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Who doesn’t want a little extra cash? Get the lowdown on lucrative side gigs you can fit into your life.

Focus-group participant

Give market researchers your opinion on cell phones, magazines, groceries, jewelry and more.

  • What it pays: Anywhere between $10 and $200 per session; participants also can be compensated in gift cards.
  • Time commitment: Again, a wide range. Focus panels that send out surveys to e-mail subscribers can take you just 10 minutes, whereas high-paying sessions can last up to several hours over a few days at an off-site location.
  • What you need to know: You must meet certain demographic and interest-related guidelines to qualify for some studies. When attending a focus group, remember to dress professionally and bring an open mind. An objective opinion could lead to future opportunities.
  • Get started: Visit findfocusgroups.com to locate groups in your area, or go to greenbook.org to uncover marketing research companies near you. Ask to be added to their database for upcoming assignments.

Government worker

Look for a temporary or part-time job—as a poll worker, a mail carrier or even a federal airport screener.

  • What it pays: It depends on the position. Poll workers can make up to $100 a day; other jobs are hourly. See the websites at right for individual rates.
  • Time commitment: Varies from one day to a weekly commitment.
  • What you need to know: Because temp agencies and contractors frequently hire faster than federal agencies, such employers are particularly good options for unemployed job hunters who are looking to start working quickly.
  • Get started: Visit usajobs.gov to search for openings, or head to your state government website for regional positions. Also try govcentral.monster.com, which offers an event calendar of government career fairs. Check the schedule for your area, then attend an event to talk with recruiters about any opportunities that could fit your needs.

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