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Interest Beater Challenge - it works like magic!

Interest Beater Challenge

I was having a browse through some of our old challenges and came across this from 2009, back in the good old days of actually being able to earn some interest on savings and ISAs!

Back then we made ourselves papier-mâché banks for saving all the extras and we played a game of 'billy cans', which is what I considered repeating here this year. But then I paused for thought and began wondering if I could make it even more fun by combining several of the old challenges into one super duper new money challenge.

If you weren't following the frugaldom path that long ago, fear not! We all need to start somewhere and this might just be where you decide to join us.

This is a very simple challenge based on the premise of having spare cash in the bank ready to be used in any emergency. While it is there, it earns interest and that is like free money, assuming you aren't paying to have the bank account. But many followers of the frugaldom way of life have a fortune in the bank - many have debt and those who do have savings are following out lifestyle because they cannot afford to risk spending all those savings. You don't need to be skint to be poor, remember! There are multi-millionaires going bankrupt all the time simply because they cannot calculate simple arithmetic when both stakes and risks are high.

Let's imagine that we are all debt-free and have managed to save and fill an ISA. At the moment, the Government allows us to save a maximum of £5,760 and for that we are paid the full interest rate without paying any tax. (Chances are, we'll have already paid tax of some description on the savings beforehand but that's besides the point!) It would be nice to have that free money at the end of the saving year. For us, it could pay a full year's worth of something or take us out for a meal, a day trip, even a short break vacation.

It's such a shame that we don't all have instant access to £5,760 and that we must lose out on that free £86.40 (This is based on the best interest rate I could find for an instant access ISA right now - it equates to 1.5%)

We don't need to miss out on it!

Just because we don't have cash in the bank shouldn't mean we don't deserve to earn ourselves some free money, should it? In fact, for every penny over £84.40 that we earn, we have beaten the current top rate of interest earned by those who do have the cash in the bank! How funny is that?

How long will it take to earn that amount from nothing, do you think?  More importantly, how difficult can it possibly be?

Let's all find out!

Getting started making the money


Create your magical moneymaker

I'll be posting my step-by-step guide to help get your creative juices flowing as you put together your very own magic box of tricks that can help you raise some extra funds throughout the coming year while saving even more.

It's fun, it's frugal, it's free to take part and, most of all, it's something your can happily share with friends and family so you can help one another along the path to ultimate frugaldom and debt-freedom.

Bookmark this thread and join us on the voyage towards discovering your affinity for finding 'cyberdosh'! You know the stuff; it's that virtual cash we're all about to start stirring up in our little cardboard cauldrons of joy!

No cash needed - this little frugaleur seminar is completely free to join and suitable for all ages.


This is a Serious Money Challenge, despite how it may look in the beginning. It is adapted from NYK's original 'Billy Can' plan combined with a little extra 'magic' we first cooked up in 2007. Hopefully, this will prove to be a winning combination that will enable you to earn a little extra while saving more than you ever before thought possible.

What, exactly, is the Billy Can Plan?

Billy's real name is William, otherwise known as Will Power, I just call him Billy Can for simply, obvious reasons.

Will Power is a friend to us all, especially Frugalites, but if you upset him he can stomp off in the huff and leave us high and dry not knowing what to do! I don't invoke him half as often as I should.

I called upon him in December 2007, told him I was stopping smoking and that it was up to him to make sure that I stuck to it. He explained that, over the coming year, I would save £468.48 and, sure to his word, he stuck around to make sure that I didn't stray from the plan.

In the past, Billy has helped me out with all sorts of things, mostly to do with finances. Sadly, some people don't even believe he exists, despite him being there for us to call upon at all times, day or night.

Allow me to prove he is real, but be warned, you may feel a bit silly to begin with, because he's a bit of a practical joker!  



Save the next empty tin you see or use. It doesn't matter what was in it, although Billy reckons that most people settle for baked beans, spaghetti or tinned tomatoes. :confused: Wash it out, remove the food label, dry it and then get a piece of paper to make a new label. On this, you should write his name - in BIG BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS - BILLY!

You now have your billy can! This is my original Billy Can from 2007 and no matter how often I have thought, 'Billy can't', he has come through every crisis between then and now without as much as a scratch or dent.

