Christmas is fast approaching and that means it’s time to get your gift buying into high gear. Being in debt is no reason to cancel Christmas, but you have to be smart about your spending. That means having a frugal plan for what you are going to spend and NOT going directly to the credit cards when you’re shopping.
So what can you do if you haven’t budgeted for holiday gifts and have less than two weeks to make some fast money? Here are a couple of ideas that are fiscally prudent.
Ways to Make Quick Cash for the Holidays
Clean out your closets
Just like you, everyone is in the mood to spend money during the holidays; why not take advantage of that? You undoubtedly have piles of seldom-worn clothes, slightly obsolete electronics, excess furniture, collectibles and other personal items that you can turn around for fast cash. Hit up online markets like eBay and Craigslist to sell your stuff. Let prospective sellers know that you need money to buy presents for your kids (whether that’s true or not) for that emotional appeal. The key here is a quick turnaround, not maximum value. Once Christmas is past, you’ll probably not have the same sense of urgency and that stuff will stick around your attic for another year.
Bonus points for unloading your old records, CD’s and comic books. Many local music stores as well as comic book and toystores love buying stuff to stock their shelves for the holiday season, and they pay cash. Grab your yellow pages (you’ll need to knock the dust off them) and call around.
For higher-end items, you can also consider selling your goods to pawn shops. Unfortunately, they will try to get you to unload your valuables for a song, so haggle and be prepared to walk away.
If you have the knack for high-quality handmade goods, now is the time to kick your hobby into high gear. Candles, nativity scenes, knitting and other craft goods can sell at a premium during the holiday season as serious shoppers look for more personal gifts. This goes for gift baskets and baked goods as well. The challenge will be finding buyers, the answer is to leverage your network. Send out blast emails (with pictures!) to your friends and neighbors, letting them know what you have available. Place handouts with tear-away phone number/e-mail contact info at your local church, supermarket and any other bulletin board that allow it.
If you are successful, considering joining sites like Etsy that let you turn your craft hobby into a year-round business.
Open a B&B
Seriously. If you have the room and can stand the extra company, consider renting out space in your home for holiday guests. Many people will be travelling for the holidays and can’t/don’t want to bunk with relatives. Offering a cheap, safe place to shower and sleep can net you a few shekels for shopping. airbnb offers regular folks the ability to become temporary hoteliers quickly and easily.
Spend your tax refund early
This is the advanced course, so check with your financial adviser before considering this.
Many tax preparers offer a loan program, allowing you to borrow against your future tax refund if they prepare your return for you. Now that the year is coming to a close, if you know you are getting a refund and can find a participating company, it can help you get out of Christmas debt-free. However, given the fees/interest that they charge, you may be better off putting Xmas on the plastic and paying it off in the Spring. You’ll owe several months of interest but may end up saving money in the long run.
Survey Says… Make money
Online survey websites like Surveyhead offer people with way too much time and patience an opportunity to make actual cash while sitting in front of their computer. It’s not easy, and the payouts are low, but they are real. Look for reputable sites that offer payments through direct credit or PayPal and get paid to offer your opinion for marketers to help commercialize every other day of the year. Note that you will typically have to offer up a lot of personal information to participate; that’s just the price of selling your soul.