I recently came across a fascinating article which underlined just how members of our generation have been squeezed, and how a combination of factors such as debt, unemployment and rising house prices have contributed to a steady decline in income over the last three decades. It rather confirms what we already knew – these aren’t easy times to carve out a comfortable living in the UK. And for those of us raising families, it’s even tougher as wages are pushed to the limit.
We thus need all the help we can get, and the good news is that with a bit of creativity and not a lot of effort, you can give your household income a boost. And it doesn’t require doing anything remotely dodgy either! All it takes is a bit of savvy and awareness of some of the different options out there. Here are five to get you started…
- Spend money to make money
One of the most under-utilised incentives in the UK is cashback credit cards. Such is the desperation of card companies to gain customers that they offer deals of up to 5 per cent cashback on everything you spend. It literally is free money, albeit with a few terms and conditions of course. Be sure too that you pay off the entire balance on your credit card at the end of each month too, otherwise the high interest you get charged might negate the benefit of the cashback. But either way, this is a goldmine to make the most of.
- Get rid of your debts
One of the bigger misconceptions is that it is always a good idea to have money sitting in savings. If you have credit card debt, it certainly isn’t! The cost of debt always outweighs the benefit of interest on savings. For example, those with £5,000 on a credit card and £5,000 in savings could be as much as £800 a year better off by paying the one off with the other. And if you don’t have savings to cover the cost of your credit card debt, why not look into doing a card balance transfer, and give yourself a window of interest-free repayments?
- Use your space to your advantage
If you’re lucky enough to have some spare space on your property – perhaps in the loft, spare room or garage – you can rent it out to those who need it via the Storemates site. It might not make you a fortune, but for something like 20 square feet, you can rake in £50 a month fairly easily. While such types of income do need to be declared to HMRC, they won’t be taxable from April next year. Better yet, if you have a spare parking space and you’re well located, you can rent that out, and probably for a fair amount of it too!
- Flog stuff you don’t need effectively
One of the biggest money spinners that people sit on is a wedding dress. Despite their significant sentimental value, they do invariably end up in a box and taking up space. Yet through sites like Preloved and Confetti, or even Gumtree and eBay, you can sell it on for hundreds of pounds. EBay is generally the best-value site to sell other old possessions, although there are good specialist sites for things like books (WeBuyBooks), DVDs and box sets (Ziffit), and jewellery (Postal gold websites).
- Make your money work for you
Earning your money is the hard part – making it work for you should be stress free! The problem is that interest rates have absolutely nosedived in recent years, and returns on savings and/or current accounts tend to be negligible. Some like Santander offer up to 3 per cent, while a select few Cash ISAs have some reasonable offers. However, for those with an appetite for slightly more risk, lending your money through peer-to-peer platforms can yield returns of up to 6 per cent. Be sure to do your homework, as peer-to-peer lending is not the same as saving. However, if you think it is a good fit, it may just be a quick and easy way to get more bang for your buck.