Click to see full size image

Now let's see what Billy can do - bring on stage 2 of this challenge!

It will be a cat food tin in this house, Frugaldom but, as I seem to be lacking in the, Will Power, dept maybe I need to be fishing out the extra large ex tomato puree can that I usually keep for melting candle ends........


Best start small, Catsister, we don't want your will power rattling about in there and feeling lonely. I'm going to bling my tin this year, turn it into the Faberge of frugal and use it a decorative piece for all to see! No more of this hiding it away and using it as a pencil holder carry-on! I know it works, it has saved and earned me a small fortune over the years.

I'm in :)

Okay, I have my Billy, n tomorrow I'll decorate him.

I'm excited!!  

Small things n all that


And with a son like mine I need all the Mr Will Power I can get !


To start the week off on a positive note, decoration of the Billy Cans shall officially begin tomorrow, Monday 13th January 2014.

Join the frugal fun! Let's bring some bling to this challenge.

Let's Bling up our Billy Cans!


Bling up your Billy Can

I have looked out my basket of buttons, beads, baubles and bling. It's made up of anything that looks interesting that comes my way, so here goes for making the frugaldom version of the Faberge nest egg!

Glue at the ready! I may even give mine eyes, so it can watch my savings grow.

Click to see full size image

Just now, I am recycling a couple of the Christmas cards by cutting the designs into embellishments.

I will have to bling my Billy can tomorrow lets hope Mr William Power will help me
Mr WP just emptied a tin of beans so Billy on standby.


Lol. We.  

I'm looking forward to this challenge!


OTT Sparkly bling!

What can I say?

I went totally over the top with my fab, frugal, Faberge-esque, jewel encrusted Billy Can! In fact, it's so beyond anything you could possibly have imagined, especially when compared to the old one, that it can mean only one thing...

I am going to save my way to riches beyond my wildest dreams!

What do you think of this for a bit of shiny object-ness? The new, luxury edition of our original bargain basics and it cost me nothing to make it.

Dare I mention that it isn't finished yet? There's still space on there for any other tiny beads or jewels I find along the way.

Next up is our magic box of money tricks.

For this part of the challenge, we need a box that's big enough to store our billy can along with several other little bits and pieces, like our note books, pens, vouchers, receipts and, of course, anything we happen to acquire while on our next epic frugal journey - our quest to beat the interest rates and earn ourselves some interest on money that we don't even have!

What's next?


In order to keep track of all this extra cash we're going to be saving or earning for free, we need to be prepared, so...  fetch your note books, frugalers.

I have a special note book that I've had for the past several years and, every January, I write a list of what I would like to accomplish over the coming year and include photos or leaflets, even just a tiny scrap of a reminder to what I'm aiming for over the year. These reminders can be added in at any time.

Every December, I open the book to see what progress has been made.

I'm sure some of you will remember my original note book - I got it for Christmas 2007 and am still adding to it by way of notes, photos and print outs of things I'm aiming to achieve. It does look a bit like a spell book, but I can assure you I am not here cooking up toads' tongues and eyes of newts, nor do I chant or dance around my cauldron when cooking the dinner! I love the book - it was a gift that keeps on giving, as far as my frugaling is concerned.

Click to see full size image

You do not need a fancy cover on your note books, but I was recently reminded of why we used to decorate and personalise them. Feel free to design your own by recycling some bits and pieces. As an example of how simple these can be, here's a design I did at Christmas: I call it the 'cash cow' notebook cover.

Click to see full size image


Now I'm totally intrigued!

Just going to nip over to other threads, then off to find my box, notebook, pens ......


The Magic Box of Tricks



Now to get to the serious part - we do need a box for keeping all this 'stuff' in, so nothing gets lost, so we are looking for a shoebox or something of similar size. I think I make have a gift box left over from a couple of Christmases ago... off to look.

Edited in - Found the box exactly where I thought it might be - how lucky was that? Going to cut out more Christmas card 'bits' and 'bling my box' now, although it is a rather pretty box to begin with, just got a few dents and scrapes in it, but it is a couple of years old, at least.

