Austerity measures from the coalition government has meant many people have had to tighten their belts. While sticking to a budget and finding ways to cut back are advisable, with a little imagination and effort you could find there are ways you can actually make money.
Moneywise has come up with 20 ways to make money during austere times - some are easier than others but all of them could see you make some extra cash.
1. Track down old accountsAccording to the British Bankers’ Association, there is more than £15 billion sitting forgotten in bank and savings accounts in the UK, with the average balance estimated to be £600.
The good news is that tracing lost funds has become easier with Mylostaccount.org.uk – a free online service that covers all UK bank and building society accounts. All you need to do is to go to the website and type in your details.
How to track down money in lost accounts
2. Claim tax creditsIt’s always worth checking that you are receiving all the tax credits you are eligible for. Research by entitledto.co.uk found that people across the UK are collectively missing out on benefits and tax credits worth more than £8 billion a year. So while you’re tracing lost funds, why not visit the entitledto.co.uk website too and work out how much you could claim.
Take a look at our competition page for the latest prizes and giveaways.
3. Sort your savingsAnother easy way to make money is to make sure your savings are working as hard as they can.
If you’ve had the same savings account for a while it might be worth shopping around because new customers tend to get the most competitive rates. Good rates come and go, but if you've had a savings account for more than a year the chances are the interest you are earning is not the best out there.
If you want to start a savings habit then a regular savings account is a good way to ensure you put a set amount of money away each month. But if you want to make deposits as and when, an instant access deal could be the one for you.
However, if you haven't yet used your ISA allowance for the current tax year then this sort of account should be the first home for any savings. You can save up to £5,100 each tax year as cash in an ISA and this will not be taxed.
Find the best Cash ISA or savings account for you
4. Use cashback credit cardsIf you pay off your credit bill in full each month, a cashback credit card could be the way to go. These offer you moneyback on purchases in certain shops or on goods such as petrol.
“Cashback credit cards are a great way to reward savvy spenders,” says Andrew Hagger, from Moneynet.co.uk, a price comparison website. “You can earn extra cash without even having to change your shopping habits.”
5. Cashback sitesYou can earn even more money from shopping online. Cashback websites will automatically pay you every time you buy a product or a service from selected retailers, from your weekly groceries to switching your utility provider.
Websites include topcashback.co.uk, quidco.com and quidsinuk.co.uk which offer 100% commission cashback.
Featured Cashback Websites
6. Paid for surveysThe web also offers a wealth of balance-boosting opportunities. Survey websites such as Yougov.com, Panelbase.net and Toluna.com will all reward you for your opinions, either through cash or reward vouchers.
Once you’ve registered on the website, you’ll be sent surveys tailored to your personal profile, ranging from 10p to £2 per survey.
7. Earn from web researchAny Question Answered (aqa.63336.com), are often on the lookout for internet researchers. Once a customer asks a question through their mobile phone, it’s the researcher’s job to hunt out the answer and reply online.
You can choose your own hours and the questions you answer, and can earn around 30p for every question you answer correctly.
8. Review musicBudding Simon Cowells amongst us should check out soundout.com, a music website that pays users to review unsigned bands. The idea is simple: you sign up, listen to a track, rate it and write an honest review. You’ll get 5p per review, but the more reviews you make the more you can charge – experienced reviewers can command 25p per song.
“If you’re a dedicated reviewer, you can earn some decent pocket money, some users have earned in excess of £1,000,” says David Courtier-Dutton, the founder of soundout.com.
9. Take in a lodgerWhile most of us pay a fortune for our homes, it’s possible to make your home make money for you.
According to Santander, you could make as much as £289 a month from renting out a spare room. Under the government’s ‘rent a room’ scheme, you don’t need to pay tax on the first £4,250 you receive either, which means you could charge up to £354.16 a month without being lumbered with a tax bill.
10. Rent out a parking spaceIf you live close to a city centre, train station or football stadium and don’t use your parking space or garage, you’re sitting on a proverbial goldmine. Renting an empty parking place to a commuter or football fan could see you rake in the pounds.
