If you’re getting deeper into debt or you’re running out of money at the end of the month, you have two options: to cut down on what you spend or to bring in more money. Here’s my guide on how to make some extra cash; generating income without too much effort.
1. Do some mystery shopping
There are several mystery shopping companies (such as Insight Market Research, Grass Roots, GBW and Retail Active). You can do mystery shopping over the phone or by visiting shops/hotels etc (and in some cases, doing covert filming).
SAVVY TIP: Mystery shopping covers far more than going ‘shopping’, as you can test out the service in hotels, airlines or take part in consumer panels.
WHAT YOU NEED: You have to be 18 years or older, have access to the internet and be able to make time to take on the assignments (some sites say that reports have to be filed within 24 hours of the mystery shop). You may be asked to scan/photograph your receipts etc. You’re given information about how to act but the main thing is that you have to be objective (so you can’t ask leading questions) and you have to be discrete.
£££: You could earn up to £60 a visit although it could be far less.
2. Do online surveys
Type ‘online surveys’ into Google and dozens of companies will come up. You’re unlikely to make a fortune by doing online surveys but you may be able to make some extra cash (or vouchers, as some companies pay with Amazon or high street vouchers). Try companies such as Yougov, Swagbucks, Global Test Market, Panelbase, Valued Opinions or Pinecone (which is by invitation only).
SAVVY TIP: Try and find out how many surveys you’ll need to fill out or how much you have to have in your account before payments will be credited to you. Some companies seem to set quite a high threshold. And don’t pay for information or to register. This is supposed to make you money, not cost you cash! Also be aware that with some companies/surveys, you may get halfway through the survey before they tell you they’ve reached the quota for your age group, which means you’ll have wasted your time for nothing.
WHAT YOU NEED: Time, access to a computer and a bit of patience.
£££: You could earn 25p – £1 worth of points for one 20 minute survey. Be aware that you can normally only convert your points into cash once you’ve reached a certain limit (£50 in the case of YouGov) or you may have to exchange them for vouchers.
3. Renting out your driveway
If you have a driveway near to transport links (airport or train station) or a city centre with expensive parking you could get an income from renting it out. There are now several specialist websites that list parking spaces to rent, including JustPark, Park Let and Yourparkingspace.co.uk
WHAT YOU NEED: A drive (obviously!) or garage, to be good with people (if they’re going on holiday they may be stressed by the time they arrive) and – possibly – to be prepared to offer a drop off and pick up service if you’re after the airport market.
SAVVY TIP: Listing your drive is usually free of charge, but expect to pay around 15% of the rental income you receive as a commission to the websites. You should tell your household insurer if you’re renting out your driveway.
£££: If you’re near a busy airport you could charge £5 a day or more and around the same if you’re near a city centre with expensive all day parking.
4. Become an Avon rep
Avon is experiencing something of a revival with a large number of younger women signing up to become saleswomen. You have to pay a joining fee of £15 to become an Avon rep, which is taken from your first two campaigns (these are sales periods — each one lasts three weeks and there are 18 a year) in equal amounts.
WHAT YOU NEED: Time, the ability to engage with people and sell and some enthusiasm.
SAVVY TIP: You earn a commission by paying a discounted price for anything you sell and charging it out at full price to your customers. The discount/commission rate is up to 25%.
£££: On the minimum order you’d earn 20%. On an order of a certain amount or more you’d earn 25%. If you employ other Avon reps you receive a percentage of the income they generate as well.
5. Become a freelancer
If you’re employed but have extra time for freelance work (evenings, weekends etc) you may be able to increase your earnings by registering on a freelance website such as peopleperhour.com. If you’re booked, the person hiring you has to pay a deposit into an escrow account (where money is held until the project is complete). You’re advised to communicate via the website and not directly.
WHAT YOU NEED: A skill and time. Lots of people – from small businesses to large corporations – are looking to use freelancers rather than hire staff. Certain skills, such as web development/design, writing, marketing and accounting/bookkeeping seem to be in demand more than some others.
SAVVY TIP: Be aware that the pay rates can be quite low if it’s an area where there’s a lot of competition for work, but a couple of freelancers I’ve spoken to who’ve used it say it’s a useful way of bringing in extra money. Registering is free but up to 10% of your earnings will be taken (you can upgrade and pay a monthly registration fee, in which case less of your earnings are deducted). There are other websites that may be better if you have a specialist skill.
£££: Typical earnings are hard to spell out; it depends on your area of expertise and how much time you have. I’d say that getting the first job is crucial because it means you can then get feedback from the person you worked for.
6. Sell unwanted items
Have a clearout. Sell unwanted clothes; eBay is the obvious starting point (and there’s a site called Tamebay which offers tips on how to get the best from eBay) or Preloved or Amazon marketplace. Check listings charges.
WHAT YOU NEED: Something sellable (but that can be pretty much anything!) and a bit of time to take photos etc. If you’ve got a lot of stuff to get rid of it’s worth making a bit of effort with the photos and descriptions because it could make a big difference to how much you get.
SAVVY TIP: If you have designer or vintage clothes you may be better off using a specialist website. Read more in the article called maximising your cash when selling designer clothes. If you’re not selling designer clothes, tricks like bundling items together may increase the cash you generate. There’s more in the article called selling your second hand clothes.
Another option, if you want to sell CDs or DVDs, is Musicmagpie. It’s relatively hassle free (and free to use) but the criticism is that prices can be pretty low (one journalist was offered £3 for a boxed set of ’24’). If the CD/DVD is in bad condition you won’t get paid, but otherwise the amount you’ll get will depend on the rarity of the album or DVD.
SAVVY TIP: eBay sellers normally get paid through Paypal, while money is transferred into your bank account if you sell via Amazon marketplace. Musicmagpie normally pays by cheque or e-voucher.
£££: It depends on what you’re selling and where. You may get as little as 50p for CDs and DVDs (some popular boxed sets go for less than £5 on Musicmagpie) so there could be quite a convenience/cash trade-off.
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