Christmas is coming, and everyone wants to buy gifts, whether they have the money for them or not. Here are 10 ways to earn extra money for Christmas so that you won’t have to go into debt or worse.
It’s that time of year! Walk into any store and you will be overcome with the smell of cinnamon and red and green lining the shelves. Whether or not you are ready for it, December 25 is fast approaching, which probably means you’ll be doing some shopping soon. Is your budget ready for it?
T Rowe Price just released the results of their holiday spending survey, and the results are sad, if not surprising. We are not a very financially literate nation, and it shows in the fact that 25% of respondents used either their emergency fund, a payday loan or retirement savings to buy Christmas gifts. If you’re not familiar with payday loans, they are short term loans with an average annual percentage rate of 400%. Any of those three options are close to financial suicide, and a quarter of parents think it’s worth the fleeting joy their children experience as they open gifts Christmas morning.
A little less self-destructive, over half of the respondents use credit cards and 16% of them take more than 6 months to pay off their Christmas purchases. Why are people charging so much that they can’t afford? Our materialistic culture tells parents that their utmost goal is to keep their kids constantly happy. A full ¾ of Millennials say that they try to get everything on their kids’ lists, no matter the cost.
It is my sincere hope that you don’t fall into the traps that many of the survey’s respondents do. It’s fun to buy gifts, but it’s even more helpful to model good money management to your children. And you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend so much. Almost a third of the parents surveyed spend less than $200 per child.
So if you don’t want to still be paying off your presents the following July, what do you do? Earn a little extra money and pay cash! Here are 10 simple ways to earn some extra Christmas money:
1. Offer Black Friday Babysitting
Movie? Check. Craft? Check. Snack? Check. Facebook announcement telling your friends that you’re offering daycare on Black Friday? You’ve got yourself a one-day cash cow. After all, who wants to experience the Black Friday madness with a toddler in tow?
2. Sell Your Old Textbooks
I made a decent amount of money awhile back selling my old college textbooks on half.com. It’s really easy and you can get a lot more money than you would at a college bookstore.
3. Consign Your Old Clothes
If you have kids, you know how fast they grow out of clothes. Even if you don’t have kids, there is probably a lot in your closet that you don’t really wear anymore. Find a local consignment store, take in your clothes, and wait. Most stores keep 50% or so of the sales price, but that’s more money than you’ll have with the clothes sitting in the closet.
4. Rake Leaves
This won’t be an option for you if you live in San Diego, but here in the Pacific Northwest, there are leaves everywhere. And most homeowners have many things they’d rather be doing than raking leaves. Find yourself a nice neighborhood with a lot of big trees, and go door-to-door with a rake until you find someone to hire you.
5. Find Unclaimed Property
My dad just recently asked me to go online and find some money from an inactive bank account that he used to have. In California, when an account is inactive for over 2 years, the government takes it over. Each state has different rules, and the federal government also holds on to things like unclaimed tax returns and forgotten savings bonds. To find unclaimed property, just get onto Google or go to unclaimed.org, missingmoney.com, or check with these federal agencies. I did, in fact, find money belonging to both my parents, both my grandmothers and an aunt and uncle.
6. Install Christmas Lights
A lot of people would love to decorate their homes for the holidays but are not physically able to or just don’t have the time or interest. If you have a ladder and enjoy being outdoors, you can earn several hundred dollars per house putting up Christmas lights.
7. House/Dog Sit For Holiday Travelers
Here is a way to earn some extra money that isn’t too physical and doesn’t require a lot of time. Many people travel over the holidays and leave behind plants that need to be watered, mail that needs to be collected, and dogs that need to get out and be fed.
8. Sell Your Wares At A Craft Bazaar
If you’re into arts and crafts, you can take advantage of the season’s plethora of craft bazaars (the in-person version of Etsy). From what I’ve seen, they are always looking for vendors, and it only requires a one-day commitment.
9. Sell Your Plasma
I’ve never actually done this, but I had friends in college who used it as a regular income generator. Most body parts and fluids are illegal to sell, but it is completely legal to be paid for your plasma. It takes 1.5-2 hours and is just like donating blood. You can click here for more information and to find a local center.
10. Sell Christmas Wreaths
You can take a cue from school fundraisers and sell Christmas wreaths. They are easy to make and a trip into the woods will give you almost all of your necessary supplies only for the cost of gas. You can sell them to your friends or go door-to-door through your neighborhood and make $20-$30 each.
There you have it. Now you have no excuse to go into debt or raid your emergency fund for Christmas. And in case you’re scrambling for Christmas money right now, let me give you a heads up: December 25, 2017 Christmas will come again. So start saving in January, and month by month you will build up a nice pile of cash for all your gift-giving needs.