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5 Definite Ways to Earn Extra Money for the Holidays

Mystery ShopperThe holiday season can put an unreasonable amount of financial pressure on anyone. When you start calculating gifts for other people, the parties and events, decorations and extra food, along with the fact that you still need to pay your regular bills, your funds can start to seem a little tight.

The holidays are a great time to relax and enjoy family while creating long-lasting memories. No one wants to be stressed out and wondering how they are going to afford everything or worse, go into debt by using credit cards for too many purchases and not having enough to pay off the bill.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to earn extra money for the holidays so you won’t be so strapped for cash. Here are five side hustles that you can start almost immediately.

Get a Seasonal Job to Earn Extra Money

A seasonal job is a great way to earn extra money without committing to anything long-term. Or, it could be a way to get your foot in the door at a job that you’d like to work at after the holiday season ends.

Related: Want more ways to make extra money for the holidays? Read 12 Great Ways to Make Extra Money Before Christmas

Either way, retailers and even online companies are hiring seasonal workers to start earning extra money now. Companies like: Target, Macy’s, Toys “R” Us and Sears and good retail options to start looking into.

If you prefer to work from home as a seasonal employee, you can look into customer service opportunities with companies like: Amazon, Apple, Groupon, SiteStaff and LiveOps.

Sell Homemade Gifts

Everyone is not great at DIY when it comes to creating nice gifts and gadgets to use. If you are crafty and creative, you can create unique gifts for others to purchase for the holidays.

Pinterest is filled with tons of handmade gift examples and ideas to use as inspiration. People love to look at and purchase handmade items, but have a hard time recreating it themselves and adding a personal touch so if this is your strong point, you can definitely earn a profit from your skills.

You can sell your gifts online on sites like Etsy, or you can sell them in person at craft and trade shows, church events, and out of your home.

Become a Secret Shopper

If you will be out shopping and running errands anyway over these next few weeks, you might as well earn money by doing it. Secret shoppers or mystery shoppers are hired to assess a company’s quality of service and compliance to specific standards and regulations.

Secret shoppers are generally supposed to visit the assigned location just like a normal customer, interact with the staff, make a purchase, then send in a survey or report about their experience.

Secret shoppers are reimbursed and paid for each job they do and have to freedom to choose which opportunities they’d like to do any create their own schedule. Most shoppers have main jobs, but work as a mystery shopping in their spare time, on weekends or even on their lunch break.

Mystery shop assignments include everything from dining out at specific restaurants, going bowling, shopping at a retail store and even getting your vehicle serviced.

To become a mystery shopper, you can sign up on legitimate companies like: Coyle Hospitality, Mystery Shopper Program, Secret Shopper, and Best Mark. If you’d like to make money, or get cash back, from your shopping during the holidays you can also check out sites like TopCashBack (which gives you cash back on Amazon.com purchases) or Swagbucks (which allows you to earn money by shopping through their online portal).

Offer Your Driving Services

You car can end up earning you a lot of money if you take advantage of rideshare opportunities like Uber and Lyft. These companies pay you drive other passengers around during your spare time.

Related: Want to read more about driving for Uber or Lyft? Read How Much Money Can You Make Driving for Uber or Lyft

Being a driver for Uber or Lyft is safe, flexible and pays well. The entire business aspect is completed through the app so passengers pay for their ride beforehand so you don’t have to worry about collecting and organizing money. As a driver, you will typically be paid every week.

Secure Virtual Assistant Gigs

If you’ve ever wanted to become a virtual assistant, this is the perfect time of year to get started. Business owners will most likely be taking time off during the holidays or trying to get ahead on certain tasks and start looking for individuals to help out as a result.

If you have great organizational skills and take direction well, you might enjoy virtual assistant tasks and secure some clients who may still need help after the holidays. First you’ll need to determine what services you can offer as a VA. Find out what your strengths are and what marketable skills you have.

Then, you’ll need to send email pitches to potential clients who can either be online business owners, bloggers or local companies that you are familiar with. You can even check out a website called Zirtual to help match you with an opportunity.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to earn extra money just in time for the holidays, but you’ll need to get started right away. Once you specify how much you’d like to earn, which option interests you most, and what will work best with your schedule and availability, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your side income.


What are other options you look at to make extra money for the holidays? Do you try to make extra money during the holidays? What’s your most effective way to mitigate the added cost of the holidays?

E*TRADE Review: Get Up To $600 Cash Back!


etradeIf you’ve not heard of E*TRADE they’re a well-known online brokerage that has been in business for well over 30 years. Investing is a vital part to growing wealth, so I thought an E*TRADE review would be helpful for those looking to get started investing in the stock market or simply looking for a new broker.

I’ve had extensive experience working with E*TRADE while I was a stock broker. I’ve also used the Etrade platform quite a bit. My experience with E*TRADE was always a positive one and have found their platform to be intuitive.

