We’re all rethinking the ways we’re handling our cash during the COVID-19 pandemic. It really doesn’t take a huge lifestyle shift to slot away a little extra money each month. In fact, there’s a lot you can do from your own home. Here are just a few examples of ways to pump up your savings while we wait for the world to start spinning again.

1) The savings you don’t even need to think about...

The chances are, you’re already saving a fair amount of extra cash without even trying. If you’re stuck at home, the money you’d normally be spending on pricey prepared food or other little luxuries isn’t going anywhere. Nights out at the pub can be surprisingly expensive, too. It might not feel like you’re dipping into your cash reserves all that much on a day-to-day basis, but it can really mount up over time. The same goes for petrol and travel costs. This is all money that now has the chance to pad your own pocket instead of lining other people’s.

2) ...and the ones you do.

While many of the standard money-saving tips we’re all used to are a little less appealing during a lockdown (cancel Netflix? Are you even serious?), it’s a good time to check whether you’re getting all the best deals on offer. Check out comparison sites to keep your energy bills under control, and think hard about how useful that gym membership really is while you’re cooped up indoors.

Depending on your situation, you might be able to take a free payment holiday on your mortgage or other borrowing, too. Pumping up your savings is as much about plugging the leaks as it is finding new money. That means getting more for your money, whether by shopping for better deals or using schemes like Groupon or Quidco for cashback and other offers.

3) Get paid for your opinions – and more!

We’re all posting our every random thought and purchase online for free each day anyway, so why not get paid for it? Whether it’s online focus groups, questionnaires and surveys offering real cash for your opinions or phone apps that pay you to record your spending, the internet’s full of ways to turn everyday activity into money. Here are just a few strange things that you can get paid for:

  • Taking photos of your receipts (Shoppix, Receipt Hog).
  • Taking surveys (VYPR, iPoll).
  • Making social media posts (TRIBE, Manifest).
  • Walking – yes, literally just walking (Sweatcoin).

3) Make it your business to save

If you’re finding yourself with a lot of extra time on your hands, then trading it in for cash could be just the ticket. For example, if you’ve an eye for accuracy you can earn a decent second income as a freelance proofreader. Just a few hours a week could add hundreds of pounds to your savings, and there’s a range of online platforms for you to find work.

From bloggers and Youtube “influencers” to eBay and Etsy sellers, people up and down the internet are finding more and more ways of turning their hobbies and passions into successful little businesses. 

Even if you don’t have the time or energy for all that, you might still have some valuable space. Now’s probably not a great time to be renting out your spare room, obviously - but an unneeded driveway or parking spot can bring in some much-needed extra money. People are understandably shy of public transport at the moment, and anyone who works near your home could be gasping for a place to park. Again, there are online apps to help you with this, although you might end up cutting them a slice of the action.

The best part of all this is that, as long as you’re making under £1,000 a year on the side, the taxman won’t come sniffing around all this additional income. If you do go over £1,000, you’ll need to sign up for the Self Assessment system and start filing tax returns.

5) Pass on what you’ve learned

With the schools shut, there’s a decent market for online tutoring services. Websites like Tutorful can take care of a lot of the digital legwork for you, and with fees of up to £50 per hour on offer it could be a valuable way to fill up that extra time everyone’s complaining about having. Teaching qualifications aren’t essential for many subjects, and tools like digital whiteboards and screen sharing make the whole process surprisingly smooth and simple.

6) Tax refunds aren’t prizes or handouts – they’re your legal right

Every year, far too many people leave cash in HMRC’s pockets that ought to be back in their own. If you normally travel for work, now’s not the time to sit still. Many of the day-to-day costs of dealing with what HMRC calls “temporary workplaces” (places you work for less 24 months) can earn you a tax refund each year. You have to claim it within 4 years, though - and provide proof of your mileage and spending. If you don’t fancy going toe-to-toe with the taxman yourself, companies like RIFT Refunds can tackle HMRC on your behalf.

This list is just a few quick pointers from the UK’s leading tax experts to get you started. How are you turning the lockdown into a well deserved savings bump? Whatever you’re doing, stay safe, get motivated and check out our tax refund calculator to see what you could claim back from HMRC.