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No Bonus in 2017? 4 Ways to Scrounge Up Extra Cash

By Maurie Backman - Updated Dec 5, 2017 at 2:15PM

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Here's how to compensate if a bonus you were counting on suddenly falls through.

There's nothing worse than the feeling of banking on a holiday or annual bonus from your company only to be told that you won't, in fact, be getting one this year. Countless workers depend on their bonuses to cover bills or help build savings. And nearly 20% of consumers are planning to pay for their holiday purchases with money received from a bonus this year. To have that money not come through could therefore constitute a serious blow to your finances.

That said, there are several alternatives for generating cash that can help make up for an absent bonus. Here are a few options to think about.

Man frowning at laptop


1. Get a second job

When you spend your days plugging away at work, the last thing you want to do after hours or on weekends is more work. But if you're willing to take on a side hustle, you could quickly make up for the bonus that won't be coming your way. A good 36% of workers with a secondary gig bring home over $500 extra a month as a result, so if you're looking to compensate for, say, a $1,000 bonus, it's conceivable that working a side job for just two months would get you there.

Best of all, you can choose a side hustle you like, whether it's monetizing an existing hobby or starting a business that interests you. This way, that second gig will feel less like work.

2. Sell things you no longer need

Whether it's clothing, electronics, or furniture, we all have things stowed away in the corners of our homes that we no longer want or need. Rather than let those items take up space, you can sell them to drum up extra cash -- cash that normally would've come through in your bonus.

You can go about unloading your inventory for cash in a number of ways. First, there's the classic tactic of listing things online. You can also try advertising your wares on social media; if you find a buyer through your network of contacts, you'll get to collect some cash without having to wonder who's coming to your home to pick up that old couch.

3. Sell unwanted holiday gifts

We all get things for the holidays that aren't our taste, whether it's an itchy sweater, a gaudy piece of jewelry, or a kitchen gadget that's more likely than not to go unused. If you're the recipient of unwanted gifts, there's no need to stick them in the back of your closet and bemoan your bad luck. Rather, use the above tactics to sell those gifts and collect a little cash for them.

The same holds true for gift cards. If you'd rather have the money, there are several sites that allow you to exchange gift cards for cash. Just be aware that you'll usually lose a portion of each card's value upon trade-in.

4. Cash out a loser investment

You shouldn't rush to unload an investment the second its value drops. But if you have an investment in your portfolio that's been a particularly bad performer for some time, it might pay to sell it at a loss and get some cash in your pocket. Not only can this help make up for an absent bonus, but it can also serve as a key tax break.

Investments sold at a loss can be used to offset capital gains, so if you're on the hook for taxes on a realized profit this year, you can minimize or cancel it out. Don't have gains to show for? No problem. You can still use that loss to offset regular income -- up to $3,000 worth.

Missing out on a bonus is not just a bummer, but a potentially devastating financial blow. If you're told you won't be getting a bonus this season, but you've historically collected something at or around year-end, be sure to determine the reason behind that change. Is it something you did -- or didn't do, like show up on time to work or meet expectations? Or did your company just have a bad year? It pays to get to the bottom of things not just for your own peace of mind, but to gauge the likelihood of it happening to you again next year.

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