20 ways to make money in your spare time
The new austerity measures from the coalition government mean many people will have to tighten their belts over the coming months. While sticking to a budget and finding ways to cut back are advisable, with a little imagination and effort you could find there are ways you can actually make money.
Moneywise has come up with 20 ways to make money during the credit crunch - some are easier than others but all of them could see you make some extra cash.
1. Track down old accounts
According to the British Bankers’ Association, there is more than £15 billion sitting forgotten in bank and savings accounts in the UK, with the average balance estimated to be £600.
The good news is that tracing lost funds has become easier with Mylostaccount.org.uk – a free online service that covers all UK bank and building society accounts. All you need to do is to go to the website and type in your details.
2. Claim tax credits
It’s always worth checking that you are receiving all the tax credits you are eligible for. Research by entitledto.co.uk found that people across the UK are collectively missing out on benefits and tax credits worth more than £8 billion a year. So while you’re tracing lost funds, why not visit the entitledto.co.uk website too and work out how much you could claim.
3. Sort your savings
Another easy way to make money is to make sure your savings are working as hard as they can.
If you’ve had the same savings account for a while it might be worth shopping around because new customers tend to get the most competitive rates. Good rates come and go, but if you've had a savings account for more than a year the chances are the interest you are earning is not the best out there.
If you have a lump sum that you are prepared to lock away for 12 months or longer, then a fixed-rate account might be best. This type of deal will also protect you from interest rate cuts.
If you want to start a savings habit then a regular savings account is a good way to ensure you put a set amount of money away each month. But if you want to make deposits as and when, an instant access deal could be the one for you.
However, if you haven't yet used your ISA allowance for the current tax year then this sort of account should be the first home for any savings. You can save up to £5,100 each tax year as cash in an ISA and this will not be taxed.
4. Mystery shopper
If you're longing for some retail therapy but can’t afford to hit the shops, why not earn a few pounds as a mystery shopper? Websites such as Retaileyes.co.uk employ mystery shoppers to drop in unannounced in shops and restaurants and rate their experience.
After you send in your feedback, you’ll be paid for your time and reimbursed for any purchases you made. You could make up to £20 a day, and get a meal or a night in a nice hotel thrown in for good measure.
5. Use cashback credit cards
If you pay off your credit bill in full each month, a cashback credit card could be the way to go. These offer you moneyback on purchases in certain shops or on goods such as petrol.
“Cashback credit cards are a great way to reward savvy spenders,” says Andrew Hagger, from Moneynet.co.uk, a price comparison website. “You can earn extra cash without even having to change your shopping habits.”
6. Cashback sites
You can earn even more money from shopping online. Cashback websites will automatically pay you every time you buy a product or a service from selected retailers, from your weekly groceries to switching your utility provider.
Websites include topcashback.co.uk, quidco.com and quidsinuk.co.uk which offer 100% commission cashback.
7. Take in a lodger
While most of us pay a fortune for our homes, it’s possible to make your home make money for you.
According to Santander, you could make as much as £289 a month from renting out a spare room. Under the government’s ‘rent a room’ scheme, you don’t need to pay tax on the first £4,250 you receive either, which means you could charge up to £354.16 a month without being lumbered with a tax bill.
8. Rent out a parking space
If you live close to a city centre, train station or football stadium and don’t use your parking space or garage, you’re sitting on a proverbial goldmine. Renting an empty parking place to a commuter or football fan could see you rake in the pounds.
Parkatmyhouse.com is a website where you can advertise your space free of charge and let frustrated drivers get in touch. A parking space in the West End of London, for example, can fetch £500 a month, while in a leafy suburb of Leeds a space could net you £100.
We’re all guilty of hoarding items that "could come in handy one day". But one man’s rubbish could be another man’s treasure, which is why online auction website eBay.co.uk is so successful. In fact, eBay estimates the average British house has about £450 worth of unwanted items that could be sold on the site.
For more valuable items, it could be worth going to an auction. Jonty Hearnden, antiques expert and presenter of BBC 1's Cash in the Attic and Sun, Sea and Bargain Spotting, says you should contact a local auctioneer if you think an item could be valuable.
"You could be asked to email across a digital photo, which the auctioneer will assess for free, or the auctioneer might visit you at no extra cost to take a closer look - especially if it is a large item," he explains.
10. Car boot sales
If you’d prefer money in your palm instantly, a car boot sale is the place to go. Thousands of people flock to car boot sales every weekend, with pitches costing about £10 a day. To find out where to flog your booty, check out Carbootjunction.com.
11. Recycle your old mobile
Many of us have an old mobile phone gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, but you could easily turn it into cash, even if it is slightly damaged. Websites such as Mopay.co.uk, Fonebank.com and Envirofone.com will tell you how much your phone is worth. An iPhone 3G, for example, could fetch around £130.
12. Sell your skills
We all have skills and talents so why not use these to make a few extra quid.
“If you spent years of your life being marched to piano lessons, put the experience to good use in adulthood by advertising your services in the local newspaper as a music teacher, says Laura Howard in her book, CashQuestions.com's 100 Ways to Beat the Credit Crunch.
"Just three hour-long lessons a week could see you up to £60 better off, not to mention the sense of satisfaction you will get. The same applies for languages."
