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Boost Your Income

56 ways to earn extra cash

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Jenny | Edited by Steve N

Updated 9 May 2016

There are scores of legit ways to add to your income, whether selling stuff, working from home or going online. After all, no matter how good a MoneySaver you are, a bit more money's always useful.

This guide to how to make money, possibly gaining £1,000s of extra cash, is designed to work alongside your tips in the forum.

Make your money work harder

Too many of us let cash languish in accounts or in products paying rotten returns. Shake off this laziness and make your money work harder, plus hunt down any forgotten funds or concealed cash. You may be amazed at what you find.

Give yourself a 25% pay rise

25% pay rise

There's nowt more powerful than sorting out your own finances. By shifting to the best deal on every product, you can give yourself a 25% pay rise, without cutting back. Before anything else, this is the most important starting point.

How much? The average UK family could gain £2,500 to £5,000 a year doing this.

How do I do it? Use the step-by-step Money Makeover guide.

Get paid every time you spend

Cashback credit cards pay you back a proportion of what you spend each time you use them.

Set up a direct debit to pay the card off in full each month, so there's no interest cost, and you can earn £100s/year. Just use the card for all your normal spending.

 cashback credit card

How much? The top cards pay 5% cashback for the first three months.

How do I do it? For updated best buys, see the Top Cashback Cards guide.

Don't accept pitiful savings rates

Make sure you're getting the most out of your savings. Too many people leave their savings in pitiful high street bank accounts where former best buy rates have dropped massively.

Even worse, you may have it in a current account earning just 0.1%. Stop! Five minutes' work will let you increase the interest massively.

How much? For every £5,000 you have in a top easy access savings account, you could earn over £100 a year more than in a poor account – potentially much more if you're able to tuck it away for a couple of years.

How do I do it? See Top Savings Accounts, Starting Saving and Best Bank Accounts.

Pay off debts with savings

Most people who try to save while they're in debt are simply throwing their money away. The amount you pay in interest to borrow is much more than you earn on your savings, so pay the debt off with savings and you're quids in.

Always pay off debts with savings

How much? Someone with £5,000 on a credit card and £5,000 saved is likely to be around £800 a year better off by paying off the debt with the savings.

Find out more: See the full Should I Pay Off My Debts?, Should I Pay Off My Student Loan? and Should I Overpay My Mortgage? guides.

Get the benefits you're entitled to

There's a plethora of benefits available – the key is working out whether you're entitled to them. The rather nifty tool from benefits specialists Entitledto in our Benefits Checkup guide does the work for you.

For more, read the Benefits Check-up, Pension Boosting and Childcare Costs guides.

Use your credit rating to stooze

Many credit card companies are willing to lend you money at 0% interest, so why not use this cash for everyday spending, replacing all other credit and debit card spending?

This means you'll now have debts on your 0% card (make sure you make the min repayment each month) and a similar amount in your current account, which you can save in an ISA or high interest savings account.

Pay off the full balance before the 0% ends, having earned interest on the money saved. This is known as stoozing. It's legal and can be profitable, yet it's only for the really financially-savvy.

For a full how-to, see the step-by-step Stoozing: Make Free Cash guide.

Flog what you've got – declutter and sell it

Whenever you finish using something, whether it's kids' clothes they've grown out of or an embarrassing old CD... flog it.

To take it up a notch, join the forum's mega-popular KonMari 2016 thread, where fans of the Japanese tidying craze share tips on how to purge every item that doesn't "spark joy".

Flog on eBay for best prices

If you've got it, and don't need it, flog it. Selling on eBay* usually pays best, yet to really get the eBay cash rolling in, you need to know the etiquette and shortcuts.

Our 40+ eBay Selling Tricks guide offers a crash course, explaining how to cut fees, the best time to close auctions, profit from bizarre items you never thought you'd sell and more.

Sell for free on local Facebook groups

Local Facebook groups are where, instead of eBaying second-hand goods, people harness Facebook's power to sell to others in the local community. The best bit is there are NO fees, so you keep the profit.

For a crash course in how to earn £100s, see our Facebook Selling guide. It tells you how to find the right local groups and get the best price, plus make sure you stay safe when selling.

Quicker cash for old CDs, DVDs & more

 Cash for old media

Several sites let you quickly trade in old CDs, DVDs, computer games and Blu-rays for cash. The sites are easy to use and give instant quotes, so if you've got loads to get rid of, you could speedily make a bit extra. Also see how to get max cash for old books.

How do I do it? Type in the barcode, ISBN or product name on the site to get an instant valuation. Each site is different, and some offer more for certain items than others, so always compare a few. Some also have a minimum number of items you need to trade in, or a minimum overall value needed, so you may need a few to sell.

