Monday, August 8, 2011

Doing Surveys - Making Money

I was just given a $50 gift card from Express, for free. I was able to do this by filling out surveys online. Your first reaction might be, "There's a catch”, “I have to jump through a lot of hoops to do this”, or "I wont qualify." Over the past few years (June 2010), I have been doing surveys online in my free time and during that time; I've been gifted cash, gift cards, shampoo, deodorant, facial cream, among other products. I usually get to keep these products although sometimes I do have to return them (infrequently though).

The two main survey companies I work with are MySurvey and e-Rewards. Both are completely free, both have given me samples to try out, and both have given me enough points or credit to redeem for cash, amazon gift cards, or express gift cards (although I could have also gotten hotel points, airline points, among a vast array of other options). I love both of these companies for different reasons. 

Mysurvey is open and free to everyone; they'll notify you of many of the surveys that you receive however, some they wont so you have incentive to continue to log in daily. They also have monthly give-a-ways, which to my dismay I have never won. :-(  Many of the surveys are easy to fill out and you'll frequently see the same questions across many of the surveys making it easier and faster to fill out. I don't get spam from them or their affiliates. However, to earn points from them is a long and slow process unless you do the longer surveys, which can take up to 15 minutes. When you first sign up, you'll get more short surveys, but the longer you are with them, the more long surveys you'll get. I think it took me a couple of months to start getting consistently long surveys among many short surveys. Looking over my history, I seem to redeem about $10 cash (although lately I'm doing amazon gift cards), every 1-2 month period. I'd say it's easy work to get an extra $120 a year. I recently decided to also put all of that money towards amazon to purchase a new kindle. Nothing better than a free kindle. :-)  

E-Rewards is different than mysurvey, in that it is not open to the public and you have to be invited to use it. I frequently get emails from them and I can adjust how many I get per week. Their surveys you tend to either qualify for or not and frequently, I find that I don't qualify. However, even if you don't qualify they usually credit you a small amount, usually around $0.25 to $0.50. When you do qualify however, the amount is usually much higher, in the range of $5 to $25. When you have a certain amount of money built up you're able to redeem. Their rewards however are more limited. Personally I don't like to redeem for airline or hotel points, which is their main options, I much rather have cold hard cash. However they do have a few stores, which I enjoy shopping at occasionally when they have nice discounts. So, I opt for the Express gift card. They do have different levels of the gift card, but I usually try to aim for the $50, just so I don't have to fuss with many different cards and I can usually go ans pick out at least one or two things that would end up being completely covered by the card. How frequently do I redeem? I'd say I get $50 gift cards from express every 5-6 months, which is about the same as mysurvey, just clumped up into one pot.

So between the two survey companies, I make about $200 a year and free products as well. :-)  The survey's require little time to take, I usually do them on the weekends now and maybe occasionally during the week.  The samples that I try out are usually anonymous, so I have no idea who made them, what scent/flavor they are in (until I open them), etc.  However, I do appreciate them, currently I'm using "Body Wash 407," and it smells wonderfully.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Making money doing what you know best, tutoring

It's easy for many of us to forget that over the years we have gone to college for X amount of years and we may be thoroughly trained in a certain subject or field. While we may take certain subjects for granted, like calculus, history, politics, economics, etc., others are just beginning their journey into that field and need a helping hand. And this is where your knowledge can generate money by tutoring them.

This is how I got started by tutoring.... An email was recently sent around my department from an individual’s father, looking for a guiding hand for his son who will be taking a course in the fall semester in college and wants a head start since he'll have a heavy load. I looked at my schedule over the next 5-6 weeks and discovered that I could probably take on the additional load of tutoring a few times a week. So I replied back by offering my assistance and my online resume by LinkedIn showing my accomplishments in teaching and tutoring and the subject matter from the past (and of course what I'm doing currently as well).

They wanted to know what my rate would be per hour and I dug around looking at for tutoring rates average and then I discovered another website, where you can search locally for tutoring in a wide range of fields, their rates, travel fee's (if any), etc. While there were many people to teach the subject, physics, the rates I discovered were in the range of $15 to $30 per hour. Wow $30/hr., that's better than what I get paid at my day job! I looked at the tutors around our area, and all of them offered to tutor a wide range of subjects but none had specific training in physics besides just the entry level, so I replied back offering $25 - $30 per hour. Needless to say, they took the $25/hr. rate.

Now, 5 tutoring sessions later, and only spending about 6 hours with the student, I've earned nearly $150. And in the next few weeks, we'll be going at a faster pace, which means, I have to tutor him longer per session so I'll be raking in the money!

I did sign up for the University Tutor website and I really hope I'll be able to pick up a few hours a week from them as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The U.S. Debt Clock

With all of the debate about the our nations debt I decided I wanted to really see how it was split up and where everything was and to my great desire, I found an incredible website which shows that and much more.

This website will show you real time U.S. National Debt, which includes things like credit card debt, mortgage debt, interest, state debt, local debt, food stamps, etc, along with where it is split, for example, per person, per tax payer, per family, medicare, medicaid.  It's AMAZING!

Then to top it off, they also show different countries debt, state debt, and they have a time machine! For both back in time and forward in time! Ah, time machine, how I wish we could actually use you and go back in time to where the debt was actually going down.

For those of you who are interested, I thought I would just push that out there for everyone to see and hope you'll get a chuckle out of it.  And I hope everyone here will be debt free faster than what that clock shows!

Don't forget to be awesome everyone.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Net Debt - August 2011

Student loans: -$77,809.34 (+0)
Car loan: -$3,000.52 (+835.97)
Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
Mortgage: -$139,050.34 (+178.20)

Net Debt: $219,860.20

About the car loan, if you notice, I'm pushing as hard as I can to have the car loan paid off as quickly as possible and I'm on track to have it paid off by new years. My actual car loan payment is only $172, so I actually paid an additional 4x as much. Although I could probably pay it off completely now, college will be starting soon, so between that and my college tuition bill, and some other bills that we are planning for, that would drop our cash reserves to almost nothing and we would have to start dipping into the emergency fund.

I've also picked up a side gig tutoring! So, at the moment, I have the pleasure of tutoring and making an extra $25 per hour, which I tend to be doing about 3-4 hours a week. So an extra few hundred dollars a month isn't too shabby, and I probably would be wasting that time anyway, so I'm happy at least to be making money from my wasted time. :-) I want to keep a running total of the money made from tutoring, so I'll be keeping a total there and hopefully this will encourage everyone to get a side gig and make some extra money and help pay off that debt faster, save for the future, or what ever you want to do. Of course it wont pay me more than my current job, but at least it definitely compliments it nicely.