When I got made redundant from my job in the telecommunications industry back in 2005, I was actually earning a base wage (I earned commission and bonuses on top of this) that was £2000 higher per annum than what I’m earning now, 12 years later.
In recent years I’ve found it increasingly harder to sustain my current lifestyle (which isn’t extravagant by any stretch; I don’t have a car or subscription TV and I rarely spend money on eating out or going to the cinema/theatre) and fund my travels by solely relying on my wage from my day job.
Fortunately I’ve been able to find a bit of extra work through this blog. Although it’s not been regular work, it’s work that I can do from the comfort of my sofa at home, and generally pays a better hourly rate than my day job. I’ve used any money I’ve made from writing assignments to top up my holiday fund.
But I’ve also had to learn to be a bit more savvy with money, and am constantly researching ways of saving money and earning a bit of extra cash with minimal effort. The following tips won’t make you rich but they will help to free up the money you do have and to make enough on top of that to help fund your next adventure.
#1 Cashback sites
The two I use are Quidco and Top Cashback, although I find that mostly Top Cashback offer slightly better cashback rates. Here’s how cashback sites work:
- Create an account. You can join Quidco using this link and you’ll get a £5 bonus once you earn your first £5 cashback. Alternatively you can join Top Cashback using this link and you’ll get a £5 Amazon e-gift card once you’ve earned your first £10 payable cashback.
- Whenever you want to make a purchase online, come to the cashback site first and search for the retailer you wish to use, and then click through to the retailer to make your purchase. There are thousands of retailers listed including travel-specific ones such as airlines, accommodation booking sites, and those which sell car hire, train travel, and travel insurance.
- Earn cashback. Some cashback is paid as a set amount, and some is as a percentage of your total purchase amount. Cashback can take several weeks to reach a payable status, but when it does you can choose to receive your payout via BACS or in the form of vouchers (for a number of high street and online retailers, including Amazon). Usually if you choose vouchers you’ll get anything up to a 15% bonus (for example a cashback amount of £28.47 would be worth £32.74 in Debenhams vouchers).
This is what my Top Cashback balance looks like at the moment, simply as a result of normal every day spending:
I’ve earned more via Quidco in total (£1235.10) but I’ve been a member for longer. These days I don’t use Quidco as much but they’re still worth a look, especially when they run special offers and top-up bonuses. In my opinion it’s worth having an account with both.
#2 Survey sites
There are so many of these types of sites out there these days that it can be difficult to know which ones are worth joining. But fortunately I’ve done the research so you don’t have to. I’ve been using survey sites for years, so that’s plenty of time in which to learn which ones pay the most money for the least amount of effort, and which ones offer the most interesting surveys.
Here’s how survey sites work:
- Fill out a few profile surveys. This enables the company to learn a little bit about you so that they can send you surveys appropriate to your lifestyle, interests, and spending habits
- Wait for new surveys to arrive in your inbox, or visit the survey site, sign in, and click on “surveys”
- Surveys are either worth points (and then a certain number of points are required for a £10/15/20 payout) or a monetary value, and you accumulate these in your account every time you complete a survey.
- Once your account value reaches a certain level (number of points or monetary amount), you can choose to withdraw this (into your bank account) or purchase a voucher with it. You can usually choose from a number of different retailers (I usually pick Amazon, Tesco, or Costa).
My favourite survey sites are the following:
- Valued Opinions. I generally earn around £15 a month with this company. Surveys are easy to complete, not too long and not too repetitive. You can exchange funds for vouchers. Register here.
- i-Say. I generally earn around £10 per month with i-Say. Surveys are short and easy to complete. You can exchange funds for Amazon vouchers. Register here.
- Prolific. This is my absolute favourite survey site at the moment. I’ve only been a member since 19 October 2017 and already I’ve earned £64.99! The studies on here are all hosted by academics, rather than advertisers or manufacturers, so they’re varied, interesting and thought-provoking. You can transfer funds to your account via PayPal or Circle. Register here.
- Crowdology. I generally earn around £10 per month with Crowdology. You can exchange funds for Amazon vouchers or have them paid to you via PayPal. Register here.
- Panelbase. Another one with nice short surveys, so it’s relatively easy to build up funds. I also earn around £10 per month with Panelbase. Register here.
- Toluna. I have a love hate relationship with Toluna. Some of the surveys are so long and so repetitive and I often find myself timed out of a survey after I’ve already answered a ton of questions. BUT they do send loads of surveys my way and I do earn around £10 per month on here as well. You can exchange funds for vouchers or PayPal credit. Register here.
Some of the above sites often run product tests too, so you’ll get sent a product to try free of charge and then get paid for completing the review survey on top!
Considering that the majority of surveys don’t require a great deal of concentration, you can be earning yourself a bit of extra cash whilst you’re relaxing in front of the TV during the evening, walking to and from work, or on the exercise bike at the gym.
On those where I have to choose vouchers rather than cash, I pick Amazon vouchers (seeing as though Amazon sell everything!). By allowing the vouchers to build up over the year, I’ve normally got enough to cover a large chunk of my Christmas shopping by December (plus a few purchases in between).
#3 Shopping apps
Ok, so these won’t actually earn you any money but they will provide you with free or discounted food and drink products, which will free up money to use elsewhere. Here’s how shopping apps work:
- Browse the selection of products on which discounts / full reimbursement is available, and the shops at which you can buy them. On some apps you can filter offers by supermarket.
- Purchase product or products.
- Claim your reimbursement by taking a photo of your receipt (some apps require you to scan the barcode of the product as well) and uploading it to the app.
- Money is then paid directly into your bank account, although on some apps you’ll need to reach a certain threshold before you can withdraw funds.
The two main shopping apps I use are:
- Shopmium. The highest number of free products (i.e full reimbursement) available, and money is paid into your bank account within a couple of days (no minimum threshold required). Register here and get a free Lindt Excellence chocolate bar.
- CheckoutSmart. More offers available and allows you to filter offers by supermarket. You need to reach a threshold of £20 before you can transfer funds to your bank account without incurring any charges. Register here.
#4 Complete free trials in exchange for cash with 20Cogs
I’ve just requested my £121 payout from 20Cogs, which I earned with very little time and effort expended. You do need to be incredibly organised though, in order to make sure you meet the terms and conditions of the offers and that you cancel before any subscription charges kick in.
There are 20 cogs and behind each one are a number of offers from various different advertisers. You need to take one offer from each cog, and once the offer has been validated by the advertiser, the cog will turn green. Once all cogs are green, you can request your payment.
Yes, I’ve had to pay out £22.94 in order to earn £121 (so that makes me an actual profit of £98.06) , but a few of the things I got myself for that £22.94 include 30-day trials of Audible, Amazon Music, Which?, and Scribd, a Simply Cook trial box, a Graze box, a PACT coffee maker and one bag of coffee, 2 Gousto recipe boxes, and 3 months membership with the Gourmet Society!
So, I call that a fairly decent exchange.
Plus they have excellent reviews on Trust Pilot.
You can join 20Cogs here.
At the moment I’m not sure what happens once I’ve received my payout – whether I’m given a new set of cogs to play with, or whether 20Cogs is just a one-off money earner, but either way, it’s £100 I didn’t have before I started.
And that’s my round-up of money-making tips to help you fund your next adventure. Do you have any more you can recommend? Or do you have any experience with any of those I’ve mentioned? I’d love to hear your feedback!
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