How to make extra money - 17 ways to boost your income

Knowing how to make extra money could help to ease the squeeze of the cost of living crisis

Mother working from home with and looking after child
(Image credit: Getty images)

It’s never been more important to understand how to make extra money to help with rising inflation (opens in new tab). With the cost of living soaring, and households having to tighten their belts and watch every penny. Millions are worried how much their energy bills will cost (opens in new tab) and how they can save money on food (opens in new tab). And for many, it might seem like there are no more cutbacks to be made.  

So if you’ve cut all you can, you might want to think about how to boost your income to ease the pressure on your family’s finances. 

The great news is that you can earn up to £1,000 a year tax-free thanks to the Government’s Trading Allowance (opens in new tab) so you’ll only have to tell HM Revenue and Customs (opens in new tab) if you top this.

Adam French (opens in new tab), personal finance editor on The Money Edit (opens in new tab), says: "It all feels a bit doom and gloom at the moment as prices continue to rise and wages lag further and further behind, so now is the time to bring in extra money where you can.

"The good news is it doesn't always mean a lot of extra work. For example, it is estimated that more than £15 billion of means-tested benefits are being unclaimed by low-income households across the UK. Some simple checks could make a huge difference to your household budget".

How to make extra money

We found 17 ways you can make some extra money - some will require very little effort or inconvenience while others might require some more input. As well as tips on selling items you no longer need, we’ll also explain how you can boost your bank balance by making sure you claim any refunds, benefits or tax relief that you may qualify for.

1. Reclaim any overpayments on income or council tax that you may have made

If you’ve inadvertently overpaid on your income tax or council tax, then you are entitled to claim it back. There might be multiple reasons for the overpayment. Perhaps you’ve changed jobs mid-way through the tax year and your tax code hasn’t changed accordingly, meaning you are due an income tax rebate (opens in new tab)

Or maybe you are due a council tax refund (opens in new tab) having moved into a new local authority area without closing your council tax account with the previous authority. You could even have successfully challenged your council tax band, resulting in you being moved into a cheaper band. 

If any of these scenarios apply to you, then it’s definitely worth checking if you have been overpaying and whether you are due a refund. 

2. Work from home? You could be entitled to the working from home tax relief

If you have been told to work from home by your employer, then you could be entitled to working from home tax relief (opens in new tab) of up to £140 per tax year. The key point is that you must have been told to work from home, rather than just been given the option to work from home should you choose. 

The tax relief can help with any additional expenses you incur from using your home as an office. 

Better still, you have until 5 April 2025 to claim working from home tax relief for the 2020/21 tax year, and until the same date in 2026 to claim for the 2021/22 tax year. So, if you were told to work from home during the pandemic, which many of us were, you have plenty of time to claim.

3. Get money for being married

Did you know you can get free cash from the Government if you’re married or in a civil partnership?

The Marriage Allowance (opens in new tab) enables you to switch over a slice of your tax free income to your partner so they can earn more before paying tax.

This only works if one of you pays the basic rate of tax – while the other doesn’t pay tax – which means they earn £12,570 a year or less.

You can’t just transfer as much as you like – there’s a fixed limit which is £252 for the current tax year and you can backdate this for the past four years too – making a total of £1,242.

4. Check your claiming any and all benefits you are eligible for

You can use a benefits calculator, like the one on entitledto (opens in new tab), to see what additional help you could qualify for. 

Check out our guide if you're not sure who can claim Universal Credit (opens in new tab), or if you think you might qualify for child benefit (opens in new tab). You could also look into the tax-free childcare allowance (opens in new tab) and see how you can claim 30 hours free childcare (opens in new tab).

5. Bag free cash or exclusive discounts by recommending a friend

If you’ve signed up for a great new TV package or are happy with your breakdown company, tell your friends. By spreading the word, you and your friend can both bank some free cash.

Refer a Friend deals are an easy way for companies to get new customers as you’re doing the promotional work for them, so some will reward you with vouchers or cash.  

