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31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas: Market Research and Focus Groups (Day 18)

31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas

Welcome to October’s series on 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas. In this series, I’m highlighting simple and legitimate ways you can earn extra cash in the next two months for those of you who could use a little extra cash to help you pay for Christmas — or just for your living expenses if you’re in a tight spot right now.

If you’ve found a great way to make extra cash before Christmas that doesn’t require an outlay of cash upfront, please email me your tip. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Guest post from Carrie of

For the past five years, I’ve been earning part-time money doing focus groups and testing and giving my opinions on products for market research firms.

These are not the same as doing online surveys. They usually involve traveling to a location in your area to participate. Sometimes, the study takes place over the phone.

Participating in market research is a fun way to earn some extra cash — especially for a stay at home mom, student, or a retired person with a flexible schedule. Other than gas to drive to the research facility, there is no cost to be a respondent.

What Are Market Research and Focus Groups?

When a company wants to change an existing product or launch a new one, they need people to test and try that product to get an idea of how it will perform in the marketplace.

These companies hire market research firms to gather groups of people in various demographics so they can compile this information from their target market.

How Do You Find Legitimate Market Research Companies?

The company I’ve done the most work for is Delve. They have offices in several states.

You can search for other similar companies in your area with a Google search. I found the two companies I work with by searching “market research respondent database”. has quite a few recommend companies to choose from.

Remember to use good common sense when searching for a research company to work with. The number one rule is: don’t pay any money to join a database. Legitimate Market Research companies will never ask you to pay them any money to join. In addition, don’t give private information such as your social security number out to anyone.

What Is the Process For Getting Jobs With Market Research Companies?

To start working for a market research firm, you’ll first need to fill out an online profile. Then, if you’re accepted, a screener will call you when a study becomes available that fits your demographics. The screener will ask you questions to determine whether you’re a good fit for the project.

Please note: Companies typically don’t want you to do more than one study for the same type of product in a 3-6 month period. Before accepting you for a particular job, a screener will ask you questions that may disqualify you for a particular study.

How Much Can You Earn?

The amount of money you can earn depends on how many companies you sign up with. Compensation is given to you immediately when the study is completed, and it is in the form of a check or a prepaid debit card.

The studies are fun and pay quite well for the time involved. For instance, once I got paid $35 just to taste and give my opinions on a bakery product. It took all of five minutes!

I have listened to music and shared my thoughts on radio stations. I’ve been given free baby diapers and personal care products in addition to compensation for my time.

My sons were even selected to do a study once and each of them earned $150 in about 1 ½ hours! They were thrilled about that, of course. 🙂

In addition to the in-house focus groups that you can do with other people, you will sometimes take home product and try it out over a period of days. A couple of times I’ve earned $100-$150 for a few minutes of paperwork each day. This doesn’t include the value of the product — things like beauty products or baby necessities or food.

Carrie is a writer, wife and homeschooling mom of 7 and lover of good food and great books. Visit her online at

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  • Kohls Deals says:

    I recently made $125 doing a week long focus group through 20/20. It took me about 20-30 minutes per day to answer questions and then I received a prepaid VISA card. I’m definitely going to check out other companies!

  • Nancy says:

    I earn $75 per study from Neurofocus which is now owned by Neilsen. You can participate every 6 months. The studies have taken less than 30min each time.

    • Katie says:

      How did you join these? I looked at their website, but didn’t see instructions. (The page I saw about “Nielsen Families” said they did random contacts?) Thanks!

      • Monique Pedraza says:

        The best way to see what is available in your area is google ‘study groups in (city)’ or ‘research groups in(city)’.
        In my area, Dallas I have called several so that I can pretty much be available to all as often as need be. I have meet some people who make It a great side job making upwards of $8,000 a year. Which is really hard to do. When you sign up for a specific study, they typically ask you if you are currently partaking in ANY study now. Theirs or other companies’.
        I my area, Dallas, I have done work for Murray Hill, Fieldwork, Bryles and Delve. Each one seems to be just a little different. For the past year I did several diaper studies from three of those listed groups. All were sponsored by the same diaper company but each study group paid differently for the exact same rules, diapers, paperwork etc. I was paid anywhere from $95-$150 for a two week study and mostly a total of five stops/drop offs between the facility and my home. While the fourth group above mostly did smaller studies like food tasting and product testing. My son even participated in a toy survey. He got a free toy ($25 value) at the end and $5 for me for.
        I highly suggest getting invovled in the above groups. It’s really is tons of fun. I learned something from them all.

      • Emily says:

        Yes, being a Nielsen Family is completely random. Their computer selects a home randomly in an area and then they knock on your door (they don’t even know the name of the people living there). If said home is not interested they select another one. They hook a system up to your tvs and they keep track of everything that you watch.

  • I definitely recommend trying to get in with a focus group. It can be hard but I would just recommend to keep applying.

    The company my husband works for usually pays people $75 for an hour and a half of their time. Plus they usually feed the people that attend. 🙂

  • Christina says:

    There are so many ways like this to earn great money. I just recently took part in a 45 minute phone interview and received $50 for that. This was through qualifying through an Opinion Outpost survey. I also recently had a mobile search survey that took place over the course of 2 weeks – all I had to do was open the app on my phone and enter in the info each time I used mobile search. It took about 2 minutes each time, and I had done less than 15 searches over the course of that one. That paid me $100. I kid you not, there are some great projects out there! That was through Neilsen research.

  • Lana says:

    thanks!!!! good idea.

  • Angie says:

    I used to work for a market research company – a long time ago, almost 10 years ago.

    While I realize things change, the one thing I remember about recruiting participants for focus groups is that the company wanted to avoid recruiting “professional focus group participants”, which explains the limit on how many times someone can participate in a group during a certain time period.

    Legitimate market research firms don’t want to compromise the validity of their data with professional focus group participants. They want their samples to represent consumers as closely as possible, which means screening anyone who has done a study too recently. For this reason, focus groups and other market research studies are a great way to earn some extra pocket change, and they can be fun, but I would not recommend them to replace a full or part-time job.

    • Jenny says:

      All of the groups I’ve done any interviews/studies for have asked about whether you have done a study in the last 6 months…if so, you are disqualified. So, I would agree that this is not something to rely on for steady income, but a couple of sweet bonuses a year.

    • Carrie says:

      Yes – exactly. I mentioned this in the post. The screeners generally ask you if you’ve participated in a study in the last 3 or 6 months. So it really isn’t a replacement for a job at all.

  • Carmen says:

    I absolutely recommend this as well. Recently, I made $150 for an hour of talking about my favorite topic- coupons!

  • Felicia says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I have really enjoyed reading it. With 3 little girls who always have a santa list a mile long. These moneymaking ideas are great!

  • Kelly S says:

    Taylor Research is a great company – I did a focus group with them for $80 for 2 hours, and have friends who have used them as well. They are in California – not sure about other locations.

  • JP says:

    I found several focus group companies by doing some basic Google searches. Hopefully this is helpful to some people:

    FG Global
    Murray Hill
    Resolution Research
    Focus Point Global
    Savitz Field & Focus
    Fleischman Field Research
    Schlesinger Associates
    Focus Forward
    Hagen Sinclair
    Plaza Research
    20/20 Research Incorporated
    Consumer Opinion Services
    Savitz Research Companies
    Matrix Research
    Probe Market Research
    Focus Ready

    One thing I’m noticing is that focus group companies are definitely focused around major cities.

    I also found this extensive list of paid focus groups:

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