20 ways to make money in your spare time

Published by Francesca Bloor on 05 January 2009.
Last updated on 09 August 2018

There are ways to generate income outside the nine-five grind - get busy in your free time and you could see the pounds rolling in. Moneywise shows you some top money making tips.

Below are Moneywise's top 20 ways to make money - some are easier than others but all of them could see you make some extra cash.

    Get your money back

    1. Track down old accounts

    According to the British Bankers’ Association, there is up to £1 billion in dormant bank and building society accounts in the UK at any given time.

    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. The service has seen 140,000 people submitting forms to claim money from dormant accounts since its launch in 2008, and has reunited people with £645 million stashed in bank and building society accounts.

    2. Claim tax credits

    It’s always worth checking that you are receiving all the benefits and tax credits you are entitled to. Charity Entitledto.co.uk says government statistics indicate that people across the UK are collectively missing out on benefits and tax credits worth around £16 billion a year. Visit the Entitledto.co.uk website to find 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’s 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 £20,000 each tax year as cash in an Isa and this will not be taxed.

    4. Use cashback credit cards

    If you pay off your credit card bill in full each month, a cashback credit card could be the way to go. These offer you money back 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.”

    Make money online

    5. 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:

    Featured cashback website

    Quidco*

    • Fantastic choice of retailers - Save money with over 4,500 online and high street stores!
    • Earn £££ on purchases – with a range of cashback rates
    • Highest cashback guarantee - If you find a higher applicable cashback rate for your purchase on any other UK cashback site, Quidco will double the difference!
    • Trusted by over seven million users - Rated 8.8 on Trustpilot so you can always shop confidently!

    6. Paid for surveys

    The web also offers a wealth of balance-boosting opportunities. Survey websites such as Panelbase.net, Swahbucks.com, Toluna.com, and Yougov.com will all reward you for your opinions, either through cash or gift vouchers.

    Once you’ve registered on the website, you’ll be sent surveys to complete, with each one worth a certain amount in rewards. Panelbase, for example, usually pays between 25p to £10 per survey.

    Featured website for paid surveys

    Swagbucks.co.uk*

    • Free to join - Members have earned over £168 million so far. 
    • Minimum payout – Redeem your Swagbucks as soon as you have earned a minimum of £3.
    • Range of rewards – Redeem your Swagbucks for a number of gift cards or swag.
    • Instant surveys - Swagbucks has polls and instant surveys that take seconds to complete and earn.
    • Multiple ways to earn - Complete surveys, take offers, watch videos, do your shopping and much more to ear.
    • Rewards store - Redeem your rewards from hundreds of giftcard options or PayPal

    7. Earn from web research

    Any Question Answered (Aqa.63336.com), is 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 25p for every question you answer correctly. The contact email to find out about vacancies is jobs@63336.com.

    8. Review music

    Slicethepie.com claims to be the largest paid review site on the internet. It typically pays between one and 50 cents per review you leave and if you refer friends or family to the service you can earn bonus payments of about 10% of anything your referral earns. It’s free to sign up and you can review as much or as little as you like.

    Payments are calculated in dollars but payments are processed through PayPal, which will convert your earnings into sterling.

    Rent your stuff for money

    9. 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.

    Under the government’s ‘rent a room’ scheme, you don’t need to pay tax on the first £7,500 you receive either, which means you could charge up to £625 a month without being lumbered with a tax bill.

    Room finding website SpareRoom.co.uk says the average monthly rent people pay for a room via its service is £739 in London and £462 in the rest of the UK (these figures include rooms both including and excluding bills), so it can be a lucrative venture for landlords.

    10. 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.

    JustPark.com is a website where you can advertise your space free of charge and let frustrated drivers get in touch. Users make £500 a year on average. But in areas of high demand you can make more like £1,000 to £3,000 a year; in Brighton, for example, JustPark users’ make an average of £2,456 a year, in London it’s £1,973, and in Oxford it’s £1,303.

    11. Rent your home

    Airbnb.co.uk* is a popular site for holidaymakers to advertise their homes for short-term rent when they’re away. The site takes 3% of what you make. Read more about how to make money from Airbnb.

    Get into showbusiness

    12. 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 about £100 a day and get the chance to meet some famous actors. However, you will need to join an agency first so research, which firms are reputable. 

    13. 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 may 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 about £50 an hour, but bear in mind that agencies will likely charge an upfront fee to join or take commission of around 25% to 37.5%.

    Sell your unwanted items

    14. Auctions

    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. 

    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, 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.

    15. 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.

    16. 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. Website CompareMyMobile.com compares prices so you can get the most money for your phone online. An iPhone 6S 16GB, for example, could fetch around £140.

    17. Sell your unwanted stuff online

    If you have things in your house that you don’t need but might be of value, why not try selling them online? There are a number of different platforms you can do this on, depending on where you are and what you’re selling.

    eBay is a well-known and popular place to sell things online, claiming to have 175 million active buyers. You can list up to 20 items per month for free, and eBay takes 10% (up to £250) of the final transaction value.

    Facebook Marketplace is useful for selling items locally, particularly if they are larger goods, such as furniture or bikes. You can list them for free, including pictures, and people nearby will be able to see what you’re selling. Unlike eBay, Facebook won’t facilitate the payment, so it’s just a listing service – organising payment is down to you.

    If clothes are what you want to sell, Depop is the place to do it. The app allows you to list items for free with your own photographs so that people can ‘like’ and buy your things. The app facilitates payment via PayPal; all you have to do is set your price and remember to account for postage and packaging.

    Sell yourself

    18. 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 MarketForce.com 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. Assignments can pay anywhere from a couple of pounds to over £10, depending on what you are reviewing and the length of the report you hand in.

    19. 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 financial journalist Laura Howard.

    "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."

    If you’re good at knitting, painting, making jewellery or other arts and crafts, you could also sell your wares at local craft fairs and markets or on craft websites, such as Etsy.co.uk and Folksy.com.

    Just ensure the cost of making goods doesn’t outweigh the amount you sell them for and check if there is a fee to sell your items – Etsy and Folksy both charge listing fees and take a percentage of the sale.

    20. Sell your services

    Free-to-join website, TaskRabbit.co.uk, enables you to list services you’d undertake from cleaning, to picking up parcels, to waiting in queues at popular restaurants, at an hourly rate.

    It claims the earning potential of a full-time TaskRabbit user is £48,000 per year (those paying for services to be undertaken will be charged an additional 15% of the hourly rate).

    * This is an affiliate link, which means Moneywise makes money when you click it. For a non-affiliate version, visit Quidco.com, Swagbucks.com. Airbnb.co.uk. 

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