Once you've compared and found the top payer, you simply accept the valuations and send your stuff to the them. Postage is usually free, but always check. Always ensure items are packed well, as, in most cases, any that fail basic quality checks will not be sent back to you.

You'll then get paid, either by cheque, PayPal or bank transfer, depending which service you've used. All these companies aim to send payment for accepted items within about seven or eight days of receiving them, though forumites' feedback suggests it can be longer.

How much? It varies but as a rough guide, you'll generally get up to £1 for CDs, £1.50 for DVDs and £10 for computer games, though it can be a lot less. Where these sites win is convenience.

The top trade-in sites. This table shows the main players, and what you can trade in with each. They have been chosen based on feedback from the forum. If you've had a positive or negative experience with any of these, please post in the individual forum threads.

Remember there's no protection if things go wrong or a site goes bust. We don't check companies' solvency.

Blu-rays Books CDs DVDs Games What's feedback like?
WeBuyBooks Forumites' fave WeBuyBooks.co.uk can be the top payer for books, and some DVDs and CDs. Please feed back your experiences.
CeX
CeX has been trading for nearly 25 years, and offers cash or store credit for trade-ins. Please feed back what you thought.
Ziffit A slightly newer outfit than the others, Ziffit is popular with forumites and pays quickly. Please feed back.
GameXchange
GameXchange is generally best for retro games (postage isn't free). Please feed back.
Music Magpie*
Music Magpie is well-established and feedback's reasonable, though prices aren't always top and payouts can be slow. Please feed back your views.
Momox Forumites rate Momox for trading in books, though CDs/DVDs aren't so well paid. Please feed back what you thought.

Can I do better elsewhere? Yes. Though hoarders of '90s CD relics and games could make £100s on the side, for more recent items you may be better off selling 'em individually on eBay* or other auction sites. You may do better trading in computer games at high street game shops – check these too.

Get max cash for old books

Get max cash for old books

Listing books one-by-one on eBay* may get the most cash, but it'll take some time. One of the best options for selling old books is Amazon Marketplace*, as you need only search for the book and write a short description. Your listing stays up till it sells.

Amazon provides full reviews of most from its database – if you're listing a few in one go, this saves time. It automatically adds £2.80 for delivery, so ensure your sale price covers postage if it's a heavy tome.

If you're a professional seller then you will have to pay £25 a month, but if you're just selling a few items it's 75p per item. For books Amazon then charges 15% on top as a fee. (It's different for other items, for a full list see Amazon fees.)

Use trade-in sites for less hassle. If you need speed and ease, trade-in website WeBuyBooks.co.uk and Ziffit let you enter details, they offer a price, and you post books free. Prices can be lower than selling them yourself though.

How much? Potentially £100s if you're selling pricey textbooks, less if it's old paperbacks.

Find out more: See the forum's Sell Your Books thread.

Flog your old wedding dress – can fetch £500+

Wedding dress

If you've an old bridal gown boxed up in the loft, dig it out and turn it into cash. You could get £500+ for a sought-after dress by a well-known designer, and depending on how popular your gown is, you could get the money in time for Christmas.

A host of wedding dress selling sites promise help. Here, you upload a description and some photos. The buyer usually comes round in person to try it on.

As you set the price, first find your frock's true worth. Check eBay to see how much similar dresses have sold for – just fill in the search box and tick "completed items" on the left-hand grey bar.

Don't just post items to strangers though – it's far better to get paid cash in hand. Even if you accept a cheque, it can take a week for it to clear. The exception's eBay, which tends to have better protection.

How much? This can be big money, as forumite fran-o found: "I put my dress on Preloved and had interest from someone who had tried it on in a bridal shop. She came to try on and bought it for £550. Very happy!" If you've sold one, let us know how you got on in the Sell Your Wedding Dress forum thread.

The top FREE wedding dress selling sites. If you're looking for speed, you might want to consider the paid-for sites below, but if you can wait, first try your luck on the fee-free sites.

MoneySavers rate classifieds site Preloved* for selling wedding frocks. It's free to sell on and is popular with brides hunting for second-hand gowns. You can also try wedding planning site Confetti's basic, forum-style for-sale section, as well as popular classifieds site Gumtree.

Also worth adding is The Dressmarket, where a basic advert with one photo is free (it makes money from selling optional upgrades, eg, extra photos).

The top paid-for sites. No joy on the freebies? While it has a mammoth audience, eBay* charges steep fees. You can list 20 items free a month, but if the dress sells, you pay 10% of the sale price, including postage.

