Ah, bank holidays are alright, aren't they? Eight days (give or take) a year where you can laugh in the face of your alarm clock, enjoy an afternoon of daytime TV without the usually-requisite Lemsip and take advantage of your local boozer’s Sunday happy hours (‘ave it, students).
The problem is that these sacred days are so special that many of us – overwhelmed by an entire ‘free’ day – do nothing and end up fermenting on the sofa, when in fact we could be doing something useful. Now, we’re not about to suggest you go climbing mountains or taking up pottery (if you do, well done, you must be very smug), but there are a few things you could do on your precious day off that could line the pockets you’d otherwise be grappling around in for change for that takeaway. Plus they’ll give you something to do instead of watching talk show repeats in your trackie bottoms.
We’ve covered car boot sales before, but its effectiveness for generating a bit of spare cash – if done correctly – still holds firm. Bank holidays are awash with car-boot sales, and more folk than usual turn out to gawp at other people’s tat; so pack your junk in the trunk and watch the pennies stack up. Plus it’ll get you some of that fresh air you could probably do with.
Yawn, tried and tested, we know. But eBaying your stuff can take a fair ol’ chunk of time, so it’s not surprising that your ‘For eBay’ pile so quickly grows into a small mountain as you keep putting it off. But if not now, then when? Set aside some bank holiday time to get on with it and then spend the rest of the week watching the bids racking up and feeling pleased with yourself.
Get on your hobby horse
Got a crafty hobby but continually lament your lack of free time to get on it? This is your time to shine. Why not dedicate your free day to hobby hedonism and flog the results? Card-marking, scarf-knitting, cake-baking, woodcraft... people go nuts for homemade stuff, so spend the day churning out the goods and flog ‘em at a later date. Etsy.com is an excellent place to start.
Get in it to win it
Of course, you could spend the day glued to online poker or bingo in the hopes of winning some scratch, but that way addiction lies. Plus it’s not particularly social; you can save your regular weeknights for that kind of hermity behaviour. It’s a bank holiday, so doubtless there are all kinds of activities happening around your neck of the woods; fetes, carnivals, village fairs and so on. Fancy dress competitions, dog trials and novelty sports are in abundance at these sort of things, oft with an (admittedly modest) cash prize attached. Get involved! Get to know your neighbours, have a laugh and potentially wind up a few quid better off.
If the harsh glare of the sun is too menacing a thought for your revered day of rest, though, gather your brainiest mates, crack out a prize crossword and see if you’re clever enough to win some cash.
Work? On your day off? Outrageous! Well, not really. Why not have a bash at extras work, grab a stint as a mystery shopper or, if you’re feeling brave, bare all as a life model for an art class?
None of these are hugely demanding, but do offer the opportunity to get out and about, plus a modest cash bonus. Alternatively, if you’re planning on being out and about anyway, why not rent your house out to a film crew for the day? If your gaff is up to scratch you could earn a princely sum by letting a few camera-savvy folk visualise the next big thing in toilet roll advertising within your four walls.
If you’re like the thousands of people who never open their bank statements, have no idea what their savings account interest rate is, and have more direct debits than they can keep track of, you might benefit from a financial MOT. A few hours spent scouting around for a better interest rate could net you a nifty sum in the long run, as could shopping around for a better credit card or overdraft deal.
However, the real money spinner is in taking a look at your direct debits and standing orders. Consumers waste around £5 billion a year on forgotten direct debits according to The Debt Advisor, which include things like unused gym memberships, warranties for white goods no longer owned and unnecessary insurance. Yep, spending your bank holiday trawling through old bank statements is not the most exciting way to use your day off, but look at it this way: if your unused gym membership costs £35 a month, a warranty for a fridge you no longer possess costs £7 a month and a superfluous gadget insurance policy costs £10 a month, that’s over fifty quid back in your pocket instantly – every month!
Of course, bank holidays are traditionally known for DIY and household repairs. Don’t feel too bad if you get roped into this, as you’re still doing your bank balance a favour. A well-maintained home is less likely to present expensive problems down the line, and will give you a better return should you decide to up sticks. Ditto your motor. Spending the afternoon giving it a clean, checking that the tyres are properly inflated and that the engine levels are topped up will help keep it going for longer and also improve its fuel economy, which means more pennies in your pocket for that well-earned takeaway in front of trashy daytime TV.