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Honestly don't think I can save on outgoings, so how can I try to make a bit extra cash?

(127 Posts)
gretagrape Tue 15-Oct-13 16:02:18

Hi. First time on this section, but would really appreciate some input. It's me, husband and 6mo and our outgoings per month are as follows:
mortgage and council tax - can't change those!
water - on a meter - £27
gas/elec - fixed - £95
house/contents insurance - £23
phone/bb - £16 (paid line rental in advance for 12 months already)
petrol - £300ish
cat insurance - £16
tv licence - £12
sky - free until December then will be cancelling
mobile - £35
sainsburys - £220-£240 (includes cat food, bathroom/kitchen stuff and own-brand nappies)
abel & cole organic fruit and veg - £60 (only just started this as son onto solids - no more expensive than food at sains but better variety so would like to keep)
That's it - no ciggies, no alcohol, no gym, no going out or takeaways. We walk with the pram if we are going less than 1hr walk each way (petrol is mostly work mileage); 90% of son's clothes and toys are family's seconds, and we probably average £20 on clothes (not joking, almost nothing in the last 12 months apart from maternity wear for me!).
Even with this we are struggling - husband got free upgrade on phone so it was sold on ebay, but we really don't have much other 'tat' that we could sell.
Can anyone suggest any ways of trying to make a little bit extra?

notagiraffe Sat 02-Nov-13 22:29:56

Hi OP, I do market research focus groups. They pay between £30-£60 per session and rarely last more than an hour or two, with free sandwiches and drinks, and sometimes, free products. Sign up for a few companies and then when they email, reply immediately as they seem to operate first come first served.

I sell tiny amounts of stuff on ebay - only things I'm pretty certain will sell as it is time consuming, but the money comes in handy.

Don't forget loyalty card schemes. Nectar points really add up, as do Boots card points.

gretagrape Sat 02-Nov-13 08:24:36

Thanks RUAHall - I have to admit I am a total novice on the internet/tech in general, spending all day at work looking at a screen meant that I've never bothered with it in my spare time, so I'd need to spend some time looking into all this!

Spoke to tax office AGAIN - no-go on child tax credits. Basically, I left a job at the beginning of a tax year 2 years ago that included taxable benefits (health insurance, discount vouchers) - I was still having those benefits' value deducted from my tax code. Finally sorted but somehow they are saying I still owe THEM unpaid tax (how the f* can that be the case when they gave me a tax code LOWER than it should have been for 2 years. Anyway, it's all totally screwed and they are saying I can't get tax credits. I need to put my baby into a hotel for a week so I can just sit down and get my head around the bloody stuff!!

RUAHall Fri 01-Nov-13 18:25:35

Given that tax was mentioned in some previous posts, I appreciate that the following tips on saving tax might not apply to some people, but here are some basic tips:

At work, check whether you are on the right PAYE code for paying tax.
If your employer reimburses you for business mileage using your own transport for work purposes at rates less than the authorised rates set by HMRC, you may be able to claim tax relief on the difference. The authorised rates in 2013/14 are 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles in a year, and then 25p per mile thereafter. So if you were paid 35p per mile by your employer for travelling in your own car on business and you travelled 9,000 miles in a year, you could be due a refund of £900 (45p-35p*9000).
If you are a non-taxpayer you can register with HMRC (form R85) to ensure that any interest you earn on Bank or Building Society savings accounts is paid gross in future. You could also claim back any tax paid on interest earned on Bank and Building Society savings deposits. If tax has already been deducted, this can be reclaimed using form R40.
There was a mention of rent-a-room relief in a previous post. It may be wise to do the sums here, comparing the savings in tax to be paid using rent-a-room relief and those in a normal tax computation where allowable expenses are deducted from income earned.
If you or you spouse/partner is a landlord and rents out furnished accommodation, you can also claim a 10% wear and tear allowance when you complete your tax return. This is the income minus expenditure on utilities such as electricity, water rates, council tax etc multiplied by 10%.
If your spouse/partner pays tax just above the higher rate threshold (£32,011 in 2013/14) and you yourself are a non- or a basic rate taxpayer, it may be worth considering transferring any income-paying investments such as savings, dividends etc to the lower rate taxpayer. This may bring the higher rate taxpayer’s taxable income down to a level below the higher rate threshold, and thus this income would then be taxed at the lower rate.