There are also specialist bridal gown selling sites, which are especially good if you're selling a frock by a named designer. Check out SellMyWeddingDress (£10 for six months' advertising) and StillWhite (£17, but your ad stays up till it sells). While we've little feedback from MoneySavers who've sold via these, we hear good things from buyers.

As a rough rule of thumb, eBay wins over the specialist paid-for sites if your dress sells for less than £100.

Spot and flog from car boot/garage sales

If you've an eye for car booty, buy items cheaply and sell them at a profit on eBay or other auction sites. Be sure to arrive early to beat other bargain hunters. You can use Car Boot Junction or Carbootsales.org to find your nearest car boot sale.

car boot

The big money lies in spotting collectables to sell on, so research online first or (subtly) use your mobile phone's web browser.

There's a quick way to glean a product's market value on eBay*. Fill in the search box and tick 'completed listings' on the left-hand grey bar. It'll come up with a list of prices similar auctions have already fetched. Then sort by "Price: lowest first".

How much? The earning potential increases with your knowledge of rare items and collectable brands, and a little luck doesn't go amiss either. If you're in the right place at the right time, this could net you £100s extra a year.

Find out more: Read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add yours in the Spot & flog on eBay thread. More hints are in the eBay, Auctions, Car Boot & Jumble Sales board.

Flog old gold

Get cash for old gold

“Sell unwanted gold for CASH!” TV, mags and billboard ads pulse with promises, yet rarely seem to live up to them.

However, amid the scrap are shining examples – meaning £14 per 9ct stud earrings and £55 per 18ct gold ring is possible. Full tips on avoiding rip-offs and maximising your earnings in Sell Gold for Max Cash.

Sell your story

Journalists are always looking for dramatic stories. If you've been in an extreme situation, come close to death or have any other gripping or extraordinary tales to tell about your life, why not get paid and have it published? Even amusing photos can earn good cash prizes in some magazines.

Sell your story

Many magazines pay a premium for interesting letters and photos. Love It! magazine pays £100 if your printed pic wins its Cute Wars comp (email cute@loveitmagazine.co.uk).

Love It! also pays out £50 for shameful holiday snaps (dodgy sunburn, tanning disasters) that win its You've Been Shamed category (email shamed@loveitmagazine.co.uk).

Woman's Own's Smart Shopper page pays £20 for every money saving reader tip that it uses. (Email womansown@timeinc.com).

How much? A 'star letter' will usually fetch at least £20 in magazines, pictures up to £100.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions, or add your own in the Sell your story thread.

Recycle old printer cartridges for cash

recycle old printer cartridges

Printer cartridges are expensive, sometimes even more costly than the printers themselves. So, next time one runs out, offset the cost of a new one by recycling the empty one for cash, or Tesco Clubcard points.

There are lots of recycling sites out there, so do a bit of research to find out which are the best payers for your cartridges – some pay as much as £2 per cartridge, though it's usually much less. Try Cash For Cartridges, Recycle Ink Cartridges and Infotone.

Though some recycling sites will take your empty cartridges, they may only pay for certain ones, so check feedback and compare prices. There are lots of suggestions in the forum.

Alternatively, recycle the empty cartridges with Tesco and earn up to 125 Clubcard points for each cartridge. Each point is worth 1p in store but up to four times as much if you redeem on goodies with Clubcard Boost such as breakdown cover, days out and holidays away. See The Recycling Factory for full details.

Read more about Tesco Clubcard: There's more on maximising Tesco Clubcard points in the Boost Tesco Points guide.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' recommendations, or add your own, in the Recycling printer cartridges for cash thread.

Profit from lost luggage auctions

Ever watched Storage Hunters, the U.S. show where people bid for the mystery contents of storage units? Now you can do it yourself, with lost luggage auctions.

lost luggage auctions

When airlines are unable to reunite lost bags with their rightful owners, they often sell them off via specialist auction houses, usually costing £10-£75. For a full guide, including which auction houses do this, see Lost Luggage Auctions.

It's also worth checking out Police Auctions, where forces in England and Wales use an eBay-style site to sell lost property or goods seized from criminals when they can't find the rightful owner. It's cracking for bicycles, among other things.

Rent it out for cash

It's amazing what you can rent out for cash, especially if you live in a busy area. Ensure you get the most out of your property – even your parking space can be profitable.

Earn £7,500 tax-free by taking a lodger

If you've space and don't mind a stranger intruding on your Game of Thrones-watching time, getting a lodger is a fast way to earn £100s. The doozy is that as of 6 April 2016, the amount you can earn tax-free letting a spare room via the Government's Rent a Room scheme has been boosted from £4,250 to £7,500/year.

