How to Boost Your ISA by up to £250!

How to Boost Your ISA by up to £250!

At the time of writing there is just over a week to the end of the 2016/17 ISA season. That is all the time you have left to make use of this year’s allowance of £15,240 before it is gone forever.

If you haven’t already used your allowance – and you have money available to invest, of course – it is therefore essential to take action now. Investing via an ISA means that any profits you make will be free of UK Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax. And you won’t even have to declare it on your tax return, which if you’re anything like me will be a welcome simplification…

You can of course put your money into a cash ISA, but the rates of return on such accounts are currently derisory, and basic rate taxpayers now have a £1000 tax-free savings allowance anyway. The argument for investing in a cash ISA is therefore weak for most people, although if you think interest rates are likely to rise significantly in future there might still be a case for using one. Count me out, though 🙂

That leaves stocks and shares ISAs (and the new IFISAs, if you can find one). For most people this is likely to be the favoured choice at the moment. So in this post I wanted to reveal a way you can get a cash boost of up to £250 if you plan to invest in one of these.

The method in question is to use a cashback platform such as Top Cashback or Quidco. I wrote about cashback platforms in this blog post a while ago. Basically, the platforms rebate the commission they receive from ‘introducing’ you to a company if you click via a link on the platform. Obviously, you need to sign up for an account with the cashback platform itself before doing this. I highly recommend signing up with both Quidco and Top Cashback, even if you aren’t planning to invest in an ISA currently.

So What’s On Offer Right Now?

On Top Cashback one of the best offers comes from Fidelity. If you put £5000 or more into their Stocks and Shares ISA, you can get £105 cashback. You have to be a new customer and remain invested for a minimum of three months to get the cashback.

If you invest in a Shepherds Friendly Stocks and Shares ISA, an even more generous £126 cashback is on offer for a minimum £5000 investment. And you can earn as much as £210 if you set up monthly deposits instead, though to get the full amount you must put in £900 a month or more. Again, you must remain invested for a minimum of three months to receive the cashback.

Another offer on Top Cashback that’s well worth a look comes from the investment platform Nutmeg. They are currently offering a generous £200 cashback to anyone investing a lump sum of £5000 or more or an initial investment of £500 and monthly payments of at least £100. You will need to move rapidly on this, though, as this offer ends today. I expect there will still be an offer available tomorrow but it probably won’t be as generous. I am, incidentally, a fan of Nutmeg myself, and will be writing about their investment service soon.

Over on Quidco there are also some great offers. With Scottish Friendly you can get up to £215 cashback when you invest in their My Moneybuilder ISA. To get the maximum you have to invest at least £1000 a month, though.

Nutmeg are also on Quidco. Their current offering is £150 with the same conditions as Top Cashback (see above). At present, then, Top Cashback offers slightly more cashback on Nutmeg than Quidco, but this can change by the day, so it’s important to check and compare both.

Finally, Shepherds Friendly are on Quidco too. Currently £150 cashback is on offer there for a minimum £5000 investment. And you can earn up to a chart-topping £250 if you set up monthly deposits, although to get the full amount you must invest £900 a month or more.

Obviously you shouldn’t invest in an ISA purely for the cashback on offer, but if you are thinking of doing so anyway it makes sense to do it through a cashback site and get the benefit of the extra money available.

Good luck, and if you have any comments or queries, please do leave them below.







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Earn a Sideline Income as a TV or Movie Extra

Earn a Sideline Income as a TV or Movie Extra

Today I’m featuring an opportunity that won’t make you rich, but can certainly generate a useful sideline or even full-time income, and provide a lot of fun into the bargain.

As an extra, you’ll make some money, get a chance to see how movies and TV shows are made, and even become immortalized on screen.

This is something I have personal experience of. At one time I belonged to an amateur theatre company, and through that got the chance to take part in various productions, including a fire safety video for British Gas (I played the good guy who got up and left his desk the moment the alarm went off). I also had a small role in a cult horror film. I was in two scenes, and in the second met a gory end at the hands of a deranged gardener!

In principle, almost anyone can become an extra, and that clearly includes older people as well as young. It will help if you live near a film or TV studio, or a popular location for filming. Many gigs are for a single day, but occasionally they can go on for a week or longer. Some extras in long-running TV serials continue to work on the show over a period of years.

You don’t need to have gone to stage school to be an extra, and you definitely don’t have to be ultra-attractive. Indeed, that can be a drawback. Extras are generally required for crowd scenes or to provide background, e.g. as the main actors hold a conversation in a bar. In most cases extras are expected to look average and normal (for whatever may be the setting), so they won’t distract viewers from the stars.

Depending on their appearance, extras may also be asked to stand in for the main actors, e.g. in long shots or (conversely) in certain close-ups. This type of work pays better than simply appearing in crowd scenes.

One thing you do need as an extra is stamina. The work can involve a lot of waiting around, sometimes in cramped, uncomfortable conditions, or in the open air exposed to the weather. You may be required to stand, sit, or repeat some motion for hours on end, until the director is finally satisfied with the shot. A typical working day is 10–12 hours, and on a music video it can be even longer.

