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Recently I wrote about how to budget for the holidays so you don’t go broke. But what if you just looked at your calendar, realized that it’s November, and you don’t have a single dime saved for holiday gifts and festivities? No worries!! I’ve got your covered with a few simple tips and tricks for gathering up a little last minute holiday cash in order to have a debt free Christmas! (But make sure you add a holiday fund to your budget for next year so it doesn’t happen again!)
Pick Up A Temporary Job Or Side Hustle
The quickest and easiest way to save up some extra money is to find a way to earn some extra money. Anything you can bring in above and beyond your normal income can go straight to your Christmas fund. There are plenty of options.
One of the best ways could be to apply for a temporary part time job at your favorite department store. So many stores hire extra help around the holidays, and if you’re really good at your job, you might even get hired on permanently! The best part about this is that you might even get an employee discount to help you save some money on your Christmas shopping! If you’re a crafty person or like to cook, you could make a little cash with a side hustle selling your creations. Search the internet and your local news sources for opportunities near you.
Sell Stuff Around Your House
Plan a weekend that you can do a thorough declutter of your entire house and gather up clothes, toys, electronics, and anything else you don’t need or want anymore and sell it all online or have a yard sale. Depending on what you have to get rid of you could easily earn a few hundred bucks in exchange for a day or two of effort.
Things you may want to consider selling include clothes that no longer fit you or your kids, toys that your kids don’t play with anymore, old baby products you have sitting in storage, or anything you have an excess of (too many books, dishes, shoes, home decor, even furniture). If something is no longer serving a purpose in your home but it’s still in good condition, it’s time to pass it on to it’s next owner in exchange for a little cash! (If something isn’t in good condition, just junk it.)
Also, don’t underestimate the value of things. You might be surprised at what you can get out of your items. Take a few minutes to do a little quick Google research to see how much similar items are going for before settling on a price. Don’t sell yourself short!
Earn Money Or Giftcards Online By Filling Out Surveys
One incredibly easy way to earn a few extra dollars is to sign up with sites like Survey Junkie or Swag Bucks to get paid in exchange for sharing your opinion. The good part is that you can respond to as many or as few surveys as you want. The more you answer the more earning potential you have. One downside is that many sites have a minimum you must earn before you get a payout and it can take awhile to meet that threshold. Some sites simply offer gift cards, which is also a great way to earn a little extra for holiday shopping!
Use A Rewards Credit Card
Disclaimer: this should only be done if you are responsible enough to actually pay it off in full every month. Credit should never be used to buy things you can’t actually afford. That’s called debt and you want to avoid that at all costs.
That said, if you can get a cash rewards card, you can earn 1, 2, 3, or even more percent back on purchases, depending on the card you use. Some cards earn cash back on every purchase and some earn only on specific purchases (like gas or groceries). Do your research to find out what card would best suit your needs.
You’ll have the option to cash out your rewards depending on your needs. Most cards will let you take the rewards as cash or use them to purchase gift cards. You can also choose to automatically cash out your rewards when you reach a certain dollar amount.
Collect Your Spare Change
This is one of my favorite ways to save money because it takes almost zero effort and helps you find extra cash in the money already in your account! If you use cash for purchases then this is as simple as putting your pocket change in a jar at the end of the day and saving it for Christmas purchases.
If you use YNAB (which I highly recommend!) or some other digital budgeting tool, you can still save your spare change pretty easily. Whenever you enter a transaction into your tracking program, just round it up to the nearest dollar. Voila! You just saved some money! I’ve been able to save over $230 this year just by saving my spare change (anywhere from a couple dollars to more than $60 in one month).
Make A Budget
I will say this again and again and again. You need to make a budget!! As soon as you admit that you need a plan to keep you on track, you’ll start seeing the positive changes in your financial life. Setting up a budget can be as simple or as detailed as you want it to be. Since you need to save some cash quick for holiday spending, I recommend cutting your grocery bill down to about $2 or less per person per day. I know this is totally doable because I’ve been doing it! (My biggest achievement was feeding my family of 4 for five days on less than $40 – and we even had leftovers!)
Just make sure your basics are covered in your budget (food, shelter, clothes, and transportation) and then throw anything else that’s left into your holiday savings. The best part about this method is that once the holidays are over you can keep living on your shoestring budget and throw the extra towards debt or building your emergency savings – win win!!
Don’t Make The Same Mistake Next Year!!
The best way to make sure you have enough money for the holidays without creating more debt is to start planning for next year right now! Since you are now using a budget to help you save some money, go ahead and add a Christmas category in there and start throwing a few dollars a month into it right away. I like to set aside about 1.5% of our annual income for holiday expenses (If you earn $50,000 a year, that would be about $750). But you can do whatever works best for your family – just make sure you’re not over-extending yourself. Remember, the goal is to avoid creating debt, so make sure your basics are covered first and then work on your Christmas savings.
We all start the year with the best of intentions, don’t we? But then suddenly it’s November and we realize we haven’t even thought about Christmas! Try out these tips for bringing in a little extra cash fast this holiday season and have a debt free Christmas so you can start your new year off with a clean slate! Just don’t forget to plan ahead and add Christmas to your budget for next year – it’s a lot easier to save $50 or $100 a month then it is to come up with $500 or $1000 at the last minute! For help with getting ahead on your planning for next year, check out How To Budget For The Holidays So You Don’t Go Broke!