The scheme applies when you rent out a furnished room in your home to a lodger or or take short-term guests through Airbnb (see Airbnb Room Renting Tips). It also applies if you run a B&B/guest house. It works whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

If you're renting out a room, you have two options to reduce tax, though you can only use one of them, not both. So work out the best option for you first.

  • The Rent a Room scheme. This is a huge tax break for most and really ups the gain. You don't pay tax on the first £7,500 you make each year from renting out a room (halved if you share the income with a partner/someone else).

    If your income's below this threshold, you don't need to do anything, as the tax exemption is automatic. If it's higher, you must complete a tax return – you then opt into the scheme and pay tax on the remaining amount. For more, see the Government's Rent a Room scheme info.
  • Deducting expenses. Alternatively, HMRC allows landlords to knock certain costs off before working out how much tax to pay. This includes guests' share of utility bills and home insurance (see the quick question below for more).

    You can choose not to opt in to the Rent a Room scheme and instead record your income and expenses on the property pages of your tax return. This can be a bigger saving in a few cases - though if your expenses are less than £7,500 it's likely you may be better off with the Rent a Room scheme.

    If you rent out your entire property rather than just a room through Airbnb etc, this is your only option, as you can't take part in the Rent a Room scheme.
Quick question

What counts as an 'expense'?

How to find a lodger

If you want to let a room on a longer-term basis, try SpareRoom and the room-to-rent section of Gumtree, which hook up people with housemates. Both are free to list on, though there are optional upgrades such as promoted adverts.

Another option's MondaytoFriday, a site geared towards part-time renters looking for weekday-only places, so you get your space back at weekends. A standard ad that runs for six weeks costs £29.95, so it could be worth trying Gumtree or spare room first and marking your listing 'Monday to Friday only'.

Temporarily rent out a room or your whole home on Airbnb

Airbnb and other similar sites link up owners with travellers hunting for a short-term place to stay, whether for holidays or sports events like Wimbledon. If you're renting out a room for holiday stays (not the whole house), you get the £7,500 Rent a Room allowance too. Our 20+ Airbnb Hosting Tips guide is a crash course offers safely letting your spare room or entire property for short periods.

Get cash for spare storage space

If you've unused space in a loft, garage or spare room, Storemates puts you in touch with folk who need space. It's free to register and list, but it charges 15% of the monthly rent if you find a match.

How much can you get? Storemates recommends charging 50% of commercial price. It automatically suggests a price, but you can charge what you like. For example, a 20 sq ft loft space in south London could net £600/year.

Some forumites report earning up to £40 a month, but others say they've had no response. So it's worth a punt, but not a guaranteed money-spinner.

How do I join? Register on the Storemates website and list a storage space. If someone's interested, they'll contact you via the site and arrange to check out your space. It provides a template legal contract to help sort the terms.

Will I need to pay tax on my earnings? Earnings will need to be declared. However, from April 2017 you will be able to earn up to £1,000 tax–free from your property, which includes renting out your storage space. See the Online Sellers and Room-Renters given £1,000 tax breaks MSE News story.

Will this affect my home insurance? Renting out part of your property for business purposes without telling your insurer could invalidate your home cover. Call it and say you're planning to list your storage space. They usually decide on a case-by-case basis, but may extend your existing policy for a small fee. If not, try a broker - see our Rent a room home insurance system as the principle is similar.

Anything else to watch for? Be prepared to settle any disputes yourself, and check you're comfortable with what's being stored. Don't agree to store valuables. This is because if you have to claim for damage to someone else's items, most standard insurance policies won't cover this. If you try it, please feed back in the Rent your storage space discussion.

Rent out your parking area

Is your driveway paved with gold? If you live near a city centre, airport, train station or footie ground, it might be. You can earn cold hard cash each month by renting out your drive. Read the Rent Your Parking Space guide for more.

Rent out your house as a film set

Film and TV production teams are always on the look out for homes and areas they can shoot in. Your home needn't be Downton Abbey to qualify – all shapes and sizes can be desired, and rates of pay can be pretty good.

A number of online agencies will list your property for free, taking commission once your property is chosen for a shoot (this varies depending on the property).

Sites worth a look include Lavish Locations, House of Locations, Amazing Space and ShootFactory. See the film set forum thread for more suggestions and feedback. Never use any that charge a large upfront fee.

How much? It varies widely, but if your property's chosen, as a rough guide you can expect from £500 to £2,000 a day. And you get to brag about it. Don't bank on being selected though; there are many more properties than film crews.

What kind of home do you need? Living within the M25 boosts your chances, as does unrestricted parking nearby. Crews also prefer bigger rooms with plenty of natural light. A state-of-the-art kitchen might net bookings for cookbook or lifestyle magazine shoots.

