Smart Living

Bring in the Cash

By Nancy Kalish for Ideas That Spark

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Sure these are tough times. But there is some good news on the earning front for people who want to pick up extra income: “While companies are cutting full-time employees, there are still tasks to be done -- and a bigger need than ever for part-timers who work from home,” says Tory Johnson, CEO of the career coaching firm Women for Hire and co-author of Will Work from Home: Earn the Cash -- Without the Commute (Berkeley 2008). One caveat: If a company overpromises in the pay department, it could be a scam, warns Johnson. “Legitimate opportunities will pay a low or reasonable hourly rate.” Here, some of her favorite little-known income boosters that you can do in your spare time.

Virtual customer service rep Are you a people person with a pleasant voice? Then fielding customer calls from home for such big companies as J.Crew or 1-800-Flowers might be for you. You’ll need a computer, high-speed Internet access and a landline telephone. But you can generally set your own schedule, working from a minimum of 15 hours up to 60.

What it pays $8 to $15 per hour

Online juror Love The People’s Court? Now it could be your turn to deliver a verdict -- and get paid for it. Attorneys trying to decide whether to take a case or how to handle it with the jury often hire online “jurors” to give their opinions before they go into the courtroom. All you have to do is read the specifics of a case, then answer an online questionnaire. OnlineVedict, eJury or Trial Practices are the main Web sites for online juries. You must be 18, a U.S. citizen and can’t work or be married to someone who works in the justice system.

What it pays $10 to $60 per case

Virtual lemonade stand owner Are you a member of Facebook, MySpace or another social networking site? If so, you might be able to make some extra cash by setting up a “stand” on your page from another site called lemonade. All you do is choose your favorite products from over 200 major manufacturers to recommend to your friends who visit the site. If one of them clicks on the product and makes a purchase, you make money. That’s all there is to it -- and the service is completely free. The retailers pay a commission to lemonade, and the site passes 80 percent of that on to you. In addition, some companies, such as cell phone service providers, will tack on an additional incentive, of which you also earn 80 percent. All transactions take place on the retailers’ Web sites, so you don’t have to deal with inventory, shipping or payments. Plus, it’s fun and easy to design your own stand and add your product recommendations.

What it pays Commission on sales, depending on the retailers

Added savings bonus:
Survey taker
In this hypercompetitive economy, marketers are more interested than ever in your views of their products -- and they’re willing to reward you for it. Just sign up at the Web sites ZoomPanel, SurveySpot, MySurvey and Harris Interactive, take some surveys, and start racking up points to earn free goodies, including food, beauty products, cleaning supplies, toys and even electronics.

What it pays Free products and services, coupons

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About The Author

Nancy Kalish has written for many publications, including Parenting, Parents, Real Simple, Reader's Digest, More, Health, Prevention, Self and Fitness. She is the co-author of The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It (Crown 2006).

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