Money. It’s a pretty difficult subject to talk about. We’ve all had to hold our breath as we log into our online banking at one point or another, or tapped your card to play the next round of a little game I like to call ‘Is today the day my card will get declined?’ Generally, I’m pretty good with money, but one thing I realised early on in pregnancy was just how awful Statutory Maternity Pay is in comparison to a normal wage. Which is when I went from being ‘good with money’, to being super savvy – making small amounts of money where I could and saving when I spent..
I’ll be honest, from experience, survey sites can be a little hit and miss to say the least. No one wants to be paid a couple of pence for half an hour of work that can only be cashed out in vouchers for some obscure shop you’re probably never going to shop at, let’s be honest. That being said, there’s plenty out there, making it a minefield, but I’ve found a few gems along the way..
I’ve been a member of Surveybods for years, and originally found it through Natwest. When I first began using it, I thought it was great – the interface was attractive and easy to use, surveys appeared fairly often, and you got a couple of pounds when you first signed up and filled out the profile questionaires. In that time, I’ve completed 274 surveys and earned around £70 which can be cashed out to your bank account once you hit the minimum cashout amount of £15. There are, however, a few downsides as well – the mobile app is difficult to use and glitchy, there don’t seem to be as many surveys sent through anymore, and some can be quite time consuming for the amount paid.
While I’ve been a member of Surveybods for years, I only recently joined One Poll. The surveys on One Poll are worth a lot less – often ranging from 10p to 20p – but are all fairly short, and most are multiple choice, rather than you having to input written answers yourself, something you often have to do on Surveybods. You can cash out directly to your bank, but the minimum cashout amount is £30, which I imagine will take quite a while to achieve.
The most successful site, by far for me, has been Prolific. Prolific came highly recommended, and so far, I haven’t been disappointed. The surveys are interesting and vary in topics, ranging from politics to buying habits, from sport to music – as well as varying in their length and how much you can earn from completing, from a couple of pence to a few pounds. One of the things I like most about the site is that it shows you roughly how much you’re earning per hour, based on the amount being paid and the time it should take to complete. Cashing out is also super easy, and done through Paypal. Minimum cashout is only £5 and once you’ve cashed out four times, it’s instant rather than having to wait a few days. The site refreshes itself, so if I’m sat on my laptop at any time, I’ll often have Prolific open in another tab and will complete surveys as and when (1) appears. Ultimately, it’s the easiest site to use, offers the most interesting surveys, and is the only site I’ve found that you can reach the minimum cashout for in a day.
The next best thing to earning money, is claiming money back on purchases you’ve already made – which is where Cashback Apps come into play..
I originally found Airtime Rewards through a recommendation on Twitter. You link the cards you spend on most often, and as you spend in it’s affiliated stores, it tracks your purchases, giving you a percentage back. Once the purchase has been confirmed, you can claim the money back against your phone contract – it really is as simple as that! In the past four or so months, I’ve earned £17 in cashback on purchases from the likes of Boots, Wilko’s and Byron. I remember that a lot of people vocalised their concerns about the app knowing what shops you visited and how often, but for me, the positives – of money back on purchases that I would’ve made regardless – outweigh the negatives. If you do fancy signing up, you can use my code WX9AJ4XM to earn an extra £1.50!
While it will only apply to those than bank with them, Santander gives you the option of using Offers. Offers gives you cashback on purchases from certain retailers, and these retailers vary from month to month, ranging from restaurants to shops to travel companies. While you have to ‘turn on’ the offers themselves in the app, the money is paid back into your selected account the following month without you having to do anything else – it’s pretty easy. Often supermarkets like Sainsburys or Waitrose come up, which is useful when doing a big food shop, and most months, there are multiple pub chains, like O’Neills or Chef & Brewer, that offer up to 20% cashback, which is a pretty hefty amount. It’s not a fast earner – the retailers can be a little obscure and some months I can earn a couple of pounds in cashback and in others, I won’t earn anything, but it doesn’t hurt to turn them all on anyway, just in case..
I really, really, wish I used Top Cashback more than I currently do, because so many people rave about how much they earn through it and it’s super simple to use, I’m just awful at remembering about it. I signed up recently because Just Eat were offering £15 cashback, and who can refuse what was effectively a free takeaway?! Essentially, once you’ve signed up, you click through to the retailers from the Top Cashback site and once you’ve spent, it begins to process your percentage cashback from that sale – it really is that easy. And I was suprised at just how many retailers were on offer – from all of the ‘big’ supermarkets, to hotel booking sites, to car insurance companies, to lots of super popular fashion and beauty sites – almost every site I’ve ever shopped online from offered cashback! There are so many ways to cash out as well, from the standard transfer, to e-gift cards for a number of retailers, ranging from Primark to Starbucks to Now TV. Such a great way to earn money back on purchases that I’m determined to make more use of..
I, for one, have an entire purse full of cards from every high street store imaginable, so many in fact, that it’s a little shameful, but which ones are actually worth signing up for, and why?
The award for the best points scheme has to go to Boots. They offer four points for every pound spent in store, which can be boosted through vouchers that are sent through the post or by uploading offers on their app, double points for your whole birthday month, and ten points for every pound on their baby range when you sign up to their Baby Club. If you’re a student, you can also present your student card at the till and it’ll give you 10% off for that academic year – which is pretty handy!
Waterstones have fairly recently updated their points scheme, and if you’re a book lover, you’re going to love it. You earn a stamp for every £10 spent in store, in their cafes or online – or half a stamp for every £5 as I’ve discovered – and once you’ve reached ten stamps, you get £10 to spend. Students can also sign up to receive not only the stamps, but also 5% off as well. A really handy points scheme, especially because it includes their cafes, and Waterstones also price match their own website (which is often cheaper) in store if like me, you’re too impatient to order and have to wait..
One slightly surprisingly good loyalty scheme comes in the form of the My John Lewis Card. I originally signed up when I made a purchase through their site, not really knowing what it involved, but a few days after, I recieved two free coffee and cake vouchers through the post – their banana and caramel muffin was incredible by the way, and not just because it was free – as well as a very generous £10 voucher with no minimum spend for my birthday! People often think of John Lewis as being expensive, but they price match most other high street stores meaning that they’re often just as competitive as Boots, Debenhams, etc..
Not necessarily something people know much about, but an essential if you shop online on a laptop or computer a lot, are browser extensions. One of the most popular – and the one that I use most regularly – is Pouch. Pouch essentially sits in your tool bar and when you go onto a retail site, it’ll pop up and notify you of any discounts or voucher codes that can be used on that site and automatically apply them, meaning that you don’t have to trawl through the internet yourself, safe in the knowledge that you’re getting the absolute best deal. It’s a great little tool, and the fact that it pops up and notifies you of any discounts meaning that you can’t forget about it has saved me a lot in the last few months as well..
While I probably won’t ever be ‘great’ with money, I’ve definitely become more savvy in the last year – learning to shop around, finding ways to spend and save that work well for me – and looking back, knowing I’ve earned and saved so much through such small tasks brings with it a strange sense of pride. Now, let’s see if I can keep it up when the baby’s actually here!