Will this affect my home insurance? Most agencies have their own insurance for breakages, however renting out part of your property for business purposes without telling your insurer could invalidate your home cover. Tell it first if a film crew's about to rock up.

Do I pay tax on my earnings? You'll have to declare you earnings so it depends on your circumstances. From April 2017 you'll be able to earn £1,000 tax–free from your property. See the Online Sellers and Room-Renters given £1,000 tax breaks MSE News story.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Rent your house as a film location discussion.

Reclaim, reclaim, reclaim

Right across finance, companies have been taking or holding money when they shouldn't. These days it's easy to fight back. This can mean a boost of £1,000s to your finances in just one go.

Tax rebate for uniform wearers

reclaim tax on work uniform

If you wear a uniform at work, and have to wash, repair or replace it yourself, you may be able to reclaim £100s of tax for up to five years of expenses.

This applies whether it's just a branded T-shirt or you're a fully-uniformed pilot, police officer or nurse. Read the full Uniforms Tax Rebate guide.

Check your tax code – you could be due big money

reclaim tax on work uniform

If during the past four years you've had the wrong tax code, you may be due a tax rebate.

It all depends on how wrong your banding was, but it can range from tens of pounds to thousands. One forum user managed to claim over £5,000. Use our Tax Code Checker guide and tool to work out if your code is correct.

Reclaim for train and tube delays

Leaves on the line, the wrong kind of snow and service faults... delays are all too common on our railways. But it's possible to claim for a delay if you know your rights. Full details in our Train Delays and Tube Delays guides.

Plus if you've an Oyster card or use Tfl, you may be due a share of more than £200 million. There's big money sloshing about - if you failed to touch your Oyster out you can often claim back the excess (some have got £70 on this). Plus if you now use your contactless card instead, or if you've an old Oyster, you can claim back old credit. See our Oyster card reclaiming guide for a how-to.

Reclaim phone/broadband credit

If you've switched TV, mobile, broadband or phone providers in the last six years, there's a very real chance you're owed a little cash. One forumite was amazed to get £144 back from TalkTalk.

The Reclaim Phone Credit guide has more info, plus a full list of contact numbers for providers.

PPI reclaiming

Reclaim for flight delays

If you've got or had a loan, credit or store card with payment protection insurance (PPI), you may be able to reclaim £1,000s, and for FREE. Banks lost in court after years of systemically mis-selling PPI.

We regularly see success stories of over £10,000.

Don't hand 30% to a no-win, no-fee claims handler. Read the step-by-step guides to PPI Reclaiming and Credit Card PPI Reclaiming, including template letters and FAQs.

Find lost assets

reclaim lost assetsBillions languish unused in old bank accounts, pensions, life assurance, Premium Bonds and investments, whether forgotten in a house move, lost through a work change, or simply overlooked in the hurly-burly of modern life.

Yet it's usually easy and, in many cases, free to reclaim cash that belongs to you or your family. See the Reclaim Lost Assets guide.

Reclaim bank charges

If you've been hit with bank charges in the past few years and are in financial hardship, you can ask for them back.

It all depends on your circumstances, but if you incurred charges of £35, four times a year for the last six years, then on average that all adds up to a huge £840 payback.

See the Bank Charges Reclaiming guide for full help.

Council tax rebanding

councial tax

The council tax system in England and Scotland is fundamentally flawed. Many people are in the wrong band. It takes 10 minutes to check if you're one of them using our step-by-step Council Tax Rebanding guide.

Reclaim for flight delays

Reclaim for flight delays

If you're delayed by more than three hours or your flight's cancelled, you are often entitled to between £100 and £470 in compensation.

See Flight Delays for a full step-by-step compensation guide, including template letters on how to get your money back for free and how to stop the airlines squirming out of paying.

Car or bike damaged by a pothole? Claim for it!

Whichever authority controls a road has a legal duty to maintain it to a fit standard. If it doesn't, and your car's damaged, it should pay for repairs.

Often you will only get a payout if you can prove negligence, but it's worth giving it a go. Full details in our Pothole claims guide.

Get paid for your opinion

Many companies' and public organisations' desperate need to test, talk about and try out their products or ideas on people gives you a great opportunity to cash in.

Sign up to online survey sites

Willing to give views on One Direction, washing-up liquid or quitting the EU? Our Top 20 Online Survey Sites guide shows how to make cash by filling in surveys. Committed survey-doers can get £200ish a year.

Attend face-to-face focus groups

Traditional market research focus groups pay generously per session, though you're limited to a few a year.

All it involves is giving opinions, usually with free sarnies, and you can walk away with £30 to £160. To get started, sign up with the top agencies listed in our list of Face-to-face focus groups.

