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From the Email Bag -- Home-Based Projects to Supplement Retirement

By Christine Durst & Michael Haaren

Feb. 7, 2013 

Dear Rat Race Rebellion: I’m about to retire, and need part-time projects to supplement my income. I’d like to consider home-based projects, but every time I search, I see things that don’t look trustworthy, like mystery shopping jobs and stuffing envelopes. Also, can I really make $100 per hour taking surveys? Please advise. – Patrick in Boston, Mass. 
 
Dear Patrick: Many boomers mistrust the home-based work option, and they’re right to be cautious. Our research shows a 61-to-1 scam ratio in work-at-home job ads, so the odds are lopsided. But there’s a broad range of legitimate jobs and projects, too, including many mystery shopping assignments.

Here are some tips to help you spot scams and find legitimate leads:
  • Envelope stuffing is almost a guaranteed scam. Survey work that pays a few dollars is usually legitimate, but the survey ads that offer high pay are typically bogus. Steer clear of mystery shopping jobs that ask you to wire funds.
  • Other signs of a scam include claims of high pay for little work, “no experience necessary,” and flagrant symbols of wealth (mansions, expensive cars, etc.).
  • If a “job offer” arrives unsolicited in your email, it’s almost surely a scam. And don’t be fooled if it seems tailored to your situation. Scammers routinely troll sites like CareerBuilder and others for resumes. Then they shape their come-ons accordingly.
  • Never pay for a survey or mystery shopping job. 
  • For legitimate mystery shopping jobs, see Market Force Information, at www.marketforce.com. You can also check our bulleted list at http://bit.ly/pOphak.
Dear Rat Race Rebellion: I got laid off and have had some trouble paying my bills, and my credit rating is shot. Can I still get a home-based job? – Mark in Blacksburg, Va.

Dear Mark: It depends on the job. Many employers both online and off- now require applicants to pass a credit check. Many freelance hirers, however, have no such rule.

You may want to take on some freelance (aka independent contractor) gigs to jump-start your income and upgrade your resume. Fortunately, there are many types of freelance work to choose from. Here are some thought-starters:
  • Freelance writers (including bloggers) are in high demand. The pay has come down in recent years, but you can still earn worthwhile payments if you choose projects carefully and build a list of credits. Some sites to check include www.JournalismJobs.com, www.Problogger.net and www.BloggingPro.com.
  • Website testers are often hired to give their impressions as they navigate new or existing sites. Hirers typically pay $10 per site, for a review that takes less than an hour. The demand for these projects is high, however, so it may take awhile to break in. For more, see www.Userlytics.com , www.UserTesting.com and www.FeedbackArmy.com.   
  • Courthouse researchers visit courthouses in their regions and record various data from public records. For more, see the bulleted list at http://www.ratracerebellion.com/jobs-courthouse.html.
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Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book is Work at Home Now, a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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