CHRISTMAS is always an expensive time of the year and with the rising cost of living, you might be worried about how to get by.
With energy bills and the cost of essentials skyrocketing, many households may find it difficult to balance their budgets.
1There’s still time to make some cash before ChristmasCredit: Getty
But there are lots of things you can do to make some quick cash between now and December 25.
Here we’ve rounded several ways you can earn some money and add more to your Christmas shopping fund.
1. Switch your bank account – up to £200
You could get up to £200 in free cash just by switching to a new bank account.
Many banks and building societies offer bonuses if you switch your accounts to them.
Nationwide is paying new customers £200 to switch current accounts and the cash should be paid out before Christmas.
To get the bonus you just have to go on Nationwide’s website, or use its app, switch from a non-Nationwide current account to a FlexDirect account and have two direct debits set up.
First Direct pays new customers £175 in free cash if they switch to its 1st Account.
You have to transfer £1,000 when you open the account but there’s no minimum amount per month you need to pay in to get the cash.
NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland are also offering customers £175 in free cash.
The NatWest Reward and RBS Reward current accounts give those who switch £175 in cash and £3 a month in cashback.
Find out more about how to get free cash when you switch banks here.
2. Do your washing at night – up to £100
Two major energy suppliers are offering customers cash to put their washing on at different times of the day.
It comes amid warnings that households could face blackouts this winter.
Households will be paid by suppliers to use their energy at less busy times between November and March, 2023.
But you’ll need to be on a smart meter, whichever supplier you are with to take advantage of it.
OVO Energy has announced a trial where customers can save up to £100 on their bills by switching their usage to less busy times of the day.
They’re asking those who take part to cut their average consumption between the peak hours of 4pm-7pm to less than 12.5%.
Customers will be contacted to apply for the trial from mid-October.
Once signed up, the trial will run from November 1 – March 31, 2023.
The £20 will then be given for each month households can achieve the below 12.5% figure – this adds up to £100 if they achieve this every month from November through to March.
Octopus Energy has also said customers will be £100 better off by using its “Saving Sessions” flexibility service.
Customers will be paid an average of £4 per kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy they save compared to their normal usage during a certain timeframe.
It will run from November through to March next year.
Customers who sign up will get a text telling them if they use less electricity between certain hours, and they’ll be paid later that day.
Those interested in the scheme can register their interest here.
3. Sell your old furniture – up to £1,000 per item
You can give your bank account a boost by selling old furniture.
The Sun spoke to Brad West, owner of West Antiques, who revealed five items of furniture you might have in your home that could earn you hundreds.
Of course, if you’re thinking about selling an antique, it’s always worth sprucing it up to make sure it’s in the best condition and will sell for the highest possible price.
Below are a handful of furniture pieces you can make money from.
Mid-century sideboards – up to £1,000
Desks – up to £650
Lamps – up to £100
Chairs – up to £400
Coffee tables – from £250
If you’ve got items in your house that you think could shift for loads of cash but aren’t sure, Brad said it’s worth doing some research.
For more information on what sells well and how to do it read our article here.
4. Complete online surveys – up to £200
With sites such as Swagbucks, Toluna and i-Say, you can start earning cash with just a few clicks.
Surveys will be distributed to you depending on who you are, where you live, and what you’re into.
Typically, they will take between 10 and 15 minutes to complete.
If you qualify for surveys and check in regularly, you could make around £5 an hour.
By that reckoning, you could get close to earning £100 a month and with just over two months until Christmas that could double.
Payments are usually made via PayPal once you’ve reached a certain threshold, but check carefully, as this can vary from site to site.
As a general rule, steer clear of survey sites where you have to pay to be a member.
5. Check your winter fuel payment – up to £600
If you were born on or before September 26, 1956, you could get between £250 and £600 to help pay your heating bills.
This is known as the Winter Fuel Payment, and it is paid automatically to anyone who qualifies.
You will get the winter fuel payment if:
You get a state pension
If you get any other social security benefit (not including housing benefit, Council Tax reduction, child benefit or Universal Credit).
The amount includes a one-off pensioner cost of living payment of between £150 and £300.
You can get this benefit if:
You were born on or before 26 September 1955
You lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 20 to 26 September 2021 – this is called the “qualifying week”
You can find out more about who is eligible on gov.uk.
