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A new year brings new resolutions. If yours is to make and save more money, Which? can help with some tips to help improve your cash flow.
From switching banks to testing products for cash, we’ve put together a series of 21 money-making and saving tips you can use to be better off financially in 2021.
1. Save your spare change
If you’re looking for a simple and easy way to start saving, you could try saving the change every time you buy something.
Banks including Monzo, Revolut and Starling are allowing customers to round up a purchase and automatically save the change into a separate pot.
- Find out more: how to find the best savings account
2. Ditch your bad habits
Have you got any bad habits which are making a dent in your finances?
According to new research by savings provider Hargreaves Lansdown, you could be over £4,000 better off by the end of next year if you choose to give them up.
The table below shows some examples of how much you could save.
|New year’s resolution||Monthly saving||Annual saving|
|Give up 11-a-day cigarette habit||£186.50||£2,238|
|Give up alcohol||£39.42||£473|
|Give up an unused gym membership||£41||£492|
|Cut out takeaways||£23.40||£281|
|Reduce food waste||£60||£720|
Source: Hargreaves Lansdown research using data from the Office for National Statistics and Lovefoodhatewaste.com
3. Carefully select your next credit card
If you’re entering the new year in debt, you could consider moving credit card debt to an interest-free balance transfer credit card.
This way, you’re not paying expensive interest and can concentrate on paying back the money you owe.
If you’re not in debt, you could consider getting a cashback or rewards credit card to get something back.
These cards aren’t suitable for borrowing, due to the high interest charges, so you’ll need to pay off your balance in full each month.
- Find out more: compare credit cards with Which? Money Compare
4. Buy a railcard and save on train fares
You can get a railcard no matter how old you are.
The 16-25, 26-30 and Senior (over 60) railcards are the most well-known and can save you a third off your ticket.
But any adult and a friend or family member can get the Two Together Railcard which can save you a third off most rail fares when you travel together, or a Family and Friends Railcard, where adults get a third off and kids get 60% off most fares.
If you travel in the south-east, you can buy a Network Railcard which offers a similar discount.
The table below shows pricing for all available UK railcards.
|Type||Price (1 year)||Price (3 years)|
|Disabled Persons Railcard||£20||£54|
|Family & Friends Railcard||£30||£70|
|Two Together Railcard||£30||n/a|
- Find out more: for more money-saving ideas check out our guide on tips for finding cheap rail fares or watch the video below
5. Switch bank accounts
You might be able to access cheaper overdrafts, higher interest and better customer service by switching banks.
Plus there’s a chance you might also make money if the bank you move to offers a switching bonus, although these have largely disappeared this year due to coronavirus.
This doesn’t mean banks won’t re-introduce offers in the new year, although currently, the only offer available is from Virgin Money which is offering 15 free bottles of wine from Virgin Wines (valued at £180).
Most banks have agreed to use a switching service, which means it should take just seven working days to switch you over from your old account once the new account is opened.
If you want to check which banks and building societies are participating, you can search by name here on the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) website.
- Find out more: best bank accounts for cashback
6. Sign up to loyalty schemes
Loyalty schemes can be an easy and free way to turn your everyday spending into savings.
You’ve probably heard of the biggest ones, such as Tesco Clubcard, Sainsbury’s Nectar and the Boots advantage card.
- Find out more: best and worst supermarket loyalty cards
7. Use a cashback website
Checking whether you can earn cashback when you shop online is a great money-saving habit you can adopt in the new year.
Some brands will actually pay you cash if you buy something from them by going via an external website first.
Quidco, TopCashback and My Money Pocket all offer the chance to get a percentage back on what you spend with certain retailers. Cashback is paid within one to three months of completing a purchase, which means if you leave it to accumulate you could end up with a decent pot after a year.
- Find out more: use our guide cashback sites explained or watch the video below
8. Turn on debit card cashback
Most major banks and building societies now offer tailored cashback schemes that pay up to 15% when you spend with your debit card in-store and online.
Santander’s is called Retailer Offers, Halifax offers Cashback Extras, Lloyds Bank has Everyday Offers, Nationwide has Simply Rewards, while HSBC and First Direct have Visa Offers.
