You may be laughing at the idea that it’s easy to increase your income… but often there are no ‘easy’ ways to solve a debt problem so it’s worth looking at all the options.
The best thing about all these options is that they don’t have to be permanent! If a very boring two years doing a second job will mean you can clear your debts, then it may be a better choice for you than a Debt Management Plan (DMP) which will affect your credit record if you want to get a mortgage afterwards. Renting out the spare room for a few years now may mean that you can pay off the mortgage before you retire.
Claim what you are entitled to
- Make sure you claim back any expenses from work as quickly as possible.
- If you are self-employed get those invoices out promptly and chase after 30 days.
- If you have to use your own car for work travel, see if you can claim any tax back.
- Are you claiming all the benefits that you are entitled to? Turn2us is a charity with an excellent calculator here for you to use. This isn’t turning into a scrounger – you have paid your National Insurance and Income Tax over the years and you are entitled to help when things get difficult.
- If you have had problems with payday loans trapping you in debt, see if you could get a refund of the interest you paid – this may be possible even if you repaid every loan on time!
- Could you increase your hours at work?
- Working from home has become easier with the internet. Have a look at The Money Shed, a site with a forum where you can hear about new opportunities and find out about others experience with different firms.
- Could you get a second job? Part-time bar work might be a partial substitute for the social life that you can’t afford at the moment.
- If one of you is a stay at home parent, could they get some part-time work whilst the other parent looks after the children in the evening or at the weekend? If it’s only for a few shifts a week there may be no National Insurance or tax to pay on this.
- Teachers, nurses or women with children can be much in demand for babysitting. If you aren’t currently employed, think about getting a Basic Disclosure Certificate (used to be called a CRB check) from here (that looks as though it is just for Scotland, but it’s also the right one for the rest of Britain.)
- If you are (or used to be) a teacher, could you fit in some exam marking?
Run your own business
This is a variation on the ‘extra pay’ where you are working for yourself, rather than for someone else… You will need to be well-organised and keen, as no-one else is telling you what to do and when – but for many people that is the best thing about being your own boss!
But VERY careful if you have to buy stock up front or you seem to make most money by recruiting other people. See Thinking of joining an MLM? Read the truth behind the ‘income opportunity’ .
- Could you be a dog walker? You have to be able to arrange your life around agreed walking times. If you are a stay at home parent, you may be able to manage one slot if you have small kids, or possibly two if the children are all at school. Don’t over-commit, start small! Think in advance about how you will handle crises such as a sick child.
- Could you make things to sell? The ‘pay’ per hour involved is often really low, but if you love knitting, sewing, painting as a hobby, then you may be happy with this.
- If you have an eye for a fashion bargain or in-depth knowledge of some collector’s items, could you run an eBay shop specialising in a particular area?
House and car-related ideas
- If you have a spare room, could you rent it out? This would be tax-free if you get less than £7,500 pa (this was increased from April 2016). Perhaps it would feel less invasive if you just had a lodger during the week – google Money to Friday lodger to find sites that will help you get the right person for this.
- Could you have foreign students lodging with you?
- Become a Airbnb host, renting out a room or your whole flat/house for short periods. (NB if you are renting or have a leasehold, check your tenancy/lease allows you to do this.)
- Do you have adults living with you who are not contributing to the household? Your mother may only have a small pension or your son may have a minimum wage job, but you shouldn’t be borrowing money in order to support them.
- Rent out your garage? Or even a parking space if you are in London or close to a railway station?
- Do you have a car that is often not used? Think about renting it out through GetARound. (NB I don’t know anyone who has done this.)
Odds and ends
- Become a Mystery Shopper – you won’t make a fortune. Ignore suggestions that you could get 20k a year, you are probably going to get less than the minimum wage. But it’s a way of getting paid for eating out that can break the monotony of trying to live on a tight budget. And the timing flexibility can suit people trying to make a bit whilst their kids are in school.
- If you have an iPhone, look at Field Agent – an app-based variation on Mystery Shopping. A common task might be to go to your local branch of [specified supermarket] and photograph how [company’s product] is displayed on the shelves there.
- Photograph your receipts with Shoppix and other apps. It will be tiny amounts but some people think it’s fun and it was money you were going to spend anyway. See The 7 best receipt apps in 2021
- Fill in surveys online – again you won’t get rich, but if you like surfing in the evenings after work or have odd bits of time during the day when the baby falls asleep, then this will make you money rather than getting depressed because you can’t afford to shop or lose you money by going for Bingo. Here is a review of the best survey sites in 2021. I like Prolific surveys – they are from academic researchers and are very varied, sometimes very odd questions, so they are more fun to do!
- Take part in Focus Groups. These used to be involve traveling, but since the pandemic, they are all online, which makes them much more practical if you have family responsibilities. See The Best UK Paid Focus Groups And Interview Sites for a round up of some to look at.
- “Comping” – entering competitions – is another thing which can become a fun hobby that could make you a little bit. If you fancy trying this have a listen to this interview with “Super Lucky Di” who has a lot of great tips and Facebook group for people just starting out: “Lucky learners“. Look for online competitions eg Competition database, you may just get lucky! Definitely set up a special email account for these, as you will get deluged with a lot of “bargain offers” after entering a competition.
Who is this suitable for?
Everyone should claim the benefits they are entitled to and all the ‘small’ ideas are suitable for everyone as well: a bit of mystery shopping is fine, and getting your adult children to contribute towards the rent or bills doesn’t count as your income so it won’t reduce your benefits.
The larger amounts of money are great ideas if you are snowballing or in a DMP.
But if you are in a DRO, IVA or bankrupt, check out the details about additional income:
- in a DRO, if your ‘disposable income’ increases to above £75 a month, then the DRO will fail. If you are offered a great full-time job, you may be happy for this to happen. Or if you are on benefits and get a few hours a week you aren’t going to creep over the £75 disposable income point. But otherwise be careful and check out the implications and decide if you are happy with them.
- in an IVA you are likely to have to pay much of your additional income into the IVA – it may still be worthwhile earning more but you need to know what will happen so talk to your IVA firm first
- in bankruptcy, if you have an IPA set you will probably have to pay the OR any extra money you make. But if you have been discharged with no IPA set, then one can’t be started.
Look out for scams!
Don’t be so desperate to get more money that you fall for scams. Beware of anything that requires you to put any money upfront, especially if it looks like an amazing opportunity. Land that will be worth a fortune when it gets planning permission, fail-safe ways to make money from options trading, exciting investments in fine wine, gemstones or small companies who have made medical breakthroughs etc.
If it looks too good to be true, then it isn’t true…