Click to see full size image

Edited in - Didn't do too much to the box but I know grand daughter will love t and may well develop a liking for moneysaving, recycling and saving extra pocket money when she sees this lot. In fact I think she'll want to make her very own, which would be great, as these little money games are great for all ages. I cut out one word from a card wishing us a Magical Christmas and added a big crystal button that was in among my stash.

Click to see full size image

Now you have your box in which to keep your billy can, note book, pen or pencil and anything else that happens to help you along the way to generating interest on savings that you don't actually have.  

Seeing as you'll have 'Will Power' shut in the box with no escape and always there when you need it, you might also like to corner your mojo and keep it in there, too, so it can't get lost.

What's a frugal MoJo?


Capture your mojo and place it safely within the confines of your box of magic tracks so there's no risk of losing it. We all know what a mojo is, right? But what is a frugal mojo?

In frugaldom speak, a MoJo is a Money Journey that takes us on mystery tours, quests and adventures, mostly in search of our own interpretation of a good life.

This is the final step in our preparations for this fantastic challenge - we simply need a little bag in which to keep out MoJo so we can call upon it whenever we need to get creative with out budgets. The budget, after all, is our treasure map.

I love these challenges, I love looking back over them and seeing the story of my life, a story that can be shared with anyone or shared with no one.

Throughout our lives, we each play our parts in an amazing, never-ending story, one that can be changed in an instant, new characters introduced, new plots and plans drawn up and new ideas, places and lifestyles explored. It isn't about money - it's about making the most of your money journey, with or without cash in the bank.

Click to see full size image

I have a little velvet gift bag that's perfect for this job, I just need to personalise it. (Silly as it may seem at the moment, they really do work, serving to remind you exactly where to find your MoJo.)

The first part of our epic journey is about to begin. I haven't a clue what we'll encounter along the way, but be prepared to do battle.

Every penny counts. Pop 1p into your MoJo bag before you close it in your magic moneybox.

Time to begin...

Check list

Have you got your Billy Can, aka Mr William Power?

Have you got a notebook and pen or pencil?

Have you got a box for keeping these things safe?

Have you popped a penny into your MoJo bag? (It's best if this is a lucky penny, but any penny that makes it into the bag is a lucky penny, in my book.


You now have only £86.40 to conjure up in order to succeed with this challenge.

This sounds interesting, I'm in. I use a former tomato can and have already personalized my Billy.  I used old Christmas paper to decorate the box (blue + gold). Mojo bag is in place as well.

Let the fun begin :)

Well done, Christine! Have you placed a lucky penny into your bag to ensure it never runs empty?

If anyone has photos, feel free to upload them for this challenge.

Now it is time to start practising a little money magic to prove to yourself that it can be done. The primary aim is to raise the equivalent amount of interest you would receive from the bank if you had £5,760 set aside for a year in a tax-free savings account, such as a cash ISA, but with instant access in case it's needed in an emergency. With current best rates for these types of accounts being a mere 1.5%, it is making this challenge much easier for us this year. In 2008, when I first introduced the frugal Billy Can plan and Interest Beater challenges, interest rates were 6.5% on the equivalent accounts.

So here goes... in order to beat the interest (hence the title, 'Interest Beater') we need to raise over £86.40, so that's the figure you are looking at conjuring up, because we already have our lucky penny in the bag. Everything counts, whether it's in vouchers or actual cash.


To start me off this year, I have registered to use Nectar's updated toolbar and also for their Adpoints campaign. With these, I can earn up to 100 points per month for searches and up to 250 per week for Ads viewing. It may not sound a great deal and I don't know how feasible it is, yet, especially as the Nectar people are having problems with their new toolbar, but it could amount to an extra £5 per month towards the 'free money' goal.

Instead of binning something, get creative and try turning it into something sellable.

If you are thinking of buying something, look at the costs, allocate your 'best price' budget (the price you are prepared to pay for the item) and then look at ways of making even more savings:

Ask friends, family or colleagues id they have the item for you to borrow
Make the equivalent
Settle for second-hand
Check Freecycle, Freegle, swaps/sales/freebies boards

If you are using this challenge to test your own will power, such as quitting a bad habit and banking the money you save from not spending on it, then there is a simple test you can take whenever you feel the need... continues in next post

Test your Will Power

Time to put it to the test

Time to disclose the big 'test' of Will Power, for those of you who aren't familiar with it. Bite the bullet and test your own Will Power.

