Use Your Skills to Make Extra Money During the Holidays

Use Your Skills to Make Extra Money During the Holidays

by Bilal Kaiser, November 2014

It’s that time of year again: the bells are jingling and the halls are decked. In addition to spending time with family, giving back to the community and perhaps taking advantage of some of the great sales out there, the holidays can also be a good time to make extra money using tools you already have.

From selling baked goods to renting out your car, here are a few quick ways to make money as you get ready to end 2014.

If you’re crafty, creative or good with your hands…

Do you make homemade necklaces that impress all your friends? Or perhaps you want to test the commercial viability of your secret woodworking hobby. This holiday season, why not sell your wares on a site like Etsy or eBay? Artisans across the country make money during holidays by offering unique goods, from iPhone cases to hand-knit baby clothes to organic cotton pillowcases.

If you’ll be traveling this holiday…

Leaving town during the winter months? Instead of closing down your home, why not open it up to a friendly stranger visiting your town. One of the easiest ways to make money while traveling is to use popular sites like AirBnB, HomeAway and VRBO. They are a fantastic way to connect whatever type of abode you’re offering with like-minded travelers looking for a hotel-alternative.

If your pies get mistaken for food competition entries…

Do your friends tell you your baking skills rival Martha Stewart’s? New startups like GoodEggs connect local farmers and food producers with discerning customers in their area. While there might be some specific regulations/parameters depending on your product (e.g., commercial kitchen for baked goods), recent changes have made it easier for home-based cooks and bakers to produce and sell goods (see: California’s Cottage Food Operations law).

And for the chefs out there, sites like Kitchen Surfing connect chefs with local patrons to produce meals in those patron’s homes.

If you have an extra car…

Perhaps your child is at college and her car is parked in the garage, or you only need one of your cars this time of the year, or you’re leaving your car at home while traveling. Car-sharing sites like Relay Rides have gained tremendous popularity recently because they allow visitors and car-less residents alike to rent cars from locals. In some cases, you don’t even have to meet the renter—it’s all done through a smart app, including the key exchange. If you live in a big city that sees a lot of tourists, renting your car out over a few weeks is one of the fastest ways to make money without making a major investment.

If you have extra time on your hands…

In our new sharing economy, everyone can do bits and pieces of work when necessary, and make money quickly. One example is by driving for the wildly popular apps Uber or Lyft. There might be some time needed to get set up, but once drivers are on board they can work as much (or as little) as they’d like.

Another approach is to sell your time/services through sites like Task Rabbit, Handy, Fiverr or Elance. Tasks that might be difficult for one person—like delivering something in an SUV, building that Ikea dresser or writing a press release—might be super simple for another, and those sites bring the two together (with money to boot).

If you like shopping…

If you’re the type to line up for Black Friday sales or just know how to find a good deal, make your holiday spending work harder by participating in online rebate and rewards programs. This might be through a third-party site like eBates or SwagBucks, where you earn money just by shopping, or via a store-run credit card program. For example, Costco’s credit card via American Express comes with cash back to you based on your spending at the warehouse store.

If you want to give back…

While the holidays are great for commerce and finding ways to make money online, this year why not earn money that goes to help someone else have a better, warmer holiday season? For example, if you like running or biking, check out Charity Miles, a new app that rewards you for exercising—via contribution to a charity of your choice. Or if you plan to spend the holidays parked inside on your couch, try using the search/shopping engine Good Search to support nonprofits while spending time online.

The end of the year is a great time to wrap up open projects, reflect on your successes (or failures) and set a vision for the coming year. And if you can do it while bringing home some extra cash for the holidays, well, ’tis definitely the season to be jolly.