13. Be a Film extra
If you fancy seeing yourself on screen, film and TV companies are always on the hunt for extras. You could make up to £150 a day and get the chance to meet some famous actors. However, you will need to join an agency first.
14. Rent your home to film makers
Hollywood can come to your home too, provided you have the right location. If you live in an interesting property, you could bag upwards of £1,000 a day renting your home to film and TV companies. Ideal locations must have large rooms, good parking facilities and understanding neighbours. Ordinary homes are wanted too.
15. Model your child
While every parent thinks their child is a star, model agencies could think so too. If you think your little one has what it takes, the first step is to contact an agency to ask about their requirements. You will be asked to send in a head and shoulders photo of your child, either by post or email.
If your child stands out, you’ll both be invited for an interview, to assess if your child is right for TV, photo or film. Depending on the child’s age, shoots pay upwards £50 an hour, but bear in mind that agencies can charge up to 25% commission.
16. Surveys that pay
The web also offers a wealth of balance-boosting opportunities. Survey websites such as Yougov.com, Panelbase.net and Toluna.com will all reward you for your opinions, either through cash or reward vouchers.
Once you’ve registered on the website, you’ll be sent surveys tailored to your personal profile, ranging from 10p to £2 per survey.
17. Earn from web research
Any Question Answered (aqa.63336.com), are often on the lookout for internet researchers. Once a customer asks a question through their mobile phone, it’s the researcher’s job to hunt out the answer and reply online.
You can choose your own hours and the questions you answer, and can earn around 30p for every question you answer correctly.
18. Review music
Budding Simon Cowells amongst us should check out soundout.com, a music website that pays users to review unsigned bands. The idea is simple: you sign up, listen to a track, rate it and write an honest review. You’ll get 5p per review, but the more reviews you make the more you can charge – experienced reviewers can command 25p per song.
“If you’re a dedicated reviewer, you can earn some decent pocket money, some users have earned in excess of £1,000,” says David Courtier-Dutton, the founder of soundout.com.
19. Medical experiments
Volunteering for clinical trials doesn’t just have to involve taking untested and risky drugs. Some clinical trials are perfectly safe, such as sleep studies, psychological tests and taste testers. Fit and healthy volunteers living in London willing to donate their blood for clinical research, for example, could be paid £60 a time.
But remember, never sign up for anything you are not happy with – risking your health for a few extra pounds is just not worth it. Go to Gpgp.net for trials in your area.
20. Join the TA
If you’re brave and committed enough to sign up, the Territorial Army is always looking for recruits. You would need to give up one weekend a month, attend an annual two-week camp for basic training and be ready to be called to active service.
Basic pay starts at £34.41 a day, but can rise to £112.51. When you meet the minimum yearly training requirement (27 days if you’re in a Regional Territorial unit, 19 days if you’re in a National unit) you receive an extra payment known as a bounty. This increases as you spend more time as a Territorial, so within five years of joining, you could receive an extra £1600 a year. Go to Armyjobs.mod.uk for details.
Invidivual Savings Accounts were introduced on 6 April 1999 to replace personal equity plans (PEPs) and tax-exempt special savings accounts (TESSAs) with one plan that covered both stockmarket and savings products, the returns from which are tax-exempt. The ISA is not in itself an investment product. Rather, it’s a tax-free “wrapper” in which you place investments and savings up to a specified annual allowance where the returns (capital growth, dividends, interest) are tax-exempt (you don’t have to declare ISAs and their contents on your tax return). However, any dividends are taxed within the investment, and that can’t be reclaimed.
There are limits to how much you can invest in any tax year. For 2011/12, the limit is £10,680. Of that, the maximum you can invest in cash is £5,340 and the balance of £5,340 can be invested in shares (individual company shares or investment funds). If you don’t take the cash ISA allowance, you can invest up to £10,680 into a stocks and shares ISA.
This is more usually a feature of car insurance but it can also crop up in contents, mobile phone and pet insurance policies. An excess is the amount of money you have to pay before the insurance company starts paying out. The excess makes up the first part of a claim, so if your excess is £100 and your claim is for £500, you would pay the first £100 and the insurer the remaining £400. Many online insures let you set your own excess, but the lower the excess, the more expensive the premium will be.
Rather than shopping online directly with a retailer, if you go to the retailer via a cashback website (you have to register as a member), when you make a purchase the cashback site gets a commission and rebates some – or all – of this back to you. The cash being paid back to you will vary wildly from site to site and even from product to product, so check you’re getting the best deal before you buy.
Cashback credit cards
These reward you with a small percentage of cash back on your total spend on the card, either each month or annually. Cashback cards carry high APRs and ONLY work if you pay your balance off in full every month. If you miss payments and have existing credit card debts, leave these well alone.
This is a mutual organisation owned by its members and not by shareholders. These societies offer a range of financial services but have historically concentrated on taking deposits from savers and lending the money to borrowers as mortgages, hence the name. In the mid-1990s many societies “demutualised” and became banks. One academic study (Heffernan, 2003) found demutualised societies’ pricing on deposits and mortgages was more favourable to shareholders than to customers, with the remaining mutual building societies offering consistently better rates. In 1900, there were 2,286 building societies in the UK; in 2011, there are just 51.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.