What Sets E*TRADE Apart

Having been in business for over 30 years, E*TRADE has a wide range of offerings. Meaning, it would be justifiable to handle all of your investment needs through them as they offer a number of things other brokerages do. I’ll touch on some of those later, but following are some of the things that set E*TRADE apart:

E*TRADE offers both futures and forex trading. A handful of brokerages offer this, though few offer both. E*TRADE charges $1.50 for futures and is compensated on the bid-ask spread for forex.

  • E*TRADE offers access to international markets. Very few brokerages offer this, so this really helps set them apart. At E*TRADE you can invest directly through exchanges in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and the UK. The pricing differs from country to country, so keep that in mind.
  • The customer service at E*TRADE is open 24/7. Surprisingly, this is not that common in the industry.
  • Etrade offers access to over 8,000 mutual funds, of which 1,500 or so have no transaction fees. The commission comes in at $19.95, whereas many other brokerages charge $50 or more.
  • Like Scottrade, E*TRADE has a national branch presence, albeit smaller. Etrade has roughly three dozen branches you can do business with nationwide.
  • Etrade offers over 100 commission free ETFs. Other brokerages offer similar programs, though few offer this many options.
  • Finally, the commission at E*TRADE comes in at a competitive $6.95 and an additional $.75 for options.

What’s Needed To Open An E*TRADE Account

Brokerages vary in terms of what’s needed to open an account with them. E*TRADE makes it relatively painless requiring only $500 to open an account – if it’s a retirement account there is no minimum balance at all.

This makes E*TRADE a good option for someone investing with $1,000 or less as you don’t need much to get started. E*TRADE has a full spectrum of account options from IRAs to business accounts so you should be able to find what you need with them.

Hidden Fees

Investment fees can be a drain on your investing and you need to avoid them if possible. You can check out this handy article from the SEC detailing how much they can cost you over the life of a portfolio. Thankfully, with E-trade you’re not going to have to deal with any hidden fees or account maintenance fees – which is unfortunately not all that common in the online brokerage space.

With that being said, there is one thing I don’t like about Etrade that you may want to consider with relation to pricing. Their commission is a flat $6.95, which is competitive though it’s a tiered system. If you trade at least 30 times per quarter you qualify for a more advanced platform –E*TRADE Pro. They also offer a lower commission schedule for more regular trading. These are all fairly common with online brokers, so it’s not uncommon though I’d rather not see it. However, if you’re not impacted by that or are a buy and hold investor then it really is a moot point.

What Can You Invest In?

As I mentioned earlier, one benefit to investing with E*TRADE is you get access to a wider range of investment products. Beyond the typical stocks, options and mutual funds you also get access to some of the following:

  • Bonds
  • CDs
  • Treasuries
  • International markets
  • Access to banking products

These are all in addition to the futures/forex trading availability Etrade offers.

E*TRADE Review – My Take

I think for many E*TRADE is a great option to look at. They offer a full range of investment products and an easy to use platform, plus the usual cast of investment tools and free courses found at other brokerages. This really helps E*TRADE stand out amongst other mainstream brokers. I’m honestly not a fan of the tiered commission structure/more advanced platform E*TRADE offers to more active traders but that’s the nature of the industry – money talks. If you’re not going to be trading much then it really becomes a moot point largely depending on what your needs are as an investor.

The other thing I really like about E*TRADE is they offer some good promotions – namely the ability to get up to $600 cash back for a new account as well as the ability to trade free for 60 days. Both are quality promotions in my book. This is in addition to the quality customer service Etrade offers – they’ve regularly received a 5 star rating by Kiplinger’s for their service.

Opening an E*TRADE account is fairly easy and only takes about 10 minutes. Just make sure to see if you qualify for a promotion when opening the account. 🙂



Where do you handle your investing? What do you look for in a broker? How much does commission matter to you?



Photo courtesy of: Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures

How to Ace an Interview When You’re an Introvert


interviewThe thought of interviewing for a new job makes me panic inside. At any interview I’ve ever attended, my heart starts pounding, my face flushes crimson, my palms get clammy, and, worst of all, my voice starts shaking. It’s not a pretty picture.

I’m an introvert through and through. I don’t like speaking to people I don’t know, I can’t make small talk to save my life, and I’d rather shave my head than speak in public. Seriously. The problem is, when you have to network or need to interview for a new job, you can’t avoid talking to other people. It’s just not possible if you want to get anywhere in your career.

So what do you do when you want to be the charming person who knocks the socks off of possible future colleagues and employers so they know that you’re the right person for the job? Follow these tips on how to ace an interview when you’re an introvert like me.

