Let’s be honest. For many of us the holiday season means blowing our budget, throwing fiscal caution to the wind, and indulging on shopping marathons fueled by Starbucks Peppermint Lattes and a deep-seated “tis the season” mentality. We often spend December on gift shopping marathons that include purchases of party outfits, finger foods, “white elephant” gifts, and decoration that beyond the initial opening leave us left with little more than credit card debt and busted new years budgets. But instead of entering 2015 in the read let’s talk about way we can make a few extra dollars (even in these last few weeks) to cover our own jingle jangle (coincidentally the only sound left in our pockets on Dec. 25).

Vintage ShoppingAccording to the American Research Group, Inc. shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $861 for gifts this holiday season, up from $801 last year (+ 8%). Planned gift spending will slightly exceed spending in 2007 ($859), a first since the recession. These figures don’t even figure in travel, party clothing, time off from work, etc. This is just gift giving based spending. So how does one recoup such an expenditure?

GET A JOB, MAN

Even at this late date companies like UPS, FedEX, Home Depot, and Amazon (NOTE: Amazon announced in November that it would be hiring 80,000 seasonal workers for its fulfillment centers in order to keep up with customer demand. That represents a 14% increase over 2013) are still hiring. According to a survey of 2,200 hiring managers and human resource pro’s, 43% of retailers intended to hire holiday help this year, up from 39% last year. In addition, 26% of companies across industries expect to hire seasonal employee in the fourth quarter, including employers in information technology (11%), accounting and finance (12%) and marketing (7%). Some 42% of these companies plan to move seasonal staffers into full-time, permanent roles.

If you possess the time, experience, and work ethic of someone who wants to work and not just get paid, a seasonal job is the quickest and best way to increase your budget quickly. To make sure this extra income goes toward holiday spending alone have your paycheck direct deposited into a separate account used just for holiday spending or tuck your tips away in a designated envelope safely out of immediate eye sight.

SELL IT

A quick glance over the Craigslist for my region and there is no less than 80+ Playstation (mostly PS3) game consoles for sale. Some are in bundles while others are standalone machines. Presumably these are to make way for PS4’s that will be under the Christmas tree or to pay off the money spent for a PS4. Whatever the case, even at just 15 days left before the big day people are still cultivating  market for things they can’t use. So what are you waiting for? Scour your home for unwanted items, outgrown clothes, vintage electronics, and other potential gifts (so long as they are in good shape) and sell them online. And don’t feel locked in to Craiglist. There are actually a number of similar sites that yield equally successful results.

RENT IT

Several years ago I remember stumbling across a site called Rent The Runway that allows account holders to rent remarkable luxury garments and accessories. It had a fascinating premise and after doing a quick check back it seems it has made a successful business of itself with multiple locations, stylists, a stunning website, and thousands of items. The New York Times called it “the Netflix of haute couture”. The trend must have caught on as there are now several other sites to rent garments from. This got me thinking that perhaps you could mix RTR with AirBNB and make a little money renting out your luxury home experience!

Perhaps you have a sleek loft overlooking Central Park, a houseboat on the Columbia River, a renovated caboose in the Blue Ridge, or a treehouse just outside of Boston? Why not consider renting it out for parties and events? What trendsetter doesn’t want to have the party everyone is talking about into the new year? Sites like Eventup.com and AirBNB allow people to list even one night rentals for private or corporate parties.

GO-FER

Everyone has errands to run during the holidays. In fact, most people have too many. Whether it be shopping or decorating or having the dog groomed or the halls decked, you can make money doing other people’s chores. A site that is hugely popular in more populated areas is TaskRabbit.com. TaskRabbit is an online service the brokers deals between those with tasks and those who complete the task. It is either paying someone to do your chores or being paid to do someone else’s. In just running a test I typed in that I was in need of a personal assistant to do clerical work at a home office for 4 hours this upcoming Wednesday. I was immediately given three choices of available candidates. The preferred task rabbit worked for $25/hour while the lesser experienced still earned $15/hour. Imagine yourself filling up your free time doing others’ chores instead of just sitting on the couch watching TV or walking the mall spending even more money?

If sites like TaskRabbit aren’t available in your area consider posting a personal solicitation at the grocery store, in the Classifieds section, at the local hair salon, or at church. You may want to consider vetting each potential client by asking a few simple character questions, speaking over the phone or meeting in a public place prior to the task, and requesting a 25% advance with the balance due upon the completed task.

Gift Wrapping

THOSE WHO DO…ALSO CONSULT

I can think of a number of times I have needed help with Excel in order to build a functioning spreadsheet or someone who knew a bit about WordPress or even someone who could just craft a mass-email for me. I don’t have employees and well, am not even a business so really just needed a little help. I could have used a consultant; someone who knew the skill I was looking for (who maybe did it as their “day job”) and wanted to make some extra money. It is the sort of employment that sites like Elance, ODesk, and Freelancer have become known for. They are sites that put job seekers together with people looking for quick talent and skill. The cool thing is it allows you to make money beyond the 9-to-5 parameters. Lately I have heard of folks like myself looking for book editors, copywriters, blog writers, illustrators, sketch artists, and even balloon artists (not to be confused with clowns for all you Coulrophobiacs).Why not advertise your services these last few weeks to help people address Christmas cards or come up with party menus? Just the thought of it has me thinking about where I can find a calligraphist to set my holiday cards apart!

For full-time workers, the money doesn’t have to stop once you leave the office.

STOP WHILE YOU’RE AHEAD

Perhaps the easiest way to avoid having to earn extra income though is to rein in your spending earlier in the year. Instead of waiting until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to spend lump sums of money consider saving all year long or contributing a small portion of each paycheck to a Christmas Club account at your bank? Or why not go for experiences instead of material goods? Try gifting adventure or time together instead of the latest, greatest, fill-in-the-blank?

The holidays can be stressful and finances can easily add to it. Don’t let yourself get there though. And if you do, know that selling plasma is not your only option for recouping!