Whether you’re already dreaming of a summer holiday or want to tackle your Christmas over-spending, now is a great time to start making some extra money.
And it doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming; just a few tweaks could reap big rewards.
Here are 12 money-making tips to give you a boost in 2019.
1. Get paid to switch your current account
In a bid to reel in new customers, many banks pay you for switching to their current account.
First Direct has recently re-introduced its cash offer, where you can earn £100 if you switch directly, or £125 if you switch through Moneysavingexpert or MoneySuperMarket.
Last April, the bank replaced the cash bonus with a choice of goods such as headphones, courses and Expedia vouchers, but it’s now returned to the cash bonus.
To earn it, you’ll need to pay in at least £1,000 within three months of your account opening. You’ll also need to pay in this amount every month to avoid a £10 monthly fee.
Elsewhere, Halifax will give you £135 for switching – you’ll get £50 after the initial switch, and £85 once you’ve had the account for six months.
HSBC pays £150 if you open its Advance account. You’ll need to set up at least two direct debits or standing orders from the account, and pay in at least £1,750 a month (or £10,500 over six months).
M&S Bank also offers rewards, but via an M&S gift card. You’ll get one loaded with £100 when you switch, and you’ll get an extra £80 gift card after a year if you deposit £1,250 a month into the account, set up four active direct debits and register for online banking.
Find out more: how to switch your bank account
2. Earn cashback on what you buy
Making money while you spend might sound implausible, but it’s surprisingly easy.
You sign up to cashback sites such as Topcashback and Quidco and click the link provided on the site for whatever you want to buy. The retailer will pay the cashback provider, and you’ll get a slice of that money paid into your bank or Paypal account.
Just beware that some providers may charge a fee, and you may always not get the best bargain through the cashback portal. Find out more in our guide to cashback sites explained.
Alternatively, you could consider getting a cashback credit card. While terms vary (and some charge fees), you’ll generally earn a percentage cashback on your spending. As with any credit card, make sure you pay off your balance each month and be aware of the impact on your credit history.
3. Get a better savings rate
A better savings rate means your savings pot will grow, and you can maximise your tax-free personal savings allowance.
For low-income earners, your savings can earn up to £6,000 in interest in each tax year before you have to pay tax on them. This incorporates the savings starter rate of £5,000 if you earn less than the personal allowance and don’t pay any tax.
If you’re a basic-rate taxpayer, your savings can earn up to £1,000 before tax, known as the personal savings allowance.
Higher-rate taxpayers can earn £500 from their savings, while additional-rate taxpayers will pay tax on all their interest. This is where Isas really come in handy, as all interest within an Isa wrapper is tax-free, regardless of how much you earn.
As for the best accounts, you can earn 1.5% AER from four banks with an instant-access account, 1.86% with Secure Trust Bank’s 180-day notice account, and 5% if you can commit to saving regularly with First Direct.
These will all make returns you can access this year.
You can use Which? Money Compare to search through hundreds of savings products.
Find out more: how to find the best savings account
4. Rent a room in your home
If you have space to spare, you can make money by renting out a room in your home tax-free.
Through the rent-a-room scheme, you can earn up to £7,500 from a lodger before paying tax on it – but you must be living in the property at the same time as the tenant.
If you earn more than this, you’ll have to submit a self-assessment tax return to declare your earnings.
Find out more: rent-a-room scheme: letting a room in your home
5. Sell your valuable assets
If you have valuable possessions to sell, 2019 could be the year to do it.
In the Autumn Budget, it was announced that the capital gains tax (CGT) allowance would be increased to £12,000 from 6 April this year. This is up from £11,700 in the 2018/19 tax year. If you have a spouse, your allowances can be used jointly to bring the allowance up to £24,000.
If you sell an asset for less than this, you won’t have to pay tax.
If the asset sells for more, you’ll pay the following tax:
- Basic-rate taxpayers: 10% on assets, 18% on property
- Higher or additional-rate taxpayers: 20% on assets; 28% on property.
If you make a loss on assets you sell, you can offset these against your gains.
Find out more: capital gains tax allowances and rates
6. Take advantage of the marriage allowance
Having a spouse can be a handy way to get a tax break, thanks to the marriage allowance.
This only works if one partner is a basic-rate taxpayer, and the other earns less than the personal allowance.
With the personal allowance set to increase to £12,500 this year, it means you could benefit from a tax credit of £1,250 if your partner transfers 10% of their personal allowance.
So, effectively, you’ll be able to earn £13,750 before tax, meaning you’ll get to keep more of your salary.
Find out more: marriage allowance explained
7. Make the most of a savings bonus
There are three ways you can get free money from the government to boost your savings.
