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Earn Money Entering Giveaways

Money competitions sweepstakes

I've always been quite lucky and I remember winning my fare share of competitions as a child. When I went to college, I found myself becoming addicted to entering competitions. It was only recently that I realised I've actually been side-hustling all that time. I don't enter massively now due to time constraints but in that 2 year period I have won the following which amounts to almost £5000 in value.

Entering competitions takes very little effort and absolutely no start up costs making it a good side-hustle option. In addition, you can enter as many or as few as you want, just your odds of winning increase the more you enter meaning it can be as time consuming as your want. It can be quite a time consuming process in particular when you are converting your prizes into cash. However, using online competition sites can help make it less time consuming. 

How to make money through giveaways?

Making money through giveaways is relatively simple. Enter (and enter lots), Win, either keep the prize or convert to cash by selling. I would recommend creating social media accounts which you use for your competition entering only to ensure it doesnt get too messy (or you don't annoy your FB friends). When determining whether to sell, I look at whether I will use the prize, has it appreciated or depreciated already and, it is worth more I if use it? I primarily use Amazon and eBay primarily to sell on prizes and they are the quickest way and usually get the highest value. Though if you can sell to friends or family especially with gift cards you can often get the full RRP. 

Some of the prizes we have won include:

  • Amazon Gift Voucher- I won this through a Channel4 competition and initially thought I had won £100, but had in fact won £1000. My parents were looking to buy some big home goods at the time and so we agreed to swap the Gift voucher for cash.
  • Art prints- I've won a couple of art works in my time. But in 2014 I won £3300 worth of Art from Eleanor Leone Bennett. As she is an up and coming photographer so I decided to keep the art work to allow it to appreciate in value. 
  • Annual Taste card- This prize gave us 2for1 meals out for a whole year at a variety of restaurants and was well worth more than the £75 cash value and had the potential to save us £100s over the year. 

Where to find giveaways?

There a few really great sites that compile competitions listings and allow you to easily track them. I initially used ThePrizeFinder exclusively. However, now I use it in conjunction with MSE Competitions Forum. I find that ThePrizeFinder is easier to navigate but MSE has more listings. It a good idea to only enter for prizes you would want, so use the search functions on both of these sites to help you be more efficient in your entries. For those of you who are reading from the USA YoungAdultMoney regularly compiles a list of competitions. Another great option is to keep your eye out for local competitions in shops and newspapers. These generally have far fewer entries than national competitions thus increasing your chances of winning. 

Di Coke is a master comper and has written extensively about how to be strategic in how to find and enter competitions to have the best odds of winning. She goes into this and more in her book SuperLucky Secrets which we would highly recommend if you are interested in starting this awesome hobby. 

Overall, entering competitions is a great side-hustle that can fit around your schedule. However, it provides not fixed or predictable income and therefore may be best kept as a hobby for many. 


Get New Textbooks for Free

Textbooks can be very expensive (especially Law textbooks). There are a couple of standard ways of saving on the cost. Borrowing from a library, renting the textbook, buying a second hand copy or sharing a copy with a friend. Whilst all great ways to save money on textbooks they each are not perfect solutions and have little problems about them. We are going to share with you a trick we found to get brand new textbooks for FREE. This trick saved me hundreds of pounds and it could help you save big too, I only wish I had known about it sooner. 

During my second year I began reviewing books for Oxford University Press who are the main publisher for the law textbooks my degree required. It generally requires me to complete surveys and even if I don't own the book already my university library generally will have it. Other tasks include in-depth book reviews where they will send me a book to keep (and I sell it on) but the tasks rarely take longer than 1-2 hrs. There is also the opportunity to go to discussion panels (with all expenses paid for). 

Presently they only take students from the following subjects:

  • Bioscience
  • Business
  • Chemistry 
  • Economics
  • Law 
  • Politics 
  • Psychology

Through doing the reviewing I get paid in OUP book vouchers meaning that the cost of all my final year text books were covered (over £200 worth). Plus it meant I can have brand new books so at the end of the academic year I can sell them on (I am often able to recoup about 50% rrp provided they are in good condition). For some reviews they have sent me free books and for those I'm not going to use anymore I took the opportunity to sell them at our Law Society's annual book sale.

