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5 Ways I boosted my income this year

5 Ways I boosted my income this year
In a time where the price of eggs is extortionate and bills feel like they are breaking the bank, a few months ago I decided I needed to earn a little extra income where possible.
I was stuck in a rut – I felt I’d saved everywhere I possibly could. I’d negotiated my mobile phone bill down by £10 per month, started turning off all electricals at the plug and limited my laundry to once per week to save on energy. 
I was sticking to a strict budget when I went food shopping, tried to shop the best discounts, deals and yellow sticker items, and cut out non-essentials. But with everything rising at a faster rate than I could possibly save, I decided to try and boost my income instead. 
Here are 5 ways I did this. 

Selling clothes 

I won’t lie, I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to clothes. I am very thrifty when it comes to shopping – most of my clothes are second hand, sourced from boot sales, charity shops, and online marketplaces. But my issue is, I hang onto things for years and years, even when I cease to wear it. 
Looking at my wardrobe one gloomy March morning, I pulled every single piece of clothing out, dumped them on my bed and proceeded to sift through the pile of garments. You have to be fairly strict when it comes to a clear out. If you haven’t worn it in the last six months, get rid.  
I split my clothes into three piles; keep, donate and sell. In the keep pile are items I know I love and wear regularly or have decided I am going to make an active effort to wear more. The sell pile is items in pretty good nick that I know people are likely to buy – great condition, have the labels on, or are pretty trendy and I know will get snapped up. The donate pile is for items that aren’t in quite good enough condition to sell but are still good enough to wear should people buy them from a charity shop. 
I use Vinted for everyday clothes, and eBay for more expensive or designer goods. Vinted is great as they don’t charge you any fees and you can choose from a range of shipping methods – from Evri to Royal Mail. I find eBay has more of a market for vintage or designer goods, and you can get a little more money for your goods. 
In total, I had two bags of clothing and shoes to donate, and two bin bags of clothes to sell. I’ve sold pretty much all my items already, and by June had collected a cool £130 odd from my sales. Not too shabby! 

Entering competitions 

When I was 19, I won £100 in a magazine competition. I did all the puzzles in the publication, wrote all my answers on the answer sheet provided, and posted it off. A few months later, a cheque came in the post. I was chuffed! 
Remembering this stroke of luck, I decided to start entering competitions regularly. Magazines such as Take A Break and Women’s Own have competitions in every issue, and they are good fun to do. I will sit and do them on my lunch break, whilst watching telly in the evening or even over a cuppa on the weekend. You can enter most of the competitions online now, which makes it even easier to enter. 
Most of the time I search ‘magazine competitions’ into the search engine and plethora of fun comps to enter pops up. For some of them, you simply enter your name and email address, and it is a luck of the draw type of thing. Sometimes, you may be asked to answer a question, complete a puzzle or even write a poem or short story. It’s up to you which you enter, and how much time you have to put into it. 
It’s not just money you can win, either. Sometimes you can win holidays, short breaks, electrical or home goods or even food. You have to be in it to win it, and there is no harm in entering! I suggest creating an email address specifically for competitions – this avoids your main inbox being spammed. 
We also have loads of competitions online at MoneyMagpie! and here at Reader's Digest competitions.

Use cashback websites 

I have really struggled with cashback sites in the past. I have deliberately spent at a certain store to get cashback, only for it to take months to come through, or not at all! I gave up using them, realising most of the time I was getting mere pennies back. Every little helps, certainly, but sometimes the effort was greater than the payoff. 
However, I recently found a cashback app called JamDoughnut. There are hundreds of retailers on the app, including Deliveroo, Primark, Costa and ASOS. You can even get cashback at Asda, Aldi and Morrisons when you do your grocery shop. 
How does it work? You simply buy a gift card for the retailer of your choice and get your cashback immediately. Just yesterday, I bought a gift card for JD Sports, and enjoyed 7%* cashback on my purchase straight away. You don’t even have to spend the gift card before you get cashback in your wallet. Use the gift card on the website or in store and enjoy your cashback. 
What I like about JamDoughnut is that the cashback is instant, and percentages range from 3% to 20%. Most of the time, cashback rates are around 7%, which is great. The total tots up pretty quickly – I've made around £20 per month since I started using the app. 
*Correct at the time of writing. 

Gain a qualification 

Now this is an investment of sorts. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a university degree to improve your job prospects! There are loads of great websites online that offer low-cost - or sometimes free – online courses
I recently purchased three online courses from Centre of Excellence for £89 - and got a fourth for free! This was a special deal, but they constantly have sales and price reductions. I chose Digital Marketing for Small Businesses, Journalism and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and then chose my fourth – Proofreading and Editing – free of charge. It has been hugely enjoyable so far. 
Now, how is this boosting my income if I have to spend money? Improving your skills can be a great way to move forward in your career, ask for a pay rise, or get a promotion. It can open the door for job opportunities you may not have previously considered, and ultimately, having a good skill set can put you in good stead, whatever you choose to do.  
Employers will often pay for courses for their employees – so definitely ask. Businesses want to help their staff members improve – it benefits them, too! 

No spend weeks 

No spend weeks can be an easy way to save cash when times are tough. But making them a regular thing can be even better. I’ve started making the second week of the month my no spend week every single month. I use up any food I already have in the cupboards, get creative with the activities I plan, and it helps me get to the end of the month without extra worry. 
I used to do my no spend week on the last week of the month – but this is when I found it the toughest, as I was totally stuck, out of money and had no real choice. However, doing it in the second week allows me to get to the end of the month without that dreaded feeling of scraping the pennies together until payday, as it helps me spread my income. 
I do spend on essentials of course – there have been times I’ve needed to get milk, medicines or public transport. You don’t need to cut back on everything – realistically, people need to get petrol, commute to work or get food items. But it’s more about pausing spending on non-essentials – new clothes, takeaways or meals out. 
Some weeks, I manage to save about £40 or £50. As mentioned previously, this helps me get to the end of the month without extra anxiety, and I can put this money into my savings pot. It can be tough, absolutely, but I have certainly felt the benefits. I have thanked myself – and so has my bank balance! 
Written by Isobel Lawrance, money content writer at MoneyMagpie 
Image of Money Magpie money content writer Isobel Lawrence
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