Do Your Research Ahead of Time

While it’s impossible to know every question you’re going to be asked, it is absolutely possible to anticipate some of them based on your industry and experience. Be up to date on what’s going on in your field so that you are prepared in case they ask you a question about a new topic of discussion in your niche.

Also ask a friend or spouse to quiz you on a couple of generic questions so you can work out the kinks in your answers ahead of time. It may seem silly, but you’ll be thanking yourself later when you are able to give a nice, succinct answer to a question while you’re sitting in that interview. Don’t forget to highlight any skills you can bring to the table from a previous job or side hustle that might match what current needs the new employer has.

Dress to Impress

To start, it always helps me to wear my most professional outfit to the interview. Wearing something sharp gives me a boost of confidence. It seems simple, but you’d be surprised at what people go to interviews wearing. First impressions are huge, and you want to make a good one.

If you put on anything that makes you question its professional appearance, don’t wear it. If you’re a man, a suit always makes sense in most situations. If you’re a woman, you don’t want to wear a dress that’s too short or too stuffy-looking, or heels that are too high. My answer to this problem is to always wear my nicest work slacks and a professional top with short heels or flats.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

If I get too nervous in an interview, to the point where I’m worried about my voice getting shaky, I don’t hesitate to ask a question to the interviewer. Asking questions helps you twofold. Not only does it make you seem interested in the company at hand, but it also gives you time to take a few calming breaths so you can prepare for the next question.

Besides, if you don’t ask a single question, you will look disinterested in the job due to your lack of research, and that will reflect poorly upon you. Added to that, asking questions can open opportunities to communicate what value you can bring to their team.

Identify Their Needs

As one of your questions, you should definitely ask what would be expected of you in the job and what needs need to be met at the company. This is your most important thing to listen for because if you can pick up on a specific need they have, you can point out what qualifications or personal experiences you’ve had previously that will help you fulfill those needs for them. Don’t let doubt hold you back; rather, communicate what you can do for their team.

This is your best chance to market yourself, and the specific qualities about yourself that will make you a great fit for the job above everyone else.

Follow Up

In the few days after your interview, send a friendly email to the interviewer thanking them for their time and the opportunity to interview for the position. Now is also the time to ask any additional questions that you may have thought of afterwards to show your continued interest in the position. Also, ask them to notify you when they’ve made a decision.

Even if your insides are shaking, it is absolutely possible to come across as well-spoken, intelligent, and right for the job. The next time you go for an interview, do some basic prep work ahead of time and nail that job that you want. But even if you don’t get it this time around, be grateful to get the practice because even though it’s not always fun, practice does make perfect, and you can ace the next one.


Do you get nervous when interviewing? What tips do you use to prepare for an interview? Have you ever done/said anything you’ve regretted in a past interview?

How to Balance a Side Hustle With Family Time


dadAs a full-time side hustler and mom, I know it can be hard to fit everything you need to get done into one 24 hour period. A full-time job takes up the majority of your time, and running a side hustle is like owning your own business, which means that you get to wear all the hats for your business– marketing, billing, and accounting on top of the service that your business actually offers. Talk about a full plate!

Sometimes finding the time to get everything done seems impossible. You want to grow your business and you want to do well at your full-time job, but you don’t want to make your family feel like they aren’t important in the process. After all, what good is the extra money going to do you if your family doesn’t get to spend time with you?

Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice all of your free time to grow your business. Here’s how to balance a side hustle with family time.

Hire Help

Because a side hustle is meant to help you earn more money doing something you love, it seems counter-productive to pay someone else to work for you. I know it can be hard to think about hiring help, especially when you are first starting out, but hiring someone to handle the tasks that are not in your area of expertise is not always a bad idea.

You can hire a virtual assistant by the hour or task to help you do just about anything, even the most menial of tasks, but I suggest hiring help for the areas of your business that are the most time-consuming, confusing, or tedious to you. This could mean hiring someone to manage the social media accounts for your business, hiring someone to handle your billing and taxes, or hiring a paid-by-the-hour IT guy to help you iron out the kinks in your business website. Even if you use helpful tools like Freshbooks it still might pay to hire that out so you can focus on things that bring in more income.

Whatever your problem, you can find someone to help you with it, even on an affordable hourly basis.

Set Aside Specific Time For Your Side Hustle

Depending on what time of day you work most efficiently, work on building some of that important time into your daily schedule to get some tasks done for your side hustle even if it’s only 30 minutes. Setting aside 30 minutes of your time when you are the most productive is worth more than an hour of your time when you are fatigued, and you will feel like you are able to accomplish a lot more in a short period of time.

Two great times to consider are early in the morning before everyone is awake or in the evening after the kids are in bed. If you can manage to wake up before the kids in the morning, this can be a very productive time to start your day off right and get you feeling energized, but if you’re not a morning person, then set aside your evenings instead.

