Holiday season left you with a financial headache or credit-card nausea? Try some of these ideas to reduce waste and make money. Get a healthier bank balance in the new year by unlocking the value of stuff you have lying around.
1: Rent out your spare room (or your entire home)
According to the latest census, there are around nine million spare rooms across Australia. That’s a lot of space that could be used to make a bit of extra money using sharing economy platforms like AirBnB.
There are a few things to consider before you start buying guest soaps and turning down the bedclothes.
First, if you’re renting, you’ll need your landlord’s permission.
Second, you’ll need to do a bit of legwork to set up your availability calendar, clean your space and get it photographed and write a good description.
Once you’re up and running, you’ll need to keep on top of bookings by responding to enquiries and making sure your calendar stays up to date.
But if hosting guests works for you, it’s a great way to earn some money with minimal effort (though, admittedly, a certain loss of private space). You’ll get to keep 97 percent of what you charge your guests, and apart from a bit of cleaning before and after your guests arrive, there shouldn’t be much you need to do or buy to get started.
Check out AirBnB’s hosting standards to see if you (and your pad) have what it takes to host a guest.
Pro tip: We know people who put their whole home on AirBnB, and move out to stay with family or friends (or head away for a holiday) if their place gets booked out. Depending on your home’s size and location and your own flexibility, this could net you thousands of dollars a year.
2: Rent out your car when you’re not using it
You probably notice the costs of driving your car each time you fill the fuel tank, change the tyres, or get a bill from your friendly mechanic. But do you know how much it’s costing you just to keep it sitting there, even if you don’t drive all week?
The RACV estimates that for a medium car like a Hyundai i30, you’ll pay around $150 a week in standing costs (rego, insurance, depreciation and interest), and another $19 or so on running costs (fuel, tyres and servicing) – assuming that you drive 15,000km a year.
How many times do you get your car out of the driveway in an average week? If you have a second car, how much of the time does it sit there, ready ‘just in case’ two people in your household need to drive at the same time?
If you don’t use your car (or second car) every day, renting it out to trusted neighbours can help to offset these high standing costs. Listing it through a neighbour-to-neighbour car sharing platform like Car Next Door means that you can manage your car’s availability online or from your smartphone, and still drive whenever you need to.
You’ll need to have a car that meets Car Next Door’s eligibility criteria. As with AirBnB, there is a bit of work involved upfront to get set up for sharing (like setting your availability calendar and switching your insurance to Car Next Door’s comprehensive damage cover). They will send a technician around to install the in-car technology that lets Borrowers access your car without you needing to meet them.
It can take up to 6 months to get a regular group of local borrowers booking your car and bringing in consistent earnings – but if you’re in the right area and your car has good availability, you could be earning upwards of $100 a week and spending less than 20 minutes a week to manage your car sharing activity.
3: Sell unwanted gifts, impulse purchases and other stuff that’s cluttering up your home and your life
According to online trading platform Gumtree, over half a billion dollars’ worth of gifts given each Christmas are unwanted.
Even if you got nothing but useful, beautiful gifts under the tree, it’s possible you got carried away in the post-Christmas sales and ended up with clothes that didn’t quite fit; shoes that don’t quite match anything, and homewares that you really didn’t need.
Buyers’ remorse can lead us to hang onto purchases even when we know they were wrong. Getting rid of them stirs up the anguish of having wasted all that money, so we just stash them and hope they’ll come in handy some time in the future. If you live in the city and you're short on space, you're giving up prime storage for something you don't really need or want.
It’s time to cut your losses (and regain your cupboard space) by offloading them now, and moving on. Find a better home for those gifts you found useless or outright hideous, or the things you bought while in a retail frenzy, by selling them on eBay, Gumtree or your favourite online trading platform. Check out this complete guide to selling stuff online in Australia for more ways to sell.
If all else fails, donate them to your local op shop or drop them in a nearby charity bin. It may not fatten your wallet, but it will at least de-clutter your space. You may even find that you have a spare room, now that all that dusty gear is off your hands. If so, refer to step 1.
Pro tip: seek out specialist trading platforms for specialist items. For example, clothes, shoes or accessories can be sold on sites like Prelove Fashion or swapped on sites like The Clothing Exchange, mobile phones (new and old) can be sold via Mazumamobile, and vintage items can be listed on Etsy.
4: Use your noodles: eat what’s in your cupboards before you buy more
OK – this is not really a way to earn money, but it’s a good way to save it. And if you invest the money – especially if you’re still in your twenties – a dollar saved is even better than a dollar earned.
Go to your kitchen, take a good, long look in your cupboards, and run a mental tally of the cost of all the gifted Christmas biscuits, tinned food, half-used packets of pasta and rice, sauces, spices and sundry dried goods in there. If you’re like most people, you’ll probably find there’s a couple of hundred bucks’ worth of groceries in there.
Before you hit the supermarket again, make a plan. Toss out anything that’s no longer edible, and eat the rest. If you need a few extra ingredients to make a meal, buy just those. You should be able to save at least $50 on your next shop by planning meals around ingredients you already have. Check out Love Food, Hate Waste for some great recipe ideas using up fruit & veg from your fridge.
Bonus points if you can make a whole meal (or more) from your stores. My mum used to call this ‘earning your Make a Meal out of Nothing Badge’ – a great life skill to have.
Pro tip: To make it more of a party and less of a depression-era, noodle-eating thrift-fest, get a few friends around and ask them to bring a box of stuff from their own cupboards. You can brainstorm meal ideas, swap ingredients, and have a big, social, creative cook-up together.