Cash for Christmas: 4 Ways to Make Extra Money (Because Gifts Don’t Grow on Trees)
Ah, the holiday season is finally on its way.
And with it, we’ll see Christmas trees by the road, hear those catchy holiday jingles on the radio, and enjoy sparkling neighborhoods with miles and miles of beautiful lights that line the houses and shrubberies. And, with it, we can look forward to spending money.
Lots and lots of money.
Just how much money, you might ask? Well, since it’s been about a year since you last rustled through all those holiday shopping receipts, let’s take a look at what the experts are predicting Americans will spend this year.
The Cost of Christmas
Yes, tis the season for spending. This year, in fact, we’re going to spend an average of $830 per household, according to a survey conducted by Gallup, and that amount is up from the $720 we had spent last year. So if you were to total your receipts from 2015, then chances are, you may end up shelling out an additional $110 by Christmas. Curiously, this also happens to be only $36 less than what we were spending back in 2007 (you know, that time when we weren’t nearly as worried about money).
However, the crazy thing is that wages haven’t exactly increased since 2007 when you factor in the whole inflation issue. It simply seems that we’re not willing to part ways with our holiday traditions and the price tags attached to them, since Black Friday shopping accounted for 19.3% of all sales in 2012 (and we spent an average of $60 less that year). What do all these facts and figures add up to?
Ultimately, it means that we can look forward to higher prices, more spending, and the need to purchase a receipt organizer for this Christmas season. And while you could attempt to spend less on gifts, not all costs are entirely avoidable.
Don’t Forget the Little Things
Gifts aren’t the only costs that contribute to this one-grand holiday price tag. Let’s not forget that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, everyday life tends to look a little different, especially from the perspective of the checkbook. We’ve can’t forget to account for “little” additional things like:
- Higher grocery bill for hosting friends and family
- Booking hotel reservations
- Purchasing air, train, and bus fares
- Increase fuel costs for long trips and errands
- Buying holiday decorations
- Events, parties, holiday concerts, etc.
This season has always been pricey, but it’s not just because we’re going to be buying more gifts. If you took a bird’s eye glance at the US economy during the holidays, you’d basically see everything getting shaken up, moved around, and whamo …Happy New Year. That’ll be $830.
But then again, while we will continue to discuss ways to limit these costs through some ingenious DIY tricks and hacks in the many articles to follow, sometimes it just seems like a smart call to earn that money back. The holiday season shouldn’t add stress and debt to your life, and quite frankly, it’s supposed to do the exact opposite. To get you started, we’re providing 4 great ways to earn a little extra cash this festive season:
#4 – There’s Always a Moonlight Job
Of course, this little tip depends on your current availability. Especially for all the mommies out there, such a luxury of time may be a limited commodity. With that being said, you’re soon going to see quite a few new temporary jobs opening up in the next few weeks, and if your schedule has a little wiggle room, then this might just offer a perfect solution to pad your budget against the cost of Christmas.
Lifehacker’s Melanie Pinola has written an excellent post on how best to capitalize on these seasonal employment opportunities, called The Companies That Offer the Most Seasonal Temporary Jobs. I suggest you give it a read, because you might be surprised which companies will be looking for some extra help …and it doesn’t just stop at UPS or FedEx.
However, you may also want to think about just how many hours you might have to work in order to reach that $830-mark. While this is certainly something that will vary, the median pay rate for winter seasonal jobs happens to be $11.28/hr., according to Brynn Mannino of Woman’s Day.
So, after taxes, you’re probably going to have to work about 90 hours, or roughly 4 weeks, in order to recoup the cost of Christmas. This means you will likely want to supplement this strategy with one or more of the following tips.
#3 – Make Gifts, Sell Gifts
Say for instance, you’ve got an incredibly cool gifting idea that you can actually make yourself, such as knit Chewbacca beanies or fun marshmallow blow guns for the kids…
Well, if you were so inclined, what’s stopping you from making those items for more than JUST the folks on the family gift-list?
If you really know how to create something cool that people really like, then there are a few ways that you can turn your idea into cold hard holiday cash. For instance, you might try wholesaling to your local family-owned and operated craft stores, and even opening up an ecommerce storefront on eBay, Amazon Handmade, or Etsy. Granted, this might take a little business savvy in order to effectively pull off $830 in sales over the course of just one month. However, this just so happens to be the season when all retailers (like you) will make 19.3% of the total sales over the course of a year!
If there were ever a time when this idea could work, it would be now.
#2 – Consider Becoming an Airbnb Host
Since you might end up spending some time out of town anyway, becoming an Airbnb Host may be another great way to make money without putting in a great deal of effort.
Before you jump in to put this tip into action, though, I would definitely tell you to clean the house until it’s immaculate, take care of all necessary home maintenance, go get some new drapes and assortment of candles. Then, take a look at the guide created by (who better?) lrnairbnb.com: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Airbnb Hosting. After that, you can begin making money renting your home to folks who are in your area for the holidays and just so happen to need a cozy place for a few evenings. Airbnb makes it possible.
There’s probably someone in Idaho right now, thinking: “I wish I didn’t have to spend money on a hotel when we head back east to see the in-laws”. Well, you can offer them an affordable solution, that offsets the cost of Christmas (and just so happens to offset your own costs in the process).
#1 – Think Outside the “Gift”-Box
As I mentioned before, selling handmade items during the post Black Friday season does increase your chances of making lots of sales; however, you’re still going to find yourself in competition with all the other online retailers that are doing the exact same thing.
But this is one reason why people tend to hit up thrift stores for gifts, because at least with second-hand shopping …you can ALWAYS bet on getting an amazing deal. With that being said, you could always do a month-long online garage sale, selling items you wanted to sell anyway. And since an actual garage sale is out of the question (especially for those of you who live in states like Montana and Vermont), your best option is to use auction sites like eBay and apps like Letgo.
Bonus: Since we’re thinking outside the box right now, you could always take the freelancer route. Perhaps one of the most notorious ways of realizing that the holidays have arrived is finding your mailbox stuffed to the gills with 80+ Christmas-postcard photos of the whole family (and the dog) from people you’ve known for the last two decades. It’s like clockwork. If you have an iPhone, your community could use a good holiday photographer. Check out this post: Here are Ten Great Tips for Making the Most of your iPhone Photography.
Spend Less, This Year?
Speaking of which, there’s always the idea of spending less and this is something that we will be discussing A LOT over the next couple weeks. So make sure you keep an eye out for holiday money-saving ideas on our future posts; but for this one, we simply wanted to give you a head start on making extra money this year.
Because Christmas shouldn’t be known for how much it costs, but for how much it’s worth.