Lifestyle,  Thoughts

I’m Getting That Nielsen Survey Money

It arrived in an envelope. The crispest one dollar bill I’ve ever seen. It was a letter from the Nielsen people, the ones of television ratings fame. They wanted me to fill out a Nielsen survey. I was one of chosen ones. They said, “here’s a dollar, a brand new one, just for you, just for opening this letter.”

I showed my wife, marveled at that crisp new dollar. I thought about framing it, that first Nielsen dollar, looking fresh from the treasury. That thought lasted a brief second before my wife took it, folded it and put it in her wallet. Damn, my crisp dollar, folded and ruined forever.

The Nielsen survey people sure knew how to get my attention. The letter was a simple one. Here’s a dollar and a survey to fill out. In addition, if you fill it out and send it back, we’ll send you a five dollar bill. Oh boy, more money.

The survey was an easy one targeted at the 18-34 age bracket. I barely made the cut and answered the five simple questions it asked. After all, gotta get that sweet $5. The nice thing is they make it real easy on you by giving you a prepaid envelope to mail the survey back. Gimme $1 and promise $5? You got yourself a response Mr. Nielsen.

I sent that bad boy back. A week later, I got another letter from the Nielsen survey people.

Dear Nielsen Scarborough Participant,

Here’s that sweet FIVE DOLLAR BILL.

Nielsen Survey money and letter

It basically says that in so many words. This bill wasn’t brand new but this scheme of surveys had already yielded me $6. I was close to being rich off that Nielsen money. Best of all, the letter said that I might get contacted for a telephone survey about newspapers, TV viewing and radio listening.

It made sense that they would want my opinion. After all, I did one of those things. I watched TV. Best of all, they said if I completed that bad boy, they’d send me an additional $10. The telephone survey sounded like a bigger time commitment but I was having fun with this so why not.

The other day, I got the call. The very nice lady on the other line gave me the run down and asked me if I wanted to participate in the survey.

I was game so she proceeded to rattle off a ton of questions. These were mainly about my newspaper reading habits of newspapers in my area. Think stuff like “in the last seven days, did you read newspaper A”? I said “no”. She followed with “in the last seven days, did you read newspaper B”? I said “no”. Repeat that about a dozen times and you’ve got yourself an exciting Nielsen survey conversation.

The topic eventually switched to local TV news networks. I also answered no to everything. Finally, the topics swayed to online editions of newspapers and television channels. Here, I was able to say, that yes I did go to sometimes. You’re welcome Nielsen survey people.

There were a few generic TV questions about whether or not I have a cable TV subscription. I do. And whether I use it. I don’t.

Finally, the survey moved into my neck of the woods. There was a question about accessing things like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video via my TV and I was finally able to say Yes.

The survey wrapped up with some general demographic questions. In addition to my $10, the lady said I might receive some more surveys in the mail. These might be via email OR include a booklet to track my viewing and spending habits.

The whole survey took about 20 minutes. Certainly longer than the original surveys but this one paid $10. Getting that $30/hr wage over here from my Nielsen survey peeps!

Plus, what’s this about a booklet to track my TV habits. That was neat to hear. I’ve always heard about Nielsen families. The people who are used to statistically estimate the TV ratings. Could we be a Nielsen family soon? Did I make the cut? I wasn’t sure if the stuff I watch would be eligible anyway but I didn’t ask. You see, we never watch traditional TV and everything we watch is streamed on Netflix, Hulu or Prime Video.

However, that seems to be the norm these days so maybe they’ve modernized. After all, people need to know that someone is watching Happy Endings on Hulu!

On top of that, there might be potential for more money but clearly whatever it was I’d do next would take more time.

I think that’s how they get you. They suck you in what the fresh crisp dollar for nothing. After that, they promise $5 if you fill out a short two minute survey. Beyond that, you get $10 if you participate in a twenty minute phone survey.

What’s after that? I don’t know. I’m certain that if I get a booklet, it’ll take far longer to track my habits and the payout won’t be that much more.

However, I’ll probably do it cause why not. This Nielsen survey stuff is kinda fun and best of all, it’s easy. I’ve got $6 so far with another $10 on the way. I’m getting rich off that Nielsen survey money and I’m waiting to see if I can get more. Talk about proper side hustles here!

If I put that $16 into the stock market, it’ll be worth like $122 in 30 years. Thanks compound interest and thanks Nielsen for the crisp dollars. May you send me more!


  • JoeHx

    I got the Nielson survey once, too. Even had to fill out the little booklet for my radio listening habits (which is more podcasts now than radio). I was amazed that they mail cash because I was told growing up to never mail cash, almost as if it were illegal. Of course, that’s just silly, it’s just how I interpreted things as a kid.

  • Scott @ Costa Rica FIRE

    Nice! In the mid to late 90’s I used to participate in what was called I think Nielsen NetRatings, where they would monitor my internet usage, and I would regularly receive compensation from them in the form of US savings bonds, which of course I have stuck in my fire proof box where they sit and earn interest until some day when I cash them out. Looking back on it now, that was pretty intrusive, but at the same time it required no time spent filling out surveys on my part – I think it was a good deal…

  • thedebtshrink

    Around 2010, my husband and I carried around Nielson Meters for about a year. They were larger than a pager and picked up all radio and TV signals. I miss that easy $30 a month!

  • Millionaire Mob

    Wow luck for you! Those tasks are really easy, you just answer some surveys and then BOOM you will receive some decent money. Enjoyed reading your blog hoping more Nielsen survey comes to you.

  • Oliver

    Hilarious article. I got an envelope from Nielsen twice but never bothered to do the survey. I just took the money and bought a candy bar or something. I kind of regret it now after seeing that you actually can get a few more bucks out of it. If I get another one I’ll definitely go for the big 10.

  • Linda Liles

    I did the same thing then it seems like I was hooked, but I learned that after the $10 for the phone survey that was it. After the booklet and the online survey I did, I was for sure that they were going to send me something for my time. I called to make sure they had received both surveys and I was told yes and thank you very much, that was 3months ago.

    • TimeintheMarket

      It wouldn’t be if they sent any but I haven’t gotten anything from them at all in that vein. They sometimes send me a letter with another $1 to fill out another survey or email me a link to fill out a survey for $5 but that’s really it. Most of those surveys are super quick so it’s literally $5 for 2 minutes of participation. I just got one about podcasts last week. I think they have some language in their letters/emails about never selling your information and it does seem like that’s the case from my experience.

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