into your account. I chose ones that offered gift cards after you reached a certain amount of money because I don’t like giving out my savings account information. I figured after I enrolled on the mailing list for Resolution Research and I-Survey that I would just sit back, take a few short surveys, and collect easy money.
My First Attempts at On-line Surveys
Turns out, it’s not as easy to earn free money doing surveys as it was presented on the internet (shocking!). I’d receive an email from Resolution Research and I-Survey reading,” Sign up to taste a new brand of chips and you will earn $20″. Great, I thought. I’ll take a 20 minute survey, answer some questions about which chips I buy, and collect some cash.
Turns out, it’s not that easy. Each survey came with selection criteria, requesting information on age, gender, education level, and income. I filled out my info, ready to complete that first money-maker of a survey. When low and behold, I was not selected. Turns out I still with got paid with Resolution Research, even when I was not selected. But instead of the $20, I received 10 cents. Correct, each time the online survey system does not choose you to participate in the survey, you receive 10 cents. I now have 50 cents in my account because after 5 attempts, they have yet to choose me. After one week of not being selected for anyI-Survey online surveys, I was removed from their mailing list. I’ll keep trying until one day I am selected.
What Other Hurdles are there with Online Surveys?
Also, some survey companies have a tight window to actually volunteer to participate in the survey. Many of them already have the max number of wanted participants completed by the time I click on the email link. I have my email open all day at work so I see the survey links pretty quickly. However, since I’m working, I don’t always click the survey link immediately, but I usually do within the hour. I have a feeling a lot of other early retirees are completing these surveys and perhaps taking my slot to participate.
Going the Focus Group Route
With online surveys not making me the quick cash I desired, I decided to also sign up for both online and local focus groups. I figured I’d be a great pick for any type of focus group. Since I had so much experience from being selected at Planet Hollywood, I figured I’d be a sure thing. I signed up for two focus groups/marketing research groups in Denver. One is FieldWork.com and the other is Plaza Research. I receive consistent emails from both with high-paying studies. Most of the studies are one to two hours long. The good news is these studies pay between $150-$200 in the form of a pre-paid debit card. Some are in-person and some are for phone studies.
The issues again are the damn selection criteria. I have been eliminated from every study based on my choices selected during the screening section. I’m not quite sure what the panel is looking for, but apparently a 34 year-old, married woman without kids is not the demographic. For both FieldWork.com and Plaza Research, you don’t get so much as a dime if you aren’t selected to participate. So I’ve made no money as of yet.
Did I Make Hundreds Per Month in Surveys?
The short answer is no. Online surveys and focus groups have not made me enough money to buy anything so far. I made 50 cents in my first weeks, which is well short of my goal of $100 per month. But where there is a will, there is a way. I plan to do some reading on how to get selected for online surveys and will keep trying! Stay tuned to see how I hit my goal and what other avenues I explore.