If you’re with Sky and introduce a friend – you both get a £75 Prepaid Mastercard (opens in new tab)  and the AA give you both a £20 Amazon or M&S gift card (opens in new tab) when a friend joins.

Do check offer details carefully as you may need to log into your account and send friends a special code so they can activate the cash incentive on joining, rather than simply going through the website.

6. Turn unwanted clutter into cash

If you need an incentive to declutter, whether it’s unwanted clothes or toys that you kids have grown out of, clearing out your loft, shed or wardrobe can be a great way to make some extra money. 

When it comes to selling, most of us probably think of selling on eBay (opens in new tab) first. Private sellers can list up to 1,000 items a month for free and you pay a 10% fee on sales. You could also try Facebook Marketplace to sell your goodies.

If you’ve got lots of CDs or DVDs that you no longer use, then you use a service like MusicMagpie (opens in new tab). There’s even a free courier service so you don’t need to worry about heaving large parcels down to the post office. To sell books, try webuybooks.co.uk (opens in new tab)

When it comes to selling clothes (opens in new tab), there are lots of second hand clothes websites and apps you can sell on including Vinted (opens in new tab), Depop (opens in new tab) and Shpock (opens in new tab)

Getting the best price will take a bit of effort as the trick is having good clear photos – so hang items up and ideally shoot against a white background. Always be clear on sizing and measurements in your listing.  And always be honest – if there’s a small snag or pull, make sure you say so. To not mention it could affect your seller rating and make it harder for you to sell items in the future. 

Make sure to also check any charges that might apply  for selling on these platforms. 

Woman taking photo of t-shirt for selling

(Image credit: Getty images)

7. Make money by selling old tech gadgets

You can sell your old gadgets (opens in new tab) including old laptops, Macbooks and PC’s on sites like Cash In Your Gadgets (opens in new tab)

Just pop in the details including the make and model for an upfront price and if you’re happy with this – you can arrange for a free courier collection. 

Gadgets must be in good working condition or they’ll be returned to you. Data will be wiped (though it’s a good idea to do this yourself) and payment is by PayPal or bank transfer. 

With old mobiles you can use sites like Sell My Mobile (opens in new tab) or Compare and Recycle (opens in new tab) to find the best price for your handset or get an online price and pop your phone in an Eco ATM machine (opens in new tab) for cash in your bank the same day. 

8. Get paid to watch TV

Yes really!  TV companies want to know what you think about their shows and they’ll pay to hear them too.  

It’s free to sign up with sites like The Viewers (opens in new tab) where you can earn up to £40 if you go to a two hour group discussion and you get free refreshments too.  Or you can earn up to £10 for an online survey at home which takes an hour.

9. Switch bank accounts for free cash

Switching banks to bag a ‘switcher’ bonus is an easy way to make money. And you won’t need to get in a pickle moving across standing orders and direct debits across. With the Current Account Switch Service (opens in new tab), once you’ve opened your new account, your new bank will transfer all your payments across from your old one for you, including your salary.  

The switching process should take seven working days. Each bank will have different rules on when it pays the bonus or what you need to do to qualify.  With some accounts you may have to set up a minimum of two direct debits and pay in a minimum amount each month.

10. Paying interest on your credit card? Stop! See if you qualify for a 0%  balance transfer card

If you can’t clear your credit card balance and are paying interest each month – it’s worth looking to switch your balance to a 0% balance transfer card.  Right now, the average credit card interest rate is over 26%, so by switching to a 0% deal you’ll save £26 on every £100 owed. You’ll need to make at least the minimum monthly repayment otherwise you will lose the 0% deal.

Some cards charge a small ‘balance transfer fee’ which can be up to 3% of the amount you’re moving across.  You can also get 0% balance transfer cards that don’t charge these fees but you may get a shorter 0% period. 

Before applying for a new credit card, always use an eligibility checker, like this one from our friends at GoCompare, to determine your likelihood of acceptance. If you don’t use an eligibility checker and your application is rejected, it can negatively impact your credit score (opens in new tab).

