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4 ways to make money in a recession

MoneyMagpie team 9th Jul 2019 4 Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes
News of a recession, redundancies, mass bankruptcies and so on can spread fear and despair around the country. Quite often people feel so depressed by this news that they don’t even bother to try to make money. However, for those who refuse to be hypnotised by media gloom there are always ways of coping and even doing well in these depressing times. We’re often asked by readers ‘How can I make money fast?’  Well, take a look at this article to discover four ways to make money in a recession.
There are some businesses that actually do better in a recession than usual. This is because people often have different needs during an economic downturn and anyone who notices these gaps in the market and fills them can make some cash.

There are plenty of long-term and lucrative opportunities to make money in this economic climate. Here are just a few of the ways you can do it:


1. Sell your junk

Sell your stuff

In a downturn, secondhand and generally cheap goods tend to do very well. In fact, they often do better than they do when times were good. eBay and other auction sites such as eBid are still doing a roaring trade so now is an even better time to sell everything you don’t need or want.

Most of us have far more stuff than we need (or really want) so make it a regular exercise to go through cupboards, drawers, shelves and so on and see what you could possibly get rid of for ready cash.

Sell for others

ebay app on smartphone

If you are a major eBay enthusiast you could make money by selling other people’s things for them on the site. Many people would happily pay a percentage to someone who is willing to photograph their stuff, put it on the site, write a good description then send the things off for them. Charge about 30% of the sale price and you’ll make it worthwhile for yourself and the people you’re selling for.

Run a car boot sale

Vintage car boot sale

Continuing the secondhand theme, good old car boot sales and the like also do well during economic hard times. More people try to
make money by selling at them and others are keen to buy there because they can get stuff cheaply. Obviously you could make some quick cash by selling your stuff at a local car boot sale, but you could make more regular money by setting up your own car boot sale.

Anyone can do it. You just have to find a space that you can rent (you could do a profit-share deal with the owners to start off with) and then do what it takes to advertise it. Quite often school playgrounds are used as car boot sale venues or car parks that are not used at the weekends, fields or even a simple patch of wasteland that’s not too hard to get to by car. Many town venues are already set up for sale but, if you hunt around, you could find a great spot that has not been nabbed yet.

Take a look at Car Boot Junction for information about local sales. If you set one of your own up you should add it to their list, as well as advertising it in the local press and through leafleting the neighbouring area.


2. Buying bankrupt stock

Digital Stock exchange chart

Many businesses go bankrupt during a downturn. It’s a tragedy for those who owned the businesses, but it can create an opportunity for you. The stock, furniture, machinery and equipment that these businesses had need to be sold and usually they need to be sold fast. That means they can go very cheaply and there are two ways you can profit from this. First, you could get friendly with local receivers and insolvency practitioners (you can find out about local ones through the organisation R3 which covers all bankruptcy professionals). You could be the one to bid directly for what is left of the business’ goods. It’s then up to you to sell them, either through auction or through direct contacts, to make a profit. Alternatively, you could attend the auctions of bankrupt stock and buy up the goods cheaply for your own use or for selling on at a profit.

There are auction houses all over the country that sell bankrupt stock. All you have to do is find your nearest one and get there quick! Charles Taylor in Manchester update their site every week with new information on forthcoming auctions, as do Frank G. Bowen and Walker Singleton. For other auction houses, such as Crossgar Auctions (near Belfast), you just have to pop along and see the stock for yourself.
If you don’t fancy the auction-room atmosphere, Centaur Auctions have set up an online auction house where you email your bids to them and they accept if they think it’s high enough. The waiting time on your purchase is dependent on whether they think they’ll get a better bid. If they think it’s high enough, they’ll usually email you back right away. Once you’ve made your purchase you then have to go to their stockrooms in London to check out your purchases. If you’re not happy with the product and don’t feel it matched the description in their site, you don’t have to buy it.
Bear in mind that because these auction houses deal with bankrupt stock from anywhere, they can have some bizarre products on sale, especially if they are dealing with stock from bankrupt factories. Eddisons in Leeds and Manchester, for example, often sell things that are somewhat out of the ordinary, like travelling overhead cranes, along with more useful stock, like sportswear. So you may have to sift through a lot of stuff before you find something you can sell.


