Best Paid Focus Groups in Los Angeles, SoCal and Nationwide

Make Extra Money By Discovering Focus Groups

officeWhen the recession started, I was living in the Los Angeles area (the San Fernando valley) and working a great job in Burbank. You know how you think that you are awesome at your job and that there is no way that they will let you go? Well, I thought that and was proved wrong. As the newest person in my office, I was the first to be let go when things started taking a turn for the worse.

Despite having been a model employee, I found myself looking for new jobs as well as ways to make immediate cash. Sure, people always tell you to do things like donate blood for cash, but that does not pay much and is a real short term solution as a result.

After seeing an ad on the television for a local SoCal focus group study, I decided to give that a try for some cash. The ad that I saw on TV was for Cedar Sinai medical focus groups, but there is a good possibility that you have seen some of these on your own TV for local hospitals and research facilities. I want to get you a bit more familiar with these by sharing my own personal experience.

image via morguefile

Businesses & Companies Value Your Opinion

You might be wondering why these things even exist and why some of them pay so well. I certainly know that I used to have those sorts of thoughts. The fact is that these companies and organizations need people like us because they need the opinions of unbiased people.

These businesses spend a lot of money on research and development for products and services, and this is a vital part of that R&D step. For instance, how will a pharmaceutical manufacturer know if a cancer drug works? They have to test it out on people with cancer to know for sure. And those people get compensated for it.

Of course, often the experience is not for something as huge as a prescription drug trial. For example, have you ever gotten stopped by those people in the mall who want to take you into their office and pay you $25 for answering a few questions? This often happens with things like movie trailers, gauging public perception for products and brands, as well as other types of advertisements. Television studios even use it to see how people feel about characters!

Learn About The Various Types of Focus Groups

The most common type is the one I described in the mall setting. You have a small office (not always at a mall) with some conference style rooms. The rooms have a large table or a U-shaped table (at least in my experiences) and some chairs for the participants. You have a moderator type person that runs things who asks you the questions and such. These are usually some of the lower paying options and can offer cash or gift certificate payment.

Online focus panels are also gaining visibility as it is an inexpensive way for companies to conduct the research. Often, online survey companies offer these. Some examples of such companies include e-rewards, and Pinecone Research. Compensation is often very minimal and may even be a raffle drawing where no one is guaranteed pay. Others, like the TV Inner Circle group only offer the satisfaction of getting early sneak peaks of TV shows and having the ability to voice your opinion about them.

Some companies have representatives come into your home or call you on the phone in order to participate. I have never done any of these, so I cannot give you too much detail about them. However, I do know that they exist.

Medical studies are the ones that pay the best. These can be for everything from paid sleep studies to testing new drugs to evaluating how things like a diet change effect the body. Many of these pose the possibility of serious medical risk and should be carefully evaluated. Often, the higher the pay, the higher the risk. I find that the safest ones are those where they just want to evaluate you for a study or research paper.

Where To Find Focus Groups in Los Angeles and Other Areas

I have actually found people doing some low paying studies in areas of Los Angeles that get a lot of foot traffic. You can usually bump into people handing out this sort of info in the Westwood area near UCLA and the Hollywood and Highland area. This is definitely the best chance you have of getting a movie or TV show group as this is the only way that I have found them.

Another great place to look (both in LA and the rest of the US) is by checking out the back page listing of your free weekly papers. So, if you are in NYC then pickup a copy of the Village Voice (for example). Often, this is where you will find some paid medical focus groups. I have seen a few different paid Los Angeles focus groups posted in easy to find areas like this.

Also, pay attention to the ads on television instead of skipping past them with your DVR.

Call up your local colleges to see if they offer this sort of opportunity. I find that I have the best luck doing this if I call the psychology department or if the school has a medical department. Well known medical facilities are another great source. In LA, try Cedars Sinai and the Kaiser Permanente locations for the best results.

Craigslist can also be a great source for these, as long as you use common sense to avoid any potential scams.

The website is another great resource for finding some high paying opportunities. On this site you can find paid focus groups in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, New Jersey, New York, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington DC, Dallas, Los Angeles and nationwide.

