When Jessica Maloy’s son turned 16, they started talking about college. And she started thinking — really thinking hard — about how much money it was going to cost.
“It’s overwhelming to me,” she says. “I decided I was going to do as much as I could to earn extra money.”
In February 2018, she started using cash-back apps including Ibotta and Ebates. Those have been slowly and steadily pulling in easy money. But her biggest moneymaker has been Swagbucks, the popular survey and rewards site.
Over seven months, from February through September 2018, she earned $600 on Swagbucks.
Maloy checks her Swagbucks account. Mark Pynes for The Penny Hoarder
“I hop on and off all day,” says Maloy, a 42-year-old secretary in Palmyra, Pennsylvania. “If I’m at home, I’ll do it on my laptop. You have to have the time to do it. But if you have nothing else to do, why not do it? It really doesn’t take much to earn money that you normally wouldn’t have.”
Persistence Is Key
Angela Cadle, a single mom in Ohio, and Carolinda Hendrickson, a day care provider in Pennsylvania, have had similar experiences.
Both of them sign into Swagbucks every day, sometimes more than once. Persistence and strategy are how they make it pay off.
“You have to work consistently to make any kind of money,” Cadle says.
What Is Swagbucks?
Maloy watches her son Alex work on a math assignment. When he turned 16, they started talking about college. And she started thinking — really thinking hard — about how much money it was going to cost. Mark Pynes for The Penny Hoarder
Swagbucks is a well-known online survey site where you can share your opinions and be rewarded with gift cards.
You can also earn rewards for watching videos or shopping online through its cash-back portal. But the most lucrative way to earn rewards is through paid surveys. These are brand-recognition surveys, product-appeal surveys, advertising-effectiveness surveys and the like.
Surveys usually take about 20 minutes. For each one, expect to earn about 40 to 200 SBs, or SwagBucks, the site’s currency. (100 SB = $1.) Because each SB is worth one cent, 500 SBs will get you a $5 Amazon gift card or $5 on PayPal.
Although you have to qualify for surveys before you take them, Swagbucks tries to match you so you waste little time on qualifying questions.
Plus, you get $5 just for signing up and taking your first survey.
How One Woman Earned $1,200 in a Year
Maloy and her husband Patrick work together in the kitchen of their home. She picked up tips on good ways to earn more on Swagbucks when she joined a large Facebook group called the Swagbucks Swaggernauts. Mark Pynes for The Penny Hoarder
Maloy starts about 40 surveys a day and gets kicked out of most of them for not qualifying. She usually completes one or two. She tries to earn 200 SBs a day.
When she started going on Swagbucks every day, she joined a large Facebook group called the Swagbucks Swaggernauts. There, she picks up tips on good ways to earn SBs.
“There’s an area on Swagbucks called ‘Discover’ where you can sign up for all kinds of different things, and you get points,” she says.
She can’t sign up for everything — she doesn’t want to be a rideshare driver, for instance. Instead, she signs up for offers where she’s not committing to anything more than receiving emails. (Swaggernauts recommend creating a “burner” email address just for that purpose.)
Facebook groups with Swagbucks tips are also helpful for Hendrickson, who operates a day care center for special needs children in her home in Montrose, Pennsylvania. She currently cares for three small children all day.
“I’ve got two 3-year-olds, a 1-year-old and a dog,” she says. “I sign in at 6 a.m., and I’m done by the time the kids get here.”
Hendrickson does surveys — only the ones she likes.
“I don’t do banking or financial institutions,” she says. “I don’t do cars. I don’t do what I don’t know anything about. If I don’t care about it, I’ll be like, ‘No, I’m not doing this one,’ and I’ll just click out of it.”
Her goal is to make $25 a week, or $100 a month. In about a year, she’s earned $1,200. Hendrickson, 52, spends her Swagbucks earnings on gift cards for her grown children.
‘Christmas Gifts and Birthday Gifts for My Son’
Speaking of buying gifts for children, that’s how Cadle first got into Swagbucks.
She started visiting the site in 2010 after she returned to the United States from Italy, where she had married an Italian man. The marriage didn’t work out, so she moved back to the U.S.
“I didn’t have a job; I didn’t have any money,” says Cadle, 51, a webcast moderator in New Philadelphia, Ohio. “But I found Swagbucks, and I just started using it and saving up my gift cards. I would take a lot of surveys.
“It was like a job — survey after survey. That helped me get my son his Christmas presents that first year that we were living back in America.”
She also takes part in Swagbucks’ daily poll. Overall, she’s earned roughly 73,000 Swagbucks, or $730. That’s meant a lot for her and her son, who’s about to turn 12.
“We save up our gift cards and get things off Amazon or eBay.” she says. “It buys Christmas gifts and birthday gifts for my son.”
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s a Swaggernaut.
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