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Make money from home: working at home ideas

07 May 2014 ( 25 June 2019 )

Wondering how to make money from home? Like the idea of setting your own agenda? Here are a few ways of earning money from home in the UK.

Mature woman at home on a laptop
There are lots of ways of making extra cash if you put your mind to it

How to make money from home

Whether you're retired or like the idea of extra income, setting your own agenda and working from home, there are lots of ways of earning money from home – here are just a few working-from-home ideas to get you started…

Make money from home by hosting foreign students

There are hundreds of foreign language schools situated in our major cities, and along the south coast in particular. They are always in need of accommodation for their students, be they teenaged schoolchildren or mature businessmen and women.

Often all the schools require is bed and breakfast for their students, and a family meal in the evenings. So, why not put that spare room to good use? And if you’re buying food for one or two, the pay you’ll receive will more than cover the extra expense at the shops.

The highest demand is April to September. If you’re worried about disruption, the students will usually be out of the house by 8am, not returning until early evening for their meal, and then often they’ll be out again with friends or on organised trips. 

Plus they usually only stay for a week or so, so if you find it really isn't for you, you won't need to put up with them for long!

Look to earn £80-£100 a week per student, more in London.

Make money by opening your home up to guests

Earn money at home by becoming a mystery shopper

Become a man (or woman) of mystery. If you love shopping and like the thrill of being undercover, becoming a mystery shopper might be the part-time job you've been waiting for.

Agencies such as Tern and GrassRootsMysteryShopping can pay around £30 a day. However, some do pay in vouchers or in goods rather than in cash.

Get cash for surveys

It pays to talk. OK, we all hate being phoned up on spec by market researchers, but there are ways to reap cash for your opinions.

Online surveys are generally quick and easy to fill in and can pay up to £4 for a few minutes of your time. See Pureprofile or PineconeResearch for details.

Alternatively, market research groups are prepared to pay up to £50 to people who are willing to spend a couple of hours at a focus group session.

Check your local listings for an agency near you, or try SarosResearch.

As a note of caution, do not pay middlemen ‘membership fees’ for access to market research firms that conduct paid surveys. You can find those yourself by surfing the web for free.

Keep control of your finances, save money and avoid getting ripped off with Saga's extensive range of money articles.

Make money from home with an ironing and/or laundry service

Dashing away with a smoothing iron may not sound like fun but a couple of hours a day could make you £100 or so a week. Invest in a good iron (and have one in reserve!), some decent coat hangers (a good impression always helps), business cards and offer a collect-and-return or drop off service.

Canvass local businesses. Five clients from one location is more time efficient than five separate home visits. If you can offer a shirt wash/dry/iron service, then even better.

Research what other services offer but look to make around £10 an hour once you are up and ironing. 

How to choose a new iron

Get paid from home for exam assessments

Retired teachers, and others, with time to spare in the summer are wanted by exam assessment boards, marking GCSE and A Level papers. You need a computer and will be given online training by the board so that your marks are consistent.

Those qualified in, or with a good knowledge of, English, history, languages and science are particularly needed.

The work is done at home, though on a rare occasion (5% of all assessments) you may have to do a face-to-face assessment.

There are deadlines but the computer programme will be available 24/7, so you can manage your time effectively. You’re paid by the paper and assessors can expect to earn between £750 and £1,000 in total, depending on the numbers of scripts and the subject.

Earn extra money from baking

Where does your local deli, farmers’ market or cafe get their homemade cakes, biscuits and sweets from? With a bit of luck and patience – from you.

This is a business where you literally weigh up pros and cons – ingredients and packaging (plus energy), the rest is profit. Bear in mind, you can turn out more biscuits and sweets in the same time it takes to make a large, single cake. And why not try to sell your produce rather than let a cafe take a share of the money?

Try farmers' markets, craft fairs or even car boot sales. As for profit – time, and the public’s tastebuds will tell.

Try some of our baking recipes...

Make money from e-commerce

If you’re a little daunted by the likes of e-Bay, think of it as an on-screen boot sale without the rain or pitch fees.

If you’re not sure what to sell, have a sort-out in the shed or attic. 

Like boot sales, you’ll be amazed what people will buy – and what they sell, too. 

A good digital camera will help shift your stuff on site and always bear in mind the shipping costs when deciding on a price.

Cash for clutter: How can I sell my stuff online?

Use your existing experience

Become a home-working tycoon. For the really big cash, why not put your previous corporate experience to good use and try solving problems for big businesses?

On offer are literally hundreds of thousands of pounds for aspiring tycoons or boffins who can solve problems from extracting silver from ore in an Argentinian mine or finding a viable site for a new hotel. See InnoCentive for more details.

Visit our Home and Garden section for gardening guides, home improvement tips and much more.

Next article: Working from home? Eight tips to help you stay on track >>>


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.