The cashback opportunities are tailored to your spending habits, but you will need to activate them. You can do this through your online banking or mobile banking app. Once you’ve selected the offers you want, you just need to spend on your linked card to earn money.
9. Switch to a family subscription
These let you share the same benefits for a cheaper monthly fee, and with many subscription services, you can still have your own account.
Spotify Premium for Family, for example, allows up to six people living at the same address to share a subscription for £14.99 per month.
This means you can save up to £539.40 over a year compared to when taking out a personal account for £9.99 a month each.
- Find out more: TV streaming services explained
10. Reclaim lost cash
Hundreds of millions of pounds are lying around in lost of forgotten bank accounts, savings accounts and old investments.
If you think you might have an old account, finding it can be quite easy.
Check out our guide on how to find lost bank and savings accounts to help you get your money back.
11. Sell your unwanted items
Selling items you don’t need or never use anymore could be doing you a massive favour – not just financially. It can also help you to clear out your clutter and you may be able to buy the things you really need with the money, or put it in a savings account.
Websites like eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are some of the biggest sites where you can advertise items you want to sell, complete with images and descriptions for free.
12. Rent out your driveway
You can usually earn money by renting your home to TV production companies, or renting a room via websites like Airbnb, although it might be harder to do this during the coronavirus crisis.
You decide what to charge, with the going rate depending on location, demand and facilities such as lighting and security.
13. Rent out the stuff you own
Rather than selling stuff you rarely use, you could rent it to other people using sites such as RentNotBuy or Fatllama.
Vehicles, evening dresses and household tools are among the most commonly rented items on these sites, and you can set the price and length of time you are willing to lend your items for.
14. Test products for cash
You can test products before they’re launched such as food and the latest technology, and get paid for giving your opinion on them.
You may get cash or gift vouchers, and you should be told how much you’ll get in advance.
There are a number of websites you can use, such as Paid Product Testing.
15. Share your opinions in surveys
You can earn money at home by completing surveys.
Panelbase, Valued Opinions and Toluna are among the bigger agencies, all you’ll have to do is sign up and answer a few preliminary questions for each survey to make sure you’re an appropriate candidate.
You can expect to earn anywhere from 50p to £5 a survey.
16. Enter competitions
Your chances may be slim, but it’s worth giving it a go – especially the free ones.
17. Recycle old products
Recycling old products like clothes and old technology is a great way to earn some extra cash.
Sites like Mazuma Mobile offer instant quotes for products like smartphones, tablets, consoles and smart watches.
You can also take your old clothes and shoes to some high-street shops to get money-off coupons.
For example, you can get £5 off purchases over £25 at Schuh and £5 off a £35 spend at M&S.
You can also recycle printer cartridges for cash. Compare what you can get on sites like Infotone.
18. Review music for money
Music lovers can get paid to review unsigned artists.
Slicethepie allows you to get paid based on the quality of your reviews, and there’s no limit to the number of artists you can review.
19. Get paid to browse the web
For instance, Qmee pays you when you search online.
It works through a browser extension that pops up with a set of results each time you use a search engine like Google. If you click through one of the links, you bank the money until you want to cash out.
20. Start saving into a pension
If you aren’t already, consider saving into a pension.
If you work and earn over £10,000 you should be enrolled in your company pension automatically. Otherwise, you can opt for a personal pension.
If you’re in a company pension, there are minimum contributions you and your employer must pay. Since last April, total minimum contributions have rested at 8%; with a minimum of 5% paid by you and 3% from your employer. Some employers may contribute more, and even match your contributions.
You’ll earn money on your savings no matter what type of pension you save into via the stock market. Your savings will be invested in a range of assets such as property and bonds which should give you generous returns over the years.
You’ll also get tax relief on your contributions – 20% for basic-rate taxpayers.
- Find out more: how pensions work
21. Start a blog
Blogs can be a great way to earn an income and can be a fun hobby for those who are passionate about a certain subject such as food or music.
You’ll need to put in the work and effort to reap the benefits, and money-making probably won’t be instant.
Once it gets going, however, generating income can be pretty easy.
Try using Google Adwords to put advertising on your site and make money every time people click on the ads.
- Find out more: use our complete guides on 50 ways to make money and 50 ways to save money for more tips