Wallet feeling the mid-January blues? Nine ways to survive until payday

From giving blood to nixers, there are ways to survive the financially toughest month of the year

‘By the time mid-January rolls around, it’s not unusual for our finances to be teetering close to peril.’

January always feels like a threadbare month, not least in comparison with the excess and bombast of December. Yet by the time mid-January rolls around, it’s not unusual for our finances to be teetering close to peril. Here’s how to get some quick quids together to survive the longest month of the year, in the week that it really, really starts to hurt.

1. Get fit for free

The slew of January adverts might hint that pricey gym memberships and gizmos are the best way to wellness, but it can all be done for the princely sum of zero.

It's thought that about 82 per cent of folks who make New Year resolutions have fallen off the wagon by the end of January, so a new gym membership is money frittered away for many. A whole host of free smartphone apps (including 5k Runner, MyFitnessPal, Ease Into 5k, Ab Workout) should see the newly motivated on the right track without the need to buy any equipment. YouTube is also a treasure trove of free, full-length workout videos (we particularly like Fitness Blender's channel).

2. Go on eBay

There has to be some manner of dodgy Christmas present you picked up a few weeks ago that you'd gladly part with for a fee – if there isn't, you're either easily pleased or lying. A tip for new eBaysellers: wait until the site has a "no insertion fees" weekend before listing items, as it means you can list them for free. Also, the site is busiest and gets the most traffic on Sunday evenings; be sure to list your item – along with a nice photo of it and concise description – for seven days on a Sunday (that way you get two weekends' worth of traffic).


3. Try bartering

First things first: pinpoint your particular skill. Can you offer to look after someone’s social networking accounts in exchange for a service like personal training or bookkeeping? Can you offer babysitting/dogsitting duty in return for a beauty treatment or haircut? Through websites like www.swapright.com it’s possible to trade and barter services with others in your area.

4. Go to the blood bank

If your bank balance has officially dipped below zero ahead of payday, a visit to the blood bank on D’Olier Street at lunchtime might get you over the line. There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but for the grand ransom of a pint of blood, you will be given juice, crisps, biscuits and tea to ensure that your blood sugars don’t dip dramatically after a donation.

5. Sign up to Airbnb Experiences

Thanks to Airbnb's latest feature, tourists pay good money to be shown the sights by a local in the know. There are consequently a whole host of areas of expertise that can make you money, from crafts and music to food and comedy.

The Photograph Dublin City tour, for instance, is €97 per person, which amounts to nice pocket change after Airbnb takes its modest fee.

Kat Ryan and her partner Kevin run the Crafty Connoisseur Beer Walking Tour of Dublin, as well as a Brewing Beer and Pub Grub tour, via the site.

“It’s quite a long application process, but once I got accepted, Airbnb rang us to say they were really interested in the tour,” says Kat. In the summer, the pair can do about two tours a week. “If we take 10 people on tour, we might make a couple of hundred euro,’ she explains.

“I think, generally, you have to be personable, but people are looking for an experience they wouldn’t normally have. If I were giving advice, I’d tell people to think about where their passions and area of expertise lies.”

For more information see airbnb.ie/s/Ireland/experiences.

6. Try your hand in the gig economy

Booterstown native Mark Manning has made a lucrative living out of voiceover work, and now voices everything from RTÉ documentaries and e-learning materials to audiobooks.

His work is mainly online, and he cites Fiverr as a particularly lucrative outlet for those willing to put the time in to build their business there.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say I’m making a living out of it,” he says. “At the very least, it pays the bills. On Fiverr, and similar sites like Fivesquid . . . everyone from designers and translators to SEO experts ply their trade and offer nixers.”

Manning has also found that his Irish accent is a boon for booking work on American voiceover sites like Voices.com and Voice123.com.

“The great thing is that if you do a great job, people will use you again and again,” he says. “It’s all about how cleverly you work the system – more often than not before 10am, I’ll have made four or five times the hourly wage.”

7. Switch service providers

According to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission – the State body set up to enforce consumer protection – the savings from switching mobile-phone operator are among the highest you can make from your household bills. In fact, some experts say that you can save about €300 a year if you switch from a pricey contract to a better deal with another operator.

The same goes for gas, electricity, broadband and insurance providers. Switcher.ie has all the bargains, and if you do find a cheaper alternative, will help to take the sting out of moving.

8. Rent your car-park space

If you live in Dublin and have a car-park space that you never use, you could well be parked on a small goldmine. Secure parking spaces in prime locations – such as the Georgian squares in Dublin 2 or 6 – are attracting rents of €250-€300 per month, while even suburban parking slots close to the Luas or Dart can be nice little earners.

Parking spaces in apartment developments in the inner suburbs are attracting rents of €120-€150. Farther out, spaces on the northside of the city cost from €75-€120 and southside spaces can achieve €80-€120. Car-parking spaces are advertised on daft.ie and donedeal.ie, but Parkpnp is, along similar lines as Airbnb, a site that connects car-park space owners with potential renters.

9. Rent your house out (for the day)

According to locations manager Mick Swan, who sources locations for commercials, there is ongoing demand for all kinds of houses for shoots.

"It's a day's work, two at the most," he explains. "The fee depends on the type of house being used. A small farmhouse in the country won't make as much as a fabulous house in, say, Killiney. "

People can expect to make up to €1,500 per day of shooting, plus a day of prep (a more realistic fee is €1,000, though Swan stresses that every project and budget is different).

“We often make minor cosmetic changes to the room(s) we film in: change pictures on walls, swap out furniture, sometimes we even request to paint walls. What is important is that all changes are requested and agreed with the houseowner in advance and the house is left exactly as we find it,” he says.

“There’s often a large crew on site on filming day – a minimum of 40 people, but it could be 80 people for a feature film – and so the house has to be accessible to a lot of trucks. It’s not unusual for a crew to be there until 11 or 12 at night. We pay well, but we expect a lot of flexibility in return.”

For contact details for Mick Swan and other locations managers see locationsguildofireland.com