Halloween is behind us, and the holidays are less than eight weeks away. With travel to book, parties to plan and gifts to buy, this is an exciting — but also expensive — time of year. In fact, the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey predicts that the average person celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa and/or Hanukkah will spend just over $800 this year.
Here are some ways to earn or free up extra cash to cover holiday trips, gifts and other expenses.
1. Sell your unwanted stuff. The last time I moved, I sold several boxes of books to various resellers online (many of them send you a prepaid shipping label you can print at home) and used BookScouter.com to compare prices and maximize my profits (all told, I got around $60). There are plenty of other resale markets online for used or new electronics, clothing and more, but don’t discount the value of local sales (it’s quicker, and there are no shipping costs). See if any of your Facebook friends want to buy your gently used lamp or that set of free weights gathering dust in your attic. If not, there’s always Craigslist for locating other local buyers.
2. Rent out your stuff. If you’re not ready to part with your stuff and it’s still in good condition, see if you can rent it out. Post your bike on Spinlister or designer handbags on Bagsly. JustPark lets you rent out an unused parking spot, while Airbnb lets you rent out a spare bedroom or even a whole house when you’re away. Most of these sites offer some type of protection in case of damage, but make sure you read the fine print and understand your rights.
3. Give up the extras. Traveling for several weeks? See if you can freeze your gym membership while you’re away. Review your bank or credit card statements line by line and see what other expenditures you might be able to give up, at least temporarily. Maybe you can cut costs by brown-bagging your lunch, brewing your coffee at home or downgrading your cable package. Come January, you may find that you’re ready to continue that habit and keep reaping the extra savings.
4. Start a side hustle. If you’ve already trimmed the fat from your budget, your best bet is to earn more money. Look for options that have a quick ramp-up and low overhead. The last thing you want to do this time of year is to spend hundreds of dollars on supplies for a new business that may take months to pay off. Can you pick up a few extra shifts at work and earn overtime? Or pet-sit for someone who’s going away for the holidays? Do you know someone who needs help wrapping gifts, assembling kids’ toys or setting up for a holiday party? Plenty of people are strapped for time at the holidays, and some of them are willing to pay for extra help. Ask for referrals to time-strapped friends, too!
5. Cash in rewards. Look for unredeemed airline miles, gift cards or credit card points you could use to pay for holiday travel or gifts. It’s almost as good as cash, but compare the points value of what you’re getting versus the dollar cost to ensure that you’re not selling yourself short. With gift cards, you get the most value out of redeeming them for merchandise from the retailer, but if you’re not planning to shop there, you can sell them for a portion of the face value at websites like CardCash.com or CardPool.
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