Get paid to watch telly

Telly addicts can cash in by getting paid for their opinion. Theviewers.co.uk sources research panels for broadcasters and programme makers.

Projects can include giving feedback on TV programmes before they hit screens, coming up with catchy titles or deciding which personalities should get more airtime.

You can attend face-to-face research groups (these are usually in big cities around the UK), fill in surveys online or do both.

Anyone over 16 can sign up through the theviewers.co.uk website and you'll have to fill in a questionnaire on your viewing habits. This allows it to provide info to TV companies that helps them either select the right demographic for each piece of research or make sure they are gathering a wide range of opinions.

How much? You'll get £40-£70 for a two-hour face-to-face group discussion and it's usually paid in cash straight after the event. Occasionally, there will be an online version of a focus group, paying the same amount.

The amount paid for online survey varies, for example, members are often given a choice of 50p via PayPal or a 1 in 5 chance of winning a £5 Amazon voucher.

Find out more: See a list of other websites where you can get paid for you opinion in our Survey Sites guide.

Become a mystery shopper

High-street retailers are desperate to check their in-store customer service is up to scratch, and contract mystery shopping agencies to do so.

They employ you to visit a specific shop or pub, to rate service quality or the quality of their goods. If you fancy a bit of 'cloak and dagger' identity, this can be great fun too.

Some of the most popular sites are MarketForce, Grassroots, Gapbuster and Retail Maxim.

How much? Payment for this type of work varies hugely between agencies. Some pay in gift vouchers, others simply give you free items. Some will pay you cash too, sometimes as much as £30 a day.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Mystery shopping discussion thread.

Work from home

If you're unable to leave your home, whether due to childcare commitments or disability, working from your kitchen or spare room can leave you quids in too. Working on your own isn't for everyone though, so make sure you're OK with a spot of solitude.

Earn cash online

If you've a computer or smartphone, there's a host of small ways to boost your coffers. Our 30 Make Money Online Tips lists 35 (legit) ways to make money online.

You can get paid just to watch videos, write, search on Google, make your own YouTube clips and much more.

Enter contests as a cash boosting hobby

From cars to £20,000 cash, five-star USA holidays to £10,000 Tesco gift cards or even two years' rent paid, MoneySavers have won it all. It's all about 'comping', a potentially profitable hobby for the lucky.

Comping's about systematically sourcing and entering hundreds of the contests, using web gadgets to fill out forms at speed, answer questions and help with tie-breakers. There's full help in the 40+ Comping Tips guide.

Do some freelance work

freelance workIf you've skills in a specific area, you may be able to do a little freelancing on the side.

International project recruitment site PeoplePerHour allows companies to list projects they want completed. Freelancers 'bid' on projects, saying why they'll be the most suitable candidate and entering their price for the work. The site's free to join and bid on work, but a fee is taken out of your pay for each job.

How much? It depends on the job, the duration and skills involved, and how many freelancers are competing for it. The only drawback is you might find yourself competing against workers from countries with a much lower cost of living, who can undercut you.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Freelancer discussion thread.

Take in foreign exchange students

freelance workRenting out a room provides a stream of ready money, and a handy tax break means you can keep a decent chunk of it out of the taxman's hands.

Get in touch with local secondary and language schools to enquire about how often they take students, and the vetting process. This can be a tidy little earner.

How much? Rates of pay vary depending on the level of accommodation you provide, but as a very rough guide you can expect to earn upwards of £80 per week per student.

Find out more: Join the discussion and read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Take in foreign exchange students discussion.

Solve companies' problems

Several companies put problems online and offer cash to people who can come up with effective solutions.

While not a guaranteed way to grab cash, these can be an interesting, fun, and lucrative way to spend your spare time if you're a business or science boff.

At InnoCentive companies post dozens of challenges offering big money for the best solutions, though they're often quite technical. A typical example's £5,000 for low-cost labelling solutions for reuseable glass containers.

Also worth a look is Idea Connection. Register and it sends you email invites to help solve firms' problems for cash.

How much? It depends on the challenge, but top paying solutions can be worth about £600,000 if you come up with a brilliant idea.

Find out more: Join the Solve companies' problems for pay discussion.

Iron out your finances

Set up a professional ironing service, advertising in local shops and newspapers. A good tip is to advertise in the poshest part of town; that way you can charge more.

Start an ironing service

How much? Ironing businesses generally charge by the item, with 20 items costing around £10. This varies depending on location, so check what other local services are charging.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Start an ironing service thread.

Start a 'cottage industry'

If you're a dab hand at arts and crafts, try selling your jewellery and artwork, whether on eBay* or at craft fairs.

Websites Etsy and Redbubble are designed for buying and selling homemade goods. Some talented MoneySavers make big profits.

