Learn how you could pocket an extra £1,000-plus this year with our ultimate guide to boosting your finances and making money in 2021.
Make your money work harder
One of the best ways to make some extra money on top of what you earn is simply to make the money you have work harder.
1. Boost your savings rate
Interest rates on savings accounts are generally pitiful across the board at the moment, after the accounts with the highest rates evaporated last year.
Still, as always, some accounts have better rates than others, so it’s definitely worth switching if your interest rate is rock bottom.
Alternatively, you should check out the current accounts that pay interest.
2. Get paid to switch bank account
The introduction of the Current Account Switching Service has made it easier than ever to change bank accounts, which has made providers keen to tempt switchers.
Some banks will pay you cash or vouchers worth up to £125 to switch your current account.
3. Use your Isa tax-free savings allowance
The overall annual limit to invest in Isas tax-free is £20,000 in 2021-22, and it can be split between a cash Isa, stocks and shares Isa or innovative finance product.
It’s worth exploring the best Isa deals on offer to ensure you aren’t needlessly handing over the interest you make to the taxman.
4. Use a credit card that pays you
You receive a percentage of your spend back on your card as credit. By putting your everyday spending on the card, you could potentially earn hundreds of pounds a year.
However, it’s important to avoid spending more than you can afford to pay back at the end of the month, as the interest charges are likely to outweigh any rewards.
5. Try your luck with premium bonds
Premium bonds don’t pay any interest, but each bond is entered into a monthly prize draw in which holders can win up to £1m.
There’s no guarantee that your returns will be as high as those offered by traditional savings methods, but the opportunity to become a millionaire overnight can be tempting.
6. Pay off expensive debts before saving
Don’t make the mistake of saving while you’re still paying off expensive debts – you’ll be throwing your money away if you do.
The amount of interest you’re charged is likely to be a lot more than what you earn in interest on savings.
Paying off £2,000 on a credit card attracting 18.9% APR (with 2.5% minimum repayment) would save you £349 a year, while stashing £2,000 in a savings account earning 1.5% would earn you £30 over the same period.
7. Start stoozing with your cash
It involves using a 0%-interest credit card to do all the spending you would normally do from a current account. You then put the money that would have left your current account into the highest-interest savings account available.
Provided you pay the minimum monthly payment on the credit card and clear the balance before the 0% deal expires, you can potentially make hundreds of pounds a year through this method.
Stoozing was popular a few years ago when savings rates were high. Nowadays it’s harder to do, as savings rates have fallen off a cliff. That said, once they start to rise, this savvy move is likely to come into its own again.
8. Check your benefits
There are plenty of benefits available from the government that can help boost your finances.
9. Reclaim lost cash
You could have money sitting in a forgotten bank or savings account.
The UK government reckons there is around £330m left forgotten in dormant accounts.
10. Try investing your money for better returns
If you’re willing to learn the basics of investing in equities, you could earn much higher returns from your savings than if you store your cash in the bank.
However, there is always an element of risk involved when putting your money into stocks and shares. Even the most seasoned investors sometimes lose money.
It’s often recommended to spread your funds across a wide range of investments for this reason.
11. Use a good investment platform
An investment platform – sometimes called a fund supermarket – allows investors to buy and hold a range of funds from different companies together in one portfolio.
They often provide extensive research and information on each fund, so can reduce the risk traditionally associated with investing, and help customers achieve market-beating returns.
Which? has rated 11 fund-supermarket providers to test which have the most satisfied customers, and given each of them scores for several different aspects of their services.
How to make money online
The internet can easily part you from your money but, with a bit of creative thinking, there are plenty of ways to make money online.
12. Sell your stuff on eBay
Unless you’ve been hiding under a desktop computer for the past 20 years, you will have heard of eBay, the most popular auction site on the web, which you can use to boost your income by selling virtually anything.
Just watch out for eBay’s fees, which can eat into any profits you make.
13. Sell for less on Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace
But eBay isn’t the online online platform that lets you sell your things.
Gumtree, Preloved and, more recently, Facebook Marketplace are some of the biggest sites where you can advertise items you want to sell, complete with images and descriptions – free of charge.
14. Share opinions in surveys
There’s a fair number of research agencies that pay a small amount to people who complete surveys online.
All you have to do is answer the questions. Valued Opinions and Toluna are among the bigger agencies. You can expect to earn anywhere from 50p to £5 for each survey.
15. Download money-making smartphone apps
Several smartphone apps promise ways to make money quickly and easily.
There’s an app for Toluna, mentioned above, that pays you to take surveys. The Roamler app sets secret shopping tasks you can undertake nearby. Apps like Receipt Hog give you the chance to make money from uploading pictures of shopping receipts.
Just keep in mind that you usually won’t make bags of cash from apps like these, as the payment for each task is likely to be quite small.
