Feeling the January blues? We’re going to show you how to smile in 2016.
We know it can be a bit depressing with the holidays behind you and nasty bills to pay but don’t fret – there’s always something to be happy about!
To help cheer you up we have found a few things to make you smile including some great bargains and events and also some good things we have all the time that we often forget about.
Honestly, there’s lots to smile about!
- Top 15 bargains handpicked by the team!
- Eco bargains to save you cash
- Websites that can MAKE you money
- Websites that can SAVE you money
- Good things happening in 2015
- Good things that make our lives better
- Good financial products up for grabs
1. Freebies online
Get free coffees at Starbucks, free clothes at Debenhams and New Look, free stuff from Amazon, free holiday vouchers and loads more in return for rating products and services through Toluna.It’s a great site to while away a bit of spare time. Not only that but you also get goodies to test for free. Right now, for example, they’re getting people to test out Garnier Hand Cream and pots of caviar…yes seriously! Click here to join up now and get all these great freebies.
2. See TV and radio shows for free
Apply for free tickets to your favourite TV show or tour, as well as live and promotional events for new music:
- Applausestore – Get tickets to big shows like Britain’s Got Talent, QI and more.
- BBC Tickets – See Strictly Come Dancing, be in Question Time and see all sorts of radio shows being made including I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.
- Lost In TV – Where you can apply for tickets to shows like The Cube, the Paul O’Grady Show and The Apprentice: You’re Fired!
- SRO Audiences – For The Alan Titchmarsh Show, Pointless, Dancing On Ice and The Graham Norton Show- to name just a few.
3. Phone calls for free
Once you’ve registered you find the username of the person you want to call and then click the green phone.
If your computer doesn’t have a microphone built in you’ll need to buy earphones and a microphone – visit Amazon which has lots of reasonably-priced headphone and microphone sets.
4. Grab free stuff for your home
Craigslist: Click on the ‘Great Britain’ menu then choose your nearest city. Look on the ‘for sale’ menu for the ‘free’ option and see all the items that are available to you for no money. All you have to do is pick them up.
Freecycle: Join a Freecycle network near you. Once you become a member of a local group you can view the items being given away, and post your own items. Everything posted must be free, legal and appropriate to all ages.
Snaffleup: This is the newest free item site of the four. It works in exactly the same way as the others. It’s a good idea to register your postcode so the search prioritises items that are in your area.
Britishfreebies.co.uk – where you can find listings of various items that are offered for free online.
5. Have a free holiday
Couchsurfing is great for meeting new people and having an authentic holiday experience – you choose who to stay with and they give you a bed to sleep in. Then you can repay the favour and sign up as a host yourself.
Here are some sites to get started:
- Hospitality Club
Doing a house swap is another way to get a free holiday. Sign up to a house swapping agency – then explain where you want to go, when you can go and browse through the listings. Check out our article on the subject for more information on house-swapping.
Join up to Homeexchange.com to start swapping.
6. Get someone to do your chores for free!
Swap your skills with other people to get jobs done for free. Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS) have been set up all over the country to help communities swap their skills.
They work by creating a unit of ‘currency’ which can be collected when you provide a service – and then used to ‘pay’ for someone to provide a service for you.
For example: if you’re a great cook, you can bake someone a cake and then use those credits to get someone to do your gardening. Check out LETSLinkUK for more information and to find your nearest scheme.
7. Free cinema tickets
Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis so you’ll have to be quick!
There are beauty salons and colleges all over the country in need of some guinea pigs to practice on and if you register your details with Salon Guinea Pig they can get in touch with you directly if they need models.
You can nab yourself a free spray tan, a free haircut or even a free wax!
9. Free caravan – to keep!
ParkHolidays are currently offering a free caravan deal. The caravan itself will be completely free of charge and you won’t even have to pay for furniture, carpets or key kitchen appliances.
It’s yours to keep or rent as you wish, and you’ll also have full use of any facilities the resort has to offer, such as swimming pools, spas and kids clubs.
So what’s the catch? Well the thinking behind the scheme is to try and encourage people to ‘trade up’ in the future (i.e. invest in a bigger and better caravan). But you’re under no obligation to do that. You’ll also have to pay the standard annual pitch fee which is usually around £4000 – £5000 plus a connection charge of around £400.
Get some free treatment by going to dental students at a UK dental school. Visit the British Dental Association for contact details of participating universities and read more in our guide to free dentistry here.
Don’t panic – although they’re not fully qualified, there are always trained supervisors on hand to help out. It will take longer than usual, so do bear this in mind.
11. Free money!
You could have hundreds or even thousands of pounds lying in dormant accounts and investments.
There’s at least £15 billion in unclaimed financial assets lying around in Britain, according to the Unclaimed Assets Register, an organisation run by credit agency Experian (ooh, and get a free credit check from Experian now).
