Who doesn’t want to make more money? Anyone? With the internet and smart phones, it’s easier than ever to start a side hustle and make money online.
If you read personal finance blogs regularly, you’ll see tons of posts about how you can make money with online surveys. Some of the claims are pretty exciting: “Earn $35 per survey!”; “Make $50 an hour taking online surveys!”; “Earn over $300 a month taking surveys!”
Tempting, right? But is it true? In a word: no.
Here’s the thing: bloggers that promote surveys get a referral bonus for every person they get to sign up. Referral bonuses are often a few bucks, so if your blog has a decent amount of traffic and you convince people to sign up, you can make a nice chunk of change.
I don’t have any problem with that. Heck, this blog relies on commissions and referral bonuses when you lovely readers click on a product link (at no additional cost to you, of course).
What I do have a problem with is those bloggers making wild claims that you can make tons of money with online surveys. Maybe that’s true for the one person in a thousand, but for most of us, it’s not going to happen.
If you genuinely like taking surveys, knock yourself out. And they do have a place in your money-making or side hustle strategy. They’re a nice way to make a few cents while you’re binge watching your favorite TV show, or while you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment. But they’re not your way to riches.
Instead of wasting your time trying to make money with online surveys, here are a few things you can do instead.
May contain affiliate links. See my disclosure page for more information.
Sell Your Junk
Decluttering and minimalism is all the rage right now. Having less stuff means less chaos and less to clean and maintain, which means more time for fun stuff!
There are plenty of places to sell your stuff online. eBay and Craigslist are old favorites, and Facebook Marketplace has become pretty popular too. And there are apps like LetGo, Offer Up, and Decluttr that can help you sell your stuff. Just take a picture, post the details, and wait for offers.
What can you sell online? Pretty much anything! My first sale was a set of candlesticks I no longer wanted. I received them as a gift and used them in my condo, but I didn’t have a good place to put them in our new house. I sold them for $25 within a day or two of posting them. From that point on I was hooked. Since then I have sold the washer and dryer that came with my house, an air fryer, and a few other items. I’ve made close to $200, which is certainly more than I’ve made in all my years doing surveys!
Think you don’t have anything to sell? Think again! One person’s trash is truly another person’s treasure.
Recently, we ripped up an old garden bed in our backyard. On a whim, I posted the brick edging stones to see if I could sell them. Within a few days, I had several people interested in buying them.
With these selling apps, you’ll have a lot of dead ends: people who seem interested in buying and then disappear when you’re trying to finalize details. That’s okay. Just give people a deadline and if you don’t hear from them by that point, move on.
In any case, I ended up selling the bricks for $15. I’m certainly not going to retire off that, but considering we were figuring we would have to pay to drop them off at the dump, $15 looks pretty good!
The point is, you never know what someone is going to want. If you have things you’re ready to get rid of, try selling them first. If you don’t have any bites within a couple of weeks, go ahead and pitch it. You won’t be any worse for wear, and you may even end up a few dollars richer! And it’s likely going to be a better use of your time than trying to make money with online surveys where you’ll only earn a few quarters at a time!
Renegotiate Your Bills
Sometimes making money isn’t about side hustling or bringing in new money. Sometimes, all you need to do is redirect where your money is going.
In the same amount of time it will take for you to complete a few surveys, you could call your utility companies and renegotiate your bills. Cable companies are desperate to keep customers from cutting the cord so you have some leverage in renegotiating your rates. Cell phone companies also want to keep you from switching to a lower cost provider so they may be willing to cut you a break too. A few dollars savings per month adds up fast, and is certainly more than you’re likely to make taking surveys!
Don’t forget your insurance companies either! Fill out an online quote for new car or homeowner’s insurance. If you’re health has improved it’s worth looking at your life insurance too. When I purchased life insurance, I assumed I would receive a lower premium than my husband. I was shocked when my rate was higher than his! It turns out, during the health audit, the life insurance company saw that I had been prescribed a diabetes monitor. I tried to explain that it was for gestational diabetes that did not reoccur with my second pregnancy, but no dice. However, my financial advisor explained that life insurance companies typically look into your records for the past seven years. As soon as I pass that point, I plan to reapply for life insurance to see if I can get a better rate!
