25 easy ways to boost your family income

by - Thursday, May 14, 2009

In the midst of this recession, many families feel the need to tighten their belts or take on a little extra work to supplement the family income. In recent months, I've seen friends and family members loose their jobs or have their working hours reduced, and I know from experience just how hard it can be to rely on benefits when supporting children.

I'm sure most families at this time would welcome a few extra pounds each week, whether this is to save for birthday and Christmas presents, a family holiday or simply to have an occasional treat. So in this post I'll share some tactics you could use to boost your family income using means already available to you, and without having to travel far from home.

Quick and easy ideas to earn money online

1. Participate in online surveys - Most companies use market research for new products and marketing schemes, and are willing to offer compensation in exchange for completion of surveys. There are many different companies you could join to earn a few extra pounds each week from participating in market research surveys including Ciao, MySurvey, Toluna and LightSpeed Research.

For each survey you complete, your reward could range from 10p to £15 (in either cash or vouchers) for between 10 and 30 minutes of your time. None of these companies will ever attempt to sell you anything or reveal your personal details. It's well worth joining a few different panels so you rack up your points or earnings more quickly.

2. Get paid for browsing the internet - Quite a few different companies have sprung up which offer compensation for visiting various websites or performing internet searches. In order to be compensated for visiting these sponsored sites, you will likely need to stay on the page for a few moments, or click on banners which you may have no real interest in.

However, the pennies will soon rack up. ?? claims that 20 minutes or so of your time each day could rack up more than £4 in earnings by combining your activities through various different services. Over the course of a year, this activity could easily set you up for a no-spend Christmas or family holiday. ?? has written a comprehensive guide for getting paid to browse the internet, which I strongly recommend you check out if interested in this activity.

Sites such as HTmail and Sterling Mails offer a few pence for each email you read and respond to, paying cash into your PayPal account. It's advisable to use a disposable email address when joining such schemes (Hotmail, for example) to ensure your personal email address is not overwhelmed or used for spam.

3. Reading emails could net you ££'s - This is not anactivity I have personally tried (as I already receive so many emailsfrom my blogging activities), but apparantly this activity could soonrack up a few pounds in compensation for only a few minutes each day.

4. Earn cash-back from your shopping - A relatively new concept for me is earning cash-back through affiliate sites when you make purchases online. Everything from supermarket shopping to digital camera could earn you cashback from such membership sites, so if you had planned to make these purchases anyway, such schemes are an excellent way to make a few extra pounds.

Some of the most popular schemes for cashback include GetPoundsBack, TopCashBack and CashBackChief. Some of these schemes offer a bonus just for signing up too!

In order to get the best deal you can also use the price comparison features of such schemes, then total up the cashback you would receive to make (or save) the most money.

5. Music Lover? Get paid to review unsigned artists - SliceThePie helps unsigned artists by offering their music for review by it's members. You could earn from 5p to 25p for each track you review (depending on your reputation), and tot up your credits to earn a little extra each month. Music artists could also profit from this site if their music receives many positive reviews by earning a contract.

It is complicated to explain, so be sure to read the full terms and FAQs on the site to get a better understanding of what it's all about.

Sell your unwanted household items

6. Sell anything on eBay - Of course, eBay is great for anything you may want to sell, from used electrical items to baby clothes and even your unwanted houseplants! It's very easy to get started selling on eBay: just create your account and sign up as a "seller". I would advise you to also set up a PayPal account as many eBay buyers prefer to use this as their preferred payment method. Here's a great article from MoneySavingExpert about the basics and most effective methods of maximizing your eBay profits.

7. Sell your books and unwanted CDs on Amazon - A little known feature of Amazon.co.uk is that anyone can set up an account to sell their unwanted books, CDs, DVD's and games for just a small fee. Unlike when selling on eBay, you won't be charged anything unless your item(s) sell. Many Amazon sellers have found some highly profitable means of buying and selling books through Amazon. While it may not become the equivilant of a full-time income, it's certainly worth a few pounds for the minutes of your time.

Apprentice Tycoon wrote a very useful article about selling on Amazon which you can read here.

8. Get £3 for each book you sell through Green Metropolis - Here's another easy way to make a few pounds from your unwanted library. Simply list your books on Green Metropolis and you'll receive £3 for each one sold (plus a little extra postage for large books and hardbacks). This website seems rather easy to use: you simpl input the ISBN of your books and the site does all the hard work for you.

9. Sell your unwanted mobile phones - You've probably seen many adverts on the TV recently from companies like MoPay and Envirophone offering to recycle your mobile phones for cash. This could well come in handy of you have a few old contract handsets lying around the house. All you need to do is visit one of these sites, provide details of your handset and you'll be given an instant price ranging from a couple of pounds to over £100 depending on the handset and it's condition.