16. Sell your photos online
If you can take a decent photo, you may be able to earn some cash from it online.
Shutterstock, Alamy and 123RF pay contributors when members download the images they have uploaded.
17. Share your skills
Lots of online sites can help you make money from your skills in your spare time.
If you’re a dab hand at DIY, for example, you could become a ‘tasker’ using Taskrabbit. The site connects people who need a hand with odd jobs, and people who have some time and know-how.
You can also use Fiverr or Fivesquids to offer a service, such as graphic design skills, that you can provide online.
18. Review music for cash
If you’re a music enthusiast, you might jump at the chance of getting paid to review unsigned artists.
Slicethepie allows you to do just that. Users get paid based on the quality of their reviews, and there is no limit to the number of artists you can review.
19. Rent out the stuff you own
Rather than selling stuff you rarely use, you could rent it to other people online.
Vehicles, evening dresses and household tools are among the most commonly rented items on these sites, and you can set the price and length of time you are willing to lend your items for.
20. Unlock cash on gift cards
Got one too many gift cards for shops you never go to? Don’t let them go to waste! Websites such as Card Yard allow you to unlock the cash on unwanted gift cards.
How to make free money
When times are tight, it can be difficult to balance your budget, but it is possible to generate some extra cash without an initial outlay.
Here, we’ve rounded up innovative ways to boost your bank balance by getting free money.
21. Turn on debit card cashback
Most major banks and building societies now offer tailored cashback schemes that pay up to 15% when you spend with your debit card in-store and online.
Santander’s is called Retailer Offers, Halifax offers Cashback Extras, Lloyds Bank has Everyday Offers, while HSBC and First Direct have Visa Offers.
The cashback opportunities are tailored to your spending habits, but you will need to activate them. You can do this through your online banking or mobile banking app.
Once you’ve selected the offers you want, you simply need to spend on your linked card to earn money.
22. Refer a friend
Many companies have refer-a-friend schemes that can sometimes earn customers money.
One website – refermehappy – collates these deals and acts as a social network, giving more people more opportunities to benefit from the rewards. But make sure the services you recommend to friends are suitable first.
23. Enter competitions
Sign up to a site such as Magic Freebies or Latest Free Stuff, which aggregate all the latest competitions you can enter.
24. Test products for cash
If you’re interested in testing new products before they are launched – from food to the latest technology – you can get paid for giving your opinion on them.
Rewards come in the form of either a cash payment or gift vouchers, and you should be told in advance how much you’ll receive.
There are a number of websites online that you can sign up to, including Paid Product Testing.
25. Use cashback websites every time you shop
Get money for buying products you were already going to buy by going through cashback sites such as Quidco and TopCashback.
26. Try mystery shopping
Mystery shopping lets you get paid for things you already enjoy doing.
Mystery shoppers are regularly used to test supermarkets, retailers, restaurants and hotels. Register with Mystery Shoppers and Market Force to see what assignments they have going.
How to make money from your home
Your home holds plenty of opportunities to make some extra cash. Here are some ideas.
27. Rent out your spare room
The government’s Rent-a-Room scheme means you can earn up to £7,500 a year tax-free by getting a lodger.
You can register your room free of charge on sites such as Easyroommate and Spareroom.
The room you want to rent out will need to be furnished, and you’ll need to get a tenancy agreement in place.
28. Use Airbnb to make money from travellers
If you want to make money from renting your home on a more flexible basis, Airbnb could work for you.
It allows you to list and set the rates for a room, or your whole home, for a few nights to a week, to travellers in search of a place to stay.
If you live close to a sporting or festival venue, you could cash in by renting out your home to fans or even participants. Edinburgh and Glastonbury festivals, as well as events at Wimbledon and Henley, could all provide such opportunities.
29. Advertise on your car
If you don’t mind driving around with a logo on your bonnet, you can make money by advertising on your car. You could make hundreds of pounds a month through websites such as Carquids.
30. Rent out your home for films
Fancy your home as a film star? You could rent it out to film or TV production companies.
Registration tends to be free, although you may have to pay a commission on the total location hire fee – see sites like AmazingSpace for more.
Most demand is for large houses with big rooms and plenty of good parking, although all types of property have potential, from contemporary conversions to classic period homes.
31. Host photoshoots from your home
As with films and TV, renting out your home for photoshoots could be a great source of extra cash.
Even though it can be inconvenient having a big crew in your house, if you get a shoot that lasts more than a day you could hit the jackpot – anything from £500 to £1,000 and more.
Magazine companies are always on the lookout for places to feature as backdrops for photoshoots – see sites like Beach Studios and Location Works for information and to register your home.
32. Make money from your driveway
Listing your driveway or garage on sites such as JustPark and YourParkingSpace could earn you cash from motorists searching for a cheaper or guaranteed spot.
