7 ways to make extra holiday cash

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

Ready to start tackling your holiday gift list? Join the shopping frenzy—this year, holiday retail sales are expected to top $1 trillion, according to estimates by Deloitte.

“People are feeling pretty good about things, incomes are rising, people have jobs, they’re in the spirit to spend and they’re going to spend,” said Vera Gibbons, a personal finance expert and the founder of nonpoliticalnews.com.

According to the American Research Group, the average American planned to spend an average of $929 on holiday shopping last year. Want to put away some extra cash? Gibbons shares her seven ways to save.

TIP 1: Go on a financial fast

Gibbons recommends going on a financial fast for several weeks to curb your spending habits.

“You see how much money you’ve been spending when you actually set yourself up and go on a financial fast,” she says.

Gibbons says during the fast, you don’t make any unnecessary purchases or credit card purchases. You should also challenge yourself to make no purchases whatsoever one day per week during the fast.

“I think it’s a great way for you to reset and see just how much you are spending, and get a grip on the spending,” Gibbons says.  

TIP 2: Create an automatic holiday savings account  

“One of the easiest ways to actually stash away your money is to go automatic — automatically have a certain amount of money taken out of your paycheck and deposit it into a savings account,” Gibbons says.

She recommends giving it a name, and not touching it until you’re ready to shop.

“This is a really easy strategy, and the point is to get into a habit of automatically having a certain percentage taken out of your paycheck,” she says.

TIP 3: Get a side gig

For people who want to pick up an extra job, the gig economy is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to do it, Gibbons says.

“The gig economy is now 34% of the workforce, and it’s projected to grow to 40% by 2020,” Gibbons says, citing statistics from Intuit, the owner of TurboTax.

Startups like Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit have made making extra cash easier than ever. Plus, gigging can add flexibility and supplemental income.

“It’s a great way to get out there and earn a little extra holiday cash. People like the flexibility, you can make your own hours, and the money is decent,” Gibbons says.

TIP 4: Get a seasonal job

Picking up a seasonal job is another way to save some holiday cash, and retailers are preparing for the season in a big way.

“In the last couple of weeks retailers have rolled out literally hundreds of thousands of seasonal jobs,” Gibbons says.

Target plans to hire 100,000 seasonal workers this year, and many other retailers are looking to hire. Gibbons says the pay and benefits can be good, as retailers anticipate a busy season.

“As the season gets underway and they see the business of it all they’re offering all sorts of perks to try to draw on good talent,” Gibbons says.

TIP 5: Avoid impulse buys

It’s become easier than ever to shop, and that’s led to more impulse purchases, which means more money out of your pocket on things you might regret.

Impulse buys are “problematic because each impulse buy can easily be $50-$100 and you’re out,” Gibbons says.

And the feeling after you make that impulse purchase?

“Generally after you make an impulse buy, you have sort of the high that comes after the fact, but soon after, it’s regret,” Gibbons says.

Gibbons recommends waiting 24 hours before making your purchase. Think it through, and decide if you still want it the next day.

TIP 6: Abstain from “self-gifting”

It’s nice to treat yourself once in awhile, but “self-gifting” has become a buzzword — and a pricey one for shoppers.

“You’re going to see more self-gifting offers to actually get consumers to spend more than they actually anticipated and to buy exclusively for themselves.”

Gibbons says remembering that you’ll also be receiving, and not just buying, holiday gifts this year, can help curb your spending.

“Maybe then you won’t jump in and buy something for yourself,” she says.

TIP 7: Keep your emotions in check

When you are ready to hit the mall (or your web browser…), prepare yourself, Gibbons says. Have a shopping list and a budget to avoid any emotional spending that can add to your holiday bill.

“You have to get a grip on your emotions because when you’re feeling emotionally able to make a financial commitment to buy something, you’re probably going to go for it,” Gibbons says. “If you let your emotions go wild, that leads to a lot of unintended purchases.”

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