How do you save money on text books?

If you are new to our blog, we are all about finding new ways for students and millennials to make and save money. Here are some of our favourite sites and products to help you out:

  • Start a blog. Blogging is our side-hustle just over a year ago we didn't think I would bring us any income . You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as £3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
  • Save money with gift cards Whether its for buying clothes, your weekly shop or dining out use Zeek to buy discounted gift cards to get more bang for your buck and get £5 free when you make your first purchase through our link. 
  • Use Swagbucks for your online searches. Swagbucks is a passive way to earn gift cards. Over the course of a year you could earn £500.  Swagbucks is just like using Google to do your online searches, except you get rewarded “points called SB” for the things you do through their website. Then, when you have enough Swagbucks, you can redeem them for cash, gift cards, and more. Receive $5 for signing up today.
  • Try matched betting. Matched betting is a great way to may easy money online. Despite the name it is not gambling and could see you earn £500-£1000 a month for only a couple of hours work a day see here and here. For your free trial head to profit accumulator or join the Facebook 'getting started' group.  
  • Sign up for a cashback site like Quidco. where you can earn CASH BACK for just spending like how you normally would online. The service is free too! Plus, when you sign up through my link, you also receive a free £10 bonus!
*This post contains affiliate links, all opinions are our own*

5 ways students can save money this semester

The term is about to start and so we start to feel the pinch to our wallets that is College. The average UK student spends £735 a month on living expenses and that goes up significantly in many cities such as Oxbridge and London. Plus there is the cost of tuition to factor in. I've previously written about not taking out more student loan than you need and one of the ways you can help this work is by using money saving techniques to allow the money you have borrowed to go further. 

Use free transport
Consider walking or cycling to class or if you live in a city with free pubic transport use it rather than driving. Driving to school, unless your commuting from home is usually unnecessary and costs you in both fuel and in parking (parking at my College is £400 a year!!). Plus the benefits of walking or cycling everyday to your health are great. If your going to use public transport you have to pay for try to buy a season ticket as this significantly reduces the price.

Get textbooks on the cheap
Consider buying your textbooks secondhand, often the best way to do this is if your faculty has an annual book sale. Other options are to look on amazon and eBay. Don't forget you can also use options to sell you text books. You may also want to consider renting your text books, Amazon Book Renting is a great option. Or consider working as a book reviewer for a large univeristy book press for the chance to get free textbooks that are new.

Keep the dorm low cost
There is the temptation to want to buy everything brand new for your dorm but there are a lot of thing you can cut back on. Firstly there are plenty of items that you probably already have i.e bedding and that you can bring with you. Keep an eye out at yard sales for cheap pots and pans and kitchen items as though used you can pick up higher quality items for a lower price than shops like WalMart.

Keep fitness free
We've already mentioned how great walking/cycling everyday is for fitness and there are lot of free or almost free fitness options at college that are so much cheaper than a gym membership. In Brighton it is only a £1 to swim as a student and so I love to use this option (plus I get a free shower after so I save on water at home). There are also a number of outdoor gyms which offer similar equipment for absolutely no cost. There are also lost of societies on campus for sports which offer free or very low cost training. One of the most popular at my college is the walking society where they organise regular walks and hikes in the surrounding area. There are also shops such as Sweatshop which organise free running classes. 

Skip the meal plan
It it generally cheap and healthier to cook your own food rather than living in catered halls. This way you only pay for food you eat not the meals you miss. This is especially the case if you eat out a lot as if your on a meal plan and you eat out you are essentially paying twice for one meal. Cooking your own gives you the opportunity to cook more budget friendly meals and if your looking for convenience then consider bulk cooking and taking advantage of your freezer.

How did you save money whilst in college?

Investing whilst in univeristy

Investing whilst in college is tough, you may need to be able to access in the near future but yet want to have a decent interest rate. Plus whilst your in college you want to avoid high risk investments as although you make more, you can also loose more. Furthermore, its unusual to have a large lump sum but rather to want to put away money incrementally. Todays post will share with your some options to make the most of your money.

