JANUARY is a tough time month for Brits financially, but we've got you covered with these tips on how to get thousands in free cash.
With energy bills and the cost of essentials skyrocketing, many households may find it difficult to balance their budgets.
But there's a lot of cash support and things that you can do to make some quick cash this January.
Millions are eligible for discounts on their energy bills and some are entitled to extra support that they haven't yet made a claim for.
Energy suppliers also offer direct support to their customers through cash grants and fuel vouchers and we explain who's eligible.
We've also rounded several ways you can earn free money, including switching your bank account or selling old furniture.
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The amount you will get depends on several criteria, including your age, earnings, whether you live with a partner, have children or are disabled.
The standard monthly allowance for single people aged under 25 is £265.31, rising to £334.91 for older claimants.
Brits that are in a couple, where both members are under 25, will get £416.45 for both people.
If either half of the couple is over 25, you'll get £525.72.
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You will get extra money if you've got children or have a health or disability condition.
You can also claim more cash if you need help with your housing costs.
You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
- you’re on a low income or out of work
- you’re 18 or over – but there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17
- you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
- you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
- you live in the UK
If you're not eligible for Universal Credit, you can use the government's benefits calculator to find out what help you can get.
The government estimates that 1.4million currently claiming older benefits could be better off on Universal Credit.
Energy bill discount – up to £400
Millions of households started receiving a £400 energy bill discount from October 1.
The payment will be dished out by your energy supplier and will be split across six discounts between October and March next year.
Households will receive a £66 energy bill discount in October and November and a discount worth £67 in December, January, February and March.
We've listed how the leading energy suppliers will pay households.
British Gas, EDF Energy, Ovo Energy and Scottish Power plan to send the cash directly into customer bank accounts.
The way you'll be paid will depend on how you pay for your energy.
If you're on a credit meter or smart prepayment meter the discount will come off your bills or be credited to your account automatically.
Those on traditional prepayment meters will receive the discount through a voucher.
Check with your supplier to confirm how you'll receive the cash.
For more information on eligibility, important dates, or anything else make sure to check out our other articles.
Energy grants – up to £1,500
There are plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you're struggling.
British Gas has confirmed it'll pay its most vulnerable customers grants worth £750 to help with sky-high bills.
And the British Gas Energy Trust pays hard-up households up to £1,500 – and it doesn't matter if they're not a British Gas customer.
Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply, or check here:
- British Gas Energy Trust
- Bulb energy fund
- EDF's energy customer support fund
- E.on's energy fund
- Octopus Energy Octo Assist fund
- Ovo's debt and energy assistance
- Scottish Power's hardship fund
There's also a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you're on a prepayment meter.
We've already listed the detailed eligibility criteria for each scheme.
Cold weather payments – £25 a week
When temperatures plummet those in low-income households can get a £25 payment.
The cold weather payments are made in locations where residents experience continuous below-zero weather.
The payment is made automatically, including to those on Universal Credit, for each seven-day period of low temperatures from November 1 to March 31.
Fuel vouchers – up to £50
If you're on a prepayment meter you might be able to get a one-off voucher to top up.
The fuel voucher scheme comes via the Fuel Bank Foundation charity, and it's offered through a range of organisations, like food banks and Citizens Advice.
The best place to start to find somewhere which can offer you a fuel voucher is by asking your local council – you can find yours via gov.uk by searching your postcode.
The voucher should help you cover around two weeks' worth of electricity use.
Some energy companies may also issue their own vouchers, so ask your supplier directly.
Switch your bank account – up to £175
You could get up to £175 in free cash just by switching to a new bank account.
Many banks and building societies offer bonuses if you switch your accounts to them.
First Direct is offering new customers £175 if they make the switch.
To get the £175, you have to open a First Direct 1st Account and switch to another account into it within three months.
You'll also need to pay a minimum of £1,000 into the new account – and you can expect to get the £175 in free cash within 28 days.
Don't waste time looking at individual banking sites to compare rates – it'll take you an eternity.
Research websites like MoneyFacts.co.uk and price comparison websites such as Compare the Market, Go Compare and MoneySupermarket will help save you time and show you the best rates available.
These sites let you tailor your searches to an account type that suits you.
