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?
A 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.
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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