Other ideas for making some money in your spare time:

If you want to use the web/internet to make money for you, and which pays more than filling in surveys etc, you have to be prepared to put the hours in and the rewards might be a long time coming. Many schemes are based on finding referrals and redirecting web traffic to certain websites. If you can find referrals and then they make a purchase on a website, then you would earn some commission on the purchase. For instance, there are the following:

You could earn money on You-tube’ by uploading videos provided by firms and drafting appropriate text to describe the video to persuade others to watch the video – the more hits on Youtube that these videos receive, the more commission you will earn
You could earn money by renting out the idle processing power within your computer
If you are an Amazon seller, you could earn money by enclosing your Amazon affiliate link web address every time when you post an answer on ‘Yahoo answers’

My brother has started a blog investigating some tax saving tips and other ways of using the web to make money –


Fluffycloudland77 Mon 28-Oct-13 14:37:39

I'm waiting for some cashback to become payable so I can get a spin dryer. I was hoping one would come up near me on eBay but no such luck.

gretagrape Mon 28-Oct-13 14:34:56

That doesn't sound good - even when we used the spin we still had to air dry everything for a day or so. Guess I'll just have to spin a couple of times to try and get things as dry as possible.
Thanks for the tip.

valiumredhead Mon 28-Oct-13 14:14:28

What fluffy said!

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 28-Oct-13 14:01:59

I'd spin those clothes, the spin cycles cheap. It's the heating of the water that consumes the energy, plus if you dry indoors the extra moisture can cause black mould which has harmful spores.

gretagrape Mon 28-Oct-13 13:50:54

valiumredhead - we can turn the spin function off, so the clothes take longer to dry but as I do a load every other day I guess it saves a bit of leccy over the course of a week!

FlabbyAdams - we don't really have friends locally (apart from ones in flats) and my parents have a cat who definitely wouldn't take kindly to a new kid on the block! The insurance now is £6.79 and food averages £8-9 - the garden is her litter tray, so total is approx £16 a month. I'd hate to let her go as she was a rescue kitten in the first place - I'm positive there are enough savings we can make elsewhere to avoid having to think about her going.

MinimalistMommi Mon 28-Oct-13 12:41:19

greta keep us updated! I would love to continue to hear how you get on. All sounding really positive. X

FlabbyAdams Mon 28-Oct-13 12:25:40

How desperate are you? Do you have a friend or relative that could take your cat on. You would save £200 a year on insurance and more on food cat litter etc.

waikikamookau Mon 28-Oct-13 09:11:25

glad to hear that, updates always welcome smile

valiumredhead Mon 28-Oct-13 09:10:34

Well done OPsmile

What do you mean you don't spin the clothes in the machine?

gretagrape Mon 28-Oct-13 08:16:38

Hi all, just wanted to give an update (don't worry, I'm not going to bore you for the next 6 months - I just wanted you to know that thanks to all of your input I really feel like we are on a much more positive track):

Council Tax - we can pay over 12 months instead of 10 as of April next year which will help, and I'd forgotten that we don't pay Feb/Mar anyway, so that will be £370 less to shell out.

Gas/Elec - switched to a 4 year deal. Also making an effort to use less: heating not on yet and the arguments about it probably warm us up anyway!, washing machine - no spinning, only full loads and only 30degrees, water thermostat turned right down - doesn't need to be hot as only used for baby's bath and washing up as the shower is electric, trying to find slow cooker which is lurking in some still-to-be unpacked boxes, 2 casseroles go in the oven instead of 1, and lots of one pot meals - our steamer ends up like the leaning tower of Pisa by the time all the veggies go on top!

Petrol - one step forward, one step back on this. Definitely using less now that we are recording every journey as we make sure if we need to use the car then it's for several things in the same journey rather than having to drive to the same area 2 days later. BUT we have a family member who has become ill so this is going to mean a 120 mile round trip every week or so for a while, but at least if we are using less the rest of the time we might not spend more overall than we already were.

Cat insurance - £6.79 as of November - £9.80 cheaper.

Food - going in the right direction - no shopping since 22nd apart from milk, and we have veggie meals every other night. I also make 2 batches of soup each week for my lunches so no expensive meat/cheese sarnies. We've got a Waitrose card which means if we go into town and need to feed our son, we can nip in there for a free cuppa.

Selling stuff - got adverts in local paper this week for baby/maternity stuff, shoes, curtains and coffee maker (wedding present never used) so hopefully that will sell then I'll use that cash to buy terry nappies.

Work - no joy yet - no response from postcards but to be honest I've been so busy trying to save money, I should get more time this week to try and actually make some! I've got some good leads on surveys/mystery shopper sites so I'll be looking into those over the next couple of days...difficult to fit it all in during baby's naps!

For the longer term, we've started preparing the garden to grow some fruit and veg - last owners left 2 compost bins so they are now in place, and patch is being cleared to start planting in the spring.

