To afford the holidays, you might’ve created a special end-of-year budget or you plan to use a few creative hacks to save on gift-giving. But skimp and save as you might, you could still run into holiday debt hangover.
If you’re someone who can carve out some time to take on additional work during the holidays, here’s how you can side hustle your way to some extra money during this busy time of year:
Take on a Temporary Gig
If you don’t want to go through the rigamarole of setting up a profile and hunting for side hustles, consider taking on temporary work during the holidays. Not only can it be easier to take on a seasonal gig with a single employer, but jobs in the retail, but these jobs, particularly in the retail space, might pay more than other times of the year.
According to a Wonolo report, due to labor shortages during the holidays, seasonal pay can be up to 9% greater than regular wages. As you might’ve guessed, per Wonolo’s data, jobs in event staffing, fulfillment and warehousing, food production, and manufacturing tend to offer the most pay during the holidays.
“More people are stepping out in the evenings and engaged in holiday parties and travel,” says Kathy Kristof, founder of SideHusl. “Better yet, for those partly paid by tips, customers are in the holiday spirit and more likely to tip generously. That makes food service, delivery, and even dog-sitting, a little more lucrative than normal. ”
Sign Up for In-Demand Hustles
Interestingly enough, a lot of services that spike in demand during the bustling holiday season: event catering, food delivery, ride-sharing, and being rented out as a friend. You can also take up babysitting or pet-sitting gigs. As it’s a busy, stressful time of year, people will be willing to pay more for convenience. You could make money by setting up a profile on gig sites such as Thumbtack or TaskRabbit.
Are you amazing at baking cookies? Have you got a flair for quirky gingerbread characters? Do you bake a mean pumpkin pie? You can make extra money by offering your goods or services at holiday fairs and craft festivals. Or, reach out to friends and family to see who might want to place an order. Case in point: This Thanksgiving, Liz Eischen is making holiday pies for her social circle to make some cash and alleviate her friends’ stress and mess.
“Providing pies is a small but easy way to earn extra money — it eliminates the need to shop, prep, bake and clean up before friends and family come to town,” says Eischen, who is the founder of Kitchen Table Finances. Eischen will be charging about $20 to $25 per pie and plans to cap it at 50 pies, earning her $1,000 to $1,250 in just a couple days.
Become an Amazon Mechanical Turk Worker
Machines haven’t taken over the workforce completely. There are still many tasks that require human intelligence. If you’re unfamiliar, Amazon Mechanical Turk is a platform companies can use to outsource the tasks their computers can’t do. “The holidays mean fewer workers on Amazon Turk so you can do well during but also before the holidays to get some extra money,” says Jarek Grochal, writer at Time in the Market.
Warning: The tasks can be tedious. That being said, if you learn how to use scripts, you can filter out the more unpleasant or undesirable tasks and do pretty well. According to Grochal, the earnings vary but you can pull in anywhere from $10 to $15 an hour on good days. “It all depends on how much time you want to put into it, and it’s key that you learn how the system works and how to avoid bad tasks,” says Grochal.
Help Freelancers Prep for Vacation
If you freelance on the side, you can reach out to your network to see if fellow freelancers might need help with any tasks before they go on vacation. Some creative solopreneurs might be front-loading their client work, and in turn could use your help proofing, researching, or performing admin tasks. If you have a photography background, you could assist photographers who run their own freelancing business on basic retouching.
Beyond your immediate network, try posting on freelancer groups on Facebook, tacking flyers on bulletin boards at co-working spaces, or attending a Freelancers Union Spark meetup in your city. You can find listings on sites such as Upwork.
Some freelancers might even refer work out so that their clients aren’t left in the lurch at the end of the year. It couldn’t hurt to see how you might be able to lighten someone’s load.
Edit College Essays
College applications might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of holiday side hustles. But as the deadline for most regular admissions falls between January and March, high school students might be scrambling to finish their applications at the end of the year.
If you’re a wordsmith, consider signing up to help students who are applying for college. You could post your services online, or reach out to the career center of the local high school to help students with their essays in exchange for a small fee, suggests Logan Allec, founder of Money Done Right.
To gauge how much you should charge, you’ll want to track your time to see how long it typically takes you to edit an essay. For instance, if your rate is $25 an hour, and it takes you two hours to look over an essay, you could earn $50 per college application.
Instead of emptying your pockets this holiday season, ramp up on the side hustles. You could potentially avoid racking up credit card debt. And wouldn’t you prefer your pockets to be lined with cash?
Jackie Lam is a personal finance writer. Her work has appeared in Investopedia, Magnify Money and The Bold Italic, and she’s been featured in Money, Kiplinger, Forbes and Woman’s Day. She runs heyfreelancer.com, a blog to help freelancers and artists with their money, and to balance their passion projects and careers.