The stretch from November to January is so festive, so cheerful-and so expensive. There are the gifts for your family and friends, new outfits for dinners and parties, booze and food for your own shindigs, airfare or gas, holiday cards…the list goes on. In my house, at least, the late-January credit bills always bring a horrified reckoning and promises to do better next year.
But if you’re a person, like me, who really doesn’t want to cut down on their spending, you’ve got another option: Make money this holiday season. Even if you manage to pull in just a little more than you normally would, it will offset that terrible minus column and maybe even keep you out of the red in January. Below, a few holiday money-making schemes to keep your budget balanced this season.
Rent Out Your Place
If you’re traveling to see family, chances are someone from far away is traveling to see family near you. If you’re not already set up on Airbnb, here’s how to get started , but if all that seems like a lot of effort, try Craigslist, SabbaticalHomes if you’re in academia, or even better, ask local friends on social media if they need a place for family to crash while in town.
Bartending/Catering Holiday Parties
If you have the right black-and-white outfit, you can pick up some food-service work at private and corporate parties over the next couple of months. Call your local restaurants, catering companies, and event spaces and ask for the hiring manager. And I can tell you as a veteran of cater-waiter jobs, you’ll get more work if you’re ready to take a gig at a moment’s notice-these kinds of jobs have a lot of last-minute cancellations, so check in regularly and keep your outfit ironed and ready to go.
Seasonal Retail Work
All those shoppers means stores need extra help. Your local mall will be looking for greeters, gift wrappers, Santas-though I would rather die than have that many children jumping on me-and temporary sales associates. This handy guide will give you an idea of where to start if there’s a Target, Kohl’s, Walmart, etc. near you; if you’re more of a foodie type, Whole Foods is hiring 6,000 workers . Consider what local businesses might be ramping up this time of year, like bakeries (Christmas cookies!), theaters, and cinemas (holiday blockbusters!), and drop by with a resume and an offer to help. You might get lucky and have someone put you to work right away.
People have a lot of chores they want to outsource this time of year-mailing packages, wrapping presents, cleaning their houses for guests, even hanging up holiday decorations. You can sign up to be a personal grocery shopper on Instacart or a handyperson/general helper on Taskrabbit , or even just put up flyers and put the word out on social media that you’re available to help for holiday assistance and prep work.
If your neighbors are traveling and you aren’t, you can make a few bucks by walking Fido, refreshing Tabby’s catnip, and watering the plants. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to do things like scrape tartar off a cat’s teeth or force a growling dog to swallow a pill-all things I’ve risked my life doing for other people’s pets.
I start to get antsy around this time of year, because I know we’re going to get an influx of clothes and toys and have nowhere to put them. So I start putting outgrown things, and unplayed-with toys, on Craigslist, eBay, and my local parents’ Facebook group. It never yields ton of money-a few bucks here and there-but I keep the cash in an unmarked envelope in my drawer. And then, when January rolls around and the credit-card bills aren’t quite as horrifying as they used to be, I get myself a pedicure or some small treat. Because if you’re not in the red in January, you deserve to spend a few dollars on yourself.