With the American Research Group reporting that Americans plan to spend on average $417 just on gifts this holiday season, a lot of us might feel a bit financially pinched by month's-end. Here are 15 ways that you could boost your income over the next few weeks: (Use the pointers in Tips For Avoiding A Holiday Spending Hangover for a bountiful Yuletide on a Scrooge-like budget.)
- Think Retail & Temp Work
Retailers typically hire additional seasonal help over the holidays to help with the (hopeful) increased number of customers. Previous experience is rarely required, although it may help move you to the front of the pool of potential hires. Call around to a few stores to find out if any openings are available. Also, With workers requesting vacations and time off to travel around the holidays, you may be able to get a decent-paying temporary job, particularly if you have the needed office skills. Contact temporary staffing agencies in your area to learn what you need to do to get work.
Or, simply make some extra money (and make your boss happy) by offering to pick up extra hours over the holidays.
- Sell Your Skills
If you live in a relatively "high-wealth" area, there are bound to be homeowners who are willing to hire help to make their homes festive and bright. If you have a talent for turning out baked goods, let your friends, colleagues and neighbors know! You'll need to offer something different than your local bakery to win some customers, but you may be able to charge a little bit more for hand-produced home goods.
If you have an artistic eye and a talent for decorating, get the word out through friends. Put flyers in mailboxes and post advertisements in the newspaper, clubs and restaurants.
Do you have a steady hand and nice handwriting? Offer to make gifts a little bit more special by personalizing items like ornaments, plaques and more. If you have a sewing machine that does embroidery, you can personalize a wide range of items like sweatshirts, pillows, blankets, scarves and more.
- Buy Low Sell High
If you're willing to spend a little time, buy items that are on put on deep discount at your local stores and post them for sale on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Be prepared for competition from other people with the same idea, and hold on to those receipts in case you can't make the sale.
- Offer Services to Travelers
Millions of Americans plan to travel over the holidays, and you could make some money by providing services to people in your area who are planning to get out of town. Watching pets, houses, collecting mail and newspapers or offering rides to and from the airport (so they can avoid parking fees) are all efficient ways to make some extra money.
- Lower Your Withholding
Before the year ends, do some calculations to determine if you can anticipate a tax refund this April. If so, that means you're paying more into taxes – having more money withheld from your paycheck each pay period – than necessary. Instead of letting Uncle Sam have that money interest free, lower your withholding now and pocket the extra money.
- Cards, Envelopes and Stamps Oh My!
Holiday mailing is big business. The U.S. Post office estimates that it will deliver $16.6 billion in cards, letters and packages this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While everyone enjoys getting photos and updates from family and friends far and wide, most of us, if we're honest, don't relish the work involved in getting our own mailings done. Make that holiday task a little easier by offering services like labeling envelopes (either by computer or by hand), purchasing stamps and standing in line at the post office to mail packages.
- That's a Wrap
Busy families with money in the budget will pay for people to help with holiday preparations, including wrapping presents. Use word-of-mouth advertising through friends, colleagues and neighbors; put notices up in local stores or through your children's school, and consider asking smaller stores in the area if you could set up a gift-wrapping station as a service for their customers.
- Sell Those Textbooks
If you're a college student and you have already wrapped up your first semester classes, sell your textbooks back either to your school bookstore or through one of the number of websites that offer the service.
- Light it Up
Ready to channel your inner Clark Griswold? Advertise to provide outdoor home decorating, including light display set-ups. Be prepared to provide lights and decorations yourself, then charge homeowners for the materials / rental.
- Surf the Web
Google's great, but when was the last time you got a check for using the site to do your internet searching? Switch to sites that award points or "bucks" to your account, which can be exchanged for gift cards or actual cash.
Regardless of the method(s) you choose, making some extra money over the holidays is a lot easier than most people think. Be creative, be open, and you're sure to stuff your pockets with some bonus cash! (Holiday expenses can drown you in debt. Find out how to avoid this festivity hangover. Find out more in Keep Holiday Debt From Snowballing.)