With the holidays coming up, who doesn’t need to make extra money for Christmas? Earning extra cash now will help you avoid putting gifts on a credit card, which you may not be able to pay off in the same billing cycle. That means you’ll be charged interest, making those gifts more expensive than you thought.
I hope you’ve already started planning for gift-giving. If you haven’t, remember that a plan (and a budget) will help you keep costs under control.
Download my free Holiday Planner to (1) make a gift plan and (2) stick to your overall holiday budget.
This post may contain affiliate links & I may earn a small commission when you click on links – at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn money from qualifying purchases. You can read the full disclaimer here.
Plan ahead so you don’t have to make extra money for next Christmas
Before jumping into working more hours this holiday season, make a plan so next year is easier on you. Rather than making extra money for Christmas each year by stressing yourself out, save throughout the year to spread out the cost.
Use the free Holiday Planner to track how much you actually spend this holiday season (or just use a sheet of notebook paper). Knowing how much you spent this year will help you plan for next year.
Divide your planned holiday spending amount by 12 months, 26 bi-weekly pay periods, or 52 weeks – choose a savings schedule that works for your life. As long as your bank doesn’t penalize you for opening additional accounts, set up a separate savings account just for the holidays. Make sure to choose one that has no minimum balance or a very low minimum balance requirement to avoid fees.
Keep your holiday reasonable
You are more than your spending power to true family and friends. Getting serious about your finances may mean it’s time to re-think your gift-giving.
There are many ways to have a frugal Christmas, beyond just shopping sales. The biggest impact comes from simplifying. Buying less extravagant gifts for fewer people means you’ll spend much less.
A new take on gift-giving might provoke some difficult discussions. Your parents and siblings may be hurt to find out they don’t make the gift-giving cutoff… but anyone who really cares about will understand that your financial security is more important once you share why.
Change your children’s expectations
Your children probably won’t understand a decrease in gifts at first, but they’ll adjust. It’s so important to discuss personal finances and money things with kids as they grow up, for their own sake. Explain that this shift is part of your bigger goals for your family, and how achieving those goals will change their lives too.
Really young kids probably won’t even notice the change in spending. Most kids under 2 years old will be happy with just a box.
Earn cash back on purchases instead of making extra money for Christmas
Having the actual money to pay for gifts doesn’t mean you can’t use a credit card for the purchases. You should use that card responsibly, of course. For online purchases, I always recommend using a credit card to take advantage of the protections offered.
Using a credit card also means you can take advantage of cash back offers. This strategy only works when you pay your card off immediately, so you don’t have interest charges added on. Some cards have rotating focus areas with higher cash-back rates, which could benefit you during the holidays.
Another way to earn cash back is to use a program like Rakuten (formerly Ebates). Just log into Rakuten, choose a participating retailer, and you’ll be redirected to their website. After you make your purchase in the same browsing session, Rakuten will give you a set percentage in cash back. It pays out quarterly, so it’s not immediate, but it can really add up if you do a lot of online shopping.
An even easier option is to download the Rakuten widget to your web browser or the app on your phone. Having Rakuten on your web browser gives you notifications when the website you’re visiting offers cash back. You can even view coupon codes and sales that are currently available.
Work a retail job
Your first thought for making extra money for Christmas is probably working a seasonal retail job, for obvious reasons.
Everywhere is hiring right now, but retailers are also always looking for extra help during the fourth quarter. You can easily fill your nights and weekends with extra shifts. If they’re desperate for help, you might even be able to negotiate a higher starting wage or other benefits, like an increased discount.
Make your retail job doubly beneficial by choosing a store that you can buy your gifts from AND that offers a discount. Put that discount to good use during your holiday shopping.
Stores that sell gifts, rather than just groceries, are a good place to start the job hunt. Delivery services, like the US Postal Service, FedEx, or UPS, also increase hiring near the end of the year. For those interested in a more creative job, look for holiday-related businesses, like a Santa photo setup. With any serving experience, you could also easily find a position with a caterer serving holiday parties.
House sit or pet sit
A lot of people travel over the holidays, which means house sitting or pet sitting jobs are more abundant. Start your new business by relying on friends and family and their recommendations.
It will be hard to get new jobs without references, especially when you’re going into people’s houses. A service like Rover or Care will help increase your perceived reliability, but having local people vouch for you will be the best way to secure new customers.
House sitting is a great option for high school or college kids since they usually have fewer responsibilities at their own home. Once you have proven you’re reliable and competent, your loyal customers will keep coming back.
You can easily turn house or pet sitting into an ongoing side hustle, even in smaller towns. People are always going to travel, and it’s so hard to find a trustworthy house/pet sitter.
