Top ten ways to make £18 in 30 minutes

CalculatorSpending just 30 minutes a week looking over your finances and working out a proper budget can apparently save you nearly £1,000 a year, according to research from cashback website Quidco. That's the equivalent of £18 a week, just for half an hour's work.

The main barrier to cashing in on this extra money is apathy and our reluctance to openly discuss money and our finances.
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However, our motivation to get to grips with our cash and save money is changing. Before the recession, for example, only 1% of people would consider using a discount voucher, whereas now 89% regularly use them.

So what's the best way to go about using 30 minutes each week to boost your finances?

1. Discount vouchers
Going to somewhere like Pizza Express and not having a voucher is criminal to me, and luckily there are so many discount voucher websites around that you'll never be stuck in this situation.
If you get to the restaurant and realise you've forgotten to print off the precious voucher, there's also online codes and apps which can be used to get a discount.
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2. Cashback websites
A relatively new phenomenon in the moneysaving world, cashback websites such as Quidco and TopCashBack literally pay you for shopping via them, so if you buy a lot of things online it's really a no-brainer.

Quidco says you can make £280 a year by using the site and it's also got a smartphone app which will pay you money (albeit a relatively small amount) just for 'checking in' at a participating retailer.

3. Reward points and loyalty schemes
Points certainly do mean prizes and 98% of us are frequent loyalty card and points hoarders. 62% of us use our loyalty points to buy items. Signing up to a shop's loyalty scheme doesn't take long and is an easy way to build up points which can be redeemed at a later stage.

With the Tesco Clubcard, for example, for every £1 spent you'll get one point and for every 150 points you collect you'll be sent a £1.50 voucher to use in store. If you do a weekly family shop and spend an average of £150, that's £6 a month you'll be rewarded with.

4. Selling online
There are lots of websites for selling your old stuff online, such as eBay, Amazon or Gumtree. Before you kick off check out the fees charged and make sure you incorporate postage costs.
Selling online can be a bit hit or miss so make sure you take good, clear photos of your items and list as much detail as possible to have a better chance of selling your stuff.

5. Recycle your old phones
As a classic hoarder, I've got a lot of junk in my flat including several old mobile phones. Instead of leaving them to collect dust, I had a scan last weekend on the mobile phone recyling websites and made myself £100.

When you enter in the details of your old mobile the website will give you an approximate quote for it. If you agree to this price a confirmation letter, along with a padded envelope, will be posted out.

It's then up to you to send off the old models. Once they are delivered to the company you'll get an email confirming the amount which will be deposited in your account.

If you want to make even more money, our piece on the best ways to sell or recyle your old mobile gives you step-by-step instructions on how to maximise your profits.

This works for a range of different objects, including old CDs and DVDs, so if you're having a proper clear out see what you can make, through selling or recyling, before throwing it out or sending to the charity shop.

6. Making your own
Bringing in a packed lunch is an easy way to save money. The average sandwich in Pret comes in at £3 and that's before you add a drink, crisps or a cheeky cake. Buying a loaf of bread with a few basic ingredients, or bringing in left overs from the night before, should save you around £20 a week.

7. Buying second hand
Charity shops, car boot sales, school fetes and estate sales are all places to pick up some great bargains at greatly reduced prices. It might be harder to find exactly what you're looking for but head out early, before the other bargain hunters, and try and hit these outlets before the weekend for the best chance of securing something good.

8. Shopping around
Comparing the price of a TV for example in several different shops and areas can help you shave off pounds from the final price. Instead of wasting time travelling to lots of different shops, an app like Red Laser can give you this information instantly.

Budget supermarkets, where 38% of us are now shopping, are also a good way to save money. While you might not be able to find your favourite brands, you'll save pounds and you may discover a new favourite item. For example, a 400g pack of Chedder cheese from Aldi comes in at £1.99 whereas the same size pack from Sainsbury's is £3.10.

9. Modern technology
Smartphone apps exist for just about anything at the moment but only 14% of us are using them to our advantage. Used on a monthly basis you can make an average of £110 a month through apps so instead of spending your time trying to finish Words With Friends, dedicate some of it to finding a bargain.
Whether it's saving money on travel, food, petrol or eating out, you can bet your life there's an app for it.

10. Reward credit cards
If you had the chance to make money on every purchase you make with your credit card then why wouldn't you? Well you can do exactly this with either a cashback or a reward credit card. They work as you'd expect – getting either a percentage in cash or discount vouchers every time you spend.

Don't make the mistake of running into debt just to get the benefits though. Instead use your reward card instead of your debit card and then pay if off each month. Then you'll get the benefits without having to pay any interest.

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Top ten ways to make £18 in 30 minutes

Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.

To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.

At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.

It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.

With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.

No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.

Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.

Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.

While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.

Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.

However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
To avoid paying over the odds, it is also worth checking the price per kilo to ensure that larger 'economy' packs really are cheaper than the smaller versions.

Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.

However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.

Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.

Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.
Before signing up, it is therefore essential to check that you will make use of enough of the benefits, and that you cannot get them for less elsewhere.

Overseas money transfers or travel money purchases attract the same high rate of interest as credit card cash withdrawals.

Worse still, most credit cards – and debit cards – also charge you a foreign loading fee if you use them to make purchases while abroad.
You can, however, avoid these charges by using a Saga Platinum or Nationwide Building Society credit card.

Numbers starting 0871 cost 10p or more from a landline, while those starting 09 can cost more than £1 a minute from a mobile phone.

And the operators of these high-cost phone lines, some of which are banks, often get a cut of the call charges.
Most 09 numbers are linked to scams and should therefore be avoided at all costs, while 0871 numbers can often be bypassed by searching for an alternative local rate numbers on the saynoto0870.com.
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