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Boost Your Income By Thinking Outside The Box

Making extra money can be a real challenge, especially if you need to fit work around the school run, the demands of toddlers, or caring for elderly parents. Maybe you already have a job but are still struggling to make ends meet. Whether you have no qualifications, little time or cannot afford to re-train, there are still ways you can make money.

Tuition and Services

Firstly take a good look at what skills you have to offer. Maybe you can play the piano, speak Spanish or make fantastic birthday cakes. Make money out of these talents. You could set up as a private tutor of academic subjects or provide a service to others, such as gardening, dress-making or dog-walking. There’s often a need for cleaners or ironing services in wealthy neighborhoods. Focus on your strengths and realise that just because you find something easy, such as listing things to sell on Ebay, doesn’t mean that everyone else does.


Home-sitting, often combined with simple gardening duties and pet-sitting, is becoming more popular while people are on holiday. It gives the home-owner peace of mind to know they won’t come back to a bust pipe or a burglary and also means they won’t have to foot the bill for catteries and kennels.

Renting Out

Still in the home: if you own your own place, see if you can make some money out of it. Becoming a host family for an overseas student is one way to do this; you get paid to take them in and feed them as part of the family. Alternatively, you might consider taking in a lodger or flatmate. Unique and eye-catching homes and even very ordinary ones can be rented out as a film or TV location. Even just a garage left in its original state, with the usual tools, tins, and a Triumph motorbike inside could have just the right atmosphere. It helps to have parking for film equipment lorries (which are the size of removal vans) and good access and transport links, ‘though. You could also rent out your workshop or garage to artists and craftspeople seeking places to work, and, if you have a driveway or designated parking space, there are commuters that would be prepared to rent it off you for their vehicle.


Garages and attics can often hoard items we no longer need or have space for, yet many of us find it hard to throw things away. Just as biting the bullet and taking control of your finances can be a real relief, de-cluttering your home and dealing with the wealth of junk and unwanted good can be quite liberating. In terms of making money, there is the ubiquitous yard sale or table-top sale, but there are also numerous online auctions and car boot sales. Ebay is of course the most famous one, but, if you are selling certain items, particularly books, you may find you get better prices on Amazon.


There are a number of websites which will take your old or unwanted mobile phone, satnav, printer cartridges etc, and give you cash or vouchers, but there can be a big difference in what they offer, whether postage is free and so on, so it is worth comparing several sites before you post off your phone. Similarly, old CDs, DVDs, books and games can be turned into cash via websites such as Zapper and Musicmagpie, but you often need a large number of titles to earn a reasonable amount; you may be better off listing them yourself for online auction.

Focus Groups

As a member of a market research focus group, you spend a few hours discussing anything from cheese to bigger issues like the problem of homelessness or How to help an alcoholic friend, with a small group of people. Usually the discussion is led by a facilitator and recorded or filmed. Don’t expect more than the occasional job, but the hourly pay is often double the minimum wage, and often you get samples of products to try, such as fabric conditioner.


If you like giving your opinion, and are computer-savvy, you could try online surveys. American Consumer Opinion and Global Test Market are big in this field. When you’ve completed enough surveys to earn a certain number of reward points, the company pays out in cash or, more frequently, vouchers. Earning Amazon vouchers in this way, for example, is a great way to fund birthday gifts.

Naturally you should pay tax on your earnings, even if they are cash; you may be surprised how your income increases if you start thinking outside the box.