The premature appearance of all-things Christmas may make you see red and feel green, but it’s actually a good reminder to start budgeting for this year’s holiday season. The National Retail Federation estimates the average consumer will spend nearly $750 on holiday-related purchases, up slightly from last year’s actual spending. This number doesn’t factor in the cost of holiday travel or the time away from your day job to connect with family and friends.
Making extra money is the best way to combat this significant seasonal expense. Since you don’t want to spend all your free time working, consider the following easy ways to score some extra cash by Christmas.
1. Get a Seasonal Job
Retailers, restaurants and even call centers are looking for extra help around the holidays. If your schedule allows, consider picking up a shift on weeknights or weekends and deposit your earnings into a separate account just for holiday expenses. MSN recently listed 16 companies in need of seasonal assistance.
2. Sell Gift Cards
Since nearly $40 billion in gift cards went unredeemed between 2005 and 2011, it’s likely you have a few unused cards cluttering your wallet. Stop wasting space and sell your gift cards for cash on GiftCardGranny.com, where you can make up to 92-percent of the card’s face value.
3. Get Paid for Chores
Remember when you used to get cash in exchange for taking out the trash or walking the dog? Yeah, the good ol’ days. Happily, you can still get paid for small chores through TaskRabbit, an online service allowing people to bid on to-do’s required by others.
4. Adjust Your Withholdings
Some people dread the holiday season but most people dread tax season even more. Though you don’t need to think about your 1040 just yet, you can line your pocket with a few extra dollars by adjusting your withholdings. If you received a hefty return this year, scale back that interest-free loan to the government to help offset your holiday costs.
5. Use Rewards for Gifts
Your credit card will likely get some serious action over the next couple months, so use your reward points wisely. If you have a good amount saved up, consider redeeming them for gift cards which you use to purchase gifts — or as gifts themselves — or help offset the cost of holiday travel. There’s an art to redeeming rewards, so check out this article from MarketWatch for savvy advice.
6. Get Free Services
Do you withdraw cash from an ATM every week? Text incessantly for a monthly fee? Pay for your kids’ meal when you go out? You can get all this and more for free, leaving money in your pocket for things that actually cost something. Get cash from the grocery store, download a free texting app like textPlus, and consult this list of over 100 restaurants where kids eat free.
7. Sell Your Stuff
You can consign your clothes, auction off accessories and eBay your electronics for extra cash. Swapping is another money-saving trend that offers new (to you) stuff for items you no longer use or wear. Host a swap party with friends or head to Swap.com to exchange your items online.
8. Freelance Your Skills
Whether you design websites or crunch numbers, your skills can make you money beyond the nine-to-five. Elance is an online service connecting freelancers with people who need talent, making it easy to browse for your next paycheck.