Call me daft, if you must, but my Billy Can is for more than just chucking a few notes and spare change into, he actually tests my will power. I confess to only having done this once, back in 2007, but once was enough to prove to me that I can take whichever money journey I want in life.

Make sure you know your budget and take a look at where you spend on unnecessary items. (Mine was cigarettes). If you smoke, drink, indulge in fast food, takeaways or dining out, spend on the gym without actually attending regularly... you get the picture, it makes it easy to see where your money goes.

Look at everything you buy that isn't absolutely 100% essential and look at what you throw in the bin, be it something that could be recycled or leftover food... the more you look, the more you will see the potential for making saving or generating cash from previously unknown sources. The phrase 'money for old rope' originates from somewhere, doesn't it? Even old rope sells if you put some creative spin on it.

I'm sure we can all spot waste or unnecessary spending to the tune of £5 in value from somewhere.


Put a £5 note in your Billy Can for a full day... mine was from cigarettes, remember... then consider this... Could you burn it? Could you physically shred that £5 note and set it alight?

I AM NOT SUGGESTING YOU ACTUALLY DO THIS, just think about it... could you do it?

Burning money is the exact same as spending it on excess or throwing away something you have had to pay for - even packaging!

This is why your Billy Can must be a tin can... In 2007, I actually burned £5 and the feeling of seeing money go up in flames was enough to convince me that I had to quit smoking and save my money for better things.

Absolutely everything has a value if you have exchanged labour, goods or cash for it, so why throw it away when you could be saving so much.

Next time you are tempted to buy something that you really don't need, test your will power - fetch Billy from his box, pop the cash into the tin, make a note of it in your book and then take 24 hours to think long and hard about whether or not you are ready to burn that cash on 'whatever'. If, at the end of this exercise, you decide against spending the cash, mark the amount as saved and transfer it immediately to your savings. You can afford to do this because 24 hours ago you were prepared to spend it on something unnecessary... you have proven how strong your will power really can be.

Should you decide to spend the money after all, mark that in your book, as per my previous post, then see if you can find any other way of getting what you want and still making some savings... even if it's only a few pennies to add to your magic money book.

This is how you stir up a passion for power saving those pennies and transforming them into pounds. (Or Cents to Dollars, Euros etc.)

It becomes second nature soon after the first big shock!

All those times you think you deserve a treat, stop and think about it. In actual fact, the biggest and most important thing that you deserve, as a frugaler, is debt freedom and some money in the bank so you can enjoy your life, so why prolong the wait by continually wasting your money?

Hope this helps explain what this challenge is all about - even without thousands of pounds in the bank and surplus disposable income, there's nobody out there saying it's never going to happen.

Interest rates

As if by magic, the postman delivered me a letter from my ISA provider this morning - interest rates are being cut to a dreadful 0.95%  

The only plus point so far this week is that we also received a letter from Scottish Power saying the prices of electricity would be reduced slightly, so December's rise isn't as much as was previously expected. No savings to be made there, just means I can maybe be a degree warmer during the freezing months.

Scraping together extras

Having registered for Nectar tool bar and Adpoints, plus the bonus points these bring, I managed to scrape over the 1000 points today and have now transferred the first £5 in eBay vouchers to this challenge. It's a start and it's totally free money, so I now have the equivalent of £5.01 in this challenge, only £81.40 to earn and still nothing listed on eBid.

Is anyone having trouble with Nectar toolbar? I have installed/uninstalled/reinstalled this several times and still cannot get it to function properly.

I am sort of joining in with this challenge.  I don't have a Billy Can but I do have an account called 'Billy Can' on Microsoft Office.

So far I have £15 Next voucher, £10 Argos voucher, and 21p cash finds.  Total = £25.21.

The Next voucher will be used to buy clothes for the boys when needed and the Argos voucher is going towards DS2 birthday gift.

Stuff that I will use to add to this virtual Billy Can are: finds, vouchers earned through surveys, points from supermarkets, items sold, Cash Back plus anything else that comes up.

I have lots of bits and pieces 'pending' like cash back and supermarket points but will add them when I get them.  I have ordered new Boots and Nectar cards today and they have about £3 on between them.

