7 Ways to Survive the Holidays If You’re Tight on Cash

making extra money

When holiday expenses kick your budget to the curb, it can be hard to figure out how to make up the difference. Do you go into debt and pay even more in interest? Cut your budget to the bone? Skip travel plans altogether?

recent Student Loan Hero survey found that about half of shoppers would make financial sacrifices like these if they couldn’t afford holiday expenses this year. And, 42 percent of them were willing to work a side job or work overtime to make more money.

Making extra money during the holidays

There’s no sugar-coating the fact that major sacrifices are made if you can’t afford the holidays. But if your bank account is falling short of what you need to afford Christmas this year, don’t skip the holidays entirely.

At least, not without first trying these moves for making extra money during the holiday season.

1. Get a holiday side hustle

Employers, businesses, and even individuals loosen their wallets up over the holiday season. That’s because there’s such a high demand for additional workers during the holidays.

And, some of the best seasonal jobs allow you to make big bucks in just a short amount of time. From wrapping gifts to shoveling snow, the holidays are the perfect time to get a side hustle up and running.

2. Resell your stuff

The holidays are also the perfect time for making extra money by reselling your little-used items.

With so many people on the lookout for a deal, there will be a lot of buyers interested in your gently-used items this time of year. Clear out those designer pieces you wore once. Or, resell your old phone model that’s still sitting around.

Also, consider gathering up last year’s Christmas gifts you never got around to using and setting up a pre-holiday garage sale to get cash for your unwanted items.

3. Give secondhand gifts

You can also cut down on gift costs by buying gently used items for Christmas gifts. I’ve found this to be especially effective when getting gifts for my children.

This year, for example, my daughter has been crazy about dollhouses. But those miniature living spaces don’t come cheap.

So I checked in with some of my friends who are also parents to see if anyone had a dollhouse they were willing to sell for less. It so happened someone had a dollhouse her kids didn’t play with anymore that she was happy to give me for free. Score!

I also like to shop at thrift stores for gifts that are cheap but thoughtful. My favorite thrift-store finds are CDs or vinyls, especially holiday albums, and books. First edition copies can be an extra-special find.

Sharp shoppers can also find name-brand items in thrift stores or on craigslist for much less than they would pay retail. Secondhand stores are also a great place to pick up gag or white elephant gifts that are dirt cheap but will put a smile on the recipient’s face.

4. Adjust your W-4 allowances

If you usually get a pretty decent tax refund, you’re probably overpaying on taxes with each paycheck.

For instance, if you get an average refund of around $3,000, that’s about $115 you could be taking home every two weeks with your paycheck but are paying to the IRS instead.

If this sounds like you, talk to your HR person and fill out a new W-4 to up your allowances. This will lower the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck, so you’re bringing home more money you earn.

Plus, it’s an easy way to get an extra couple hundred dollars to spend during the holidays.

5. Pause your retirement contributions

If you have a retirement savings plan through your employer, your contributions are probably automatically withheld from your paychecks. Therefore, talk to your company’s HR department to see if you could lower or stop your contributions for a couple of paychecks.

That way you’ll increase your take-home pay and thus boost the amount of cash-on-hand for you to spend during the holidays. Just don’t forget to set your contributions back again next year, to keep your retirement savings on track.

6. Cut back on other expenses

Put your Netflix and Spotify subscriptions on pause. Or, skip the manicure this month.

With lots of opportunities to cut loose and celebrate the holidays, you’ll probably barely miss these everyday indulgences. And you’ll be able to actually afford to join in the holiday festivities, instead of skipping them because you’re broke.

7. Take advantage of credit card rewards

A cash-back credit card can be an effective tool to lower holiday costs by as much as 1 to 5 percent during the holidays.

For instance, I like to use my Target REDcard to get an extra 5 percent discount on holiday purchases like stocking stuffers, cards, and holiday pajamas.

You can also cash in rewards to get extra money for Christmas purchases. My Chase Amazon card gets me 3 percent back on all Amazon purchases, for example. I recently cashed in my rewards to cover some of my gift costs for this year.

Besides store credit cards, many other credit cards have worthwhile cash back rewards, like the Chase Freedom card or the Discover it card.

Make sure you’re also shopping at the right places to maximize cash back and rewards, too. If you get 5 percent back at the grocery store, for example, head there first to stock up on Christmas candy, cards, even decor.

Then watch the cash back rewards roll in, just in time for holiday spending.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
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