11. Fix your mortgage

Your mortgage is probably one of your biggest household bills – unless of course you’ve already bagged a great low rate fixed deal or only got a small amount to pay off.

Two million people across the UK are stuck paying their lender’s ‘Standard Variable Rate’ (SVR), but you can save on your monthly payments by securing a fixed rate deal.

And even if you’ve still got several months left to go on a fix, don’t wait for it to end as it’s worth shopping around now.  Some lenders will let you lock into a new fixed deal three to six months before your current deal ends so this way you won’t slip on to your lender’s higher SVR.

It’s worth checking whether any charges apply – as most lenders will charge an arrangement fee, which can be as much as £2,000. While this can be added on to your loan – it’s best, if you can, to pay this upfront otherwise you’ll be paying interest on this fee as well as your mortgage loan.

12. Cash in on cashback

If you regularly shop online, sign up to cashback sites like TopCashback (opens in new tab) and Quidco (opens in new tab) to earn as you spend. You can shop at all your usual stores like Dunelm, Boots, M&S and Argos but using these cashback sites as the gateway means you earn money as you shop.

It’s free to sign up, won’t cost you a penny to use and you can easily switch any cashback across to your bank account.

13. Stock up on loyalty points 

Whether you take your pick of the best supermarket loyalty cards or sign up to a loyalty scheme of other high street retailers, it can be an easy way to earn money off, freebies or exclusive discounts in your favourite shops. 

Keep cards in your purse, use them at the till to earn points on purchases or then you can use them to cash in for that free coffee or to save on your toiletry bill in Boots (opens in new tab).

While you can cash in Tesco Clubcard (opens in new tab) points at the till – it’s also worth swapping these through the Tesco website for treats as this way you can get three times their value. You can swap them for days out including zoos or theme parks or trade points for restaurant vouchers.

14. Get a lodger

This one will depend on your circumstances, but if you’ve got a spare room, you could let it out to make some extra cash. 

Under the Government’s Rent A Room scheme (opens in new tab), you can make up to £7,500 a year totally tax free by letting out a furnished room in your main home. And this is extra cash on top of your annual tax-free personal allowance of £12,570.

You can advertise on sites like SpareRoom (opens in new tab) or Monday to Friday (opens in new tab) and it’s worth asking family and friends if they know anyone new in the area who needs a short term let.  If you’ve got a mortgage, speak to your lender to check they’re happy with you doing this and let your home insurer know too.

15. Rent out your driveway or garage

If you don’t use your driveway or garage you can rent it out to make some extra money. This one tends to work best if you live near an airport, station, busy city centre or sports or concert venue where people want easy, cheap parking. You can get started with sites like JustPark.com (opens in new tab) , stashbee.com (opens in new tab), and parklet.co.uk (opens in new tab)

If you live near Heathrow Airport, you could make around £1,000 a year renting out your garage with Stashbee and nearly £900 a year for a garage in Manchester with YourParkingSpace (opens in new tab).

It’s usually free to list your space with these sites, but do expect to pay a small percentage on the rate you make. Charges vary but can be around 5%, for example, with Stashbee.

16. Rent out your stuff

Got a sewing machine, bike or guitar you don’t use? Rent them locally in your neighbourhood with Fat Llama (opens in new tab) That sewing machine could earn you £8 - £35 a day or around £30 for your bike or guitar.

If you’ve got spare storage space, then services like Store Mates (opens in new tab) can hook you up with people who need it. It’s free to list your space but a 17% fee is taken per payment. Before renting out any storage space in your home, you should check with your home insurer and make sure it doesn’t invalidate your policy.

Woman using sewing machine

(Image credit: Getty images)

17. Start a side hustle

If you have any spare time, you could start a side hustle to make extra cash. This could be offering a local dog walking service, ironing, gardening or even getting creative and selling items you make on Etsy (opens in new tab).

The great news is that you can earn up to £1,000 in each tax year before you have to pay any tax. If your side hustle takes off and you make more, you will need to let HM Revenue and Customs know as you’ll then need to fill in a self-assessment form.

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound. Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!
With contributions from