Although I wont have the money at the end of the year I will have a record of the extra money that came in.  I may even pretend that one of the cats could get an ISA and earn two lots of interest, is that taking it too far? lol

Well done! :)

Nothing is too far-fetched in Frugaldom, Poppycat. At the end of the year we'll calculate how much money we'd need to have in the bank to have earned the equivalent in interest.

Based on the theory that our extra cash represents interest on fictional savings, I've got a full year's interest on £334.00 This means I've magically 'saved' a full month's worth of my £4,000 per year household budget.

And wow! Poppycat! Your voucher values equate to a year's interest on savings of £1,680.67, so that's a fabulous haul!

WOW - that's a lot of money I would need.  Really pleased with myself that I used Maths skills that I haven't used for ages to work out the sum needed.

Billy Can Savings x 100/1.5 = Savings needed.  I hope you don't mind me putting it here so I don't have to work it out again.

I have just found a savings account that pays 6%.  It's a children's account so I will check out the details.

The magic box

Look what mysteriously appeared in my mail box this morning!

Click to see full size image

It's a little 'lucky bag' of bits and pieces from a frugal-friend who was having a clear out and thought I could use these - googly eyes, feathers, pompoms and squeakers.
I am going to put them into my magic box with my billy can and then turn them into something (as soon as I get more of my own de-cluttering done) that might possibly sell and try to earn a few magic pennies that way.


I must try really hard to bring my billy can into action.
Something has to be done in the wren house to bring in more money and save what I have.....


My excuses

I should be writing down all the excuses I use for not getting things done and adding the notes to the billy can - so I can burn them out my life! I get so annoyed at starting out with great intentions then, before I know it, several hours have gone just updating online 'stuff' and none of it profitable.

This is a serious problem for me as I just can't equate time to money and, as a result, nobody else values my time in money terms either.

Now onto the Nectar Adpoints programme - I see now that it's not actually worth what I first thought! I'm only into my second week and have already run out of ads, so I'm nowhere near the maximum 250 points earned. I'm stuck at 195 with zero points showing available across the board. I did think it seems far too easy to gather an extra 13,000 points a year.

Only 48p added since I last posted.  I filled the car with petrol and when I got to the counter they asked if I wanted to use a voucher I had on my Clubcard.  I said yes and got 48p off.  I won't normally count vouchers because I probably wouldn't of bought the item if I didn't have the voucher.  But I wasn't even aware of this one.

Total:  £25.69


Oh my word, I'm over excited as I used Billy  

I didn't buy my son a magazine when I would normally have done had he not been so extravagant with my phone!
(I can't believe he even asked to be honest!)

I didn't buy a pot of salad when I had some shaky minutes as hunger had got to me (posting on my get fit thread) I waited till I got home and cut n washed what I had just bought!

So yes, Billy gas started n I'm like a kid in a sweet shop about it. Weird huh?  


Brilliant idea! On sunday, when I shall be all alone I shall make a Billy of my very own! And In it, virtually, shall go the two asda cards OH gave me, that he got from vodaphone freebies (which he was gonna let run out!) So thats £20:)
I can't actually bring myself to spend them!
Thanks for the big grin I'm sporting!

Billy can fun!

Glad you are seeing the frugal and fun benefits of having your very own Billy Can because he most certainly can help in a dilemma. I have mine sitting by my desk while browsing decorating ideas and called upon him just recently! We had only half a tub of white emulsion and about the same of magnolia - so the white got watered down a primer for the new plaster and then the magnolia went on the walls. It looks a little patchy but far from awful, so I have saved myself an extra £20 by not buying more paint.

I began bidding on eBay for rugs and almost got carried away... then thought of the magic that is my Billy can - I stopped bidding and started my long-planned rag rug!

£10 Argos voucher and 5p find added to virtual Billy which take my total to £35.74.  Argos voucher earned through survey site and 5p found in the self service till at Morrisons.

I was given two large boxes of buttons from a distant relative that moved in to a care home last week, hoping to find seven matching ones to sew on to a cardi Mum knitted me.  The rest are going to my Beaver Scout colony for crafts.  Wont add this amount but probably saved around £5.