How much? Potentially £100s, depending on your time, talent and selling ability. You will have to declare your earnings but from April 2017 you'll be able to earn £1,000 tax–free from side-gigs such as this. See the Online Sellers and Room-Renters given £1,000 tax breaks MSE news story.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Starting a cottage industry thread.

Work, work, work

If you're willing to travel, as well as the obvious McJobs there are many ways for second-jobbers to earn extra cash. You also can maximise what you get from your current job.

Ask for a pay rise at your current job

pay risePeople are often scared, yet why not simply ask? After all, the worst that can happen is they say 'no'.

Simply ask for an appointment, prepare your points – which should be more about your job role than 'I need the money' – and see what happens. It's just as difficult for an employer to say no when you ask, as it is for you to ask in the first place.

How much? Always remember that if your pay rise isn't as high as inflation (the rate at which prices rise) then your pay is actually decreasing. So why not ask for an 'inflation plus x%' rise, explaining a pay rise at inflation will just keep you level and the x% is because you're now more experienced or better at your job.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the How to ask for a pay rise thread.

Bag a Christmas job

Bag a Christmas job

There are more likely to be temporary vacancies around the Christmas period in certain sectors. Check out Gov.uk's Universal Jobmatch (formerly Jobcentre Plus) and Gumtree.

Check which retailers are looking for extra staff to cope with the extra Christmas shoppers. Print out multiple copies of your CV, and then do a mail-drop on your local high street.

Ask catering agencies, restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars. Festive parties may mean more jobs. Royal Mail may also be worth checking at this time of year.

How much? Varies by sector.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Christmas jobs discussion.

Baby-sit

Watching somebody else's TV and eating their food while the kids lie fast asleep upstairs doesn't sound so hard – and it often isn't. But you must be prepared to deal with the odd stroppy or ill child.

You'll need a proven track record with little'uns, so work for friends, family and neighbours first.

How much? Adult baby-sitters can get up to about £8 per hour, but you'll need to build a reputation first to command this.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions and add your own in the Baby-sitting thread.

Pet or plant-sitting

Pet or plant-sitting

Also known as house-sitting, this job sounds (and is) fairly simple: maintain a house and look after any animals and plants for anything up to three months.

You need to have no other commitments to worry about. It'll be easiest to sign up with an agency, so be prepared to provide references and expect a thorough check of your background, including any criminal records. After all, would you be happy to leave your home in the hands of a stranger?

The terms and conditions vary from company to company. Some will expect you to be available all the time while some offer work on a more casual basis. Some suggested in the forum include Animal Angels, Platinum Petcare and Nina's Nannies for Pets.

How much? As a guide, Nina's Nannies for Pets pays roughly £30/day, plus travel expenses. You can earn more depending on how many pets you look after.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Pet or plant-sitting thread.

Be an interviewer

NatCen Social Research is usually on the look out for freelance interviewers. The job involves interviewing selected people about all kinds of topics in their own homes, then sending the answers to your set questions back to base.

Go to NatCen's website for full details.

How much? As a guideline for interviewers, once trained you'll earn an average hourly rate varying from £9 to £12.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Doing social research discussion.

Work at the supermarket

Supermarket jobWork weekend shifts at a supermarket – some pay up to double on Sundays and bank holidays. Generally, the posher the supermarket, the more it pays.

How much? Around the £8 per hour mark, and some may offer a discount (usually 10%) on groceries once you've been there for a while.

Find out more: Read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the At the supermarket discussion.

Party planning

Party planning

It's possible to make cash by hosting parties in which items are demonstrated and sold. Since you'll effectively be self-employed, you can make your own hours and work as often or as little as you want.

Before starting though, be sure to check whether there's already a popular representative of the company in your area. If so, it's probably best to sell something else. Typical examples include Ann Summers, The Body Shop At Home and PartyLite. Forumites recommend choosing a company where you'll be selling products you like; you'll find it more enjoyable, which will help you succeed.

How much? It's commission-based, so what you earn depends on your selling ability, and the products you sell. You'll usually have to cover set-up costs with your first parties.

To give an idea, forumite and Ann Summers rep Lady_Lazarus says: "The pay varies because it is commission based, but I make about £50 a party – not bad for waving a few naughty things around for two hours."

Find out more: Read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Party planning thread.

Monitor exams

monitor examsDuring exam periods in secondary schools, colleges and universities, there's often a shortage of exam invigilators since the teachers and lecturers still have other work to attend to.

Ask local institutions and temp agencies and you can earn fair cash for a couple of hours of (blissfully silent) work. You'll need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (formerly known as a Criminal Records Bureau check).

