May 21, 2009

Paid Surveys - Your Opinions Are Your Extra Money

No-No-No I am not revealing any secret to earn thousands of dollars or something, but a way to tote-up to your take home money. Saving more money is one of the great ways to fill-in your cash pools. But (if you know Ramit Sethi then you might have realized that) another way to do the same is by earning more.

In this post I will be focusing on one such method which I started following myself more than a month ago and has proven to go really well. A "Paid Survey", as you might have understood from the title itself, is one such scheme to add little every month to your cash-pools.

If you have not yet started playing high-risk games, then you might wanna take great pleasure in earning extra bucks and lighten you utility loads.

Yeah, I know these look like baby-steps but at least I am walking ;)
  • What are Paid Surveys?
It's simple: A company that is interested in launching a new product/service/brand in market, would always like to first find their potential market capture. To find this information, the company will get in touch with a Marketing & Research firm that will do the survey for them. This Marketing & Research firm in-turn reaches out to potential consumers of the product, like us, and pays in return of their opinions.

Yes I said that, you express what you feel and they value your thoughts. Typically these surveys cover a wide-range of arenas for example:

  1. whether people are interested in this kind of product
  2. what other similar products are available in market
  3. how frequently people buy such products
  4. what would people be expecting from this new product
  5. where do people look for more information about this product family
  6. what cost might be most favorable for company
  7. and the list goes on .................
Many a times my friends ask me why in the world I will invest my time to earn a few dollars and my answer has always been the same: if you can afford to surf the internet without any aim for several whole hours, it doesn't hurt to invest 15-20 minutes of your surfing time in a paid-survey. Whenever I see a check in my mail for the surveys I did, I can feel nothing but rewarded some extra bucks which I can use guilt-free.
  • How actually it works?
When you join a paid survey you create your member account same way as you would with any other website. You enter your personal information, demographic information, etc. I would like to mention here that you MUST enter your mailing address and MUST enter is correctly as this is the address where your checks will be sent. Typically all of the paid survey websites will prompt you to first complete one or few initial profile surveys.

These initial surveys help the company to understand you as a person like:

  1. do you own a car
  2. do you own a pet
  3. how frequently do you eat out
  4. do you enjoy alcoholic drinks
  5. how frequently do you watch movies in theatres
  6. where do you purchase your grocerry
  7. other aspects of lifestyle ......... you get the idea right!

These initial profile surveys are not paid. Once you complete this step, the Marketing & Research Firm starts sending out surveys to you. What surveys be sent to whom is largely decided by:
  1. the profiles you completed
  2. your participation in previous surveys sent to you (obviously, if it's not your first survey)
Sometimes your eligibility to participate in a survey is also decided by the first few questions you answer in a survey. Anytime a survey is available for you, you are sent an e-mail and given a limited period of time to complete that survey. Keep completing the surveys and you are on your way ...
  • Some of the legitimate Paid Surveys
The list of survey websites I mention here is not exhaustive and you will get to know plethora of such surveys and if you have/had a green experience with any, please do me the first favor by dropping its name in the comments. Just to give you an approximate idea: when I searched the term 'Paid Surveys', Google returned more than 244,000 blog results and more than 8.7 million web pages in general search.

So yeah there are abundance of these and here are the few I am aware of:
  1. PineCone Research
    • one of the premier ones and it banks my most legitimate vote
    • they are very selective and strict in memberships
    • I will post on Let's Be Curious as soon as I know they are accepting (Ms. Scott says not soon though)
    • a $3 check for every survey you complete
    • you get to try new product samples at home too ;)
  2. OpinionOutpost
    • second preferrence on my list
    • quite regular surveys if you keep taking them
    • if you are interested, do me a second favor by sending in your e-mail so I may refer you :)
  3. CashCrate
    • I'm not actively participating yet but numerous people are earning a lot here
    • you get to complete offers most of the time rather than surveys but it's pretty legit
    • do me a third favor by using my referral link if you are interested
  4. EDU Research Group
    • another nice website to survey mostly about academia
    • you are paid here for completing your profile surveys
  5. Ipsos i-Say
    • another quite reputed one that I am not enough experienced with
  6. SurveySavvy
    • people like it but I had a tough luck with it, give it a shot
  7. Global Test Market
    • I am a member since 2007 but won't recommend this to anyone
    • you are paid when you accumulate 1000 points and each survey is typically 5-40 points (at best 25 surveys before getting my first check, no-way!)
  8. You might want to read Johnathan's post on paid-surveys, he suggests three more legit surveys: LightSpeed Consumer Panel, GreenField Online and American Consumer Opinion.
  • How are you paid?
Different research companies have different policies so you should refer to your membership account page for more specific details. Talking in general terms, two possible modes of payments are checks mailed to you and payments made directly to your PayPal account. I prefer to have my checks mailed to me but PayPal is equally safe too.

