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Five Fun Ways to Make Money on the Side

It’s our new guest blog spot! Every week or so, Zopa will be inviting a guest to write a blog for us. To get us started, Jasmine Birtles of Money Magpie shares her top tips to make a bit of cash on the side.

As a Zopa lender myself I’m pretty sure that, like me, other Zopa lenders are here to make some extra cash where they can. The interest rates we can get here are certainly more impressive than the ones available in the banks right now. It’s also a much more interesting way of making money.

In fact, making extra cash on the side is a bit of a hobby for me, and has been for years. Not only is it useful to have the money, of course, but many ways of making cash on the side are actually interesting and different. That’s why we keep finding new ways of making money for Here are a few of the most unusual ones we’ve picked up:

Buy and Sell Lost Luggage – Yes, seriously, you can make money out of lost luggage! What happens is that when airlines can’t find (or can’t be bothered to find) the owners of lost luggage that has been hanging around for three months, they just auction it off. Anyone can go to the auction and pick up all sorts of bargains. First they pick out good stuff from the bags such as iPods and cameras and auction them separately but then they sell the bags, sight-unseen, and you just bid on them. It’s a bit of a lucky dip but generally they go for between £5-50 each. After that you can put the case and contents on eBay and make a profit. There’s likely to be an auction near you soon so find out your nearest one here.

Sell Your Hair – If you’ve got lots of it you can make money from selling your hair. The main buyer (and therefore seller) of real hair for wigs, extensions and so on are Banbury Postiche (also known as Your hair needs to be at least 6 inches long for it to be of any use in making a wig. It must be clean and must have had no chemical treatments at all – no colouring, perming or tinting. Once it’s cut it needs to be put in a ponytail so that it’s obvious which is the top and which is the bottom. According to Banbury Postiche, the fees are £3 per ounce if your hair is 6 – 12" long and £5 per ounce if it’s more than 12" long.

Be a Mystery Shopper – I love being a mystery shopper. I’ve done it in the past with just one agency and had loads of free meals in pizza restaurants and pubs, free sandwiches delivered, free supermarket shopping and an overnight stay in a hotel. It’s not hard to do and it’s open to anyone. You just join one or more mystery shopping agencies (we’ve got a list of the good ones here – you do have to be careful to go with the proper ones) then put yourself up for jobs. The pay’s very little (usually about £5 or so) but the freebies make it totally worthwhile. Try it out!

Make Money from Watching TV – Don’t just sit and gawp at the TV, make some money out of it. You can get £250 for sending a daft video clip to ‘You’ve Been Framed’ or make up to £1 million being a contestant on a game show. Or how about being an extra on a TV show or film? It’s a great job to do if you’ve got a bit of spare time during the week and you live close-ish to a major city where they do filming. You can get around £100 a day, very often just for sitting around reading your book! Find out how to do all these things in our article on making money from TV here.

Do Competitions – Now you have to be careful here. There are loads of so-called competitions on the Net that are just rubbish. However, there are a lot of genuine ones around, online and offline, and you really can get good prizes if you go for the right ones. We’ve got a round-up of the latest pukka competitions here for you to try. Interestingly, you’re often better off going for competitions that offer really impressive prizes than the ones with small prizes. Weirdly more people go in for the smaller prizes (to win a laptop or a case of wine for example) than the bigger stuff like a car or exotic holiday as they think they’ll have more chance with the small prizes! So if you go for the really big prizes you’ll actually have more chance of winning. The competitions we’ve found right now include having your mortgage paid for six months, getting a year’s worth of free shopping at Sainsbury’s and £2,500-worth of Thomas Cook vouchers. It’s all worth a try.