High interest current accounts.
Only two UK banks give interest on their student current accounts (Santander and HSBC). However, Santander only give interest up to £2k and HSBC £1K  but only in your first year of banking. Therefore, it is generally best not to keep your investable money in these accounts. These accounts are sold on the overdraft (which is best not to set up or be touched) and really are not worth much other than the free rail card or student discount card. 

There are, however, a number of banks who offer high interest current accounts (some even as high as 5%). If you are looking for a low risk investment and don't have a huge amount to invest then this could be a great option for you (amount vary per bank but limits for high interest will often be in the range of £2000-£5000).

Premium Bonds. 
Are a low risk alternative where you can save up to £50,000 tax free and 100% backed by the government. Sounds great, well here the catch you essentially gamble with your interest rate. Each month you are put in to win prizes you could win a £1,000,000 or nothing. You need to have roughly between £20,000-£25,000 as a minimum to win every month (of course that brings no certainty but statistically speaking).

Individual Savings Accounts.
ISAs fall into two main categories; cash and Stocks & Shares. You can invest up to £15,240 this tax year (16/17)

  • Cash ISAs- With interests rates pretty abysmal and the new tax rules allowing basic rate tax earners to earn up to £1000 in interest on a savings account without paying tax the advantages of a cash ISA are quite low at the moment. 
    • Help to buy ISAs are a great option and count as a cash ISA. Pay in up to £200 a month and the government will give you a 25% bonus when you use the money to buy you first home up to a balance of £12,000. They also have reasonable interest rates going as well so even if you don't end up using the money on a house it can be a great option.
  • Stocks and Shares ISAs allow you to hold stocks and shares in a tax free wrapper rather than being liable to Capital Gains tax when you sell them. You can manage your own portfolio or select pre-made ones by providers. We use ours to hold investment "mutual" funds tax free.

This may sound a bit strange but you can start contributing to your pension once you turn 18 (and your parents can contribute to your pension before you are 18). If you are not working you can contribute up to £3,600 (gross) per year. The government gives 25% tax relief on all net contributions, meaning you get a 25% bonus each time you pay into your pension. Making contributions young allows the power of compound interest to work and can make a huge impact on your pension in the future.

3 financial lessons for college students

So your off to college (or going back for another year). The cars packed, the dorm room essentials bought and now its time to think about some serious stuff, MONEY. First things first as a student make sure to open up a student bank account and reap the benefits of that. 
Though college can be a great opportunity for growth and development it can also lead your down a financial slippery slope. The average graduate leaves with about $30,000 (in the US) in loans. This number are huge and something to be avoided, though more often than not buy the time the reality of the situation has hit home a lot of debt has already been accumulated. 
Today we'll share our top 3 financial lessons for college students to help them avoid these pitfalls.

1. Only borrow what you need. You may be entitled to more loans but that doesn't mean you should take them out. Whilst organising your student finance do an annual budget and see how much you anticipate spending. 

Look at the average cost of living in the city where your college is and combine this with the cost of tuition minus you savings to figure out how much to borrow. If the amount offered to you by loans is greater then consider borrowing less. 
Avoid borrowing on credit card at all costs (and your bank will try their upmost to sell you a student credit card) nor should you use student pay-day loans. If you find that you are borrowing more than you need contact you lender to amend the agreement to better reflect your financial needs. 

2. Overdraft ≠ free money. When banks sell you a student account their biggest selling point is the overdraft without fees or interest. The first thought of many is FREE MONEY!!. No such thing exists and there is a price to pay for it. Students become accustomed to this being part of their budget and treat it like their own money. But its not and you'll have to pay it back. 

Unless your super sensible with your money I would never set up an overdraft. Though you can take the money out and invest it (and earn interest which would be free money) with the super low interest rates on low risk financial products at the moment it is barely worth it. So basically give the overdraft a miss and avoid creating one of the worse personal finance habits. 

3. Look for alternative sources of income (excluding loans). Avoid at all cost student pay-day loan companies and credit cards as their interest rates are through the roof. Instead look for alternatives that bring in income without incurring debt. 