Help to Save
This initiative, fully rolled out across the UK in September last year, gives low-income workers a government bonus on their savings.
Suitable for those who are entitled to working tax credit or child tax credit payments, or who are claiming universal credit, you can open the online-only Help to Save account and deposit between £1 and £50 every calendar month for four years.
You’ll then get a 50p bonus for every £1 you save. So, if you deposit the maximum £50 a month for four years, you’ll have £3,600 – £2,400 from your own savings, and a £1,200 bonus.
Find out more: Help to Save – are you eligible?
Help to Buy Isa
This product is solely for first-time buyers saving to buy a home. The government pays a 25% bonus on what you save, up to a maximum of £3,000.
Before signing up, you should consider the following:
- You can deposit £1,200 when you first open the account, then a maximum of £200 a month thereafter – so your savings are limited.
- The property must have a maximum value of £250,000, or £450,000 in London.
- The Isas will be closing to new savers on 30 November.
Find out more: Help to Buy Isas explained
This Isa is for first-time buyers or those wanting to save for retirement. Like the Help to Buy Isa, the government pay a 25% bonus on what you save, up to a maximum of £1,000 a year.
The bonus is paid monthly into your account, and you can choose to save into a cash Isa or a stocks and shares Isa.
You should also bear these caveats in mind:
- Only those aged 18-39 can open this account
- If you use the money to buy a house, you must have held the account for at least a year, and the property must have a maximum value of £450,000 and be in the UK.
- If you use the money in retirement, you can only access it after you turn 60.
- Withdrawing money for any other purpose (other than a terminal illness), will result in a withdrawal penalty
Find out more: lifetime Isas
8. Sell your stuff or skills
Each tax year, everyone gets a £1,000 trading allowance, which allows you to earn money from outside your regular employment without being taxed on it.
So, if you sell low-value items on eBay, make things to sell on Etsy, or do odd jobs through sites such as TaskRabbit or Airtasker, this is ideal.
If you exceed £1,000, you’ll have to declare your income to HMRC by submitting a self-assessment tax return.
Find out more: who should submit a tax return?
9. Earn cash from your property
In addition to renting out a room, there are many other ways you can make money from your property – and there’s a tax-free £1,000 property allowance you can use for this.
This covers money you can make from renting out your driveway or parking space, getting paid for your home to be used for photo shoots, film sets, film screenings, or any other manner of things that don’t include someone living in the property.
Much like the trading allowance, if you exceed the £1,000 threshold, you’ll have to submit a self-assessment tax return to declare the income.
10. Recommend your friends
Many companies opt to use their existing customer base to spread the word, rewarding them for their efforts.
If you recommend a friend to switch their main current account to Nationwide FlexAccount, FlexDirect or FlexPlus, you’ll both get £100.
You can do this up to five times a year, meaning you could cash in up to £500. However, you’ll need to be a Nationwide current account holder, and your friend needs to switch within 90 days of receiving the recommendation.
You can also get £3 off a trip with Uber when you refer a friend, share £40 if a pal signs up to Ocado, and a £20 gift voucher for Amazon, John Lewis, M&S or Sainsbury’s if you get someone to sign up to Utility Warehouse and become ‘Gold status’.
There are plenty of offers, so it’s worth checking with the companies and services you use to see if they have a scheme in place.
Just make sure you’re recommending goods and services you genuinely rate, or your friends and family won’t thank you for it.
11. Rent your stuff
If you don’t want to sell your possessions, you could rent them out instead.
Sites such as Fat Llama provide platforms for this. You simply upload your ad for the thing you want to rent – anything from cars, bikes and electric scooters, to cameras, DJ equipment and musical instruments.
You can name your price and how long you want to rent out your stuff for.
Simply make a profile for your items, then you can approve anyone who wants to borrow them, sort out a time and place to exchange, and you’ll get paid within three working days of the start of the rental.
If anything goes wrong, items are covered by Fat Llama up to the value of £25,000.
12. Try your luck with premium bonds
This isn’t a guaranteed way to make money – and you may not see any returns this year. But you could win up to £1m.
Premium bonds are an investment product from National Savings & Investments (NS&I).
Every month, all bonds are entered into a prize draw and randomly selected. Prizes range from £25 to £1m.
You don’t have to declare your winnings to HMRC – even if you win big – and the money is backed by the Treasury, so 100% of your investment is safe.
However, there is always the chance you won’t win any prizes, meaning your savings won’t grow at all, whereas growth would be guaranteed if they were held in a savings account or cash Isa.
Find out more: premium bonds
Even more ways to make money
Check out our guide on 50 ways to make money for even more ideas on how to maximise your bank balance.
Which? Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited.