by Maurie Backman | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on Nov. 4, 2020
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Here's how to round up some extra cash for this year's holidays and avoid unhealthy debt.
Though 2020 may seem like the year when time stands still, before we know it, the holidays will be upon us, and that means the potential for a lot of spending. Last year, the average American spent over $700 on the holidays, but if you're planning to travel to visit family or you have a large family expecting gifts, your total tab could be a lot higher.
That's why it's important to get your hands on as much money as possible between now and the holidays. If you charge your expenses on a credit card intending to pay that balance off over time, you'll risk racking up costly interest charges, potentially damaging your credit score in the process. Here's how to boost your cash pile in the coming weeks -- and spend with less stress for the holidays.
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Normally, the holidays are a great time to pick up a side gig at a local restaurant or retailer. But thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, jobs aren't as plentiful this year, and working in a customer-facing role just isn't as safe as it normally would be. The good news, however, is that you may be able to find a gig in your skillset you can do remotely, whether it's graphic or web design, writing, editing, or data entry. You can also try capitalizing on the remote learning situation by offering tutoring sessions you conduct over video conference.
If a remote side gig isn't really an option, there may be some safer in-person alternatives that help you earn extra cash. If you pet-sit, for example, you have minimal exposure to other people, as the bulk of your time will be spent with their animals. Similarly, you might drive for a ride-sharing company. If you keep windows open for ventilation and practice mask-wearing and sanitizing, it may be a gig with a higher degree of comfort.
Chances are, you still have a pile of items you received last holiday season that you haven't touched -- the sweater your aunt gave you that's not your taste, or the gift cards you haven't cashed in because they're from stores where you rarely shop. Now's a good time to sell those items online, or through local groups you might belong to on social media. You can also try unloading your gift cards for cash through sites like CardCash, but usually, you'll get less than face value. Still, you might as well get some money rather than let those cards collect dust.
Many people have been forced to alter habits due to the pandemic. If that's the case for you, then stick whatever extra cash you're not spending in the bank and use it for the holidays. For example, if your weekly happy hour with your college friends is canceled for now, don't just spend that $30 on takeout or another treat. Instead, put it in your holiday pile.
Right now, the U.S. economy is in a pretty dark place, and we don't know when it will recover in a meaningful way. You really don't want to take on extra debt at a time like this, so make an effort to eke out additional holiday funds. Having more cash on hand makes the holidays less stressful, and given the larger situation, that's important this year.
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