How much? Temp rates are normal, so expect roughly about £8 per hour.

Find out more: Read others' top suggestions or add your own in the Temp at schools thread.

Use your head – tutor

To tutor up to GCSE level you don't necessarily need a degree or PGCE teaching qualification (although you can command much higher rates if you have the latter), but some previous teaching experience is a must.

Count votes

Register with your council's elections office and get paid to count the votes at polling time. This can be in four-hour shifts, or longer. One MoneySaver reports earning £180 for working from 9pm to 5am.

Be warned though: you're usually contracted until the job is finished, so if it runs over you won't be paid extra (the flipside being that if you finish quicker, you'll still earn the same).

How much? It varies by job, but some forumites have reported up to about £180. One user said: "I got paid loads [for counting votes] – about £60 for a couple of hours' work, and it was great fun."

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Temporary council work thread.

Be a model

If you have the confidence to go nude (or semi-nude in some cases), life modelling is a fun way of earning extra cash. For a few hours work, you can usually get a very good rate of pay because it's very hard to recruit for this role.

All you have to do is make sure you're able to hold a pose. All shapes and sizes are desired, so don't be put off if you're not 'model' size.

My ex did this for ages, found a classified in the local paper (well, I found it for him!). Good money, gentle work... and he was pretty ugly.
- Badger_Lady

How much? Forumites report you generally get up to about £10-£20 per hour. Of course, wages vary depending where you work and some models are paid 'per job', earning more.

Find out more: Make enquiries at local colleges. Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Life modelling discussion.

Be a TV extra

tv extraIt can be a little more boring than Ricky Gervais makes it out to be, but the fun of seeing yourself in the background of shows can more than make up for it.

There are several legit online extras agencies which don't charge you for signing up, although they'll generally take an 'administration fee' out of your pay. If you're serious, you'll need to sign up to a few agencies to be in with a chance. You may have to pay your own travel expenses.

As there are a lot of agencies to choose from, it's well worth checking out forum feedback before you join to help you find the ones that are right for you.

How much? Most extras generally earn about £50 per day (it can be more), with overtime paid at about £10 per hour. It's a good idea, though, to have some professional (or at least professional-looking) photos taken in order to start off getting work.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the TV extra work thread.

Be an Avon lady (or man)

tv extraAvon representatives earn commission on make-up, toiletries and other items they sell. You buy batches of catalogues and canvass friends, family, neighbours or colleagues for orders to bring in cash.

The sign-up fee's £16 (this is taken out of your total earnings for your first two month's sales), which includes brochures. After that, brochures cost from 11p to 63p each. The more you buy, the cheaper they are.

How much? Your earnings depend on how many products you shift, but dedicated Avon ladies can earn £100/month, and some earn far more. Of course, many earn less than this, and, if you don't sell anything, you could run at a loss. So don't do this unless you're confident you'll flog some stuff, and are comfortable selling to friends and family.

You'll earn roughly £1 for every £4 of products sold. You can also become a sales leader, building up your own team and earning extra money through the team's sales.

Find out more: Sign up via the Avon site. For hints and tips, see the forum's Avon thread.

Be a guinea pig

If you're fit and healthy and prepared to accept the risk of tests, you could earn up to £150 a day by taking part in medical trials.

There are several big companies advertising for volunteers. See forumites' experiences in the UK medical trials discussion for ideas.

How much? Depending on what it is you're being tested for, forumites report earning between about £70 and £150 per day (it varies by trial). You may get your travel expenses refunded.

Find out more: Join the discussion, read other MoneySavers' top suggestions or add your own in the Medical trials discussion.

A tip on tax

Extra income is all very well, but don't forget the taxman will want his share. Any sources of extra income need to be declared. So make sure you're upfront with HM Revenue & Customs. (Though rules are changing from April 2017 – see below.)

It's important to let HMRC know you're self-employed as soon as possible, either via the HMRC website or by calling 0300 200 3504. If you don't tell them, you may have to pay a penalty. You'll also get a £100 penalty if you fail to meet the deadlines for self-assessment: 31 October for paper forms, and 31 January for electronic submissions.

For full information, read HMRC's self-employment leaflet. Also, don't forget to make full use of your personal allowances: depending on what your other job status is and your age, the first £11,000 of any income is tax-free in the 2016-17 financial year.

If you spend money on items for your business, be sure to keep the receipts. They're tax-deductible. See the HMRC website for a full breakdown of what you're entitled to.

How the rules are changing next year

From April 2017, all of this will change as you'll be able to earn £1,000 tax–free, both for property-related income and trading (so potentially £2,000 in total). See the Online sellers and room-renters given £1,000 tax breaks MSE news story for full details