For better profits though, I would recommend contacting any independent mobile phone retailers/repair shops in your town as you're likely to get a far better price for your phone! Usually you will be asked to bring your phone in person, but such shops are likely to offer far better money than the online companies do. By "independent" I mean the smaller, local stores (not Phones4U or any other high street name); take a look in our Yellow Pages and you're sure to find a shop or two close to home.

10. Sell at Car Boot Sales - Car Boot Sales are an excellent way to make quick bucks from selling anything and everything which you no longer wish to keep. For around £5-7 you can hire a spot in a local boot sale, set up a table to display your wares and get selling! Find your local car boot sale on Car Boot Junction where you can search by district or town.

I will say that Car Boot sales are better for getting rid of stuff which doesn't sell well on eBay or elsewhere, and certainly not for anthing valuable. It's great for old toys, clothes, baby stuff (pushchairs, moses baskets, and the like) which you don't mind getting rid of for only a few pounds.

11. Unwanted clothes? Get those online too! - Clothes swapping sites such as BigWardrobe.com and WhatsMineIsYour.com also enable you to make a few pounds by offering clothes for sale if there's nothing you'd like to swap with. Anything from Primark t-shirts to Prada handbags may be accepted, so if you have a wardrobe full of clothes you don't wear consider posting these online.

Sell your skills

12. Do you have a crafty talent? Join and sell on Etsy - This US-based site was created specifically for creative people to sell their hand-made goods online. Everything from knitted jumpers to hand-made gift tags is sold here, so if you have a creative talent be sure to join and showcase your skills in front of thousands more potential customers.

13. Sell your household skills - If you're an efficient cleaner, can iron shirts perfectly or are a wizard in the garden, why not offer your skills locally in exchange for an hourly rate? Even through the credit crunch, there are still families who would be thrilled to learn the lady (or gent) down the road could clean their home, organize their garden or finish their laundry while they while out the hours at work. Start by offering your skills to friends or post on a noticeboard near your local shopping centre. Part-time work such as this can easily fit around your current family schedule (nursery, school, etc) and once word gets around about your skills you could even end up inundated with new opportunities.

14. Sell your technical skills -  This income booster is something I stumbled upon quite by accident when a friend-of-a-friend needed some help setting up their wireless internet connection. I offered to stop by and help, fixed the router and a few other issues with their laptop, and in return was handed £20 plus many recommendations to more friends-of-friends... I'm now known by word of mouth as someone who can fix computer issues, install software, clean up viruses and help set up email accounts. I don't charge a lot and most of the time I get to fix computers in my own time at home!

To cut a long story short, if you're technically minded and competent fixing some basic computer issues, you could try offering your skills as a technical expert. Unless you have a great stroke of luck like I did, I'd recommend posting details of what you can do on local noticeboards along with your email address or website URL. It's not major income, and I'd suggest you offer fixed price fees for your work to ensure no nasty surprises for your customers!

15. Skilled with a sewing machine? Start a home-based alterations service - My old neighbour took on a lot of work at home once word of her skills in altering clothes spread around the neighbourhood! Almost every family needs trousers shortening or clothes repaired once in a while, and these days it's very hard to find a trusted alterations service which doesn't cost the earth (especially in cases where the alterations could cost more than the sale items we need altering!).

16. Sell your photos - Those who are skilled with a digital camera could earn good money from selling their best photography on stock image sites like Fotolia, Photobox and iStockPhoto. For each photo sold you will earn royalties (after paying a small percentage to the service you use). This could be profitable for those skilled in beautiful photography or in a niche sector.

Work from home

17. Become a TeleTech@Home Representative- If you're serious about working from home and can spare around 20uninterrupted hours each week, you could apply to work with the USbased company, TeleTech@Home.This company offers full training (for which you will be paid) andenables you to work as a representative using your computer and hometelephone. There are a few assessments and training programs to becompleted; rates of pay depend on the contracts you are offered.

Thisdoes require a commitment from you, and you will be expected to workfor several hours at a time without disturbance or background noise, soit may be better suited for those with children in school during theday or who can work alone in the evenings.

18. Publish mobile content to earn a few pounds - AQUA2Uis a new mobile publishing service which enables (virtually) anyone tosign up as a publisher and deliver micro-content to subscribers andfollowers. If you've ever encountered "Horoscope" or "Weather" alertsto your mobile phone, you'll have a good grasp of the style ofpublishing I mean. In some ways, it's a bit like Twitter.

AQUA2U claim that with just 25 subscribers you could earn £275 a year, rising to almost £3000 for 250 subscribers.

Thisservice is still very new (it opened on April 20th, 2009) so there areyet only a few publishers listed, ranging from betting tips to bargainsand celebrity gossip, so if you have a good idea for a series oftext-tips, it may be well worth checking this out.