And just for people in SoCal – check out the Trotta Associates website at as they specialize in groups just for the greater Los Angeles area.

A nationwide option that pays well (up to $300), but does do some telephone groups, is Savitz Research Solutions Panel.

My Experience

Overall, I would say that my past experience doing this sort of thing has been positive. Sure, there are a few drug trials that I did where I kind of wish that I hadn’t needed the money so bad. There was risk, and I was fine, but still. With the drug trials, there is a 50% chance that you end up in the placebo half of the group, but that also means a 50% chance of possible side effects if you end up in the other half.

I think that the biggest waste of time I had was doing the online ones that paid so little or only offered an entry into a raffle for a gift card. Some of those took 45 minutes and only paid me a total of $5, which was a total waste of my time.

This is an easy way to make some extra cash, but it is not something that you can count on for regular income.

January Is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Living in the United States can shield you from some of uglier problems in the world, like human trafficking. That is why the President made January Human Trafficking Awareness month.

The truth about this problem is that it does happen here in the U.S. It is a business worth $32 billion that sees most trafficked victims forced into the sex trade. Around 66 percent of the victims are women and young girls.

Police often end up arresting trafficked victims and states do little to bring justice to them.

The pornography industry is where many trafficked victims end up. And watching pornography supports the trafficking. Other victims work at “massage parlors” against their will.

In the U.S., the annual Super Bowl is the largest congregation of sex trafficking victims. Their handlers bring them to the host city to work.

Learn more about this problem at :

Day Trips From Paris To Normandy

Are you are visiting Paris and thinking about a day trip to Normandy?

If so, keep in mind that it will involve a lot of travel time.

Day trips from Paris to Normandy can take anywhere from five to eight hours by car.

You can also take a train to Caen from the Gare St. Lazare station.

Once you get there, just rent a car to finish up your day trip from Paris.

The closest car rental company to the train station is Hertz.

Tour companies out of Paris also offer day trips to the Normandy beaches.

If you book a tour, expect it to take a total of 12 to 14 hours. The average price you can expect to pay for a Paris to Normandy tour is around 150 Euros.

Normandy, France

Normandy, France by seangraham

Road Trip Checklist

Getting ready to take a day trip?

If so, you can travel by bus, car, train or bike. You can even travel by plan if you like.

Taking a day trip by car is most common.

If you’re traveling by car, you may need a road trip checklist.

A checklist can help you make sure you have everything that you need for your day trip. It will keep your day trip stress free.

And, you can reuse the road trip checklist for all of your day trips.

Here are some items for your road trip checklist:

  • Map or GPS
  • Snacks
  • Bottled water
  • Blankets, if it’s cold outside
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Car emergency kit
  • Coins, for parking meters or tolls
  • Plastic grocery bags, for trash
  • Pain medication, such as ibuprofen, and anti-diarrhea medications
  • Extra clothing sets, in case someone’s clothes get wet or soiled
  • Cat litter or sand, in case you get stuck in snowy or icy weather
  • Music
  • Games to keep kids occupied
  • Camera

6 Ways To Eat Healthy While Traveling On Your Day Trip

When you plan your day trip, food may not be on your mind.

Eating while traveling can tend to be unhealthy.

This is due to eating on the run, and eating what you can find when you are hungry.

A lot of times, that means fast food is the meal of choice.

Fortunately, you can plan so that you and your family have healthy meals on your day trip.

Here are 6 ways to eat healthy while traveling on your day trip.

1. Pack a cooler with water and drink it regularly. Not only will have a cooler full of water save you money, but it will keep you hydrated and healthy.

2. Make and pack healthy snacks for your day trip. Avoid the pre-packaged snacks, which can have unhealthy additives. Instead, focus on dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables with dips such as organic peanut butter and hummus.

3. Don’t go crazy and eat a lot junk food just because you are on a mini-vacation. A little ice cream or other small indulgence won’t hurt you, but stick to healthy choices when you are in restaurants.

4. Try to not stress on your day trip because stress releases cortisol, which increases your appetite for sweets. If you feel yourself getting stressed, practice some deep breathing techniques.

