During a recent conference in Pittsburgh a woman, who billed herself as a financial advisor, told the audience it is good to have several streams of income. This is a theory that I strongly support.

The panelist suggested numerous websites.  She said there is a company that will allow you to have advertisements painted on your car and the companies would pay you several hundred dollars per month; that peeked my interest. I searched and searched and it appears that promotion dried up years ago and it never seemed to be very popular on the east coast; more of a west coast thing.

She also spoke about focus groups and doing on line surveys, again I went to the sites she recommended and actually signed up for a few of them.  Since registering myself on these sites my inbox has been full and I have received phone calls from every state in the United States.  I have not earned any extra money or gift cards and don’t have the time to fill out a survey each time they send me an email. At times the surveys can take 30 to 60 minutes. This is a big chunk out of your time for a few dollars. A good friend once told me to calculate how much I was receiving for certain jobs. He was so right after I calculated the amount it turned into less than minimum wage.

I went to Woman’s Day Magazine, one of my favorites, and they say there are actual companies and websites out there that want to give you free stuff—and that will send you samples of good products for little to no commitment. But what about scams? An inbox of junk emails to identity theft are possible risks when signing up for anything free online. We encourage you to be cautious before registering at a site you are unfamiliar with by checking the site’s privacy policy and never giving out private information (like your social security number or credit card information). Based on user reviews, the promotional programs listed below only have minor strings attached, but are definitely worth a try.

InStoreNow.Walmart .com: Walmart’s easy-to-use site offers you everything from free samples to free trials to tips on special savings. Sign up for a trial by answering one or two easy questions and entering your address—no silly quizzes, redirects or scams about it. Popular, well-known and trusted, Procter & Gamble offers a healthy selection of free samples, coupons and sweepstakes. Register for an account, submit your usage habits from a provided list of P&G products  and voila—you’re done. Note: A newsletter is part of the registration package. This site is entirely dedicated to sampling and calls for little-to-no obligation. For the free stuff, you create an account on the site and simply fill out a survey that indicates your sample preferences. Once you have an account on the site, you can access the coupons section and earn Frequent Flier Miles—which earns you a free prize once you hit a certain amount.

(Email the columnist at debbie­


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