Eliminate Distractions

No matter what time of day it is, the time you set aside for working on your side hustle should be set aside solely for your business. That means that your time should not be wasted by trolling Facebook (even if it is your business account), checking personal email, or reading random blogs. We all get sucked easily into the internet vortex, but if you want to effectively balance your time, you need to prioritize this time you’ve set aside for your business needs only.

Leave your personal cell phone in another room, close the door to your office space, and close out any internet browsers that aren’t pertinent to your work. If you need your phone to work on your business, delete time-sucking apps and notifications from your phone. If your phone pings for every new email, Facebook, and Twitter notification, it is only going to distract you from you work and tempt you to procrastinate, so get rid of those distractions beforehand so you can work more efficiently.

Your Family is Priority

Last but not least, just as you set aside distraction-free time specifically for your growing business, make sure to do the same for your family, too. If you can swing it, make your weekends completely dedicated to your family, and leave your cell phone and business demands in the office. If an entire weekend isn’t realistic for you, pick one day that’s solely for family time, such as Saturday or Sunday, or every evening after the kids are home from school, but before they are in bed. Your business may need you, but your family always needs you more.

When you’re running a side business on top of a full-time job, finding time to get everything done can seem impossible at times, but you can make it happen. Try to keep your business as organized as possible so that you don’t waste time looking for things, set aside specific times for all your tasks to get done, and focus on growing your business steadily rather than hastily so you don’t get burned out.


Do you own your own side business? What helps you stay motivated and productive?  How do you set aside specific time just for your family?

How to Make Money Selling on Etsy

craftIf you love to get crafty or relish shopping yard sales to cherry pick the best vintage deals, then you can absolutely turn your hobby into some extra money. With its focus on hand-crafted and vintage goods, the continually growing website Etsy is a hobbyist’s dream.

As a crafter, no longer do you need to struggle to find local customers. Etsy is like a huge craft fair without the aggravation of schlepping around your products and setting up a booth.

Etsy truly is a treasure trove for customers and a surefire money-maker for sellers. It’s a great way to reach potential customers worldwide to which you might not otherwise have access. For a nominal fee, you can start making money online, by selling items that you enjoy crafting and quickly turn your favorite hobby into a legitimate business.

Here’s how to make money selling on Etsy.

Choose What You’re Going to Sell on Etsy

The fun part is choosing what product you’re going to sell. Vintage and retro items are hugely popular right now, so if you have an eye for good deals, many are to be found for a steal at estate sales and yard sales. Estate sales are often little time capsules of vintage goods, so if you enjoy a good hunt, reselling vintage treasures you have found is a great way to make extra money.

If vintage isn’t your thing but you have a favorite hobby or craft, you can sell those items, too. Research Etsy a bit before you start to see what is trending. Once you figure out what is selling well, decide how you can make your product unique in order to stand out.

Name Your Shop and Complete Your Profile

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to sell, it’s time to choose a name and theme for your shop. For your profile page, let people know who you are, and give as much detail as you’d like. Your About page is your only chance to give the story behind your craft and what your creative process entails, so let your personality and creativity shine here so that potential customers can connect with you. Be sure to include a photo of yourself as well.

Photographing Your Product

When you’re selling a product online, presentation is key. You don’t need expensive camera equipment to photograph your goods, but photographing your products well is important, and a few small tricks will help your shop stand out and look more professional.

Since most of us don’t have our own photography studios, experiment with the space you do have. You will want to find a space that lets in lots of natural light and has a simple background, such as a plain white wall close to a window. The space you choose is important because including a uniform background for each of your listings makes your shop look more professional and allows the product to stand out.

If you are selling clothing, use a real model (you, your daughter, or a friend) to show how the clothing actually hangs on a person rather than a mannequin. Not every item will fit your model perfectly, so pin items when needed (and note that you’ve done so in the product description), and give the model’s measurements in the description as well. As someone who has purchased a fair share of vintage clothing from Etsy, it is very important to be able to get all the measurements to ensure that your customer will end up happy with the fit of the garment.

Be Descriptive

The last thing to do is to write a thorough description for each item in your shop. Try to anticipate any questions a buyer might have and answer them in your product description. You will want to be as descriptive as you can be and provide measurements for objects as well as clothing.

The Costs

Setting up your shop is free, but for each item listed in your shop, there is a 20 cent fee that runs for four months or until the item sells, whichever comes first, and a 3.5% fee on the purchase price once the item sells. If you choose to allow your customers to check out with Paypal, there will also be a fee for that service as well, so keep that in mind when pricing your items. Make sure to price competitively to other sellers in your niche.

Now it’s time to make some money! Remember to be patient, and if you have trouble getting traffic or sales in your shop, consider ways you can promote your shop such as through social media or your personal blog, if you have one. Market your craft, and let people know you’re out there.


