A guide to making extra money during the holidays

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The get-togethers, the traveling, the presents. The holidays are full of things to do and people to see. Unfortunately, this can add layers of stress and financial strain to anyone’s budget, especially for those with little wiggle room. One survey shows 61% of Americans actually dread the winter holidays because of the extra pressure holiday spending brings. When people go into debt because of increased spending, this can further harm their overall financial health, creating negative financial consequences long after the holidays are over.

Many people may find their personal finances are still rebounding from the impact of COVID-19. From uncertain work schedules to past due rent payments, many still deal with pandemic-related pressures each day. One possible method for relieving this financial burden is to take a second job or look for ways to bring in extra money, specifically during the holiday season. Although it makes it tougher to juggle schedules and obligations during the busy holidays, there are numerous flexible options for part-time work. The inconvenience of working two jobs may be outweighed by the benefits of earning extra money and relieving the stress associated with this time of year.

 

Seasonal and flexible jobs

Many flexible, seasonal jobs are available, especially during the holiday season, giving you more opportunities to earn extra money or avoid adding debt over the holidays. The following part-time options were chosen based on earning potential, demand during the holidays and greater flexibility for busy schedules. We gave each potential gig a score out of ten points based on how we feel it ranks when it comes to seasonal side jobs. Whenever you consider taking on extra work, it’s beneficial first to weigh the pros and cons and be realistic about the time you can devote to meeting the job’s demands.

#1. Pet sitting (9.8/10)

Pet sitting is a favorite choice for side holiday work because demand increases during the holidays with so many people traveling — plus the startup costs are very slim. You could charge per visit or hour and advertise on your neighborhood’s social media pages. You typically need to be available on nights and weekends when people tend to travel, and you should be comfortable making payment arrangements with people and advertising your services.

#2. House sitting (9.4/10)

Like pet sitting, house sitting is another low startup cost option where demand is likely to increase this time of year. House sitting may involve other tasks, such as collecting mail, taking out trash or watering plants. You will likely be limited to people who already know you and trust you, so it may take a while for word of mouth to build up.

#3. TaskRabbit (9.2/10)

TaskRabbit is an on-demand service where people can book help for tasks such as putting together furniture, cleaning and other services. All payments are conveniently handled through the app, and you get paid for doing things you are likely already good at. The only drawback is you do not have a predictable schedule, and this service is not available in all cities.

#4. Amazon Flex (8.5/10)

Amazon Flex is a delivery service for Amazon packages. You can sign up for the service, download the app and choose a block of time to deliver packages while earning $18 to $25 an hour. You must have your own vehicle, and the service is limited to only 50 cities right now, which is why this is not a more popular option quite yet.

#5. Transportation for seniors (8.4/10)

Many companies, some of which are likely in your community, offer transportation services for senior citizens. If you enjoy socializing with older people and have your own transportation, this may be an option for you. Driving times may be unpredictable, which can make it more challenging to schedule this kind of work.

#6. Plant sitting (8.0/10)

Like pet and house sitting, the increased amount of travel during the holidays makes it a prime time to let your neighbors know you are available to water their plants. This is especially helpful for people who are traveling for extended periods. You will need to set up your own advertising and ask for referrals to build up your business. The earning potential is relatively low, but it is a flexible job that you could easily continue throughout the year.

#7. Tutoring (7.0/10)

If you do not have easy access to transportation, tutoring may be an option, especially if you can virtually offer it. The holiday season is also a time for exams and testing, so children and adults need extra help to prepare. You could charge a potentially high hourly fee depending on your expertise, but you need to enjoy working with people one-on-one. The schedule is not as flexible either since you will have to work around the other family’s schedule, which is likely after school or on the weekends.

#8. Essay editing (6.8/10)

Like the increased number of exams, there is also an increase in essays and papers for students. If you know how to properly structure a paper and correct spelling and grammar, then this is a service you could offer from your home. One way to get started is to sign up with a company, such as Fiverr; however, you will be competing with thousands of others, and the pay can be low starting out.

#9.  Shipping services (6.5/10)

Places like UPS, FedEx and the USPS ramp up deliveries for the holidays, which means hiring thousands of seasonal workers. Some of these companies allow for flexible hours. You do need to go through a training program, which could mean a delay in starting the job, and you will likely have to be on the job for at least a year before qualifying for additional holiday pay.