Open a new savings account – get up to 4.25% in interest
Savings rates are up and banks are battling it out to offer customers the best returns.
Customers unwilling to lock their cash away in fixed-term savers can still bag great returns with an easy-access current account.
Zopa is currently paying savers 2.86% back on any savings between £1 and £85,000.
This means if you keep £1,000 in the account over the first year of account opening – you'll get £28 in free cash.
Those keen to lock their cash away can get up to 4.25% interest paid through a one-year fixed saver.
Atom Bank is paying 4.25% interest on savings balances between £50 and £100,000.
You'll get £42.50 for every £1,000 locked away in the account over the full term.
Do your washing at night – up to £100
Several major energy suppliers are offering customers cash to put their washing on at different times of the day.
It comes amid warnings that households could face blackouts this winter.
To help prevent blackouts National Grid has established the "demand flexibility service" (DFS) which pays people to use less energy during peak times between November and March 2023.
But you'll need to be on a smart meter, whichever supplier you are with to take advantage of it.
British Gas is the latest supplier to announce that it joined the National Grid's DFS scheme through a trial called "Peak Save".
Customers will be paid an average of £4 per kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy they save compared to their normal usage during a two-hour time period.
If households cut their usage by just 1 kWh during 25 "Peak Save" time periods then they could get £100 back.
Octopus Energy's own DFS scheme pays its customers the same amount per kWh saved.
And this works out at £3 more per kWh than what Ovo Energy is paying the 15,000 customers taking part in its own scheme.
Rent out your driveway or parking space – up to £400
Alternatively, if you're lucky enough to have a driveway or parking space, you may want to consider renting it out.
Tarek Fergani told The Sun he made £400 in four months from renting out his parking spot in Southsea, near Portsmouth.
He used the YourParkingSpace website, which he described as easy to use.
You enter some standard details such as your name, email address and the bank account you want to be paid into.
You also need to upload a picture of the spot so the renter knows what they are getting.
But there are similar apps around, so it's worth comparing them with others before you sign up.
To find out more about renting out your parking space see our article.
Sell your old furniture – up to £1,000 per item
You can give your bank account a boost by selling old furniture.
The Sun spoke to Brad West, owner of West Antiques, who revealed five items of furniture you might have in your home that could earn you hundreds.
Of course, if you're thinking about selling an antique, it's always worth sprucing it up to make sure it's in the best condition and will sell for the highest possible price.
Below are a handful of furniture pieces you can make money from.
- Mid-century sideboards – up to £1,000
- Desks – up to £650
- Lamps – up to £100
- Chairs – up to £400
- Coffee tables – from £250
If you've got items in your house that you think could shift for loads of cash but aren't sure, Brad said it's worth doing some research.
For more information on what sells well and how to do it read our article here.
Complete online surveys – up to £100
With sites such as Swagbucks, Toluna and i-Say, you can start earning cash with just a few clicks.
Surveys will be distributed to you depending on who you are, where you live, and what you’re into.
Typically, they will take between 10 and 15 minutes to complete.
If you qualify for surveys and check in regularly, you could make around £5 an hour.
By that reckoning, you could get close to earning £100 a month.
Payments are usually made via PayPal once you’ve reached a certain threshold, but check carefully, as this can vary from site to site.
As a general rule, steer clear of survey sites where you have to pay to be a member.
Side hustle your way to some easy cash – from £15 an hour
There are plenty of side hustles to help you earn some extra cash.
For example, 27-year-old Millie White has found a side hustle that makes her £1,000 a month and says it’s so fun that it doesn’t even feel like work.
The project marketing manager has always had a passion for finding the perfect birthday and Christmas gifts for friends and family.
So, she turned her present-buying skills into an extra income stream which helped her to buy her first home last year.
This is just one example of how to get an extra income stream whilst working your usual job.
Running errands for someone could pay £15 per hour through Task Rabbit, which links up people who need a job doing with others who can get them done.
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Work for a few hours a week, or 10 hours over a month, and you'll earn an extra £150.
If you have a particular skill, like DIY or baking, you might be able to make more, while anyone with transport – a bike or car – could make some extra pounds doing deliveries for companies like Amazon, Deliveroo or Uber Eats.
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