How to make extra money - 16 ways parents can earn more cash
Knowing how to make extra money could help to ease the squeeze of the cost of living crisis
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It’s never been more important for parents to understand how to make extra money to help with rising inflation. With the cost of living soaring, families are having to tighten their belts and think carefully about how to save money (opens in new tab). But it's not easy. 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 something called the Trading Allowance, which is set by the government. You’ll only have to tell HM Revenue and Customs if you earn more than this.
Personal finance expert Adam French (opens in new tab), from our sister website The Money Edit, 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".
We found 16 ways parents 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. 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. 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.
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, Depop and Shpock.
How to get the best price when selling online
To get the best price for your items, make sure you have:
- good clear photos – so hang items up and ideally shoot against a white background
- clear description on sizing and measurements in your listing
- honest descriptions on quality. 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.
2. Make extra cash by selling old 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.
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 or Compare and Recycle to find the best price for your handset or get an online price and pop your phone in an Eco ATM machine for cash in your bank the same day.
3. Make the most of your loyalty card
Whether you take your pick of the best supermarket loyalty cards (opens in new tab) 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.
While you can cash in Tesco Clubcard 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.
4. Use cashback sites when you shop online
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. Once you get the hang of how cashback sites work (opens in new tab), 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.
5. Recommend a friend whenever you can
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.
For example, 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. 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.
7. Get 'paid' to walk
There are various apps growing in popularity that essentially 'pay' you to walk. Walk enough and you can turn your steps into high street vouchers or physical prizes. You'd need to rack up a lot of steps each day to make anything worthwhile from it, but could be a nice way to bag some freebies. Try Sweatcoin or WinWalk if you want to give it a go.
8. 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.
The amount you can get for switching will vary between banks but switching bonuses of between £150 and £200 are not uncommon.
9. See if you qualify for a 0% credit card
If you have a credit card, you could be paying hefty interest on it. But you might not need to. 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 to save on those interest fees. But remember, 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 only get the 0% deal for a short period of time.
Before applying for a new credit card, always use an eligibility checker, like this one from our friends at GoCompare (opens in new tab), 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).
10. Check your claiming any and all benefits you qualify for
More than £15bn worth of benefits go unclaimed each year, according to benefits help website entitledto. So you could be missing out on vital extra income without realising it. Use a benefits calculator, like the one on entitledto (opens in new tab), to see what additional help you could qualify for.
Claiming benefits you are entitled to can also be the key to qualifying to cost of living payments from the government, like the £900 cost of living payment (opens in new tab).
11. Get paid 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 might sound complicated, so have a read of our what is income tax (opens in new tab) guide for more information).
This only works if one of you pays the basic rate of tax (by earning more than £12,570 per year), while the other doesn’t pay tax (they earn £12,570 a year or less).
There’s a fixed limit on how much you can switch, which is £252 for the current tax year. But this can be backdated for the past four years too – making a total of £1,242.
12. Get tax relief if you have to work from home
If you have been told to work from home by your employer, then you could be entitled to working from home tax relief 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.
You can use HMRC's dedicated online site (opens in new tab) to make your claim.
13. Reclaim any income or council tax that you might have overpaid
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. This could mean 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.
14. Rent out your driveway or garage
If you have a driveway or garage you don't really use, 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 , stashbee.com (opens in new tab), and parklet.co.uk.
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.co.uk.
It’s usually free to list your space with these sites, but do expect to pay a small percentage on the money you make. Charges vary, but can be around 5%, for example, with Stashbee.
15. 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.
16. Start a side hustle
If you have any spare time, you could start a side hustle to make extra cash. This could be:
- dog walking
- selling items you make on Etsy
- becoming a JustEat or Deliveroo driver
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.
- Sarah HandleyMoney Editor, Goodto.com
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