Picking up a holiday job can be one a prime strategy in managing your financial health, whether your goal is to make extra spending money that will keeps credit card balances at bay, to score extra discounts on holiday gifts or find job opportunities in the wake of a lagging economy. Here's where to look when you're on the search for the best holiday jobs.

Parcel Carrier
Thanks in part to the increased popularity of online shopping, which eMarketer predicts will grow 16.8% this year, spending the holidays in the parcel business sorting, loading or delivering packages can be a great way to earn more than minimum wage, among other benefits. According to United Parcel Service (UPS), it "supports part-time employees with full-time benefits," including tuition assistance, training programs and promotion eligibility, in addition to flexible scheduling and manageable shifts that might entail just a three to four hour commitment, Monday through Friday. This year, UPS will hire about 55,000 seasonal workers; its competitor, Federal Express, plans to add about 20,000 seasonal workers to handle the bulk of holiday volume.

Toy Store Staff
Kids at heart can be surrounded with the joy of the season (not to mention a discount and insider knowledge of the hot sales) by taking a gig at a toy store. This year, Toys "R" Us will add 5,000 more seasonal helpers than it did in 2011. If you're looking for a holiday job that will extend past the season, approximately 15% of the Toys "R" Us holiday staffers retained their positions after the season last year, according to a company press release. Though the employee benefit of saving 10% on most items in the store won't completely reshuffle your holiday budget, every little bit can help when playing Santa for your family. If you're in search of a steeper discount, Build-A-Bear Workshop offers associates a 30% discount on all merchandise sold in stores beginning on the date of hire, in addition to access to its online corporate perks program, which includes discounts on phones, electronics, health and wellness, and financial services. Additionally, major medical, dental and vision benefits are offered to some part-time associates, as are potential college scholarships for eligible associates who are high school seniors, graduates or are enrolled at an accredited college or university.

Retail Associate
It may not appear that the economy has recovered much in the past few years, but experts at the National Retail Federation estimate that retailers will staff more than 600,000 holiday positions this season, including several thousand open positions at Target, Kohl's, Walmart, Macy's and JCPenney. For workers with little experience or who have been out of the workforce for some time, there's good news: According to research by the consulting firm Hay Group, 62% of retailers surveyed said the average experience level of seasonal workers is between zero and one years. Further, 43% of those retailers said they intend to retain more workers beyond the 2012 holiday season, making the holidays a prime opportunity to get your foot into the door of a company that might otherwise require more experience. If you're not interested in facing the front lines of mall madness, keep in mind that retailers have plenty of "back of house" needs, including inventory management that takes place in a stock room and merchandise replenishment that occurs before and after stores are open to the public. While retailers vary in their discount policies, choose with the bulk of your gift list in mind. Working at a retailer whose merchandise selection covers the bulk of your holiday gift list can be a great way to whittle holiday spending.

The Man With the Bag
If you've got the patience to be Santa, it can pay off in a major way. According to PayScale estimates, Santas can earn as much as $100. They can earn more on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when time and a half rates may come into play. Nevertheless, being Santa isn't for everyone. Not only is Santa never truly "off the clock," the role requires patience under pressure and a gift for smoothing over those emotionally charged situations that a visit to Santa often presents. Job calamities aside, however, being a Santa can amount to a lucrative holiday gig for those with the "stomach" for it.

The Bottom Line
Holiday hiring is a benefit to both retailers and job seekers. Economists say that increased demand for holiday help points to a retailer predictions for stronger holiday sales, and in turn, a strengthening economy. Whether you're a college student, retiree or simply looking to earn some extra cash, taking on a holiday job is a prime opportunity to stay out of debt and to position yourself for even more job opportunities once the season ends, provided you give a temporary role just as much commitment as you would a full-time one.

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