Have you ever opened a shop on Etsy? Do you have a hobby you could market and sell? What are some other ways you’ve found to take items and turn them into extra money?


3 Things To Do Before You Quit Your Job


39982a21I remember it like it was yesterday. I had been planning on quitting my job for weeks, but rather than being calm and collected about it, my nerves were a knot in my stomach.

The day had come when I needed to call my boss at the corporate office to tell her I was quitting, and I was panicking inside. My heart was pounding, I felt nauseous, and I really didn’t want to pick up that phone. I didn’t actually have to meet her in person, so you would think that would make it easier on me, but when I get nervous, my voice starts to shake and all of my confidence goes out the window.

Somehow I managed to get through the call and was able to finish out my day as planned. I was a little nervous because in the financial industry I was in at the time, it wasn’t uncommon to be escorted out on the day that you quit, just as a general protocol. That’s how it works sometimes in the banking industry, so I tried to prepare myself for the possibility that it might be my very last day. Luckily we agreed that I should work out a three week notice, and I was more than happy to accommodate their request. It meant I was good at my job!

While it may be tempting to flip your boss the bird on your way out the door if you absolutely hate your job, not only is that very unprofessional, but you will also probably see some repercussions from leaving an employer in that way. Whether you are leaving on good terms or bad, always aim to take the high road. Here are three things to do before you quit your job.

Tie Up Loose Ends

Your first order of business should be to tie up any loose ends and finish any tasks that you have been putting off. Since I had known for weeks about my planned leave, I did everything I could to prepare myself and my colleagues for my departure. It’s never in good taste to leave any company in the lurch without you, no matter what your relationship is with them. You want to be an exceptional employee, even if you already have one foot out the door, and you want to make sure to retain a good reference after you leave.

For this reason, you should never announce that it is your last day without offering to work out a notice. Even if you know they won’t take it for whatever reason, always offer it verbally and in writing on your resignation letter. It’s the professional thing to do.

On a different note, this is also a time to decide how you want to handle benefits like 401(k) and health insurance. In the event of the 401(k) you will likely want to roll it over to your new employer or to an online broker if you are leaving the traditional workforce. The same goes for health insurance. You want to research your options. If you can get coverage under your spouse’s plan you will want to look into that, otherwise you might want to check out EHealthInsurance for coverage options.

Leave Notes for Your Replacement

The particular job that I was in was very detail oriented and required knowledge about all of the active files I was currently working on, so I did my best to complete every possible task on each file I could before I left so that no one would have to go behind me to clean up anything. I wasn’t going to leave a mess for my replacement.

I left extensive notes and a list of important document locations and correspondence so that my replacement would have an easier time with any files that were unable to be closed out before my departure. I also created a detailed document about how to do my job just in case it was needed. I wanted to leave on a clean slate, while also ensuring a smooth transition for whoever came in behind me.

Clean Out Your Emails and Desk Before Giving Your Notice

I never made it a point to send out personal emails from my business email account, but if that is a habit for you, you will want to make sure they are cleaned out before you leave. It’s not fun to think about someone reading your personal correspondence with friends, even if it is nothing scandalous.

The same goes for your desk. You should aim to have it mostly cleared out before you even offer your resignation just in case you are asked to leave the same day. It would be awkward to have to clean out your personal belongings while someone from HR is hovering over you, and it might make you forget something that you can’t get back.

The key is to make sure to leave your job in a way that leaves you smelling like a rose, even if you work with a bunch of people who are unprofessional. Take the high road. You don’t want people talking about your departure in a negative way after you leave, especially if you are staying in the same industry as it could hurt future networking opportunities. You don’t want to burn any bridges or ruin a chance of coming back in the future because you never know what will happen  Be professional, be kind and gracious, and leave them sad to see you go.


Have you ever left a job in a negative manner? Did you regret it later? What would you do differently? What tips do you have for someone ready to quit their job?


12 Great Ways to Make Extra Money Before Christmas


Make Extra MoneyIf you want to make extra money before Christmas, I have one thing to tell you – the holiday season will be here before you know it. I believe the holiday season presents some unique opportunities to make extra cash.

Much like there are many ways to make extra money during the summer, there are many ways to make extra money before Christmas. Some of those ways might be more on the technical/difficult side like investing in the stock market while other ways are simply more common. With the right mindset, you can take many of these opportunities and use them throughout the year and not just for the holidays.

We all know that summer is nearly over and fall is right around the corner. That means two things. First, you’re likely going to be spending money on gifts for the upcoming holiday season. Second, different opportunities to make money on the side are in abundance.

While many may be looking for ways to afford those high priced gifts, I believe there are ways to make extra money before Christmas that will help you end the season with more money – not less. So, if you want to make extra money before the Holidays,  this list will help get your creative juices flowing.

Ways to Make Extra Money Before Christmas


1. Take Surveys

You won’t get rich quick taking surveys, but they can be a nice way to get cash back or earn Amazon gift cards to use for Christmas shopping. With Swagbucks you can earn points, called SB points, that can be turned into money from taking surveys, get cash back from your normal shopping, or watch short videos, to name a few, and get cash back. You can sign up for Swagbacks here and earn an extra $5 sign-up bonus as a new member. If making money from surveys is your thing, you can also check out sites like National Consumer PanelVindale ResearchOne OpinionEarning StationSurvey JunkieVIP VoiceOpinion Outpost, ProOpinion, Opinion Outpost Canada, Mobile Xpression, Harris Poll Canada, Pinecone Research Canada and Nielsen Homescan Canada as another way to earn extra cash.

2. Yard work

You might think of yard work as a summer only activity. There can be just as much work to do in the fall/early winter as well. You can offer services like leaf raking, picking up branches or even shoveling snow as it gets closer to winter. This may be a bit more on the manual side as opposed to mowing yards, but all you need is a few tools and it can be a great way to make some extra money on the side.

3. Shop on Amazon

Swagbucks is not the only way to make money shopping online. TopCashBack is another option that allows you to earn up to 70 percent cash back through using their online shopping portal. One of the best features of TopCashBack is they pay out 8.5 percent of your overall Amazon purchase. If you do a majority of your holiday shopping through Amazon this can be a great way to make a little extra money.

4. Get a Part-Time Gig

Both my wife and I have done this in the past, but many retailers hire extra staff in the fall to help meet holiday demands. Of course, this brings up the side hustle vs. part-time job debate. I’d rather have the side gig, but if all else fails, this can be a nice way to make extra money before Christmas.

5. Open a Brokerage Account

I know, it sounds a bit odd. However, many online brokerages offer promotions – especially at the end of the year. If you want to start investing, this can be a great way to get a kickback for bringing a brokerage your business. There are many options to consider, just make sure to find one that meets your needs. You can open an account with my favorite brokerage – Motif Investing and get up to $150 cash back today! There are many brokerages to look at, so check out my online brokers page for some of my favorites.

6. Personal Shopping

I don’t know about you, but I hate shopping…especially during the Holidays. I’d much rather have a rusty railroad spike driven through my eye than to go the mall, but that’s just me. Not that I’d pay for it, but there are plenty of people like me and many of those will pay a personal shopper to do the shopping. You can arrange either a per hour or per gig price and do shopping for the individual. You’ll also want to set some sort of expectations prior to coming to an agreement, but this can be a great way to make extra money before Christmas.

7. Shop Online

If you’re like me, you hate going out shopping this time of the year and do much of it online. Why not make a little money back for what you’re already doing anyway? Similar to Swagbucks above, Inbox Dollars allows you to earn money by shopping online through their portal as well as playing games, searching the web and more. You won’t get rich quick, but can be a good way to earn a little extra money.  Join Inbox Dollars now and earn an extra $5 sign-up bonus for a new account.

8. Wrap Presents

If there is something I hate nearly as much as Christmas shopping, it’s wrapping gifts. I’m just not patient enough and I suck at it. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way and when many retailers charge at least $5 for gift wrap there is plenty of opportunity to undercut them and still make good money. I’d likely go with the per gig option as opposed to per hour in order to maximize your earning capability.

9. Start Writing

I know what you’re thinking. I’m not a trained writer so how can I make money writing? Don’t let that hold you back. There is plenty of opportunity online to write and make a decent income at it. Of course, it does take time to build up to that. However, if you’re knowledgable about a certain topic you very well may be able to make extra money at it. Check out Cat’s course to help get you started writing online.

10. Watch TV

That’s right, you can make money watching television. You won’t get rich quick, but there’s nothing wrong in earning a little extra money relaxing. With Reward TV, you can earn money and rewards to be redeemed for prizes by simply answering questions about a recent television program you’ve watched. If you watch TV, this can be a great way to monetize laziness. 😉

11. Decorate

Along the lines of the Christmas lights, you could also offer decoration services for individuals or businesses. You might need to do it through a business for the latter, but if you’re able to get a few recommendations that can really help get you started. If decorating isn’t your thing, you could always offer to clean prior to the decorators coming in and make some good money.

12.  Test free products

Businesses love to hear back from customers about the products they sell. In some cases, they monetize this effort. This is where you come in. PineCone Research pays you to take surveys or test out free products. You won’t get rich from it, but it’s a nice way to make a little extra money.

Bonus Ways to Make Extra Money Before Christmas

1. Clean Gutters

This goes with the yard work option above, but cleaning gutters can be a great way to make some extra money before the Holidays. All you need is a ladder, gloves and a few other tools and you’re good to go. Start by working in your neighborhood and let that build momentum for your side gig.