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 23-Oct-13 15:49:17

My Dsil is an avid Lidl fan and I shopped in Sainsburys. For ages I said the same as you greta but then things got tighter and I decided to give it a go. Can't believe the difference in spending, it's knocked about a third off our shopping bill. I'd give Lidl a go smile

Youarejustwordsonascreenpeople Wed 23-Oct-13 09:28:11

Buy everything you can online through

Get onto the forums of

Do a search on Facebook under your town and sale to find your local selling group.

Only put a 1/2 to a 1/3 of the recommended washing powder/fabric conditioner in the machine.

Meal plan. Start at a weeks plan, write down 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 main meals. Write out your shopping list and just buy from your list no extras. I don't have a set meal for a set day. I just choose off my list.

Use a slow cooker. I use mine 3 or 4 times a week and that will feed my five us one for the freezer. I then have can have homemade freezer meals if we are running short on time or if I need a cheap food week at the end of the month.

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 23-Oct-13 08:35:54

That's a shame about the nappy incentive.

gretagrape Wed 23-Oct-13 08:25:50

Yes, we have a Lidl. I went in last week to have a look at prices - some stuff is definitely cheaper, but apart from Ecover I don't buy brands anyway so some stuff is just as cheap in Sainsburys as I tend to buy non-perishables when they are on offer to make them even cheaper.

I'm going to speak to council today about trying to spread the council tax over 12 months - that would save us £30 a month which is definitely worth it.

Nappies - council don't do any incentives here - they used to but they stopped it at the beginning of this year apparently.

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 22-Oct-13 19:03:15

OP did you say that you have a Lidl nearby, or have I dreamt that one?

valiumredhead Tue 22-Oct-13 14:16:47

Just went to Aldi this morning and realised the eggs are free range,6 for a pound OP.

LaCerbiatta Mon 21-Oct-13 13:57:47

Apologies if it's been suggested already but have you tried online surveys? They pay 1 to 2 pounds per survey do it dies add up.

waikikamookau Mon 21-Oct-13 08:11:16

some years ago I changed my council tax payment to monthly, every month, as at the time it was over 10 months for some reason.

If this is still the case, consider doing the same, spreading it out over the year rather than 10 months.

gretagrape Mon 21-Oct-13 07:44:31

Phew - busy weekend (not helped by a bit of a wobble - screamed at baby, but as usual MN support got me through).
So, we are listing every car journey - mileage and whether it's stop/start in town or steady/fast. So far results tell us that we must be driving a lot more than we think - worked out that 1 day's commute for husband is £9, so 16 days per month (average, shift worker) = £144. So that's around £150 on non-work driving???? That's shit - I thought I was environmentally responsible, but I think having a baby has made us slack. So, I reckon it will be easy to bring the petrol cost right down with little effort (just more thought).
Baby and maternity clothes ironed and photographed (took bloody ages!) - ready to start listing.
Food - I've listed all receipts for the last 4 months anyway in an effort to spend less, so I went through it yesterday in detail. Average fruit/veg per month = £60. Average meat/fish = £58. Average dairy = £30 (seems a LOT for milk, eggs and butter). The rest is basics/tins/cereal/household etc, but the above ones are the main ones I can bring costs down on.
Nappies - spending £20 on nappies and wipes. Will be buying terries once I run out in about 3 weeks.
Leaflets for ironing/cleaning/typing - husband couldn't print for me for free at work, so I'll put postcards up in local shops and can put an advert in local free ads to see if anyone replies instead.
jjj - I don't spend anything on baby activities! Haven't got around to going to any yet (bad mother). Our library is about 40 mins walk and they do some reading/singing groups so I'll check them out and start letting the little chap socialise a bit.
Busy week ahead....

JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 20-Oct-13 13:43:18

Agree greta you are inspirational and I'm learning a lot from all of these tips.

Just wondered how much you spend on baby activities? Are there any free or cheap ones at your library or children's centre? Our local nct run a group that meets every week, everyone welcome and its £1 but the donation is voluntary and nobody minds if you don't put in.

Nux Sat 19-Oct-13 22:44:27

If you look on MoneySavingExpert there is a section on boosting income and you can do things like fill in online surveys for a bit of money/Amazon vouchers etc... It's never loads of cash but it's something you could do when the baby's sleeping for a little bit extra?

MinimalistMommi Sat 19-Oct-13 13:00:15

Have you looked at how long you have/will have your heating on this year? (Only having it on at certain times of day etc) Also can you looking at cooking one pot meals so you're not using more than one ring to cook on? This is all stuff I'm looking into at the moment. On the frugal blogs I read I find it really useful to read the comments to see reader ideas. There was one comment I looked at this morning that mention looking at how many nuts of electricity you're using a day and seeing if you can get this down to reduce bills.

Agree about eating cheaper food, being a veggie I'm aware that we use dairy a lot and I know there are cheaper forms of protein (like more lentils etc) relying on dairy is expensive part of being a veggie!

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