Scholarships and Bursaries are a great way to supplement your income. Though not as common in the UK they are becoming increasingly so especially if your from a low household income. They can be a little tricky to find out about but researching is well worth it if you get the scholarship as you don't have to pay the money back.  
Working is invaluable whether or not its during term time or the vacation. It boosts your CV and your bank balance. Plus keep an eye out on campus for other ways to earn. Often clinical trials will be run, or surveys needs completing, these simple tasks can pay quite well. Check out this post on boosting your income as a student


5 items to never buy new

Sometimes its just not worth buying something new. Especially if its value is going to depreciate rapidly. Buying goods secondhand can be a great option and a way to pick up some quality bargains. There are plenty of places to pick up secondhand goods including; yard sales, car boot sales, GumTree, FreeCycle, CraigsList and Local Facebook groups. Today I'll share our top 5 items that we buy secondhand. 

Crockery. For day to day use you don't need a royal worcester full dinner service. But even the supermarket basic sets can cost upward of £30. Car boot sales and charity shops are a great place to pick up crockery especially if you don't mind having it all mixed and matched (because lets be honest sometimes this looks cuter). We picked up our crockery for free from some students (our college has a free cycle program) and saved about £40. 

Furniture. C and I just got a flat and so furnishing is an expense thats hit us recently. We have picked up several pieces of furniture second hand from gumtree including our lovely daybed (which doubles as a couch) for only £75 (retail is £500). There is so much good quality second-hand furniture out there that you'll never have to feel like your settling for second best. Our advice is to pick furniture that is 12-18 months old as this is where you'll get the biggest savings relative to the quality of the furniture. 

Designer clothes. I will admit I love my clothing (I'm a big Joules and Boden fan) but I cannot bring myself to pay so much money for their clothes. If I'm going to treat myself to 'expensive' clothing (or even mid range clothing) I will usually buy it from eBay or a Facebook group. Look for gently used clothing or like new to get the best quality. You'll have to come to terms with the fact that it won't be this seasons clothes so it is best to invest in brands and items that are classic and timeless. 

Textbooks. Unless I get them for free (which I've managed to do for all my final year books) I would buy books either from upperclassmen at the annual book sale or on ebay. Even better is the fact I can sell the books on at the end of the year and usually make back the money that I bought them for. Look for books without highlighting/markings (and don't mark them either) as they are easier to re-sell and depreciate less.

Tool kits. Simple tools can are a necessity for every house hold but they don't need to be beautiful (or expensive). Pick up a whole kit for a few pounds at a car boot /yard sale or try picking them up for free on free cycle. Tools are something that are easy to find as people are always trying to get rid of them. At the end of the day your tool kit is not something that you bring out to display and show to visitors. Therefore, it doesn't matter how ugly and mismatched it is so long it can perform the job. 

What don't you buy new?


How to set a wedding budget

So your engaged!! Congratulations. Now the serious wedding decisions. The first big decision you will encounter is what your budget is going to be. The average cost varies widely and depends on a number factors so it's important you think carefully when setting a budget. The average UK wedding costs approximately £15000 and has 60-70 guests. A wedding doesn't have to cost this much (or if you want it can be more). However, always remember a wedding is not worth going into debt for. 

Firstly figure out who is contributing to the wedding. Is it just you and your spouse or are parents/grandparents helping out as well. Determine how much they are contributing or if they are helping with a certain element (I.e flowers). Consider whether you as a couple are going to add to family contributions or not. Having this conversation when you first get engaged is important (even though it can be a little awkward). C and I didn't have a conversation with his parents initially (on the assumption they would bring up the topic) but they never did and so it was about 6 months into our engagement we finally spoke to them as we realised they weren't going to start the conversation.  

The next big decision is you need to figure out a provisional guest list to give you an idea of numbers as this is the factor that has the best impact on your expenses.  When you are having a reception you generally pay per person so consider how many people you want at your wedding breakfast and if you want evening guests as well. As a rough guide most people spend about 50% of their budget on venues and food. We spent just under 60% of our budget on this category. It may be a good idea to get some provisional quotes from venues to help give you a idea of how much it will cost to host. 

By combining these factors you and your fiancé should be able to come up with a budget that you are able to stick to and accurately reflects the cost of your wedding. 

How did you set your wedding budget? 