How To Get Work

It’s possible to get work applying directly to TV and film production companies, but most people get into this business by joining a casting agency such as Universal Extras.

In common with other agencies, Universal Extras charges a registration fee, but this is quite modest. The cost in their case is £25.00 plus VAT for two years, or £30.00 plus VAT for four years. Full-time students can join for free, however.

Although anyone can register as a would-be extra, there are certain minimum requirements you must fulfil. Clearly you will need to have free time available during the week, so this opportunity is not suitable for those in full-time work. You will also need to be punctual and reliable. Flexibility is important too, as shoots can start very early and finish late. And you will need to be courteous and considerate to everyone involved in the production. Leading actors and actresses can get away with being prima donnas, extras can’t!

If all that sounds like you, you can fill in an application on the agency’s website. You will be asked to complete a profile questionnaire, including basic information such as height and weight and contact details. You will also be asked about any special skills or experience you may have, from horse-riding to fencing, piano-playing to juggling. Clearly if you have any such talents they may lead to additional work, but don’t claim skills you don’t have, as you WILL get found out!

The other thing you will be expected to provide is photos. As a minimum you will be asked for head-and-shoulders and full body shots. These are clearly very important, as they will be used by casting directors when choosing extras for their productions. It is therefore important that the quality is as high as possible, so it’s best to use a high-quality DSLR camera. Some agencies will not accept photos taken on mobile phones. And they definitely don’t want selfies!

Once you are registered with an agency they will keep your details (and photos) on file, and contact you when an opportunity matching your description comes in. You will then receive a call sheet from the production office and told when and where to report.

Universal Extras, mentioned above, is one of the best-known UK agencies, but there are of course others you can apply to as well. Three other possibilities are Studio Extras, Film Extras , and Star Now.

  • If you’re outside the UK, your best bet is to search online for “film extras” plus the name of your country and/or nearest big city. In the US, by far the best-known agency is Central Casting, which has offices in New York, New Orleans and Los Angeles. You can find out more (and apply) via their website at

On the Day

Your call sheet will tell you what time to arrive on the shoot and whom you should report to (on a film set this will typically be the 2nd Assistant Director or extras captain). On day shoots a 7 am start is not unusual.

When you arrive you will meet your contact and be given your “chit” or “salary voucher”. You will be required to fill this in and keep it with you at all times, to ensure you are paid everything that is due to you.

Before filming begins, you will be shown to the rest area where you’ll stay when you’re not on set. This is a good place to relax, read a book and meet other extras before your shoot. A runner or Assistant Director (AD) will come and collect you when you are needed for a scene.

According to the type of production you are taking part in (fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, period drama, etc.) you may be required to visit various departments before filming starts, such as costume, make-up and/or weaponry.

Once on set for your scene you will normally be directed by an AD. They’ll tell you what they expect and give you an opportunity to rehearse before filming starts. Once they’re happy that you and your fellow extras are capable of doing what they want, rehearsing will stop and the main actors will be brought on.

Once everyone is on set and in place the AD will usually shout “Background Action!” This means that you start doing exactly what you have been rehearsing. “Action!” will then be shouted to give the main actors their cue to start.

At the end of the scene the director will call “Cut!” or just “Thanks, everyone!” to let you know that the scene and filming has ended. Don’t stop acting until you hear these words. More often than not the scene will be repeated several times until the director is happy with the outcome.

Here are a few more things to avoid while on set…

  • Rushing up and talking to the actors
  • Asking anyone for an autograph
  • Taking photos (cameras and mobile phones are normally banned on set)
  • Staring at the main actors
  • Staring into the camera

Remember that the actors are there to do a job, like you, so they need to avoid distractions.

At the end of filming a scene, you will be taken back to the rest area until you are needed again. You may be asked to take part in many shots such as close-ups, long shots and mid-shots.

At the end of the day do not leave until you have been signed out and completed the necessary paperwork to ensure you get paid. And don’t forget to return all props and costumes given to you!

What Does It Pay?

Rates of pay vary depending on the type of work, but they are governed by nationally negotiated agreements.

The Film Artistes Association (FAA), for example, stipulates a daily basic rate for extras of £84 for a nine-hour working day including an hour for lunch. That is clearly not a fortune, but the basic rate may be supplemented in various ways.

For example, if your role requires a change of clothes or a haircut, you will be entitled to an extra £12.50. If you get wet in a scene involving mock rain, there is a £19 additional payment. And if you have to fire a gun or say a word such as “Hi!” that entitles you to an extra £25 in your pay cheque.

You will be paid even if, for one reason or another, your services are not required on the day. In addition, cooked meals are normally provided free of charge, including breakfast for early calls. A common source of conversation among extras is the quality of the catering!

Earnings can also be boosted in some cases by a “buyout”. This is a one-off lump sum paid to extras in lieu of royalties. In a few cases royalties may still be paid, which means you get a further fee every time the film, TV show or advertisement is aired. Royalty deals for extras are not nearly as common as they used to be, however.

You will normally receive payment four to six weeks after the shoot. Extras are regarded as self-employed, so no deductions are made for tax and National Insurance. Assuming you are hired via an agency they will take their cut, however. This is typically 15 percent of earnings, and there may be VAT to pay on this as well.

