Christmas can be tight for money so here are some extra ways of making cash
Families spend around £500 on average on Christmas presents, food and drink and festivities, according to research from the Bank of England. But instead of dipping into your savings or pushing yourself into debt to pay for it, there is still time to boost your income for the festive season.
There is a huge range of ways to make extra cash, from pet sitting and renting your spare room to online teaching and tax rebates.
Here, we have selected 10 of the best ways to make an extra £2,020 and for each we have estimated how much you could typically boost your bank balance by.
1. Switch energy providers
Cash boost: £333
One way to cut your energy bills without sacrificing heating your home is to switch providers. The average dual-fuel bill costs £1,179 a year, but the cheapest fixed-rate tariff is £846 – a saving of £333 over the year. However, if you have not switched for a while you could save £259 on average, and it only takes 10 minutes to find a new provider online, according to energy comparison site uSwitch.
2. Switch banks
Cash boost: £150
There is a lot of competition in the current account market, which means you can often pick up a cash bonus by switching. It is only worth it if you find an account that works for you, but if you are getting paid to do it, then it is a win-win. The NatWest Reward account, for example, pays £150 if you open an account before Friday 6 December, while First Direct pays out £50 to new customers.
3. Earn extra with cashback websites
Cash boost: £20
If you’re Christmas shopping online, it is worth checking cashback websites, which will pay you a percentage of each purchase. TopCashback and Quidco are the biggest cashback websites; rates change regularly but, on average, you can earn around 5%.
For example, at the time of writing, at Quidco you can earn 5% on purchases at Debenhams while at TopCashback there was 9% cashback for new customers at fashion retailer Joules. Money is usually paid into a cashback account in around a month, and you can then transfer the cash into your bank account.
Rebecca Moore, 36, from Caerphilly in Wales makes around £20 a month with TopCashback. She now has made £600 on cashback deals and is planning on using this to put towards her Christmas spending. Rebecca has lots of nieces and nephews and a three-year old daughter, Cadence, so she says the money saved will go on presents for the younger members of the family.
“Christmas this year will be me, my husband, Chris, Cadence as a family. We will spend a good week playing with her new toys bought using the money I’ve been able to save through the cashback.
“To get the most out of these websites, I would recommend shopping around if there is a specific thing you want. Check there are no excessive postage costs and then go with the best cashback,” she adds.
4. Rent out extra space
Cash boost: £625
If you have a spare room in your house, or your drive is empty, you can earn money renting them out.
How much you can make will vary depending on where you live and the size of your home but for a two-bedroom property in Swansea, for example, average costs are £74 a night rising to £149 in Liverpool, and £327 in London.
You can earn up to £7,500 a year, or £625 a month, before you pay tax under the government’s Rent a Room scheme if you are renting out a furnished room to a lodger or a short-term guest.
Renting out your driveway can be especially lucrative if you live in a city centre or near a station. Websites such as Just Park and Parklet take a small fee for matching up those with a spare drive to motorists who want to rent it. You can either rent the space out daily, from between £5 and £10 a day, or arrange a monthly let.
5. Get paid to pet-sit
Cash boost: £140
Instead of relying on neighbours while on holiday, pet owners will now pay for an insured sitter to look after their pets. There are a few websites that match sitters and owners and arrange payment and insurance. For example, with Cat in a Flat cat sitters set their own price and owners can get in contact to arrange a stay. This usually involves popping in once or twice a day to feed and check up on their cat though you can be expected to stay overnight.
Jemma Page, 26, from Nottingham joined the website Cat in a Flat in the summer to make some extra cash and has been earning an average of £100 a month ever since, and expects more demand in the run-up to Christmas.
“I adore cats but I’m not able to get one of my own where I rent and I also need some extra money,” she says.
During busy periods, such as Christmas, cat sitters are able to put up their fees. Jemma says she is keeping December free in order to make as much money as possible and has already had several requests to cat-sit over the festive season.
“It has changed my life – I have more excess cash and I get to spend lots of time with cats. I now have six households (some with as many of six cats) that I look after regularly.
“This month alone, I’m earning £140 for a week’s work, which has gone straight into my savings for Christmas. It means I can spend more on gifts for my family because I know I’ll have that money coming in.”
6. Reclaim tax if you wear a uniform for work
Cash boost: £60
If you wear a uniform or protective clothing for work, such as a midwife, nurse, or firefighter, you may be able to claim a tax rebate. To be eligible, you need to be the person who has to wash, replace or repair the uniform.
The flat rate available is £60 if you have never claimed before (although it could be higher depending on your job). If you spent £60 and pay tax at a basic rate of 20% in that year, the tax relief you may receive is £12. For a higher-rate taxpayer paying 40% tax, it is £24 a year.
You may also be able to claim tax relief on the cost of repairing or replacing small tools you need to do your job – for example, scissors if you are a hairdresser.
You can backdate the claim for four years and include the current year (if you’ve been wearing it the whole time). Make a claim via the HM Revenue & Customs website by filling in form P87 at Gov.uk/guidance/claim-income-tax-relief-for-your-employment-expenses-p87.
7. Check your benefit entitlement
Cash boost: £250
There are many state benefits that you may be entitled to, so make sure you receive the money you are due. You can carry out a quick check on a free online calculator (for example, charity Turn2Us’s calculator at Turn2us.org.uk).
Child benefit, for example, pays out £20.70 a week for your first child and £13.70 a week for any further children until they reach age 16. It is available to most parents or carers, and the claim can be backdated by three months. This could add up to £248 or more if you have not claimed before.
8. Flog your old stuff
Cash boost: £260
The run-up to Christmas is a great time to declutter and make cash from selling your unwanted things. eBay is the best-known place to flog your old junk but it is also worth checking Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, where there are no selling fees. There may also be local groups where you can sell your stuff for free without the hassle of going to the post office.
Old tech products will bring in more money, with an Apple iPhone 8 selling for £260 through website SellMyMobile, for example. However, if it is in good condition you can sell pretty much anything online with limited edition and branded items fetching the most money.
9. Sell your skills online
Cash boost: £170
If you have a skill that you can do without being in an office, such as design work or photography, there are websites that can connect you to companies willing to pay for your work.
PeoplePerHour, for example, lists potential jobs, along with fees, which you can then bid for. The amount you can earn depends on the job, but we spotted a design project on a website for £170 and copywriting jobs paying £50 for 500 words.
This is a great way to make extra cash in your spare time but be aware that if you are a taxpayer, you will need to pay tax on this income.
10. Find forgotten bank accounts
Cash boost: £12
There is around £800 million in old bank accounts, according to National Savings & Investments (NS&I) and if that was split among everyone in the UK it would equate to around £12 per person.
A free service called My Lost Account (Mylostaccount.org.uk), run by UK Finance, the Building Societies Association and NS&I, helps you trace forgotten bank accounts. Just key in a few personal details and it will contact banks, building societies and the NS&I securely to check whether any account they hold matches your details.
Get paid to pet-sit
Well I hope the person that takes up paid pet sitting has public liability insurance + £1000 +for vet bills when the owner is away +permission from the council as there laws on the number of animals you can have+ totalled your house insurance company ++++