How to maximise your income
Are you down to your last few pennies at the end of every month? Perhaps you’re completely out of money, and worried about having to borrow to tide you over until payday? As a result of stagnating wages and the rising cost of living, making your paycheque stretch until the same time next month is getting much harder to do for many people. The solution (short of winning the lottery) is to maximise your income as much as possible to make your money go a bit further each month.
Create a budget
We’re all guilty of frittering money away on things we probably don’t need, so is it really any wonder that we ask ourselves where our money’s gone at the end of the month? Making a budget not only tells you how much you have to spend on essentials each month, it’ll also show the areas you can save money in, so you can avoid going into single figures in the days leading up to payday.
Working out your budget probably isn’t at the top of everyone’s ‘to-do’ list, but it’s a financially savvy move that’ll show you where your money’s going and how to make the most of it. We’ve created a useful budgeting planner that you can download for free to get started.
Make sure you’re getting what you’re entitled to
If you don’t ask you might not get, so make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to in terms of benefits. Not claiming for housing benefit or child benefit could see you miss out on hundreds of pounds over the course of an average year, as could not supplementing your income with working tax credits (if you’re eligible for them). Don’t assume that you’re being given everything you’re entitled to; you could be entitled to a benefit and not be receiving it without even knowing it, so it’s definitely worth checking online.
You can check what benefits you’re entitled to, as well as how to claim them, by using a benefits calculator.
Check your tax code
Another simple way to maximise your income is to check what tax code you’re on. If you’re on the wrong tax code you could be underpaying in tax, but you also might be overpaying. Many people are on the wrong tax code without even realising. This can result in paying too much income tax over a period of months, or sometimes even years. You can check to make sure you’re on the right tax code by visiting the income tax page on the Government’s website, and if you’ve got any other tax-related queries you can call the tax office on 0300 200 3300.
It’s worth pointing out that you should always check that you’re on the right tax code when you start a new job. This is because if the tax office isn’t notified of your new role (your old employer should send them a P60 to confirm you’ve started a new job) then they’ll count wages from your new job as a secondary income, and may tax you more than they should do.
Where can you cut back?
A big part of making the most of your money is identifying areas where you could probably cut back a little. You might enjoy eating out and splurging on takeaways, but you can recreate the meals at home for fraction of the cost. Could you go without spending so much on clothing every month, or cancel that gym membership that you don’t use very often? When you actually sit down and look at your budget you might find that there are more areas you can save money on than you might’ve expected.
Don’t think that you have to cut back entirely on leisure spending or nights out to make savings either. Simply changing which supermarket you shop from or cycling to work instead of driving and racking up a weekly petrol bill can leave you with a slightly fuller wallet at the end of the month, without sacrificing the things you love.
Know your value
If you’re not happy with how much income you’re getting and think you’re worth more, then why not ask for a pay rise, or even change your role altogether? You might have limited scope if you’ve only been in your role for a few weeks, of course, but if you’ve been in your role for a while and don’t think that your wages are reflecting your efforts, there’s no harm in seeing if you can get paid more. Let’s face it; it easier to make the most of your money when you’re being paid more in the first place.
Have a clear out
It’s never been easier to make money from your old possessions. You can sell everything from clothes and home gym equipment to children’s toys and games consoles within hours on Facebook marketplace, and with a few quick sales you could find yourself a few hundred pounds up. This might not be a permanent solution to maximising your income, but it could give you a lump sum of money to make an overpayment on your credit card and reduce the interest and charges. Don’t forget, you’ll still need to keep up with regular payments too. You’ll have more space around the house too, so get de-cluttering!