How I Made Extra Money & Changed My Life

Years ago, I was in a bad place with my money. I realised that no matter how well I budgeted and lived as frugally as possible, it wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

Of course I’d thought about making some extra money, but I honestly had no idea where to start. No-one I knew made extra money outside of their 9-5’s, and there wasn’t that much on the internet about it at the time either.

Nevertheless, I searched and searched for various things that I could try out. I had a LOT of hesitation because I was worried that I would lose money. What if it wasn’t legit?

After spending ages and ages thinking about whether I should go for it or not, I realised something:

I was going to have to try some things that I’d never done before, in order to move forward.

I started slowly. I see a lot of people online saying that you need to start with something big that will get you lots of money, but they aren’t accounting for the people like me, who had no money upfront, who had bad mental health and simply didn’t have the time.

Turns out, that earning extra money changed my life forever. I was able to pay off all of my debt, bought a house with my partner, work for myself full-time, and I now invest money into a pension and my stocks and shares ready for my early retirement goal.

These are the things I tried out to earn extra cash (in order!):

Mystery Shopping

I am pretty sure that I started out with mystery shopping because of the appeal of free food! This was because my budgeting was SO tight back then, I literally couldn’t afford to feed myself properly.

So, knowing that I could get some free food and a fee for doing a mystery shop, was like music to my ears! I was nervous though, of course. What if it wasn’t a legit company? What if there weren’t any jobs near me? What if I did it wrong?

In the end, I had to have a word with myself – I just had to go for it and see what happened. It could go wrong, but it could also go right, and change my life!

Even-though it was years ago, I distinctly remember coming out of the shop that I had done the mystery shop in, clutching all of my (free!) goodies, and thinking that I couldn’t believe it. It worked!

That was all the green light I needed to start all of my other making making ventures, which I will share throughout this article.

So you may be wondering which mystery shopping companies I used – here are my favourites:

  • Marketforce
  • Red Wigwam
  • Grassroots
  • Tern
  • Mystery Dining Company
  • Proinsight
  • Ipsos
  • Ragdoll Research
  • Field Agent app
  • Be My Eye app (referral code 5lgv5l)


Surveys get a bad rep, but again, I think that some people forget that when you’re looking to earn extra money you likely don’t have a lot of time and need to do things on an ad-hoc basis.

  • YouGov*
  • Prolific Academic
  • Curious Cat
  • Streetbees  (referral code 7813HA)
  • Swagbucks*
  • OnePulse
  • Valued Opinions
  • AttaPoll

Matched Betting

Matched betting was another thing that I was extremely apprehensive about, as I’d never heard of it before and it sounded a bit too good to be true.

I’ve never been interested in gambling so I knew I wouldn’t get swayed by anything. The actual process seemed really complicated, but the website provided step-by-step instructions, so I decided to just go for it.

Matched betting is where you are able to take advantage of the free bets that the betting sites offered, without doing any proper gambling.

Everyone I know who has done matched betting has told me that they’ve taken aaaaages trying to understand it, before biting the bullet, following the instructions and then it all making sense. That’s what happened with me too!

I would honestly suggest just getting started and following the steps, because otherwise you can take ages trying to wrap your head around it, and wasting valuable time.

For a quick rundown, this is how matched betting works:

  • Sign up to a betting site
  • Sign up to a betting exchange site
  • Place a bet on the betting site
  • Place an opposing bet on the betting exchange site

The whole point of matched betting is to use the free bets that are offered by the betting sites (e.g. free £10 bet for signing up), and use that to bet one of the bets above. This means that you aren’t using your own money for the main bet and the opposing bet.

I’ve created a free 5 day mini email course to get you started matched betting!

Dog Boarding

My daughter had been bugging me to get a dog (and she still is!), but I knew that I couldn’t afford to buy and look after a dog, let alone have the time. I was always thinking about ways that I could make money, and I wondered if I could find a temporary solution to my problem here!

I looked into it, and I found that I could host dogs in my home (called dog boarding) whilst their owners were away, and get paid for it.

This was great because my daughter got her dog fix, but I got to pick and choose when I would have the dogs in my home. If it became too much, I would not book any in for a bit.

It was one of the key ways that I managed to pay off my debt, and I enjoyed it so much!

I also did cat sitting, even though I am highly allergic! I just did the cat sitting jobs where I just had to pop in and feed them. Easy work!

I used one site in particular, as I got a lot of work from it, but there are some other great ones, such as:

  • Tailster
  • Rover
  • Cat in a Flat


Running this website that you’re reading now really did change my life! I don’t really know how I came across the idea of setting it up, but I do know that I wanted to share all of the money saving/making tips that I found out, as I didn’t want anyone to feel the way that I did.

There are a few ways that you can make money blogging, but these are the main ones:

  • Ads
  • Sponsored posts
  • Affiliate links
  • Products
  • Services

I don’t use ads on my site, but I do some sponsored posts, affiliate marketing and I sell my own products and services (budget planners, spreadsheets and coaching).

Freelance Writing

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I couldn’t believe that I got to earn money from doing writing – it felt like a dream come true!

This was probably the thing that I hesitated over the most, I think because it was so important to me. I wanted to be a writer so bad!

I got my first freelance writing job by contacting another personal finance site, in the U.S. I saw that they used freelance writers, so I put myself forward. From there, I could use the fact that I had worked with them as an example to get other work.

There were a few other small side hustles that I did whilst on my money making journey, would you like to hear more about those too? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