Go to Mylostaccount.org.uk – this is a free online search service that will rummage through bank records for you. You have to enter your details and it will tell you if you’ve got any old accounts you’d forgotten about.
You may not have long left to claim the money so get all the info now!
12. Free courses
There are lots of free courses around for example, the BBC offers free online courses on all kinds of subjects, and Vision2Learn has various free courses to hone your computer skills, money management and much more.
OpenLearn is another free online learning site which uses material from Open University courses – this is great if you want to supplement your education or if you just want to get a flavour of what the OU has to offer.
For tips on how to get free training and boost your job prospects, check out our article dedicated to the topic here.
13. Get free food by mystery shopping
You will have to sign up to a decent agency but they’re usually free to join and you certainly shouldn’t part with any cash to be on their books. Check out JKS Mystery Shopping, TNS Global, Gfk UK and Storecheckers, who are all well known, reputable mystery shopping agencies.
For a more information read our article on how to become a mystery shopper.
14. Swap clothes – for free
Big Wardrobe allows users to swap dresses, shoes, bags and other accessories. Plus, membership is free.
Or are you happy to part with a little cash? Then check out our article on how to revamp your wardrobe for under a tenner.
15. Free cosmetics
It’s really easy, you just try, review and keep new hand creams, moisturisers, children’s products and all sorts of other goodies.
There are no unnecessary forms to fill in; all you need to do is provide your email address, a long-term home address (so they can send you products to review) and a phone number. It’s a really great way to get hold of some new products in exchange for a review.
16. Free MoneyMagpie eBook
At Christmas we gave away our ’52 Ways to Make and Save Money in 2015′ eBook for free. It was so popular that, for a limited time, you can still download the eBook for free.
17. Cheap restaurant deals
Tablepouncer.com is also great for last minute restaurant bookings and often offers discounts of up to 70%.
18. Up to 70% off exclusive luxury holidays with Voyage Prive
Voyage Prive, the private travel club, has incredible new offers on their site every day with four and five star city breaks, beach holidays, rural retreats and more on offer!
Their past deals have included 65% off a two night stays at a luxurious four star Tuscan hotel (down from £168 to £59), and 56% off an all-inclusive holiday (with flights) to the island paradise of Maritius, to name just a few.
These hand-picked exclusive offers are only available to Voyage Prive members, but guess what? You can become a member completely FREE!
19. Get massive savings on dining out, experience days, spa treatments and more
Groupon offer great deals on a range of geataways, spa treatments, dining experiences and more.
They also have on-going offers for a variety of gadgets and beauty products.
20. Slash your fuel costs by up to 80%!
To save big money on your motoring costs, try the ride-sharing website BlaBlaCar which connects drivers making expensive long-distance journeys with paying passengers.
21. Last minute hotel deals from £10 per person per night
They’re offering last minute rooms from £10 per person per night from rooms only, to all inclusive luxury for business or pleasure.
22. Quit smoking with Halfpriceperfumes.co.uk
If you’re desperate to give up smoking Halfpriceperfumes.co.uk might be able to help.
The website stocks a wide range of products designed to help you quit, including Nicotinell Liquorice Chewing Gum (£16.07 for 96 pieces) and NiQuitin Clear Patches (£15.63 forseven 24-hour patches).
23. Get paid between £40 – 200 for your views
By registering with Take Part In Research you can supplement your income by sharing your views.
Group discussions on products and services take place in London and across the UK and you will be paid between £40-£200 for your time.
Even more, by joining you are entering a prize draw to win a £100 Amazon voucher!
24. Win £30,000 without even entering a competition
Download the Nielsen Online Panel for free and every month that you keep the app on your computer you’re entered into a prize draw where you can win up to £30,000 worth of prizes.
You’re increasing your chances of winning just by surfing the web!
To avoid a nasty surprise when you come to sell or trade in your car, use CAP’s super free online valuation service to check what you can expect to get for it.
Buy or sell with the confidence that you aren’t going to part with any of your cash unnecessarily.
26. Cheap gym membership
If you rarely make the most of your expensive gym membership PayasUgym.com may have just solved your problem.
This website allows you to pay for your gym session per visit, instead of forking out on pricey joining fees and monthly membership costs.
Depending on the gym you visit prices start from just £4.50 per session, which means you make savings of up to 60% each and every time you go!
Hundreds of gyms throughout the country are taking part, so there’s bound to be one near you!
27. Make easy cash from the comfort of your sofa
When you sign-up to InboxPounds you can earn cash for reading emails, completing surveys, watching videos and more.
InboxPounds is such an easy way to make money that you earn a pound just by signing up.
28. Free guides
Check out our free guides on a whole load of financial issues.
Whenever there’s a change that will affect you these guides will take you through step-by-step.
