The best and worst ways to make extra money as a student in London


If you’re making your home in London as a student, you’re probably inundated with fantastic opportunities to spend your money!

But dealing with the high cost of living here, and the essentials for student living, means that your funds might be stretched far too thinly.

While you’re here you want to be able to achieve that blend of living like a local but doing everything a tourist would want to do. Although the COVID-19 outbreak has limited what we can do around the city, you might still want to enjoy socially distanced activities, like a drive-in cinema or visiting a pub beer garden in the sun.

All of this means that you are going to need to supplement your student loans and savings with an extra source of income. When you start searching, you’ll find lots of different options – but not all of them are suitable for students, nor are they a good use of your time (nor very safe).

Luckily, we’ve done the research for you to give you five great ways to make extra money to support your student days in this amazing city. They aren’t the usual bar work or catering jobs either, where you struggle to fit in your studies alongside the demands of the restaurant or bar. And we give you some helpful advice on what to avoid!

Five great ways for students in London to make money…

The best ways to make money involve minimal effort for maximum return. As a student, that means taking advantage of your unique position – part of a university community, with availability in the daytime and a desire to immerse yourself in the city experience. Here are our top tips to use your time wisely throughout the academic year – why not set yourself up for all five?

1. Sell your textbooks and notes

Get organised! Those heavy and expensive textbooks from last year are still in demand with the new set of students and, what’s more, the COVID crisis has seen online book sales soar as people are reluctant to visit book shops in person. So, get onto a site like WeBuyBooks well in advance of the new term or put them on eBay and your local Uni selling pages. And when you’ve worked hard on your study notes, why not have them work hard for you in return by selling them on Notesale or Stuvia. You can do that at any point in your course – there will always be someone that has missed a lecture and is willing to pay for a good catch-up option!

2. Hunt for bargains and set up an eBay store

London is full of charity shops, and most of them have great websites just waiting for you to explore. Whether your preference is for vintage, labels or classic quality, be patient. You will find what you are looking for! Work hard to display your finds in well-lit pictures with fully detailed descriptions, and you will inevitably find an eBay shopper that wants to snap up your bargains.

3. Make the most of your festival experience

The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in the postponement or cancellation of many of the festivals which the UK is famous for. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for when the festival season gets going again in the future — and make a little extra money in the process.

Wherever takes your fancy – Glastonbury, Hyde Park, Notting Hill Carnival – once you’ve secured your tickets and travel for the rescheduled date, start earning back the costs. Stock up on things that festival goers typically forget to take: a waterproof coat, rubber boots, sun cream, to name just a few – you’ll find all of these items cheap online. Then sell them for a profit at the event. Just don’t get too greedy, or you’ll end up with stock left – a pound in profit for every pound invested is good enough!

4. Become a dog walker

If you’re an animal lover and miss your furry friends at home, dog walking is a fantastic option. Advertise your service locally and demonstrate that you are reliable and trustworthy by creating a web page, complete with a few recommendations. It’s also a great way to keep fit while getting paid to do so – perfect!

5. Sign up for university tests

If you’re happy to put yourself forward for experiments, then the psychology and medicine departments at your university usually have a list of paid options. Don’t worry, dangers to your health will be minimal– all universities are obliged to follow strict COVID-19 measures –  and you have the option to opt-out of anything that makes you uncomfortable.

And the money-making methods to avoid

You need to bear in mind that whatever you do to make money must come in a distant second to the time you spend on your studies. In fact, anything more than 20 hours of additional work a week is going to have a detrimental impact on your results. The following all demand significant amounts of time, with little return – and some come with a high risk.

1. Attempting betting strategies and gambling in general

You might have read blogs about the Martingale betting strategy as a way to make money (also known as roulette double-up strategy). But there is no way you can win long-term using this technique – or indeed, with any kind of gambling, like playing slots or betting on one of UK lotteries. And for students, who often have a lot of debt to manage anyway, you could be getting yourself in deeper trouble to fund your gambling. If you do find yourself experiencing difficulties with gambling, get in touch with one of the charities that support problem gamblers in the UK.

2. Leafletting

Any number of central London stores will advertise short-term work giving out leaflets or holding signs. Be warned: the pay is usually terrible, the work is boring, the conditions may not be great if it’s hot or wet – and you’re putting yourself at unnecessary risk by coming into contact with many people at a time of high COVID risk. Don’t be tempted!

3. TV or film extra

It might seem exciting to be asked to be an extra in a movie in London. It may appear to be an easy way to bring in some extra cash. You might even want to sign up to one of the casting agency websites. Feel free to do it once, for the experience – but don’t expect to be able to make real money doing it on a regular basis: many production companies have scaled back their operations, so it could be difficult to find ongoing work.

There’s nothing more important than doing well in your studies whilst you’re in London. But it’s undeniable that no-one comes to study just to stay in their student accommodation and miss the experience of the city. So, if you’re prepared to work hard and play hard, there are lots of options for you to fund your travels – and get to see another side of London whilst you’re doing it. Remember to keep to under 20 additional hours per week, and stay safe – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!