Sell stuff to make extra money for Christmas
You may have already sold your unnecessary valuables to create your mini emergency fund, but anything valuable left can help you make extra money for Christmas. If you have access to high-quality or sought-after used goods, reselling them is a pretty easy source of income.
Decluttr is a website that allows you to sell electronics, CDs, and DVDs.
After getting a quote for your specific items, just send them in using the provided shipping label. Since you don’t have to pay for shipping, your payment is pure profit. I assume you’re not going to be paid much for CDs and DVDs, so free shipping is essential to actually make money.
If you have the right goods, you can make a lot of money selling on eBay. This is a side hustle that can extend beyond the holidays if you want it to.
Having odd or rare products to sell, a specific niche, or small items that are cheaper to ship will improve your profit margins. If you’re really interested in selling on eBay, do your research first to make sure you don’t lose money.
Facebook is probably the easiest way to sell things, especially in areas with active buy-sell communities. My area is growing quickly, so everything from vehicles to children’s clothing sells quickly without much haggling.
Uncommon or specialty items won’t sell as well on Facebook, but everyday things should sell without too much problem.
Apparently, people still use Craigslist, but I don’t know how successful it is as a sales platform these days.
Listing items on Craigslist definitely targets a different audience; for example, in my area, garden and ranch items seem to be big sellers. Vehicles do well also.
Knowing the audience for the type of items you’re selling will help you choose the best sales platform.
Find odd jobs to make extra money for Christmas
Taskrabbit matches workers with people needing hands-on help, like during a move or for handyman jobs. The amount of work you can do will depend on how much the site is used locally.
The use of Taskrabbit is limited to larger cities (my whole state is left out), so this isn’t a money-making option for everyone. Taskers can perform a wide variety of duties, including just standing in line!
Taskers set the price for the job, which can help you make more. Just make sure you don’t price yourself out of all the jobs.
Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) is a virtual job marketplace. My impression is that the jobs aren’t well-paying until you’re more established, but mTurk can pay off in the long run. I wouldn’t recommend using this platform unless you’re committed for a long time.
FancyHands is a website that matches virtual assistants with employers. You have to apply to work as a VA with this site; if hired you’ll be asked to do random, small tasks for clients. The most commonly requested tasks revolve around scheduling appointments and making phone calls, so the work won’t be too difficult.
I couldn’t find any information about pay rates, so make sure it’s worth your time before committing. Good phone reception and internet connection are also important for these jobs.
I see quite a few requests for one-time help on my local Facebook groups.
People needing help moving, shoveling sidewalks, plowing driveways, or hanging Christmas lights are common requests. Shoveling and plowing could even become recurring jobs in snowy areas.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll find frequent jobs through Facebook or even a single job, but it’s an easy and free place to look.
More odd job options:
Shop for others
Shopping for others could involve a routine grocery trip or a special holiday shopping trip. As the weather worsens, I imagine requests for shoppers will increase. Bad weather also tends to increase the demand for restaurant delivery.
just check your insurance policy
One thing to consider: auto insurance. Make sure your auto insurance policy OR the business you’re contracting with will cover any accidents that occur while shopping for or delivering to others. Many personal auto insurance policies will not cover delivery work as a contractor.
Work as a seasonal customer service rep
Customer service jobs that can be done from home are more common than ever. There are phone-based positions, but also online chat-based jobs. Those chat jobs are ideal for parents or others who can’t rely on a quiet environment.
If you’re interested in pursuing this option, The Work at Home Wife has a great guide on how to find a remote customer service job, what to expect, and suggested companies to apply to.
Getting a seasonal job is a low-stakes way to test out the waters of customer service too. It’s not a long-term commitment, but if you like the work you can usually stay on or find a similar job that works around your schedule.
Remember taxes when you make extra money for Christmas
Technically, you should pay taxes on any money you earn, even if it’s just $100 from selling an old X-box. I doubt most people remember to include smaller amounts like that, but you should.
When you’re working as a contractor for a company, you’ll receive a form 1099 from the business after the end of the year if you’ve earned $600. That means the IRS will know about those earnings at least, so be sure to include them in your tax filings.
When you’re working as a contractor, income and FICA taxes are not withheld from your paychecks. You’re responsible for paying those taxes on your own, so make sure to save 25-33% of each check for tax payments.
There’s a good chance that withholdings from a W-2 or employee job will cover the taxes from side hustle income. Don’t risk a miscalculation, especially when money is tight already. If the amount saved from your side hustle earnings isn’t actually needed for taxes, you have a good head start on the next year’s Christmas budget or extra debt payments.