5. Focus on eating nutrient-rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables and lean protein. And for desserts, opt for items that are fruit based.

6. Eat at grocery stores instead of restaurants. Some grocery stores have salad bars and hot bars. You can also usually get things like pre-made salads and sandwiches at most grocery stores. In the U.S., you can find a lot of quick, healthy options at Whole Foods grocery stores. In Europe, try to find a Marks & Spencer grocery store for a healthy selection of pre-made sandwiches and salads.

Berlin to Potsdam Day Trip

If you’re visiting Berlin, Germany for a few days, you may be looking for some nearby places you can visit while using Berlin as a base.

Potsdam, Germany is a great place for a day trip from Berlin.

It is located just 20 miles from Berlin and accessible by train.

The main attraction in Potsdam is the Sanssouci Palace.

Called the Versailles of Germany, the Palace was built as a summer home for Frederick the Great in the 18th century.

The town of Potsdam itself is located along the Havel river.

When you’re done visiting the Palace you can wander around this over 1,000 year old city.

Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Germany

Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Germany by clg20171

Berlin to Spreewald Forest Day Trip

Known simply as Spree Forest in Germany, the Spreewald Forest is a favorite day trip from Berlin for locals.

Spreewald Forest is situated around 50 miles from Berlin.

This UNESCO biosphere features waterways and forests.

When you go day trip to Spreewald Forest from Berlin, you can take a boat tour, walk or hike around the area or just cycle around.

The forest covers a 250 square mile area.

To get from Berlin to Spreewald Forest, you can take a train.

The train from Bahnhof Zoo takes an hour and 30 minutes and the train from Ostbahnhof takes around an hour.

Spreewald - Burg-Lübbener Kanal, Germany

Spreewald – Burg-Lübbener Kanal, Germany by DerFussi

Berlin to Hamburg Day Trip

If you’re looking to go on a day trip from Berlin, you may only be looking at cities that are nearby on the map.

Though it looks far away, the city of Hamburg is a great day trip from Berlin.

You can get from Berlin to Hamburg in under two hours on the train.

Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and offers plenty of things to do and see.

The old port is a must see attraction in Hamburg. Try to visit on a Sunday when you can take in the Sunday Fish Market.

St. Michael’s Church, or Michaeliskirche, is another great attraction in Hamburg. This city landmark offers a three-organ concert each day at noon. If you want great views of the city, go up in the church tower.

Hamburg also offers a variety of river tours if you want to spend a lazy day in the city.

Hamburg, Germany boat tour

Hamburg, Germany boat tour by LuxTonnerre

Berlin to Wandlitz Day Trip

Wandlitz is another popular day trip location for Berlin locals.

The main attraction at Wandlitz is its large, crystal-clear lake Liepnitzsee.

You’ll find Wandlitz just 16 miles from Berlin, which means you can easily take the train.

If you want to walk around the lake, it will take you around three hours.

If swimming is more your thing, take a dip in the lido.

You can also visit Wandlitz if you are a history buff.

In Wandlitz, you can find an estate that was part of East Germany. In fact, it was home to the top officials in the region at the time.

Wandlitz, Germany

Wandlitz, Germany by mediaparker

Berlin to Szczecin Day Trip

For something a bit different, why not take a day trip from Berlin to Poland?

In just two hours, you can take the train from Berlin to Szczecin, Poland.

Szczecin is also referred to sometimes as Stettin, which is its German name.

This lively Polish town is full of medieval architecture, a historic 14th century tower and Baroque city gates.

Great shops, restaurants and cafes can be found in the Old Town, which locals call the New Old Town due to it being rebuilt in 1990.

Another great place for restaurants and shops is the Waly Chrobrego river promenade.

Attractions include Katedra sw. Jakuba (St. Jacob’s Cathedral), Zamek Ksiazat Pomorskich (Pomeranian Dukes Castle), Pionier Cinema (oldest cinema in the world still in operation), Emerald Lake and Puszcza Bukowa.

Szczecin, Poland

Szczecin, Poland by shaggyshoo