My friend gave me a pack of tesco mince as he hadn't room in his freezer. (I think he worries about how much money we have)It would have been £3.00 so that can virtually join the asda vouchers in Billy, £23 in there!

Dancing and singing! :)

I have gone 10 full years without owning a sofa or suite of any description, just making do with the big fouton I bought in 2002. Now that the house is progressing, I had started pricing suites, sofas and armchairs while also keeping an eye on the small ads. Guess what? I have found a FREE sofa! It's a 50 mile round trip from here but neighbour is going to hitch up his trailer and he & H are going to collect it tomorrow - weather permitting! I am so, so excited! Without Billy Can magic, I'd have given up and succumbed to buying the cheapest new sofa I could find but I absolutely LOVE this one, judging by the photos!

Edited in - sofa collected and now in situ with the new carpet and my lovely antique wooden fireside box. I love it!

yesterday I thought of Billy while I was out shopping, I picked up a dress in the sale, twice..and put it back..and hair clips in pondland..hello kitty, and put them back too. I stood there having a conversation with myself about if I actually needed them! It would have been £11 pounds spent just on me, unthinkable! I have alot of dresses already and when I finally get round to going to the hairdressers i won't need hairclips!
Frugaldom, you can't beat freebie sofa's! Ours was freebie over 10 yrs ago now:) perfect for sitting in front of a woodburner on!!


Well done on 'billy canning' those dresses, LFS!

I love my 'new' sofa! It is so much more substantial than anything I could have afforded to buy and it gave me more faith in the next generations when the young guy giving it away referred to is at 'Paying it Forward'. All is not yet lost!

I have my billy can sat out today just to remind me that 'not spending' is what I am trying to do. I'm on a kitchen use-it-up and a paper-decluttering expedition today and I am getting sick looking at the paperwork, thinking I'll just message pal to pick up a cake and pop up for a cuppa! No, no, no.... yes, she'll be here at some point for her cuppa but no... I must not buy cake... BILLY SAYS I CAN JOLLY WELL GO AND BAKE A CAKE!

Another success!

I remained vigilant and baked some cakes! I did need to buy coffee filters for the machine after having stocked up on a year's supply of coffee beans, however, and was ALMOST tempted by a 3L thermos but deleted it from my basket and instead, checked how much free credit I had courtesy of Nectar Points and discovered £7.52 could be used against a minimum spend of £10. So... I found a 3-pack of thermal mugs costing £7.89 and 100-pack of coffee filters costing £3.49, all including P&P, used my Nectar PayPal voucher and got the lot for £3.86 including delivery. EXCELLENT! No more getting distracted to the point my coffee or tea is cold and needs a microwave blast! It will be in a thermal mug that can also be taken out when cycling or walking.

Today I am going to make a second storage foot stool and this way I won't need any more chairs.

Yesterday I baked a Herman apple cake to stop OH buying apple pies tomorrow..trouble is cake was too good and four pieces mysteriously dissapeared last night!
Thought about buying the cookery book I wanted for 48 hours, and found it as cheap as I could with free postage. Its for my favourite ingredient at the moment, Bisquick.
Cookery books are definitely my weakness, and even though it was 2 hours work's worth, I bought it.
No more cook books for at least a month! If not three:)
And bought my coffee at the w/e 1.50 less than it should have been a jar. Saving a jars worth of cost by buying 4! Woman logic:D


Everyone's doing great with this Billycan challenge

I've found it a lot easier to use since I put mine on display in the kitchen instead of in the box....a great brain jogger at what I'm supposed to be doing.

Well done all.  Looking forward to when we tally up our results....

Biggest struggle

I'm going to be honest and admit that my biggest struggle is convincing others that I really don't NEED to buy brand new stuff. My biggest saving so far was after getting the price down to under £400 for living room suite and saving almost another £50 by not buying paint or new shelving. So in actual fact, had I agreed on the £1,000 decorating and furnishing budget with H, I could have had over £800 stashed in my Billy Can just on that one project alone!

More cyberdosh received

Another £24.57 in Amazon vouchers now transferred from TCB, giving me a total of £53.12 in free money. I have left it there, despite having dropped several things into my online shopping basket and then removing them again!   Billy CAN stop me spending on non-essentials!!

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