The holiday season can be tough on your wallet. If you are looking to increase your emergency savings or attack debt with a vengeance, there are some easy ways to find the extra cash.
We recently used several of these tactics to add $700 to our emergency fund in two weeks after a series of events battered our emergency fund. We are still raising more money and hope to have our emergency fund up to $3,000 in 4 weeks.
Try these tactics to find extra money:
- Turn in your change. If you keep loose change in a jar, turn it all in. Make sure to go to a bank rather than Coinstar, which keeps a 10% commission (unless you choose to get your money as a gift card).
- Cash out reward points. If you get rewards from your credit card or use a site like Swagbucks, cash out the money you have earned.
- Sell your outgrown kids’ clothes. If you have name brand clothes for your kids like Gymboree, Gap, Hanna Andersson and Janie & Jack, you can make good money selling on eBay. I buy my kids Gymboree clothes on sale with a coupon and then sell them on eBay when they are outgrown. In one week, I made $175 selling them. If you don’t buy those kinds of clothes, you can sell them on Craigslist or at a second hand retailer like Once Upon a Child.
- Sell your kids’ outgrown toys. Christmas is right around the corner, so now is the perfect time to list your kids’ toys on Craigslist and eBay.
- Sell your stuff around the house. Look in your basement and closets. What can you get rid of? I made $100 on Craigslist by selling 2 window guards and an old breast pump from my nursing days. We still have to list a brand new suitcase and some of my husband’s tools. Price the item just a little bit higher than you want to get and be willing to negotiate.
- Save reimbursements. Do you get reimbursements? If so, save those or apply them to your debt. We get reimbursements from FSA for health and childcare. We were also reimbursed from my husband’s employer for travel expenses he had to pay to attend a conference.
- Save raises. Instead of absorbing a raise into your budget, have the difference automatically withdrawn and put into savings. You won’t miss the money, and you will be growing your savings.
- Save your savings. Do you shop with coupons and a store loyalty card? Keep what you save and use it to pay down debt. If you saved $12 using coupons, put that money in the bank or on your credit card.
- Have a no spending challenge. Have one day, week or month where you decided not to spend. For a no spend day, you won’t spend anything. For a no spend week or month, you set an amount you will spend like no more than $20 for the week or $300 for the month. That amount will be used for entertainment, eating out, buying gas and grocery shopping.
- Have a pantry challenge. You probably have odds and ends in your cupboard like the fruit medley you never ate or the jar of cranberry sauce. Determine a period of time, usually 2 to 4 weeks, when you will only buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Everything else you eat will be food that you already have at home.
- Give up restaurants for a month. Many Americans eat out 2 to 3 times a week and spend $10 to $20 for each person each time. If you are single and don’t go out to eat for a month, you could save anywhere from $80 to $240 or more!
- Find a side job. If you haven’t started a side hustle, now is the time to get one. If you are a teacher, maybe you could start tutoring. Someone with writing skill could start freelance writing. You could clean people’s houses. The ideas are really endless. My mom makes a few hundred each holiday season selling holiday cakes and desserts. People buy them and serve them at their holiday parties.
When you are short on money, you can feel desperate. Take back control by using some of these methods to bulk up your emergency fund or pay down debt.
What is your favorite way to earn extra cash?