Closing Thoughts

If you have never considered being a film or TV extra before, I hope in this post to have whetted your appetite. As I said at the start, you are unlikely to make a fortune this way, but you can get a lot of fun and satisfaction from it.

In my view this is also an excellent sideline for home-based entrepreneurs, who often lead a rather solitary life. Being an extra will not only boost your income, in my experience it is great for meeting new and interesting people, and getting away from the computer for a while!

A few extras have been “discovered” this way and gone on to become genuine stars in their own right, but the great majority simply enjoy the work and the extra money it brings in. You will also have the fun of seeing yourself in films or TV shows, and pointing out the scenes you are in to your awestruck (or not) family and friends.

And finally, if you’re too shy to appear in front of the camera yourself, you can still make good money by allowing your home to be used as a location.

It’s a wrap, then!



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12 reasons Matched Betting is a Great Sideline for Over Sixties!

12 Reasons Matched Betting is a Great Sideline for Over Sixties!

Pounds and Sense aims to cover financial matters from an over 60s perspective. So today I thought I’d talk about one of my favourite moneymaking sidelines (or side hustles in the modern parlance) matched betting, and why I believe it is ideally suited to people in our age group.

I spoke about matched betting in this post a few weeks ago. To recap, it is a way of making risk-free cash by taking advantage of bookmaker special offers and promotions.

I have been matched betting on and off since last September and my total earnings to date stand at around £2000. I know for a fact that there are people making this amount every month using this method!

Here then are 12 reasons why I believe matched betting is something anyone in our age group should at least look into…

1. Older people typically have some time available during the day (as well as evenings and weekends). This is ideal for matched betting, as to take advantage of some opportunities you need to be around during the daytime.

2. Matched betting is tax-free, as it is regarded as a form of gambling (although done properly it isn’t). It won’t therefore generate any additional tax liability for you, or affect your eligibility for means-tested benefits.

3. Matched betting income cannot be taken into account by banks or building societies if you are applying for a mortgage. That can be a problem for younger people, but it won’t typically worry older folk.

4. Most older people are careful with their money and avoid taking needless risks with it. Other things being equal, they are less likely to be tempted from matched betting into gambling. Of course, if you have ever had a gambling problem in the past, it is probably best to avoid this particular activity.

5. Most older people have at least some savings. That is important, as you do need a small amount of capital to start matched betting. This money is not actually at risk, but it is needed to do the offers, and you can withdraw it at any time. If you have no savings at all, however, matched betting will be difficult for you.

6. Online bookmakers typically perform credit checks before allowing you to open an account. As an older person you are likely to have a long credit record, which will reassure them. Younger people sometimes find themselves being asked to jump through various additional hoops before they can open an account.

7. Also, my experience is that bookmakers tend to be less suspicious of older punters. If you are over 60 you will probably not fit the normal profile for someone doing this. That means you are less likely to have your account restricted (or gubbed, as we say) if they suspect you are matched betting. Matched betting is not illegal, incidentally, but bookmakers don’t really like it. They much prefer ‘mug punters’ who bet recreationally and lose money steadily to them!

8. Hopefully as an older person you will have a degree of financial security. That means you won’t be totally stressed out over potentially losing a pound or two if you make a mistake. That’s important, as you need to be focused and relaxed when matched betting. It’s not rocket science, but it does require care and concentration.

9. And likewise, if you will excuse a further generalization, as an older person you will likely be punctilious about following the instructions from matched betting services (if you belong to one). And neither are you likely to be tempted to go ‘off piste’, at least until you have gained more experience.

10. As an older person, you will probably be accustomed to keeping financial records. This again is essential for a matched bettor, to keep track of your profits and where they currently are.

11. You don’t have to do matched betting every day. If you have family commitments, part-time or temporary jobs, holidays, medical procedures or just want to take a break from it for a while, it’s very easy to put it on hold and come back later.

12. And finally,  matched betting is a great (and enjoyable) way of keeping your brain active, with the bonus that you are making money as well 🙂

Getting Started

So how do you get started as a matched bettor? Unless you are already an experienced punter with a good understanding of the mathematics involved, I highly recommend joining a matched betting advisory service. They set out everything you need to know with step-by-step instructions, and also provide software tools with advice on how to use them. You can sign up and use these services even if you have never placed a bet in your life before.

The service I use myself and recommend for beginners is Profit Accumulator. This is a dedicated matched betting advisory service. You can join free initially and they will provide details of two offers you can take advantage of straight away. These should make you around £45 in net profit. If you wish to proceed further, you can then pay to become a Platinum member and get access to their full range of offers and services.

A further advantage of joining Profit Accumulator is that you get access to the members-only forum, where you can get any questions you may have answered by more experienced members and/or the team behind PA.

I will be covering other aspects of matched betting in future posts, so please do sign up in the right-hand column to be notified when the blog is updated (you can also follow PAS on social media and Bloglovin). And if you think matched betting may be for you, do click through to the Profit Accumulator website to see what they offer and sign up for the free trial.

As ever, if you have any questions or comments about matched betting or Profit Accumulator, please do post them below.



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