Boosting your income is easy – if you've got the know-how

From renting out a room to working on a film, there are tons of ways to make extra cash. By Kate Hughes

The amount of month left at the end of our money is steadily increasing, as the credit crunch begins to impact on our everyday lives. So alleviating the financial pressure with a second income makes a lot of sense, and it needn't be all about bar work and stuffing envelopes.



Rent your time, space or mind

Renting out a spare room, garage or parking space can bring you in some extra income without having to pay out much first. Check out the local competition to decide what your rate should be, and make sure your valuable possessions are safe if a stranger is going to be in or around your home.

Be realistic about how this will affect your home life too, and be clear on ground rules from the start. Getting the message out at work, or at your children's school or college, an advert in the local paper or a note in the newsagent's window may be all it needs to get going, which shouldn't cost more than a few pounds.

You could always offer your services as a dog walker, cleaner or ironing expert. You can often build up repeat customers, and aside from the rubber gloves or pair of wellies, it shouldn't cost you anything to get started. Alternatively, if you have a special skill, such as being able to play a musical instrument or sing, a language, or an intricate understanding of A-level physics, offer your services as a private tutor.

You will need to demonstrate significant qualifications, like a degree in your subject, or perhaps a day job with the nearest symphony orchestra to adequately impress your clients or their parents. Your hourly rate will depend on what you're selling, where you are in the country, and whether you are prepared to go to your pupils' homes, but upwards of £20 is usually considered reasonable.

You will have to do preparatory work and/or marking outside lesson time so factor this time into your rate. If you intend to work with children, official clearance by the Criminal Records Bureau (www.crb.gov.uk) may not be obligatory depending on the circumstances, but will reassure parents. Alternatively, use your head to bring in some extra money by answering market research questions and completing surveys.

Often online, a research company will pay you per completed survey. By telling it like it is, you could bring in as much as £20 to £30 an hour if you're really quick with your judgements. But never pay out money to take part – this is usually a sign of a con. Ciao (www.ciao.co.uk) pays £1 to £5 per survey, and YouGov (>www.yougov.co.uk) will pay around 25p to £2 per survey.



Fancy a franchise?

It may conjure up images of a Burger King outlet in your garage, but if you're considering setting up a small business to earn you a second income, a franchise may be the way forward. You will have to fork out an initial investment, and often a regular management fee as a percentage of turnover, for example, but in return you should get a licence to trade under a known, reputable name, training, professional support, and the benefit of centralised national advertising campaigns.

You own the business, and manage the turnover and profit, but the franchisor controls the way items or services are sold and marketed. The franchise market has exploded in recent years, spanning mobile valeting services to coffee houses, charity donation centres to estate agent property management. The British Franchise Association (www.thebfa.org) is the sector's self-regulating organisation and probably the best place to start to ensure that the business you choose suits your needs and available time, and that you don't get ripped off.



Telework

If you have a computer and a phone at home, you can do almost anything. "Instead of bundling telesales and telemarketing staff into huge horrible call centres, many companies are managing people from home, setting up remote access to their databases online," says Brian Higton from The Telework Association (www.tca.org.uk), a not-for-profit organisation offering advice and support, including job opportunities and downloadable guides to telework.

"You will need to have a secure and appropriate working environment and reliable equipment such as a computer, phone and internet connection. Your employer should be able to do the rest, but avoid any telework contracts where you need to make up-front payments, as these are unlikely to be the most reliable employers," he warns. Earnings generally start from around £6 an hour, depending on the role and company.



Online auctions

Why not try selling your unwanted possessions to raise some extra cash? Auction sites such as eBay (www.ebay.co.uk) are the obvious place to go for this, where you will pay a non-refundable fee to list an item (usually a few pence), and if it sells, a percentage of the final price.

These costs depend on what the item is, how many categories you list your item in, and how much you sell it for. Sites such as eBay will give you the largest audience of potential customers, but other smaller auction sites, including eBid UK (uk.ebid.net), offer enticements such as free listings.

If you decide to buy items to sell on, remember that earning a consistent income from an auction site is just like being any retailer or second-hand dealer and depends on being able to sell items for more than you bought them for, plus your costs. Making your merchandise or picking up your items from other sources such as car-boot sales may help increase your margins, and you can make up to £9,600 a year before you get hit by capital gains tax.



An unusual saturday job

If you don't want to be at home all day, you could get a part-time or weekend job, such as working behind a bar or handing out leaflets. Gumtree.com can be a good place to find adverts for casual work – and you might be surprised at the range of options.

Estate agents, for example, often have far more viewings at weekends when people have free time, and may have Saturday or evening opportunities. Beware of promises of commission to boost otherwise low salaries, however. Earning commission on sales is less likely for the second jobber, largely because your part-time status means you won't be around on Monday morning when your clients call with their offer.

Your local museum, library, or safari park may need weekend or evening staff. If you end up getting a shift or two at the zoo it won't be much quieter than the local pub, but you may get to sit down on the job occasionally. Again, the pay will vary depending on the location and hours – the more unsociable the hours, the more you'll get. Don't let yourself be paid any less than the minimum wage – currently £5.52 for those over 22, and £4.60 for those aged 18 to 21.

If you're looking for something a bit more glamorous, you could try to find work as a model or film or commercial "extra". And don't worry – you don't have to have the on-screen presence of Mr Darcy or the legs of Elle Macpherson.

This sort of work is usually for full days at a time and can involve travelling to the location, the cost of which you will usually have to cover yourself. But daily shifts (around nine hours), can start at around £55 to £65, with unsociable or longer hours earning you more.

If you can get yourself into shot with a star, there's often an instant financial bonus in it for you. Try The Casting Suite (www.thecastingsuite.co.uk) or Supporting Artists (www.supportingartists.com) as a first port of call for jobs on films.

****

Friends, relations, colleagues – lend me your cash

There has been a huge rise in sales to "friends, relatives, associates, neighbours and colleagues" otherwise known as "franc"-ing.

Household names like Avon have a longstanding reputation selling door to door, but home-selling parties have caught on and everyone from Virgin to Ann Summers is getting in on the act.

"We've seen a massive rise, in the last few months, of people looking for second jobs," says Ros Simmons, managing director of Virgin Vie Cosmetics (www.virginvieathome.co.uk).

"A consultant will sell to family and friends through parties, with a starting rate of a 25 per cent commission. They'll demonstrate how to do something like a facial, then sell products from the catalogue. It isn't hard to get started, and sellers find their confidence builds quickly."

Richard Berry, director of the Direct Selling Association, says opportunities are increasing. "Whilst precise figures are not yet available, we've seen a sharp increase in the recruitment of part-time direct sellers, compared with this time last year."

"Total direct sales in the UK are rising by an estimated 18 per cent to £2.5bn, and 40,000 more direct sellers are working with our members."

'My second job paid for my wedding'

Hannah Rowlett, 24, from Cambridgeshire, started out as an Avon representative five years ago to help make ends meet, but was actually able to use the extra money to pay for her wedding.

"I don't know what I expected when I first started, I just wanted the extra cash," she admits. "But you can really make it work for you. I have a job as a medical secretary for the NHS, so I fit this job around it. You can earn as little or as much as you like, and even if you get home and just don't feel like doing it that day, you don't have to go. You can make up for it another day, unlike a regular job that you're stuck with.

"I've now managed to pay for my wedding and honeymoon through my second income without having to ask my parents for help," she adds. "I never expected to be able to do that."

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

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