Parkatmyhouse.com is a website where you can advertise your space free of charge and let frustrated drivers get in touch. A parking space in the West End of London, for example, can fetch £500 a month, while in a leafy suburb of Leeds a space could net you £100.
11. Rent your home to film makersHollywood can come to your home too, provided you have the right location. If you live in an interesting property, you could bag upwards of £1,000 a day renting your home to film and TV companies. Ideal locations must have large rooms, good parking facilities and understanding neighbours. Ordinary homes are wanted too.
Five ways to cash in on your home
12. Be a Film extraIf you fancy seeing yourself on screen, film and TV companies are always on the hunt for extras. You could make up to £150 a day and get the chance to meet some famous actors. However, you will need to join an agency first.
13. Model your childWhile every parent thinks their child is a star, model agencies could think so too. If you think your little one has what it takes, the first step is to contact an agency to ask about their requirements. You will be asked to send in a head and shoulders photo of your child, either by post or email.
If your child stands out, you’ll both be invited for an interview, to assess if your child is right for TV, photo or film. Depending on the child’s age, shoots pay upwards £50 an hour, but bear in mind that agencies can charge up to 25% commission.
14. AuctionsWe’re all guilty of hoarding items that "could come in handy one day". But one man’s rubbish could be another man’s treasure, which is why online auction website eBay.co.uk is so successful. In fact, eBay estimates the average British house has about £450 worth of unwanted items that could be sold on the site.
Make cash from your old junk
"You could be asked to email across a digital photo, which the auctioneer will assess for free, or the auctioneer might visit you at no extra cost to take a closer look - especially if it is a large item," he explains.
15. Car boot salesIf you’d prefer money in your palm instantly, a car boot sale is the place to go. Thousands of people flock to car boot sales every weekend, with pitches costing about £10 a day. To find out where to flog your booty, check out Carbootjunction.com.
Make money from car boot sales
16. Recycle your old mobileMany of us have an old mobile phone gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, but you could easily turn it into cash, even if it is slightly damaged. Websites such as Mopay.co.uk, Fonebank.com and Envirofone.com will tell you how much your phone is worth. An iPhone 3G, for example, could fetch around £130.
Cash in on your old mobile
17. Mystery shopperIf you're longing for some retail therapy but can’t afford to hit the shops, why not earn a few pounds as a mystery shopper? Websites such as Retaileyes.co.uk employ mystery shoppers to drop in unannounced in shops and restaurants and rate their experience.
After you send in your feedback, you’ll be paid for your time and reimbursed for any purchases you made. You could make up to £20 a day, and get a meal or a night in a nice hotel thrown in for good measure.
18. Sell your skillsWe all have skills and talents so why not use these to make a few extra quid.
“If you spent years of your life being marched to piano lessons, put the experience to good use in adulthood by advertising your services in the local newspaper as a music teacher, says Laura Howard in her book, CashQuestions.com's 100 Ways to Beat the Credit Crunch.
"Just three hour-long lessons a week could see you up to £60 better off, not to mention the sense of satisfaction you will get. The same applies for languages."
19. Clinical trials for moneyVolunteering for medical experiments doesn’t just have to involve taking untested and risky drugs. Some clinical trials are perfectly safe, such as sleep studies, psychological tests and taste testers. Fit and healthy volunteers living in London willing to donate their blood for clinical research, for example, could be paid £60 a time.
But remember, never sign up for anything you are not happy with – risking your health for a few extra pounds is just not worth it. Go to Gpgp.net for trials in your area.
20. Join the Army ReservesIf you’re brave and committed enough to sign up, the Army Reserves (formerly known as the Territorial Army) is always looking for recruits. You would need to give up one weekend a month, attend an annual two-week camp for basic training and be ready to be called to active service.
Basic pay starts at £34.41 a day, but can rise to £112.51. When you meet the minimum yearly training requirement (27 days if you’re in a Regional Territorial unit, 19 days if you’re in a National unit) you receive an extra payment known as a bounty. This increases as you spend more time as a Reserve, so within five years of joining, you could receive an extra £1,600 a year. Go to Armyjobs.mod.uk for details. But it's worth bearing in mind that you could end up being deployed, making this a more serious option than the ones above.