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Five ways to boost your income in 2020

Starting 2020 with a financial hangover? You don’t need a second job to become better off this year

Sue Hayward
Tuesday 24 December 2019 22:17
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You may not be feeling flush right now, especially in the aftermath of Christmas spending, but we’re actually being paid a bit more; 3.4 per cent to be precise, compared with last year according to the Office for National Statistics. If you’re still feeling the financial squeeze, however, here’s five ways to boost your income.

Make use of workplace benefits

Some companies are generous when dishing out workplace perks. If your company offers free coffee and a gym membership this can mean a saving of over £1,000 a year.

That daily caffeine kick typically costs around £2.50 if you pick up a coffee on the way to work; but wait till you get there if there’s free coffee, or if you can’t make it that far, save your second cup for the office to save around £600 a year.

Gym memberships cost an average of £40 a month according to the Money Advice Service, so if you can bag a free membership you can be £500 a year better off. IT company Brightpearl offers employees free membership to Pure Gym and PR firm Finn Partners has a “Wellness Benefit” worth up to £250 a year which covers health-related activities including gyms, yoga classes or a personal trainer.

With some companies, you may need to cover the initial cost, produce receipts and submit a claim form for reimbursement, while with others, there’s nothing to pay.

Check your tax code

Changing jobs can mean you end up on an emergency tax code, or your tax code can change if you get a promotion or qualify for taxable benefits like a company car. You can check your tax code online and apply for any rebate due here.

If you’re expected to wear a uniform to work, even just a T-shirt with the company logo, you can claim tax relief towards the cost of cleaning your clothes by filling in form P87 from HMRC. “There’s a flat rate of £60 a year, so basic taxpayers can get £12, and you should be able to backdate this for the past four years,” says Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at investment company Hargreaves Lansdown. Find out more here.

If you’re struggling on a low income, its worth checking you’re claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to. Anti-poverty charity Turn2us says there’s over £17.6bn of unclaimed benefits including working tax credits, child tax credits, housing benefit and pension credit.

One easy way to check what you could be due is by using the benefits calculator at Turn2us. The charity estimates the average uplift from people using it is £6,000 a year.

Commuting costs

Claim cashback when forking out for your season ticket. The American Express Platinum Everyday credit card pays 5 per cent cashback on spending for the first three months, to a limit of £100. An annual train ticket from Milton Keynes to London Euston costs £5,372, which means the maximum £100 cashback or with a monthly ticket you get £26.

Claim for delayed trains with the Delay Repay scheme. Most rail operators stump up if trains are delayed by 15 minutes or more. Claim online through your train operator’s website.

Car sharing is another way to cut commuting costs, but it’s only likely to be economical if you and a friend live and work nearby, and share the same shifts. You can also buddy up with strangers at liftshare.com, which claims members save an average of £1,000 a year. And if you live near a station or busy town centre, on the days you’re in the office, why not rent out your driveway to make extra cash with justpark.com?

Don’t double up

Some companies offer insurance cover as part of your salary package, so you may be able to cancel private policies. “By age 50 you could easily be paying £50 a month for income protection and £20 a month for life cover,” says Coles. “So if your employer offers this, you could save £840 a year.”

One in five employees have private medical insurance, which would cost an average of just under £1,500 a year to replace, she adds. “You’ll pay tax on cover as a ‘benefit-in-kind’, but this is a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of a standalone policy.”

Work from home

Ok so this isn’t practical in every job, but if you can do it, even only one or two days a week, flexible working can boost your income as well as saving time on your daily commute.

You’ll save on lunches; even a sandwich and drink can set you back over £5 a day which tots up to £240 a year; even after factoring in holiday leave.

If you’ve got young children in childcare or after-school clubs, cutting back on commuting means you could save nearly £10 a week on childcare picking them up two hours early each week. This is based on an average hourly cost of £4.62, according to financial provider OneFamily.

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