Mid-month update: side income

I thought it would be a good idea to start providing a regular update on how we are doing with regards to side income.

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Side income is not a priority for us in our debt pay-off plan. As a dual-income, one-kid family we make substantial income from our full-time jobs, so our main focus since starting this blog in April has been to cut costs and live as frugal a lifestyle as we can to take advantage of the moderately high salaries that we both make. We have been successful at this so far and our savings strategy is focused on keeping costs low. However, we also have a monthly goal (set in May) of making £50 in side income each month.

So, how are we doing? Since this is my first time writing a post specifically about side income, I am going to keep things simple and list all side income to date since starting this blog in April 2017. Each time I do an update I will add the next period’s side income to the previous update so that eventually, over time, I will have a cumulative total of all side income since the blog began.

Finally, for reference, side income will include: active income (paid in cash or gift cards) over and above our full-time jobs and will exclude: refunds for returned goods, passive investment income, capital gains, tax rebates, government benefits and reimbursement of expenses, such as work travel claims.

Here is our side-income since April 2017: Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 20.26.12

These aren’t particularly impressive figures, but of the income figures detailed above, £188.75 of it was made in June, so we are well above our goal of £50 for this month.

Our main side income continues to be from matched betting, but as I wrote previously, it is not a long-term sustainable income stream. The polling clerk job was a fantastic experience working a village polling station for the UK general snap election. Unfortunately, elections are only once a year, so I will not be able to rely on this income either. And the Swagbucks gift card income* has been a nice addition, but includes a few introductory bonuses, so may be difficult to sustain at this level.

I would like to think we could improve on the £50 per month goal, but with university classes starting again for me in a couple weeks, I will be time-poor so I am not going to increase our target just yet.

Over time, however, I would like to look at diversifying our side income streams. Some ideas I have are: selling items on eBay, earning affiliate / other blog income, making items and selling them on Etsy (no idea what yet!), and mystery shopping.

Oh and before I go, I have decided to link this post up in the Money Making Madness Linky hosted by Charlotte Burns from Lotty Earns, Emma Bradley from Mum’s Savvy Savings, Emma Drew from EmmaDrew.Info and Lynn from Mrs Mummy Penny.

*This Swagbucks link is a referral link which means if you sign up to Swagbucks through this link I would get a referral bonus at no cost to you. I will only ever link to things I have used and love. Thank you for the support.

Matched betting: playing the short-game?

Carpe

I stumbled across matched betting six months ago after reading about it on a few personal finance blogs. Matched betting is a lucrative and tax-free side-hustle available in the UK that uses gambling bonuses and a system of buying and selling (or laying) bets online to lock-in guaranteed profits. After researching the opportunity I decided to try it  despite not  having much spare time  (full-time job + part-time MBA + volunteering + husband + son + dogs = no spare time!). But the draw to tax-free side income was too strong to resist and I dived straight in.

I am glad that I did. At the time of writing this post I am exactly £2,196.09 better off than I was 6 months ago. That amount of income tax-free is incredible. However, my monthly profits have taken a completely nose-dive since February and I am currently facing a net loss for the month of May. Have a look at my profits since starting in December 2016: Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 20.45.14The reason for the poor performance in April and May are the result of being short of time, getting restricted by a few key gambling websites, and making three careless mistakes.

Matched betting is normally sold to people as being a long-term income stream for those who put in the time. I agree with this and there are profits to be made, but I also think that matched betting has an expiry date for those with a busy life.   Even for those with the time, there are diminishing returns. People that make £2,000 per month every month will be putting in 30 to 40 hours per week on gambling sites. They will also  have thousands of pounds pumping through a range of gambling accounts at any given time.  I have deposited £8,662 into gambling websites so far and currently have £1,042 currently sitting in gambling ‘wallets’ online.

Matched betting is not a side-hustle to approach lightly. I have made 3 mistakes over the past few weeks, which resulted in around £200 of losses. I was able to cope with this level of losses easily, but if larger stakes were at play, my losses could have easily been much higher than this.

If you are thinking of dabbling in matched betting, I have a few tips to pass on from what I have learned in my first 6 months:

  • Keep your expectations in check: the first £1,000 will be easy but each £10 after that will be harder as diminishing returns kick in.  This makes matched betting a short-term side-hustle in my view.
  • To make a decent return, you will need to join a matched betting site that has matching software available. There are two main sites in the UK. I personally use Oddsmonkey and think they are great, but it costs £15 per month. (Please note: I am not affiliated with this company).
  • Expect to make some mistakes and only risk what you would be comfortable to lose. Keep your stakes low to start and only increase them once you have learned your way around the gambling sites and the matched betting forums.
  • There are many different types of offers available on the forums that are not risk-free because once your first £1,000 or so is made, you will need to branch out to casino offers, bingo offers, etc. Make sure you understand which offers are risk-free and which are not before you start them.
  • You will need to commit time to get the most out of the offers. In particular, Saturday mornings are a busy time for matched betters because it is when the horse offers are available. If you are busy every Saturday morning, you will need to lower your expectations of what you will be able to make.
  • Use a separate bank account for your matching betting activities to keep it separate from your main account. You will also need a set amount of investment to start with. I recommend starting with £500 (£200 in an exchange account and £300 to spread amounts the bookies).
  • Do not chase losses. You will lose some money once you branch out into offers that are not risk-free. If you lose £5, you will be tempted to keep going to try and make this £5 back. Do not do this. If you lose £5, walk away and move onto the next offer.

I am very glad to have tried matched betting and I am thinking about how best to invest the money I have made. It has absolutely been worth the time, at least for the first four months when I made decent profits. However, I would warn that unless you have the time and are open to branching into risky offers with increased stakes, matched betting is a case of playing the short-game.