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When household budgets are stretched as much as they are today, it’s time to get creative when it comes to finances. The good news is that rather than cutting out treats, we can reveal that there are ways to enjoy yourself, furnish your house and be pampered without spending a penny. There are also a number of ways you can make extra cash without getting out of your favourite armchair.
1. Get free furniture
Many people end up simply giving away things they want rid of - including furniture. For example, someone expecting delivery of a new sofa soon will need to get rid of their old one, and the easiest and quickest way is to give it away.
Freecycle.org is a great place to start. The aim of the site is to encourage a ‘free cycle’ of giving which keeps stuff out of landfills. You can also try Freegle (https://www.ilovefreegle.org), an online space where local people get rid of unwanted things from around the house. Online advertising sites Gumtree.com and Craigslist.co.uk are worth a visit too. Also, join local groups on social networking websites where people post freebies up for grabs. You sometimes need to be quick off the mark!
2. Free haircuts for life
Volunteer to be a haircut model and you will never need to pay for a cut or colour again. Qualified hairdressers who are refreshing their skills or students on a beginner’s course will get to work on you, but will be supervised by seasoned stylists to ensure you don’t end up with anything too experimental.
Local salons are nearly always looking for people they can use to be a guinea pig. Even the top salons in London such as the Sassoon Academy are on the look out for people who don’t want to fork out. There’s a small fee at Sassoon of £3. Even that’s a bargain! Look out for signs in the window of your local salon or check out their website if they have one.
3. Make the most of free trials
A tried and tested marketing technique for companies is to offer free trial periods of their product or service to drum up new business to those perhaos undecided about committing. Sign up to trials that appeal to you. Just make sure that you put a date in your diary when you need to cancel to avoid being charged when the introductory period runs out.
There are some good deals out there. For example, Netflix is offering a one month's free trial after which it costs £5.99 per month at https://help.netflix.com/en/node/16282. Tastecard - the restaurant discount card - is offering a free 30 day membership after which it costs £29.99 for a year. Visit https://www.tastecard.co.uk/subscribe/.
4. Volunteer at festivals
Tickets to the likes of Glastonbury set you back hundreds of pounds - which means that not everyone can afford to attend. But by volunteering you can work at a series of festivals and get free entry - and help a charity at the same time. Oxfam runs a stewarding programme, for example. Visit www.oxfam.org.uk/stewarding
5. Go undercover
Become a mystery shopper and you can earn some extra cash and often get to keep the things you buy. It could be anything from groceries, clothes or a restaurant meal out. There are approximately 50,000 trips carried out every month in the UK, according to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. Sign up to a specialised agency who can help match you with jobs, such as JKS Mystery Shopping and Retail Maxim.
6. Get on your soapbox
There are reams of websites offering payment in exchange for your opinion on anything from tourism, food and shopping to media, public affairs and politics. Surveys can take as little as 30 minutes. Some pay cash of around £15 per survey in some cases. Others operate a reward scheme where you earn points for surveys completed that can be exchanged for shopping vouchers at say, Amazon or John Lewis. Check out uk.mysurvey.com, crowdology.co.uk and yougov.co.uk. Remember, as you explore different sites, never pay to register – there are plenty of those you can use for free.
7. Be part of a focus group
Many market research companies pay well for your time at a focus group session. All it involves is giving opinions on the chosen subject which can be anything from bank accounts to holidays. You can earn anything between £30 to £160 for a session which is either paid in cash or vouchers and gift cards – and you might get a free lunch too. Visit paidfocusgroup.co.uk
8. Be paid to learn
If you like surfing the internet and learning new things, you can get paid to do so. The company, Any Question Answered (aqa.63336.com), are often recruiting internet researchers. Its customers ask a question via a text and it’s the researcher’s job to find out the answer and reply. You can work when you want, and choose which questions you answer. You can earn 25p for every question answered correctly. Apply at firstname.lastname@example.org.