With inflation on the rise and murmurs of a looming recession on the horizon, you might be more than a little anxious about your bank account balances — especially if you already live paycheck to paycheck. According to a 2022 Lending Club report, nearly two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck.
To give your budget a little more wiggle room (and to lower your financial stress), you have a couple of basic options: You could find ways to cut back on your expenses, or you could make more money by asking for a raise, applying to a better paying job or starting a side hustle. Alternatively, you could use your laptop or mobile device to bring in some additional income.
Here are 10 legitimate ways to get free money online:
Join a Focus Group
If you’re that person who always has an opinion on everything, why not get paid for it? Join a focus group, and you’ll get paid for your thoughts and feedback about an array of products, services or concepts. Keep in mind that though many focus groups are held in person, you can find groups that meet online as well. Check out 20|20 Panel and User Interviews to get you started. Keep in mind that focus groups are often more involved than other ways to get free money, but the payout (which varies) can be worth it.
[Read: Best Budget Apps.]
Start Some Freelance Work
Even if you already have a 9-to-5, whether at a brick-and-mortar workplace or with the kids as a stay-at-home parent, you could pick up some freelance work in the evenings. Freelancing is great because you can use your particular skill set, whether that’s writing, tutoring, translating or programming, to make some side cash. Check out sites like Upwork, Freelancer.com or Gengo to get started.
Review a Mock Trial
Do you love a good court procedural? Are John Grisham adaptations and “The Lincoln Lawyer” right up your alley? Then reviewing a mock trial online might be a good fit for you. Websites like Ejury.com pay you for watching a mock trial, answering a few questions and providing comments. The payout per case is $5 to $10.
[Read: Smart Tax Moves for Freelancers.]
Earn While You Shop
If you’re shopping for certain products and services, you could snag some discounts and free money by adding some browser extensions like Swagbucks’ SwagButton and CouponCabin’s Sidekick. These extensions send you alerts about discounts, coupons and cash back opportunities while you shop, which can put some dollars back in your pocket while you’re shopping online.
Sign Up for Surveys
If you sign up for online surveys, you can make some extra money or receive gift cards for sharing your opinions. Check out online survey sites like Survey Junkie, OneOpinion, InboxDollars and Opinion Outpost to get started. When it comes to compensation, some of the survey sites pay $2 (or less) per hour of work. This isn’t a way to get rich quick, but it can give you some extra pocket money.
Videos are another great way to earn a little extra cash. Sign up with Swagbucks or Inbox Dollars, and you can choose to watch movie previews, TV shows, news, commercials and more on your mobile device or laptop. In exchange, those sites will give you points, which you can redeem for your choice of cash via PayPal or gift cards to different retail establishments. On sites like Swagbucks, the payout could be up to $90 a month.
Listen to Music
For audiophiles, there’s some easy money out there for you, too. You can register with music review sites Slicethepie, Playlist Push and HitPredictor to listen to songs and rate them. You’ll receive a payment for each review, but these are variable since they reward quality reviews. This means the more detailed, varied and constructive review you give, the better the payout you should receive — though this is more an art than a science. Payment is received via PayPal.
Gamers might enjoy earning some dollars for their efforts. With apps like Coin Pop, you can earn coins that can be exchanged for gift cards or cash via PayPal. Keep in mind that the payout is pretty small and depends on how much time you spend playing games on the app, but the rewards add up over time. Note that you can also play games for money via sites like Swagbucks.
If you’re a good typist (roughly 60 words per minute or more), then you might want to try your hand at transcribing. Websites like Rev offer money for transcriptions of different audio recordings, including lectures, podcasts and interviews. Plus, Rev is good about paying their transcriptionists each week through PayPal.
Refer Your Friends
Some businesses, from credit card companies and banks to retailers and travel sites, will pay you for referring your friends. Typically, after you make your own purchase, you’ll be directed to a web page asking you to refer your friends by giving you a personal link to share. You’ll receive a referral bonus for each friend that clicks the link and purchases the service or product. The payout varies. For instance, currently T-Mobile gives a $50 prepaid gift card for a successful referral while Grove Collective offers $10 for one.
These 10 ways to get free money might not be your golden ticket, but they do have the capacity to add some extra income to the mix that just might help alleviate some of your money stress.
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Update 06/30/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.