You’ll get the cash boost from November this year, the government has confirmed.
It will be added as a top-up to your annual Winter Fuel Payment, which is paid around this time.
Payments will be made directly to households – so there’s no need to do anything.
It will be paid in addition to any other cost of living support you are entitled to.
For example, eight million households on Universal Credit and other means-tested benefits will get a £650 cost of living payment.
6. Check your £20 notes for any rare finds – from £50
There are a number of £20 notes floating about that can score particularly high bids at online auctions, all because they have a quirky serial number.
With the current £20 notes having been in circulation for a couple of years, here’s how to spot if you get your hands on a rare note and make a mint.
Early serial numbers
When the Bank of England issues a new note it donates those with significant numbers to the people and institutions involved in the development.
For example, the first note AA01 000001 is given to the monarch.
AA notes are the most valuable, but anything with an A in it could be worth more than the value of the note itself.
An AA01 £5 note sold on eBay for over £60,000 in 2017.
Consecutive serial numbers
For instance, if you get one with AA1234567, it’s likely to be popular.
Two notes with the serial numbers AA01090561 and AA01090562 sold for more than £50 in March 2020.
Special meanings in serial numbers
The £20 notes released in 2020 feature artist JMW Turner, so serial numbers with his birth date – 1775 – could be a winner.
If you find one starting with an A that also includes his birth date that should be worth even more.
To find out more about how to spot rare £20 notes read our article.
7. Check if you have a ‘lost’ bank account – £2,100
Teenagers could be getting money through their Child Trust Funds (CTF).
HMRC is urging teenagers to check if they have one of these accounts, as many might not be aware they have one.
On average, each account is worth £2,100, so it’s definitely worth checking if you’re owed anything.
CTFs are a type of savings account that used to be available for children.
The government automatically opened CTF accounts for any children born between September 1, 2002, and January 2, 2011.
All of these children automatically received a £250 voucher and lower-income families got £500.
Parents could decide whether the lump sums would be invested in stock or shares or saved in cash when the accounts were opened.
These accounts are no longer available unless you already have one.
Read more about CTFs here.
8. Side hustle your way to some easy cash – from £15 an hour
There are plenty of side hustles to help you earn some extra cash.
For example, 27-year-old Millie White has found a side hustle that makes her £1,000 a month and says it’s so fun that it doesn’t even feel like work.
The project marketing manager has always had a passion for finding the perfect birthday and Christmas gifts for friends and family.
So, she turned her present-buying skills into an extra income stream which helped her to buy her first home last year.
This is just one example of how to get an extra income stream whilst working your usual job.
Running errands for someone could pay £15 per hour through Task Rabbit, which links up people who need a job doing with others who can get them done.
Two hours a week of running errands or walking a dog could bring in £300 before Christmas day.
If you have a particular skill, like DIY or baking, you might be able to make more, while anyone with transport – a bike or car – could make some extra pounds doing deliveries for companies like Amazon, Deliveroo or Uber Eats.
9. Rent out your driveway or parking space – up to £200
Alternatively, if you’re lucky enough to have a driveway or parking space, you may want to consider renting it out.
Tarek Fergani told The Sun he made £400 from renting out his parking spot in Southsea, near Portsmouth.
It took Tarek four months to earn £400 so with just over two months to go until Christmas you could be looking at earning £200.
He used the YourParkingSpace website, which he described as easy to use.
You enter some standard details such as your name, email address and the bank account you want to be paid into.
You also need to upload a picture of the spot so the renter knows what they are getting.
But there are similar apps around, so it’s worth comparing them with others before you sign up.
To find out more about renting out your parking space see our article.
10. Go mystery shopping – up to £1,500
Being paid to shop really does sound like a great way to earn some cash, doesn’t it?
Some brands pay you to shop free of charge, and you can even do it online in some cases.
MoneySavingExpert forum users have put together a comprehensive guide to how you can start mystery shopping.
You could make hundreds as well – we previously spoke to one dad who makes a whopping £1,500 a year from filling out online surveys and mystery shopping.
With Christmas just around the corner, we’ve been busy finding the best new products by retailers to help you plan your shops.
Meanwhile, savvy shoppers have been coming up with ways to help you get the most for your money.