Looking for even more ways to save money or find old money? Check out my posts on:
- Frugal living for beginners
- How to save money on your electric bill
- 6 skills you can learn to DIY to save money
- The one stupid simple trick I do to save $2,500 a year
Do you have a pile of magazines that you never get around to reading? Do you have a membership to a gym that you haven’t been to in months? Are you paying for a storage unit when you haven’t looked at the items you’re storing in years?
All of these expenses really add up, and most of us underestimate the number of subscriptions we have. Take a look at your bank or credit card statements for the past few months and identify any recurring charges beyond your regular utilities (there are apps and services that will do this for you, but they make me a bit leery. Read why here).
Are you getting your money’s worth out of these expenses? Could you do without? If so, it’s time to start canceling your subscriptions. A few minutes of your time could save you hundreds of dollars over the year. That’s more money than I’ve ever made with online surveys!
Take Advantage of Money Saving Programs
If you work outside of the home, your employer may offer several programs or benefits that can help you save money.
I wrote an entire post about it here, and I strongly encourage you to check it out because I detail exactly how my family has saved over $10,000 over the years by taking advantage of these programs. But let me give you one example.
My husband and I both need to be responsive to emails after hours. My husband also uses his personal phone to make calls. Because of this, we both took advantage of our employer’s phone reimbursement policy. We are actually MAKING money off of our cell phone bill now because our reimbursement programs cover more than our total bill. How is that for a win?!?
Even better, it’s on auto-pilot. Every month we get an additional allowance on our paychecks to reimburse us for our cell phones. I literally do nothing. Much better than spending hours trying to make money with online surveys!
Claim Unclaimed Funds
There are billions of dollars in unclaimed funds out there. Do some belong to you?
Unclaimed funds are when the government or companies owe you money, but for one reason or another you never received it. Maybe you moved and didn’t submit your forwarding address. Maybe you’re the beneficiary of someone who passed away. Perhaps you were given a savings bond as a child and have long since lost the paper. Whatever the reason, you may still be able to claim funds that are due to you.
Even if none of these situations apply to you, it’s worth checking out the U.S. government’s page on unclaimed funds. Here you can learn more about the types of unclaimed funds out there, and search various databases to see if you’re owed any money. The page also provides links to a state-by-state database so you can check for unclaimed property in any states where you have lived. I always check for close family members too, including those who have passed away. Even if I don’t directly benefit, I would be happy to let someone know they may have money out there somewhere!
Sell Gift Cards
We’ve probably all received a gift card at some point to a store we never shop at or a restaurant we never visit. Rather than throw it in a junk drawer never to be used, try selling it! Plenty of companies want to buy your unused gift cards. You won’t get full face value, but in a few minutes you can change plastic you will never use into cash, or exchange it for a card you will use. In just a few minutes, I’ve been able to exchange a $25 gift card to $18. I can guarantee that I have never made $18 through surveys. Try Cardpool and Cardcash to see how much you can earn from the gift cards you have lying around!
Take Pictures of Help Wanted Signs
I included this one last because you typically won’t earn much more than taking surveys. But it’s a lot easier than surveys and the money is more guaranteed. One of my biggest pet peeves about taking online surveys is spending several minutes answering questions, only to find out I don’t qualify. Who has time for that?
Job Spotter is an app from the job posting site Indeed.com. It’s meant to help people find jobs at companies that typically don’t use online job boards, like local restaurants, markets, and hair salons.
If you’re looking for that kind of work, you probably know that finding a job is often dependent on word-of-mouth referrals. Job Spotter tries to make it easier to find jobs at local small businesses.
Once you download the app and create an account, all you have to do is take pictures of any local help wanted signs you see. Make sure the picture is clear, and that you also snap a pic of the store front. Upload the photos and once your submission is verified, your account will be credited.
You can also earn points by verifying the submissions of others to ensure accuracy. The payout is quite low (usually just one cent per picture), but even that is better than payouts on a lot of surveys I’ve tried to take and failed to qualify for!
You can redeem your points for an Amazon gift card.
Make Money With Online Surveys: Not Your way to Riches
Like I said, if you truly enjoy taking online surveys, don’t let any of this dissuade you. And if you’re binge watching TV or waiting for an appointment, go ahead and knock out a survey or two. But don’t fall for the claims that you can make hundreds of dollars a month by taking online surveys. Rather than waste your time answering tons of questions and not even qualifying for a survey, do the above tasks instead. In most cases, you’re guaranteed to make (or save) more money than you would through surveys. And that’s a much better use of your time.