Four Easy Ways to Make Money on the Side

If you know where to look, you can make more than a penny for your thoughts.

In an effort to better understand consumer behavior, several companies pay people for their opinions on everything from chocolate to computers to restaurants. I call it “moonlighting money” and it’s a great way to earn a few extra bucks without a lot of effort.  Here are four ways to make money.

  • Focus groups. Participate in a focus group and you can earn between $30 and $300 depending on topic, length and location. Focus groups do everything from taste testing to rating product packaging. Search for market research companies in your area and sign up in their database.
  • Mock juries. Before heading to the courtroom, some attorneys test their cases on a mock jury. These mock trials are done in person through market research groups and can pay about $200 a day. You can also look online at sites like, which pay $5 – $10 for about 35 minutes of your time.
  • Mystery shoppers. Several retailers, from restaurants to clothing stores, hire mystery shoppers in order to better understand their customer’s experience. In addition to paying for your time and feedback, some businesses also let you keep the merchandise. Learn more at Mystery Shopping Providers Association.
  • Poll workers. You can help others express their opinions through voting by working in your area’s polling place. Visit your county’s website for more information. Some counties have programs for students and some pay as much as $122 for a day’s work.

The Final Word:  Getting paid for your opinion is a great way to earn extra cash. Just remember, no legitimate market research or mystery shopping provider will ask you to pay a fee to participate or try to sell you a product or service.

The article above was written by our newest contributor – Jeanette Pavini – an Emmy award-winning consumer reporter and personal finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal Digital Network.