One of the easiest ways to make a little money online is with paid to read email. Believe it or not these programs do exist and there are legitimate ones that really do pay. You just have to find out which ones.
There are websites out there such as www.allwebsuccess.com that will head you in the right direction and explain in detail exactly how it works and what to watch out fo but in short, paid email is a form of advertising that is sold on the internet. The program takes signups from people who want to be paid for reading email and then sells ads for products and services. They then send emails out to their membership and when the link in the email is clicked by the member, he or she is taken to the advertiser's website. The click is tracked and a small amount is credited to the members account from the fee the advertiser paid to the program. When enough is accumulated to reach the specified payout level, payout is made to the member.
Here's a big tip about whether it's a good program that will really pay. When you look at the program, take a look in the terms of service and see what the minimum payout level is. This is the level you must accumulate in your account from clicking links in the emails before you can actually get paid. I've seen payout levels anywhere from 1 cent to $500. Don't waste your time with programs with high payout levels. You'll never reach it and you'll never get paid. These programs only pay a cent or less for each link clicked so at say a half a cent per link, you would have to click over 10,000 links to get paid. Say you get 2 emails every day. You'll have to click for over 13 years to get to $500. Not likely.
Most of the legitimate programs will have small minimum payout levels of less than a dollar and will let you get paid every month. Cash For Action is one such program. They have a minimum payout level of 11 cents via PayPal and you can request payment once a month. They will also pay you for signing up for offers. Quick Rewards is even better with no minimum payout level and you can request payment as often as you like. They will pay you within a couple of days. They have not only paid emails but will also pay you to take surveys, print coupons, play games and more.
You can find many more of these programs on the internet. A popular way to advertise them is on the Click Exchanges so just do a little surfing on these programs and you will find as many as you like. You can also check out the forums and chat rooms to see which programs people are having success with. If you're talking to someone and they are hawking a program, be sure and ask them how many times they have actually been paid by the program. Then check them out via other sources.
A couple of good websites to use to verify programs is Been Paid that lists legitimate paid email programs that pay out regularly and GTPBoycott which lists the sites that are not paying, all-out scams or having financial problems which might make it doubtful they will be able to pay out.
With a little diligence you can find many legitimate programs that will pay out and you'll be able to pick up a few extra bucks here and there. You won't get rich but it's a way to start making money online that's totally free and only takes a little of your time.