19. Be a "Party Planner" - A favourite income booster for mums is hosting parties for companies like Ann Summers, Virgin Vie and The Body Shop.When hosting these parties, you're expected to demonstrate theseproducts and earn a commission on anything you sell. Besides earning asecond income, these parties can be loads of fun (especially the AnnSummers ones!); you don't have to limit yourself to family and friendseither - by advertising your parties locally you may well be asked tohost parties for Hen nights, birthdays and other occasionstoo.

Earn money from your writing skills

20. Get published with Associated Content-  This US based site offers a baseline rate of $1.50 for each 1000page views of articles you publish with this service. You can writearticles on anything you are proficient in, from how to find a reliablechildminder in London through to your top 10 country music websites (nokidding!).

The most popular authors can earn afull-time income, though to achieve this you'd need to submit quite alot of content of excellent quality.

21. Be paid to blog with Today.com - I've not covered earning through blogging in this article because generally it takes months to become established. However, the new service offered by Today.com offers publishers a guaranteed income for blogging on any subjectthrough their site (around $2 for every 1000 page impressions, plus a$5 bonus for new registrants who sign up through your affiliate links).

Earn money by offering your time

22. Become a market researcher - Companies like Saros Research offer opportunities for market researchers, usually in the form of small interview panels where you may be asked to test a product or offer your opinions. These opportunities typicaly pay well: between £30 and £50 for a 2-3 hour session. Register with Saros and look up local companies through Yellow Pages or your Thomson directory.

23. Monitor exams - This offers a great temporary opportunity for parents with children of school age as most exams will be taking place within school hours. By invigilating exams, you will be expected to monitor students, hand out extra papers, escort to the toilets and collect completed papers at the end of the exam.

Most schools, colleges and universities need extra staff for monitoring exams around Christmas, Easter and just before the summer holidays. Local newspapers may advertise these opportunities; alternatively you could contact your local council or approach schools directly.

You're likely to need a CRB check before being accepted as an exam monitor, but pay can be rather good at around £8-10 an hour (depending where you live).

24. Mystery Shopping - A "mystery shopper" is someone who is employed to rate the service or quality of products from retail stores while posing as a regular customer. By registering with "mystery shopper" organizations such as GapBuster, RetailEyes or TNS Global, you could earn free products, monetary rewards or gift vouchers. Most which I have encountered pay around £6-10 per assignment, though it is possible to earn up to £30 a day.

For some assignments these agencies can be rather strict and require you to take an online exam in order to qualify. Be sure to read the terms thoroughly and take details of each assignment into account to ensure you are reimbursed for any purchases and that you are paid for your time.

25. Count votes in local elections - Around election times, local electoral authorities may need extra help for counting votes and attending polling stations. Some local authorities pay upwards of £50 per session (or £10-15 per hour) for electoral duties.

Apparently, those already working for their local councils are offered first refusal of these posts, but it's well worth registering your interest with your local authority in case extra staff are needed. Take a look at the AboutMyVote website to find contact details for your local electoral office.

A note on tax

Earning extra income for your family is always welcomed, but don't forget to register your earnings with the tax man! By earning a regular supplementary income, you will effectively be self-employed and will need to declare this to HM Revenue and Customs.

You need to register with the HMRC Helpline for the Newly Self Employed on 08459 15 45 15 by the end of the third calendar month after you started or you may face a £100 fine. Also it's important to file your self-assesments on time (31st October for paper assessments, or 31st January when filing online).

Be sure to keep any and all receipts or details of your earnings - whenyou're self-employed you need to keep these for at least 6 years incase you are asked to produce them. Anything you spend on your business is tax-deductible, so it's important to keep accurate records of what you spend.

Don't forget to make full use of your personal allowances. The first £6035 of your earnings (in this tax year) will not be liable for taxes. Also, if you're on a low income, you should qualify for tax credits and other financial assistance. Take a look at the HMRC website for full details.

Final thoughts

I hope this article has provided some useful inspiration for means of boosting your household income without sacrificing too much time or family life. Of course there are many things I haven't covered here (blogging and website-building, for instance) as I feel these alternative income earners require far more involvement or long-term commitment - I chose to focus only on speedy and easy earners instead.

If you know of any other easy ways to boost your family income, I'd love to know about this so please feel free to leave your comments and opinions below.

Image credits: Main banner by kennymatic, Home Office by jimwhimpey; Garage Sale by leighblackall; baby package by Ali Edwards; asleep on the table by obo-bobolina; Writing is my hobby by Charles Jeffrey Danoff; Time by Apesara. All via Flickr Creative Commons.

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  1. Thank you for such a useful post, have saved it for future reference.

  2. Hi Experimental Mum! Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to know you found this post useful. I've had some success with the survey sites this month, so next week I'll be posting about the particular ones which have been helping me earn some extra rewards. Hope this may be useful for you too :)