3. Rent, rent, rent

We all know that people are now more into renting than buying property, but there are also many other things that can, and should, be rented rather than bought when times are hard. This is another area where you can cash-in.


Painted fence with for rent sign hanging on it

For a start, do you have a driveway or garage you could rent out? There are a few websites now that will advertise your parking space to commuters. Parklet and JustPark offer this service as we explain in our article on making money out of your driveway.

Spare rooms

Room for rent sign

It’s so obvious that we hesitate to say it again, but if you have a spare room then now is a good time to rent it out and make some tax-free money from it. Under the government’s Rent-a-Room scheme you can make up to £4,250 a year tax-free from renting out your spare room. If you can’t bear the idea of having someone else in your home 24/7, go for the short-term option of renting to foreign students. We have all the details here in our article on hosting students for cash.


Clothing with "For Rent" tag

Then there are other things you could rent out like your car, your power tools, your clothes, your accessories and even your toys. A few rental websites have sprung up recently that aim to match owners with potential renters – Zilok offer this service. It’s a new concept so you may find it slow to start, but put your items on and you’ll soon start making some money.


4. Undercut the Market

Male window cleaner

Everyone is looking for cheap ways to get things done. Of course, for most people price has always been an issue, but it’s even more critical now. If you can offer services locally at a much cheaper rate than proper businesses, you could get even more work than before.
For example, find out how much window-cleaning companies in your area charge and offer your services for 20% less. Or if you’re at home looking after your children, register as a child-minder. Many families who used to employ nannies or a private nursery will be looking for cheaper options now and there should be more of a demand for childminding (see our article about childminding here).

Woman putting groceries in the fridge

If you’re a cleaner and you’re worried about being dropped because of cost cutting, offer extra services such as cooking and filling the freezer for your clients. If you have secretarial skills, offer your services to businesses around the world as a Virtual Assistant (we show you how to be a Virtual Assistant here). Learn bookkeeping as well and you will have many more work opportunities as you undercut the market.

Are you good with computers? Offer your services as a computer trouble-shooter at a knock-down rate in your local area. Whereas people used to simply throw away their computers when they went wrong, as times get harder they are starting to get things mended.
Computer mending can be expensive, so if you can offer a cut-price service there you will be increasingly in demand.

Fixing a laptop

Think about what people need to have done – or would like to have done – but don’t have the money to pay. Mending and repair services will be in greater demand, but people will be looking for the best price they can get. If you’re good at altering clothes, DIY or repairs to household goods, your services will be needed more and more if your price is right. Don’t think for a moment that an economic downturn needs to be bad news for you and your family. There are always opportunities if you look. In fact, for some, it can mean more business and a greater income, not less.

If  you want to know how to make money fast check out our 10 easy ways to make quick cash article or 7 easy ways to make money online.


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11 years ago

This is so lame. Selling one’s junk is not making money for a start.
Whoever writes this stuff has no idea themselves how to make money (in the real world) only good at trotting out the usual.

Catherine Walsh
Catherine Walsh
13 years ago

I started an ebay hobby into a successful online business www.camouflage-cosmetics.co.uk and now I am about to start wholesaling my own products. I sell tattoo and scar cover cosmetics

Phil Bailey
Phil Bailey
13 years ago

I see many examples of companies searching for quality in these tough times. During the heady days of the mid-2000’s many companies were losing productivity, in an attempt to increase growth and market share. This led to a huge amount of flab growing around the mid-riffs of many small businesses. As soon as a recession was declared these small companies turn their attention to their productivity, trying to squeeze more from their existing business structure. Just a the general population turn to more healthy pursuits during recessive times, so do businesses. So, it’s not about investment in a recession. If… Read more »

14 years ago

We were waiting for a crash with our business, but surprisingly the reverse has happened – and we have never been so busy. We run children’s parties and balloon decorate large events and weddings. It seems that people need a pick up in a recession and throwing a party and self-treating businesses work well in a recession. Retailers may try a few new marketing tricks in a recession, this includes using balloons for product launches and printing logos onto balloons. I hear Chocolate sales are up for cadbury and make-up sells do well for max-faxtor. Some Weddings looking cut costs… Read more »

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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