29. Special FREEBIE when you follow us on Facebook!
Follow us on Facebook and receive a FREE copy of our most popular eBook ever!
As soon as you’ve ‘liked’ us simply click on the eBook tab to the left of our Facebook page and download in seconds – it’s that easy!
To follow us on Facebook click here now.
30. Get West End tickets for a tenner!
Until February 13th you can get tickets to all the top West End shows for as little as a tenner by going onto Getintolondontheatre.
There are all the big shows there like The Lion King, Wicked, Les Miserables, Jersey Boys and Billy Elliot.
It’s a great opportunity to see those shows you’ve wanted to see for a while but couldn’t afford to.
31. The Eco kettle
For just £34.99 you can get a kettle that will save you both water and money.
It lets you measure out exactly how much water you need so you don’t end up wasting water or energy.
32. Amazing insulating paint
How amazing is this? A special paint additive that keeps your home warm in winter and cool in the summer!
Insulant-NT paint additive was developed with NASA and it has special insulating properties that you add to paint. By putting the additive into your normal paint, you’ll create a thermal barrier that also repels moisture, helping to prevent mould and mildew.
You could save up to 20% on your energy costs and at just £10.99 the paint will pay for itself in no time.
33. Invest in a Hug Rug
If your old rug has seen better days, consider investing in a microfibre mat from Lakeland. These mats are capable of absorbing ten times their weight in water and dry in a third of the time that cotton does.
With frosty nights upon us this Radiator Booster should be on everyone’s shopping list. The booster uses a small fan to spread heat more effectively around your room, warming it up in half the usual time.
Your boiler will then shut down quicker saving you as much as £140 per year in heating bills. And at the special price of just £24.95 the Radiator Booster is a small investment well worth making.
35. Save over £300 a year just by switching!
Take a look at our article showing you easy ways to cut your bills, there’s no excuse not to give it a go.
36. Wonderbag – power free slow cooker
This is an amazing product – it’s an extremely well-insulated cooking bag that keeps anything – from meaty stews and vegetable curries to simple rice and soups – cooking for hours without using any power.
You need to start it off with power but it keeps food warm for 12 hours. Costs £64.99 but saves you £££s in power use!
37: Recycle your gadgets for cash
Recycle your gadgets for cash. It’s quick, FREE and could make you over £200.
From mobile phones to cameras, games consoles and more, by recycling your gadegts you can make a mint and help the environment.
If it’s a mobile phone you’d like to recycle use the Moneymagpie phone recycling tool. Just click on the make of your phone and we’ll show you which recycling company will give you the most for it. Do it now!
38. LED light sensor
It has seven bright LEDS and can illuminate steps, porches, hallways, stairs and cupboards. Battery operated, it has a manual on/off switch, will stay lit for 30 seconds, can be used indoors or out and will detect movement from up to three metres away. It will provide up to 100,000 hours of illumination.
So if you fix it while you have power it will switch on when you don’t, giving you instant initial light. Costs £19.99.
39. Save computer power with an Eco Button
One of the easiest and most effective gadgets out of the lot, the Eco Button is a MoneyMagpie favourite.
Just plug this little gem into your USB port and then tap it every time you leave your desk. In your absence the Eco Button (don’t ask us how, we’re still convinced it borders on magic) ensures that your computer uses a little power as possible. When you get back to your screen it tells you how many carbon units you’ve saved AND the amount of money too.
And all this for just £14.99. So buy your Eco Button now.
40. Rechargeable batteries
Yes they’re a bit more expensive than standard batteries and you will have to invest in a battery charger (which, depending on the make, you can buy on Amazon for around £10-20), but in the long run they work out SO much cheaper.
In fact Amazon stocks a wide range of rechargeable batteries staring from under a fiver. Shop for your rechargeable batteries now.
If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer why not start making some cash from it?
Online surveys are a great way to make a little extra cash for minimal time and effort, and whilst they won’t make you a fortune they can provide a nice little bonus to your regular income.
If you’re interested in giving online surveys a go we recommend that you sign-up (for FREE) to these websites:
- Nielsen Online Panel
- GFK MediaView
- Valued Opinions
- Survey Downline
- Harris Poll Online
- Sweets for Free
- PineCone Research
- Your Word
42. Make money from competitions
Few of us ever bother with competitions because we think our chances of winning are so slim. Wrong!
Your chances are often a lot better than you think, but as the old saying goes ‘You gotta be in it to win it.’ For very little time and effort you could win anything from a year’s supply of chocolate to a three week holiday in the Bahamas.
Don’t forget to constantly check the Prime Prizes competition page here.
43. Make £6 referring a friend
Hugely popular group buying site Groupon will give you £6 credit for every friend you refer.
To get the credit your friend must sign up and purchase a deal within 72 hours, so make sure you send them a deal you know they’ll love.