Another thing to be aware of is the payment threshold. Depending on which survey websites you use, all of them have different thresholds and you are paid only when you reach those pre-decided thresholds. For example, you may request check from Opinion Outpost once you reach $5 or above. EDU Reasearch Groups lets you make the same request once you have earned $25 or more. PineCone sends you $3 check for completing each survey.
  • What to be aware of?
This is what I always keep in mind:
  1. provide honest opinions, that's what you are paid for
  2. keep checking your e-mail as you don't want to miss on a survey. Typically all surveys are guaranteed to provide meaningful results once a pre-determined numbers of participants have submitted their opinions. This is the reason why many surveys allow only a limited period of time to complete the survey. Demographics of survey-group are also always at play, for example: I wanted my company's new product to be surveyed by only 1000 participants of which only 50 might be males living in upstate NY; the guist is don't wait and complete a survey asap. Even if you are a male living in upstate NY, if 50 other male dwellers in your regions have already submitted now you won't qualify.
  3. your first few surveys are considered to be fairly important as they give the research panel an idea as to how useful you are to them
  4. provide correct mailing address, it will be used to send you your check
  5. try to avoid providing telephone/cellphone numbers but some may need it
  6. never ever give your Social Security Numbers, bank details, etc.
  7. start a survey only if you can spend another 15-20 minutes
  8. sometimes clicking so many times on every single page may be very irritating, be mindful
  9. some surveys offer you several entries into some sweepstakes in return of your time, I prefer the ones that pay money upfront
  • What I do with the money I earn?
I am only little over 1 month into paid-surveys and I am easily juicing-up approximately $20-$30 per month. As I start using surveys like CashCrate more, I expect this number to rise :) Currently, my Netflix bill ($8.99) and HSBC CreditKeeper Service bill (which I negotiated to $6.95) are completely paid by the survey checks. I am not a parent but may you could manage to use it for your child's allowances. If you are just starting with your emergency funds, here's your extra money. Or if nothing else, you can eat out once a month absolutely guilt-free.

Do you take paid surveys? If so, which ones and how much do you earn each month? Please leave your thoughts below.

I'm in a Blog Carnival:
This post was among the ones exhibited in C
arnival of CashFlow Consciousness at MoneyEnergy. I am excited about your presence on my blog today and I would be glad to know about your thoughts on this post and my blog, hope to see you around :)

ShoreBank Direct falls to 2.05%

So the streak continues. Here is another brave one going down by 0.40%. ShoreBank Direct was a very high yielding online savings account and it had maintained its amazing 2.45% rate for quite sometime (2.05% is also not that bad in today's time though). I was actually considering moving my HSBC funds to ShoreBank Direct but good that I saw this day. Now fingers crossed for Ally Bank.

This was my quickest post so far btw :P,
I had been chasing ShoreBank Direct for long and thus couldn't stop myself from sputtering out the news :(

Deals - MARS Real Chocolate Relief Act ;)

A Chocolate lover? You may bask for a while enjoying (upto) four free chocolate bars from Mars. Visit the Relief Act page on a Friday before September 25, 2009 exactly at 9AM (Eastern) and earn a chance to get a free chocolate coupon mailed to you.

Just remember that:
one (1) Coupon per email address per Friday and four (4) Coupons per household during the Offer Period. I got one for me this past Friday, now waiting for my free Gillette Fusion Razor and free Real Chocolate ;)

May 18, 2009

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May 17, 2009

GMAC Bank is Now "Ally Bank"

Yes that's what it read when I visited GMAC Bank's (old) website. Let's hope this namesake change may help GMAC Bank suceed in strengthing their potential loss buffer of $11.5 billion. The change is refreshing with new name Ally, new look and some new products.

I am planning to shift to a high interest paying Online Savings Account for many days and GMAC Bank was one of the top contenders so far. Although I haven't decided so far but still I thought I should let this post out as many had an eye on GMAC.

The purple-ish Ally Bank has the same great interest rates as they were as GMAC Bank including 2.25% Online Savings Account, 2.80% 1-year CD and 1.90% MMA.
Ally Bank is borned to do the business based on three principles: talking straight, doing right things for customers and being highly competitive.

Some of the striking product changes Ally Bank has to offer are:
(if I understood correctly)
  • no minimum deposit needed to open any of their account (yes you need only $0 to start)
  • option to withdraw interest as income
  • No-Penalty CD (9-month term only) @ 2.50%, you can withdraw your full money after first 6 days of deposit without any penalties
  • interest is compounded daily
Ally Bank is a part of GMAC Financial Services that specializes in automotive finance, mortgage operations, insurance, commercial finance and online banking. Ally Bank's intentions seem to walk ahead with high transparency while embracing customers but it doesn't slip my mind that GMAC posted $675 million loss in first quarter of this year. While many analysts say that GMAC will need another bailout, the institution seem to be putting every possible effort to achieve more customers.

After this brain-storming, I found myself standing (yet again) in the great sea of confusion, while Ally's products are pretty impressive their existence is dubious. I am keeping my fingers crossed as I do not wish to see a bold and competitive player fold under the fury of the times.

HSBC Online Savings Falls to 1.55%

HSBC was among one of the highest interest offering banks so far. HSBC Direct's Online Savings Account, effective immediately as I write was reduced from 1.85% to 1.65% in April 2009 and now it is further reduced to 1.55%. I think now I must expedite my decision to migrate to another bank.