2. Get Creative

People love to send cards and other artsy things during the Holidays. If you have any graphic design skills this can be a great way to make extra money. We have a good friend who has her own graphic design business on the side and she makes a killing during the Holiday season. A website, or network of friends to use will, of course, make this easier, but there are also options like Fivrr, Etsy, Craigslist and more.

3. Be A Designated Driver

I didn’t realize this prior to writing the article, but there are companies that hire out for designated drivers. You work your own schedule and drive as little or as much as you want. We all know that most holiday parties have the booze free flowin’ so it could be a great way to make some extra money while keeping the streets safe at the same time. That’s a double bonus in my book!

4. Work Holiday Parties

I don’t know how it’s like where you live, but here in Omaha there are a ton of holiday parties during the fall and early winter. Many are in homes while many are done by different organizations. These provide different opportunities from being a server to valet parking attendant to bartender. You may have to go through a company to do this, but it can be a nice way to make some extra money prior to the holidays.

5. Be A Distributor

Have you ever wondered how those fliers get put up in coffee shops, stores and other retail locations? Those are often hung by people companies hire out to do this. With the holidays being a critical time for retailers this can be a great way to make some money on the side. I don’t have a real great way to get started on this, but get the number off the fliers and contact them to see if they have need.

6. Bake

We all know people enjoy baked goods during the fall and holidays. If you’re able to bake, which many do, then this can be a great way to make some extra money before the holidays. You can offer to do this for friends or neighbors to help save them time while they pay you to do it. Both parties are happy and you get to make extra money…not too bad in my book.

7. Hang Christmas Lights

With the holidays come Christmas lights. There are many in Omaha who pay good money to have the outside of their houses decorated, and it looks it. You may not be a professional Christmas light expert, but anyone can do it and it can be a great way to make extra money before Christmas. Look around your neighborhood for roadside signs or ads on Craigslist to get started. You can even charge a little more to come by after the holidays to take them down – double win in my book.

8. Become a virtual assistant

Just like the writing above, there are many opportunities to make money as a virtual assistant, especially at the end of year. If you have administrative skills, have technical skills or even social media skills this can be a nice way to make extra money before Christmas and throughout the year.


This is just a small sampling of the different ways you can make money before Christmas. The takeaway is to be creative and find a need that others are not meeting and you could make some decent money.

What are your favorite ways to make extra money during fall/winter? What is one holiday activity you’d hire out if cost were not an issue? How much do you hate Christmas shopping?



Photo courtesy of: ©Depositphotos.com/pressmaster






Top 4 Fears of New Freelancers


worry3Starting out as a new freelancer is an exciting time, but it can also be a little scary as well. There are so many things to learn about running your own business, and there will definitely be mistakes made along the way. No one is perfect.

Many new freelancers have the same fears, so you aren’t the first to worry about these things. Here are the top four fears of new freelancers.

The Fear of Failure

Actually starting was the hardest part of beginning my freelancing career. I waffled about it for months, even after deciding that it was what I wanted to do. I guess I was hoping that work would magically come to me once I decided I wanted to write, and when it didn’t, I knew I had to step it up, stop doubting myself and get started.

Remember that you will fail at 100 percent of the things you don’t try. Once I decided to get a mentor to help me with the ins and outs of full-time freelancing, my fears were eased, I was raring to go, and nothing could stop me at that point. Fast forward to less than a year later, and I don’t know why I didn’t start sooner!

Asking for Help

Unfortunately, freelancing is not just about doing whatever it is that you’re good at doing. As the owner of a one-man freelancing operation, you will have to wear so many hats, some of which you may not have even tried on before, like marketing and bookkeeping. If you find that you are not great at a particular aspect of your new business, don’t be afraid to hire help in the beginning.

Hiring someone doesn’t have to be permanent. If you are starting a new blog or writing business, you can hire someone to show you how to build, operate, and work out the kinks of your website. Whether it’s for bookkeeping, IT work, or virtual assistant help, you can easily find people who will work on an as-needed basis for what you need, so you don’t have to hire a full-time employee to help you out.

Not Getting Paid

One of my least favorite parts of freelancing is bookkeeping. I’m not great at it, and I do not enjoy it, but as a small business owner, you are the one who has to make sure you get paid.

My advice is to get to know the people you work for, have their names and addresses (especially if your work is done online), and put due dates on your invoices. You can also add a note that says the invoice amount increases by 10 percent if not paid by a certain date, and I prefer to invoice once per month so there are fewer invoices to track.

There will likely be a time that you are not paid timely for a service you provided or simply not paid at all, and all you can do is fire the client and see how you can prevent that in the future. As a freelance writer, I personally like to work for clients that I know are veterans in the industry, and most of my work has come recommended to me from other writers who have worked for the client in the past. This assures me that these clients will pay me.