#10. Car-sharing (6.0/10)

If you have a running vehicle and do not need to use it daily, you could partner with a car-sharing company, such as Turo or Avail to “rent” out your vehicle on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. Each company has its own rules and insurance coverage requirements, but you could earn money without having to do too much. The downside is, you may be out of your own personal vehicle, and car-sharing companies are primarily available only in larger cities.

Transportation for these jobs

Many flexible job options require a vehicle for transportation. Some of them, such as driving for Uber or Lyft, actually require you to work out of your own car. If you find yourself in this situation, you will need to make sure you have the right auto insurance coverage, which includes adequate liability coverage to provide extra financial protection in case you are in an accident where you are the at-fault driver.

Liability coverage is required by law for drivers in almost every state and pays for the other driver’s medical expenses and property damage if you cause an accident. To add greater financial protection, you may also want to consider additional coverage options, such as full coverage car insurance, or rideshare insurance if you drive for companies like Uber to add greater financial protection.

Jobs to avoid and other scams out there

Unfortunately, the holidays bring another obstacle — scams. Scammers are always active, but especially during the holidays, which means you should pay careful attention to any opportunities and steer clear of false promises. Because of the labor shortage this year, you may notice the scams are more abundant than usual. If you are ever asked to pay upfront for training fees or to get paid in gift cards or some other manner, consider these major red flags and avoid them at all costs. Common scams to look out for include:

  • Fake work-from-home jobs: These jobs may promise flexibility but usually ask for payment upfront to receive the materials, such as envelope stuffing or re-shipping items.
  • Fake job offers: Some scammers will pose as recruiters and send phony job offers. The warning signs typically include the “recruiter” asking you to download an app and only communicating via text.
  • Fees for obtaining a government or postal service job: Applying for a government or postal position will never require any type of payment, and people who ask for money are not legitimate.
  • Job placement service scams: Similar to the one above, these scammers pose as people who can guarantee placement for a fee but end up taking your money instead.
  • Impersonating legitimate employers: This is one of the worst scams because you are tricked into believing you are interviewing for a job with a big company like Wal-Mart or Amazon, usually via a Skype or Zoom interview. When you are “offered” the job, you are asked for personal information, including your bank account information for direct deposit.

These are just some of the common scams out there. You should always do your due diligence and research before accepting any job opportunity. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Advice for holiday spending

In addition to making extra money this holiday spending, a few simple methods can possibly help you avoid spending too much money this holiday season.

  • Set spending limits: Before you start shopping, jot down all the purchases you plan on making this season and set a spending limit for each one. Consider other categories besides gifts where your budget can take a hit. Include estimates for additional travel and gas expenses, holiday meals and activities you need to participate in.
  • Shop sales when possible: Create gift lists in advance to give yourself extra time to shop sales from retailers. It also gives you ample time to compare prices among several stores and pay the lowest amount possible.
  • Plan diligently: During the holidays, it’s easy to make more impulse purchases or spend more than you should. By remaining diligent about sticking to your shopping list, budgeting and planning ahead, you can keep spending in check, even when you are tempted to make an unplanned purchase.
  • Use coupons: Today’s digital world means you can clip digital coupons or download apps to maximize savings. Combining coupons with items on sale is a double way to save, especially on food and household items at the grocery store.
  • Use credit cards with caution: Before reaching for the plastic to make a purchase for the holidays, evaluate if it is the only option to make the purchase. Is it possible if you wait a week or so to make the purchase with cash instead of credit? Only use a credit card if there is no other alternative for the purchase or ensure that you can pay your credit card bill in full each month if you do use it.

Financial assistance resources for the holidays

There are financial assistance resources available to those who find themselves in need of financial help this holiday season. Resources range from assistance for paying bills to finding proper outerwear for the cold months.

  • The Christmas assistance program provides links to resources and charities that can help families in need for this season in each state.
  • The Salvation Army is another resource for help paying for housing, utilities and other expenses during the holiday season.
  • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help low-income families make utility payments.
  • For advice and possible rent assistance, you can reach out to a HUD counselor.
  • If you need help getting proper outerwear for the family during the cold winter months, local organizations in each community often provide coats, food baskets, pantry foods and other items. Local news stations often feature this information on their website.

Conclusion

The holidays can be a difficult time of the year financially for many people, but numerous resources and information are available to help ease the financial hardship. Establishing and maintaining spending limits is one of the many ways to keep spending under control this holiday. The good news is, the traditions and time you spend with your family and friends does not have to be expensive to be meaningful and memorable.

Written by
Sara Coleman
Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman has three years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Coverage.com and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.
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