The basis of my liberation strategy, ‘The Great Escape’, is to reduce my monthly spend whilst making regular, predetermined, payments on my debts. It’s a slow process, one that requires much patience and resolve. To date though those payments have been made and I have been living within my means i.e. spending less than comes in through my regular pay check.
I have also been earning some additional income, mainly through the de-cluttering of my personal possessions which I have been selling on eBay. This process continues and provides a modest amount of income which I’ve used, so far, for unexpected expenses.
More recently I have discovered another way of earning additional income – online surveys. I thought I’d share my experience of them, so far, with you.
I am not new to online survey sites. For the past 3 or 4 years I have been a member of e-Rewards, where points made from completed surveys can be exchanged for airmiles. This has proved a great way to keep my, burgeoning, British Airways airmiles account topped up. It’s dead easy, you sign up (I did via an invitation from BA), and they then email you every time a survey becomes available – you complete it – and they give you points. Once you’ve reached a certain number of points you can exchange them, in my case for airmiles. I understand that e-Rewards also works with other ‘points systems’ such as hotels e.g. Hilton HHonors.
I am however new to online surveys for cash.
Every penny counts
Historically, I tended to take the view that if something didn’t generate reasonably large amounts of cash then it wasn’t worth doing. Through ‘The Great Escape’ and my experiences with eBay though I have discovered that relatively small amounts of cash add up – £1 here, £5 there, soon add up to £10 – £10s soon add up to £50 – and so on.
I am therefore fully aware now that in this debt elimination exercise – every penny counts.
With that in mind I came across a website/blog post 5-6 weeks ago that listed out all the various online survey sites that offered cash, vouchers, airmiles etc. as rewards for completing surveys. Unfortunately I didn’t bookmark the link to this site so can’t share it with you, however a quick search on Google will provide you with articles in a similar vein. I Googled ‘surveys for cash’ just a second ago and this article on ‘moneysavingexpert.com’ came up. It lists some of the survey sites and gives you a heads-up on how they pay, frequency etc.
I therefore decided to give online surveys a go.
Online surveys – the story so far
Wanting to keep things as simple as possible and not become overwhelmed I picked 5 sites to register with:
- Global Opinion Panels
- Valued Opinions
- Lightspeed (MySurvey)
- Populus Live
I selected these sites on the basis that they paid either cash (direct into PayPal), or vouchers (for stores/websites).
I then sat back and waited for the surveys to come rolling in – which they did – but only from two of the sites. The two sites that immediately started to send through surveys, and that continue to do so are:
- Valued Opinions; and
- Lightspeed (MySurvey)
I can therefore only really recommend these two sites to you. Maybe the others will come good, but so far I have not been impressed.
Initially the surveys (from the two active sites) came in thick and fast – too thick and fast if I’m honest. I would get 2-5 surveys from each to complete each day. I’m pleased to say that this frequency has now reduced to a much more manageable 1-2 per day (as a side they tend to send them on weekdays, not at weekends).
Each survey takes between 10 minutes and 45 minutes to complete (they helpfully give you an idea of how long when they send it through) – and rewards are scaled accordingly.
A word of warning: if you think you’ll get rich by completing online surveys, then think again – the rate of pay is poor (compared to other activities). For me though, and my ‘every penny counts’ philosophy, it is simply about gaining some (however small) additional income.
To give you an idea about the pay rate – after approximately a month I have earned around £20.
You don’t always qualify for every survey that they send you either e.g. I don’t own a car, so get rejected for the car related surveys.
The other point worth considering is that they do take time to complete – it will be for you to decide whether that time could be better spent doing something else.
The fun part
Every time I get one of these surveys to complete I end up laughing. The surveys are on behalf of, often large, corporations wanting to find out what you think of their and their rivals products or of their new ad campaign. Often you’ll get questions like “how does that chocolate bar make you feel” – hilarious. I tend to answer those questions “none of the above” – like a chocolate bar can make me feel ‘confident’ – really?
I guess that those conducting the surveys are really after what people think about their product. Given that I am all about simplicity, and consuming less, I find it kind of exciting that my, subversive, comments will be fed back to the company.
You may find this really annoying though. I’d therefore suggest that you give it a go – and see what you think. You can always unregister at any point. You never know – you might find you enjoy the surveys (in the twisted way that I do) and earn a little extra cash in the process.
Let me know how you get on.
‘The Great Escape’ – general update
Slow but steady progress is the name of the game. The regular payments have been made, the debt is reducing. I’ve also managed to stick to the golden rule over the past few months – money in = more than money out.
I’ve created graphs for each of my credit cards which I update every time a payment is made. I’ll share these with you once there are enough data points to give them some meaning.
I did get one shock recently though. On the credit card with the smallest amount owed on it, where I am making minimum payments, the balance actually went up this month! I’m not sure why this happened. I suspect it’s something to do with interest rates. I’ve therefore decided to up (slightly) the monthly payment made on this card. I’m able to do this because I’ve reached a position, spending wise, where I am spending less each month than I receive in my pay check.
I can’t make this post without mentioning Jenny McCutcheon who writes at ‘exconsumer’. She posted recently on how she has reduced her debt from c.$25,000 to c.$6,000 in 6-months. This is an awesome achievement, and a real inspiration.
You can find Jenny’s article on this here.
I’d love to hear your stories of debt elimination – so together we can inspire each other and swap tips. Drop me a line, I really would love to hear from you.