You decide what to charge, with the going rate depending on location, demand and facilities, such as lighting and security.
Register your space free of charge, and you could earn anything from £50 to £800 a month.
33. Get cash for spare storage space
Your empty loft or garage could be making you money from people looking for some short-term storage.
Storemates puts you in touch with storage hunters. It’s free to register and list, but the website gets a 15% cut of the monthly rent if you find a match.
34. Use your garden to grow food
If you have a large and unused garden, you could put it to work by setting up your own smallholding.
You can grow your own plants and vegetables, or keep chickens. It can reduce carbon emissions by cutting food miles, cut your food bills, and can be a good money-making opportunity.
The biggest challenge, after successfully growing your produce, is finding a place to sell it.
You could set up a stall in your front garden, local fête, local allotment association sale, or a school event. You could even contact local farmers to see if they’ll sell your produce in their farm shop.
Recycle for cash
Rather than throwing out your old things, you should see if you can recycle some of them for cash. After all, one person’s trash is another’s treasure.
35. Recycle your old clothes
H&M will give you a £5 voucher – which you can use on purchases over £25 in-store and online – for unwanted clothing or textiles you hand in at its stores through its garment collecting initiative.
The clothes you bring in can be any brand. It doesn’t matter what condition they’re in, but the donation should fill a supermarket carrier bag.
Marks & Spencer runs a similar scheme called ‘Shwopping’. This involves taking your donation – which must include a piece of M&S clothing – to Oxfam to get a £5 M&S voucher, which you can use when you spend at least £35 on clothing, home and beauty products.
36. Sell baby and children’s clothes
Styles may change, but the one constant of children’s clothes is that they’re quickly outgrown.
If you have lots of baby clothes and toys to get rid of, take a look there are some specialist websites where you can sell them, or you can head to eBay and other online marketplaces.
37. Sell old Lego by the kilo
If the Lego in your household has reached critical mass, you can trade it by the kilo for cash on websites including MusicMagpie.
38. Sell your gold
Gold jewellery can fetch a fair bit of money, but getting the best deal isn’t always easy.
39. Recycle printer cartridges
You can recycle empty printer cartridges for cash or Tesco Clubcard points.
Some sites pay as much as £2 per cartridge. Compare what you can get by trying Cash For Cartridges and Infotone.
Alternatively, you can recycle empty cartridges with Tesco and earn up to 125 Clubcard points with The Recycling Factory.
40. Generate your own energy
If you have installed or are thinking about installing renewable technology, such as solar panels, you may also be able to make money by selling some of the green electricity you generate.
The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) means households with renewable technologies receive money for the energy they produce themselves.
You will need to weigh up the potential to save and make money through your system against the initial outlay for equipment and installation, which can run to thousands of pounds. You should also think about the suitability of the technology for your property and location.
41. Recycle your mobile phone
Sites including Envirophone and Mazuma Mobile offer an instant quote for smartphones – even if they’re damaged.
But don’t stop there. Mazuma Mobile and MusicMagpie will pay you for other old gadgets including tablets, Kindles and smartwatches.
42. Recycle old CDs, DVDs and computer games for cash
It’s almost impossible to estimate the number of old CDs, DVDs, computer games and other home entertainment items there are in the UK, but around 2,500 tonnes of CDs alone are thrown away each year.
Whether you’re upgrading technology or want to revamp your collection, make money recycling old CDs, DVDs and computer games instead of throwing them away.
There are lots of websites that offer instant cash valuations for these items, including CeX and MusicMagpie. Get a value for your item – which needs to be in good working condition – by typing in or scanning its barcode number.
43. Make money recycling old books
Don’t leave unwanted or unread books on the shelf – pass them on to a new home and make some extra money.
44. Have a car boot sale
Alternatively, you could sell your unwanted odds and ends the old-fashioned way – at a car boot sale.
It’s a great way to make some extra money while reducing the amount of rubbish you throw away.
Buyers will expect to pick up products at knock-down prices, but car boot sales are a good opportunity to bulk-sell items unlikely to sell individually online.
You can find your nearest car boot sale by visiting the online car boot sale directory Car Boot Junction.
Your profit will depend on the products you’re selling, but remember to factor in the cost of pitching your vehicle, which is usually between £5 and £20.
Make money from your side hustle
It’s easier than ever to turn your hobbies into an income. Here are some ideas to get you going:
45. Set up your own blog with ads
If you like to share your thoughts with the world on a blog site and you’ve got a few followers, you could make money out of it.
Using Google Adwords you can put advertising on your site and make money every time people click on the ads. The more people click, the more you make.
If you have a creative streak and enjoy making things such as soaps, cards, jewellery or other crafts, specialist sites such as Etsy can help you sell them worldwide.
It’s US-based but operates internationally, and has a category for just about everything homemade. You can also sell things on eBay of course, or on Gumtree or Preloved.