If you want to boost your holiday budget, there’s nothing like a side job—and the extra money for Christmas it brings in—to turbocharge your savings.
But, there are plenty of other ways to seriously stretch your Christmas budget without ever having to take on a part-time gig either. We asked Dave’s Facebook fans to share their favorite ways to get the most out of their holiday spending (and we threw in a few of our own too.) Check out these 20 ideas to get you started!
1. Try out the four-gift rule.
“We do the four-gift rule for our daughter: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.” — Shana F.
2. Gift what they need.
“Stop buying forgettable $20 gifts to exchange with others for their forgettable $20 gift—pare your gift giving list down. Think about pooling gift funds to buy haircuts, oil changes, cleaning services, and grocery gift cards. None of us need more $20 clutter items.” — Kathleen D.
3. Deliver packages.
You don’t have to drive around delivering pizzas to bring in extra cash and spread holiday cheer. Why not try a part-time position at UPS? Last year, the shipping company expected to deliver 750 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.(1)
If you need something with flexible hours, how about signing up with Amazon Flex? You can set your own schedule and deliver Amazon packages whenever you have some downtime. Amazon says you can expect to make anywhere from $18–$25 an hour too.(2) Wouldn’t your holiday budget like that? We’ll go out on a Christmas tree limb here and say that’s more than most shopping mall Santas are making.
4. Buy gifts all year long.
“Buy gifts as you go throughout the year, so you don’t have a huge budget at the end of year (or save up). Don’t go crazy for kids’ gifts, they’ll forget about it all in a week anyway.” — Dawn M.
5. Have a secondhand Christmas.
“My friends and I decided to do a ‘Secondhand Christmas’ this year. All gifts must be from garage sales, estate sales, Craigslist, etc. We can look for good deals and also have fun finding super unique gifts.” — Hannah F.
6. Use a Christmas envelope.
“$20 a week goes into a Christmas envelope all year, every year. We’ve been doing that for a few years, and it takes the stress out of the holidays. We only spend what’s in the envelope and nothing more.” — Jess S.
7. Take advantage of PTO.
Most folks get time off at the holidays. So take advantage of those extra hours and rethink your PTO. With holiday shoppers out in hordes, seasonal retail jobs abound. That means you have the chance to turn your paid time off into a paid temporary opportunity by leaving one job a little early to head to another.
It doesn’t have to be a forever thing. But it’s a great way to boost your income and pad that holiday budget. The average retail worker makes more than $11 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.(3) And the amount of Christmas music filling your ears during your shift? Well, that’s just an extra bonus.
Many stores are known for their employee discount, which can help cut the costs of Christmas gifts. Take a seasonal gig at a store you normally shop at to make your dollar go even further in your holiday budget.
8. Buy useful stocking stuffers.
“Start buying stocking stuffers now. Buy everyday items such as nice markers and special toothpaste for the kids and shower gels and nail polish for teens.” — Brenda W.
9. Buy when you see sales.
“I buy gifts all year long when I see sales. The downside is it may go on sale more later, but the upside is I don’t have the January money shock. My Christmas is paid long before December.” — Deb O.
10. Go the homemade route
“We do homemade goods for everyone’s gifts. We spend $70 on 10 families. And we will use last year’s decor and budget cookies into our food budget.” — Amanda M.
11. Focus on making memories.
“Don’t go overboard! Don’t spoil your children. When they grow older, they aren’t going to remember everything you put under the tree, but they will remember the trips you took, and traditions and memories you’ve made. Also take them to buy for kids on the angel tree and remind them that many are less fortunate and teach them to be grateful for what they do have.” — Kristy S.
9. Go to the dollar store for décor.
“For decorations and gift wrapping supplies, go to the dollar stores or discount/thrift stores. Set a budget and play the ‘can I spend less of it’ game.” — Jay J.
12. Become a pet sitter.
Many people travel during the holidays and want to make sure their pets receive the same TLC while they’re gone. If you love animals, set up a profile on a pet-sitting website like Rover or PetSitter. Hosting a dog or cat during the holidays can be profitable and fun.
13. Give a gift for each month of the year.
“One year when I was struggling for Christmas, I gave my children and three of my best friends 12 gifts each. I spent less than $20 on all 12 gifts, and a decade later these are still everyone’s favorites. You can change them up anyway you like. What made each one special was the note inside the box that explained the gift.
January was small calendars, but inside was a note, and I had taken the time to put into the calendar everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries. February was chocolate kisses for Valentine’s Day. May was Mother’s Day and a baby picture of my son and myself and a note of everything I remembered of the day he was born. One of the summer months was kids’ bubbles to go out in the sun and have some fun! Then you put all 12 boxes into one large box. This way they have a place to keep the boxes until they are opened!” — Maureen K.
14. Nab a side hustle.
“As a stay at home mom, I have a side hustle that brings in a small income. We don’t use that income for regular expenses, but instead put it toward debt and extra things that come up. In December, our Christmas budget is our second income that month.” — Stephanie S.
15. Sell baked goods.
If there’s anything people will pay for, it’s food! This season may be filled with joy—but it’s also filled with lots of hours in the kitchen. Got a knack for baking delicious treats? The holidays are the perfect time to cash in on your baking goods. Caitlin T. told us she bakes custom cakes and makes $5,000–6,000 each month!
Of course, you don’t need special skills or a secret recipe to make money with food. You could start your own meal preparation business like Mattie W. did. She buys groceries and prepares meals for busy families who want a home-cooked dinner but don’t have the time to put it all together. A recent 10-meal order netted $75 for three hours of work! Merry Christmas indeed!
16. Stock up on the gift cards.
“We buy one $25 gift card a month and stash it away. And I only buy toys when marked down or on great sale.” — Brittany E.
17. Start a Christmas savings account.
“We have a separate account just for Xmas. It gets an auto transfer weekly of $25! It helps when December comes around. Don’t even miss the money.” — Lisa K.
18. Save up loose change.
“We always start this huge jar of coins in January and cash it out for Christmas presents. Usually we have like $400 in it—no sweat.” — Sandra K.
19. Draw names.
“Right after Thanksgiving dinner we all get together and draw names for Christmas presents. Everybody draws one name for gift giving.” — Norma I.
20. Set a holiday spending goal.
Santa makes a list and checks it twice, and you should do the same thing with your holiday budget! The best way to make sure you don’t go overboard this Christmas is to make your budget and stick to it. That way you’ll know exactly how much you have to spend on gifts for family and friends, holiday parties, Christmas decorations, and everything in between!
Once you have your Christmas budget ready to go, start trying some of these ways to make some extra cash or cut cost corners to save money for Christmas. You’ll be amazed at how a few small, intentional changes can impact your holiday budget with tidings of great joy!