Considering how many great deals they have you shouldn’t have any trouble finding people to sign up!
44. Earn by referring – Plusnet
Plusnet has consistently low prices for its broadband and they even cut your bills further if you refer your friends.
You’ll get a discount off your monthly bill for every person that joins them on your recommendation, for as long as they are a customer.
There’s no limit to the number of people that you can recommend – so you could get your broadband for free.
45. Get paid to listen to music
This isn’t necessarily a big money earner as you’ll only get a few pence per review at the beginning, but as you get a better ‘scout rating’ there is potential to make more and more money.
Not only is it a good way to make a few extra quid but you could get to hear the next big thing before anyone else.
46. Perfume bargains
There’s no reason why you should still be paying full price for your favourite perfume, no reason at all!
47. Have fun on the cheap
Have you ever wanted to drive round a race track or jump out of a plane or have a luxurious spa day in a fabulous hotel?
All these and more are on offer at cut-price rates at Red Letter Days. Buy their vouchers for yourself or for a friend – there’s lots to choose from!
48. holiday accommodation for less
If want to find somewhere good to stay while you’re away, but you don’t want to pay the commercial prices, check out Housetrip.com and Airbnb.com.
Both of these sites are full of rooms, flat, houses and villas that are rented out, by the night, by private individuals. You can often find a beautiful place that is rented out at a fraction of the cost of commercial villas.
49. Cheaper phone calls
Use the website SayNoTo0870 which lists alternative (and sometimes free) phone numbers for companies who only offer expensive 0870/1 and 0845 numbers on their websites.
Do not book a hotel room without checking out these websites first – you’ve been warned!
51. Save 15% on bestsellers at Look Fantastic
LookFantastic is a website that sells pretty much everything beauty related you can imagine and all at great prices. Expect to save at least 15% on RRPs.
If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, it also features the top 10 bestsellers in each section – perfect if you need a little inspiration.
52. The economy is improving.
The more confident people and businesses feel, the more they will spend and the more that improves business and, therefore, the economy.
So things are generally on the up, even if it’s only a very gradual improvement…and a bumpy one.
53. Savings rates are likely to go up.
It’s not a definite but hopefully rates will start by the end of 2015. Actually it might not happen until early 2016 but the intention is there and that’s what all the banks have in their sights.
We might (note: might) see a little bit of competition coming into the savings market. Take a look at the new savings rates on offer here.
Ok, predictions for growth in 2015 are about 4%, so not as good as last year, but it’s still growth. Good news for sellers and buyers, not such good news for people trying to save for their first home.
However, if you’re looking to buy this year London & Country are one of the best independent mortgage brokers in the UK. You can speak to them for free about your mortgage needs. You don’t have to buy then and there, but the sooner you do some research the easier it will be to find out which mortgage deal is right for you.
55. Continuing improvements to ISA.
In 2015-2016 tax year the ISA limit will increase to £15,240.
Now widows and widowers will be able to inherit ISAs tax free as well – previously the ISAs lost their tax free status when the spouse died.
This month ‘pensioner bonds’ will become available for over 65s. You can get up to 4% interest on your savings which is considerably better than other saving bonds.
These are just a few of the MANY things we have for free every day. Do your own list to add to this. It really helps to remind ourselves just how much we have right now.
57. Free education, free healthcare, free libraries, free museums.
Seriously, we get SO much for free when you compare us to most of the rest of the world. Let’s use the libraries. Let’s visit the museums. Let’s not complain so much about education and healthcare. We are given all of this every day and we are blessed!
58. Beautiful countryside, grass, trees, flowers, birds, animals…
…you can add your own to this list. There’s so much in the natural world in this country and abroad that we are effectively given for free. It’s all around us – even if you live in a city – and we would miss it if it went. Every day we can appreciate all this good that we have for free.
59. Rule of law, free press, consumer groups and watchdogs.
Sure, none of these institutions is perfect but they’re there, they do a lot of good and protect us much of the time. Many countries in the world have none of these organisations so thank goodness we do!
60. Family, friends, the kindness of strangers
Every good friend and every loved person is another gift…wow, we’ve got so much…
61. Pay off your debt with 0% interest for over two years
Barclaycard’s Platinum credit card is now offering a whopping 35 months with o% interest on balance transfers . The offer includes a 2.79% handling charge but there’s six months’ 0% interest on purchases which is handy.
If you’re sitting on a chunk of debt that’s taking time to shift, this could be the card for you. Find out more about the Barclaycard Platinum credit card now.
62. Turned down for credit? There’s still a card for you.
If you’ve been turned down for credit but want all the benefits of a credit card, look no further!
The Capital One Classic Credit Card offers sensible, manageable starting limits of £200–£1,500, helping you keep control of your finances while spreading the cost of your purchases.