Ways to Make an Extra $1,000 by the Holidays
You can do some simple things—such as adjusting your tax withholding or selling old stuff—to earn cash for the costly season of giving.
With some simple cost-cutting strategies, you can certainly save more than $1,000 in time to cover all your holiday costs. But you know what's better than saving money? Making money.
While the amount you can save is limited, how much extra cash you bring home is really up to you. Of course, your income-generating capabilities may be hindered by the day only consisting of 24 hours and some of those hours being needed for sleeping and eating. Our popular slide show 29 Ways to Earn Extra Cash is packed with ideas, and here are four of our favorite ways to boost your earnings for at least a couple of months without cutting into your beauty rest.
1. Adjust your tax withholding
Three out of every four American workers receive a tax refund from Uncle Sam in the spring, and the average refund these days is about $3,000. Nine months into 2015, you’ve probably already banked a healthy refund for next spring if your financial situation remains unchanged from 2014. Adjust your tax withholding now, and take home more money starting on your next payday. Just fill out a new W-4 form with your employer to claim extra allowances.
Based on that average refund of $3,000, you could pocket $250 more every month for the rest of the year. Visit our easy-to-use withholding calculator to determine how many allowances to take to bring withholding in line with what you actually owe—and how much your paycheck will jump as a result.
Two months of earnings: $500
2. Sell unwanted electronics
After you upgrade to the latest new gadget, don't discard or forget about your old toys. You can sell used cell phones, tablets, computers and other devices through resale sites such as uSell, Gazelle and NextWorth. These businesses even buy damaged goods, though products in mint condition obviously fetch the best prices.
For example, perhaps you’ve upgraded to an iPhone6 or 6S—and still have your old 5S model in a junk drawer now. NextWorth will pay as much as $170 for it.
Two months of earnings: $170+
3. Pick up a passenger
Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft can turn your car into a moneymaker. Whether you want to pick up a few bucks while driving home from work some evenings or go for a windfall by working a busy Saturday night in the city, how much you drive and earn are at your discretion. Uber estimates that its drivers earn about $19 an hour, on average. Lyft says you can make up to $35 an hour. (Try the site's calculator to figure out how much you can make personally.)
But don't forget to factor in the cost of driving strangers in your own car. You have to pay for maintenance and gas for the extra miles you’re driving. Uber and Lyft provide some insurance to cover you while you have customers, but you must maintain a personal policy, too. For more on these services and other similar ways to earn extra income, see Cash In on the Sharing Economy.
Two months of earnings: $304, if you work just two hours a week at Uber's average rate for the next eight weeks
4. Redeem credit-card rewards
While Americans are increasingly racking up credit-card debt, we seem to be forgetting about the good things that come from using plastic. According to CardHub, around $4 billion in annual rewards go unused.
Instead of leaving that valuable currency on the table, you can cash in your points for holiday gifts. Gift cards are a particularly easy payoff for shopping with rewards. Better yet, go for the cash. One of Kiplinger’s favorite rewards cards, the Citi Double Cash Card earns you 1% cash back for each purchase and another 1% when you pay your bill. Once you accumulate $25 in rewards, you can cash out by check, statement credit, gift card or credit to your Citi savings or checking account. CardHub estimates that you can earn about $47.50 a month, based on average spending habits. (See Best Rewards Credit Cards.)
Two months of earnings: $95