How to build up savings quickly

So you've set yourself a savings goal (great job). Be it your emergency fund or a down payment on a house we all have something to save for. But sometimes it feels difficult to work towards that goal. Here are some savings methods that should make the process a little easier (and a bit more fun).

Automatic savings. Pay yourself when you are paying your bills by setting up a standing order to one of your savings account. This way you won't even think about saving because it just happens. You can set up a standing order from your checking account into your savings account so a set amount is saved automatically each month this means that saving becomes part of your basic monthly budget. Often savings accounts need only £1 to be opened so anyone can start this process. Or you can use a service like Digit where by the amount saved is based on what you can afford after analysis of your spending habits. The disadvantage of digit is that the cost is essentially your interest. So once interest rates begin to rise again it may be worth looking into alternative options. 

52 week challenge is where you save every week the amount that the week is into the year. The 1st week you save £1, the 23rd week of the year you would save £23 and so on. What's good about this method is that it increases your savings incrementally and at the end of the year you'll have £1378 !! By increasing your savings incrementally it doesn't feel like such a large amount to have to save making the savings process a lot less painful. 

Savings jar (put every 1 dollar bill, £5 note etc. away)- this method involves putting every one of a certain currency denomination away in a savings jar for a set proof of time. Saving coins is also a great option and you can cash them in at the bank, post office or a coin star. However, this method assumes that you use cash and would not be appropriate for those who mostly use their debit card. 

Spending ban for a month/week etc- Hold off from luxuries spending for a month (or however long you want to challenge yourself). This means you still buy food, transport, necessary clothes and pay your bills. But everything else that isn't absolutely essential is put on hold for that period of time and what you would have spent on those categories is put into savings. A spending ban is quite a humbling experience and makes you realise what is really essential to your life and how much superfluous things you have. 

What fun saving methods do you use?

Disease Called Debt

Back to School on a Budget

Back to School doesn't have to break the bank but sometimes it feels like it will. From uniforms, sports kits to books and stationery, the list of things to get can feel overwhelming.
But don't fret, back to school doesn't have to cost the earth. There are a number of ways you can save when preparing for the new academic year. Today we are sharing 3 simple tips to help ease the cost of returning to school.

1. Re-Use last years. 

A culture has developed of needing a whole set of brand new school supplies each year. Do you really need to get a new pencil case, binders and bags every year? Look at what you have from last year much of it should still be in reasonable condition (provided you/your children are respectful with their property).
This becomes more so the case as children get older as they damage things less. When purchasing try to invest in good quality items so that they can last a number of years.  This can especially be the case with items such as backpacks which can last many years. 

2. Buy used

Over in England most children wear school uniform, and often it may be specialised for your school with their logo making it expensive. See if your school has a second-hand sale for these logo items as there are always parents with children who have out grown them looking to sell their's on. For the generic items (i.e. those without the school logo) look in charity shops and thrift stores can be a great place to start. Don't be afraid to talk to your parent friends who also have children at the same school, setting a hand-me-down system can be a great way to get your hands on second hand uniform. 

For those in schools without a uniform the burden is less, kids don't need a while new wardrobe just to go to school. Remember they have managed to wear normal clothes all of summer. Once again look for affordable second hand clothing as children will grow out of them so quickly.

3. Wait for the sales. As a college student my term dates are different to schools and so by the time I start term all the back to school items are on sale. If you wait a couple of weeks after term has started stores have great sales on school supplies. This is because they know most people feel compelled to buy everything super early. 

These are also a great opportunity to stock up for next academic year, if buying early is your thing, is you see some super deals. Use this chance to buy items a cut prices yet they are the quality of buying new. We also love using Amazon outlet for reduced priced stationary supplies as you can pick up some super bargains of brand new items. 

4. Don't be afraid to compare

The bookshop on campus or the school uniform supplier is never the cheapest option when it comes to buying supplies. Don't be afraid to shop around to try and find the cheapest deal, as it may not be the store you expect to be the cheapest. 
Talk to other parents or upperclassmen to find out where is best to buy and don't be afraid to tap into their experience and expertise, it will pay off in the long run. 

How do you save when its back to school?


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