If you can manage to find clients in this manner, especially once you get an established business up and running, then it will be smooth sailing and you will never have to worry about getting paid.

What Others Will Think

As an introvert, I realize how hard it is to put yourself out there. When I first started freelancing, I didn’t want to tell anyone I knew other than my husband. I was too worried about what other people would think since I left my full-time, well-paying job, and I was worried that if I failed, others would see and I would be embarrassed. I eventually had to realize that if you are so worried about what other people think all the time, then you will never make it very far at all.

Branching out to do what you really want to do in life is tough, and it does involve a certain amount of risk. Sometimes you will fail, but getting out there and actually trying is the only way you will ever know if you can truly succeed. Personally, I’d rather throw myself into it and fail than do nothing and always wonder what would have happened.

Whether you are worried about how to run your own business or simply how to track your invoices, get out there and just start. All you can do is try. Make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t let your fear of failure hold you back from starting a career that you love.


Is there something holding you back from starting your own freelancing career? If you are already a freelancer, what helped you start? What fears did you have to overcome?

4 Reasons You Need to Diversify Your Income


Learning how to diversify your income is a big topic in the personal finance niche. Maybe it’s because our generation came into the lackluster job market in the midst of a recession, or maybe it’s simply because we are a group of some serious hustlers with a knack for creating lucrative side hustles. Either way, a great way to increase your own financial security to is to have multiple streams of income.

Here are four reasons you need to diversify your income.

Job Loss or Other Emergency

Probably the most obvious reason to diversify your income is due to the possibility of a future job loss. If the last decade has taught us anything, it’s that no job or career path is secure 100 percent of the time.

Losing a job or being unable to work for health reasons is much easier to handle financially if you have other streams of income to help support you during unemployment. With other income streams available, you don’t have to panic, and hopefully the extra money has allowed you to build up a healthy emergency fund just for situations like this.

Create Passive Income to Retire Early

I’m sure you’ve read about many people who have been able to retire in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, but how do they do it? Many early retirees have diversified their income enough that they were able to retire from their traditional jobs and live off of their other income streams such as investments, rental properties, and online businesses.

Isn’t it everyone’s dream to be able to create enough passive income to be able to retire early or simply do the work you actually want to be doing? Nothing sounds better to me than building an income source (such as investing extra money) that allows me to sit back and watch it grow. That’s where diversifying your income can help you be able to do what you actually want to be doing with your life.

Diversify to Create a “Quit My Job” Fund

Many people today don’t find fulfillment in their careers, and if your goal is to get out of an unsatisfying career, creating another stream of income can help you jump start a “Quit My Job” fund. If you can manage to turn one of your hobbies into an income stream, you may even find something that you love doing that can also make you an income.

If quitting your job isn’t possible, income diversification could help you go down to part-time work instead, so it’s definitely something to consider if you are unhappy with your career.

So You Never Have to Wonder “What If”

After working in corporate finance for 7 years, I grew tired of working in a career that gave me nothing in the way of creativity or fulfillment. I was good at what I did, but I didn’t feel good going to work. I felt like I was squandering my life away on a job I didn’t feel connected to, and I wanted out. Leaving my job would mean that my husband would be the sole breadwinner of our house, and I didn’t want him to have that pressure.

I started a blog and jumped into a freelancing career just so I could have another option. I knew that if I didn’t make some sort of real change in my life, I’d sit in that job forever, at the same desk, and always wonder “what if.” I decided I didn’t want to be one of those people who wondered “what if,” so I did something about it, and I haven’t looked back.

How to Start

If you want to have a little more financial freedom in your life, explore the possibilities of diversifying your own income. Perhaps you could do some online work as a virtual assistant, which is something you can even do without a lot of skill. You can even start freelance writing to make money on the side. You don’t have to be a trained writer necessarily, as having expertise in a certain area is more than enough to start freelance writing. There are even courses available to help get you make money from freelance writing.

Maybe you have some money sitting in a savings account that could better serve you in a taxable investment account, like Motif Investing, or a hobby that you could monetize. Whether you are looking to retire early or simply preparing for your financial future, learning to diversify your income is absolutely the way to go.


Have you ever thought about diversifying your income? What ways have you tried? What hasn’t worked? What goals do you have for your income diversification?

How You Can Make Extra Money Without a Lot of Skill

money no attribution

There are so many reasons to try and earn extra money these days. Maybe you want to pay off debt, earn extra income so you can leave a dead end job or simply earn some cash so you can travel.

Our generation has become a group of major side hustlers and self-employed freelancers since many of us came to the meager job market during the Great Recession. We’ve had to learn how to be creative and market ourselves differently in order to make a living.

Fortunately, we’ve also learned that you don’t necessarily need a lot of skills and a fancy business degree from a big university (and the accompanying student loan debt) to earn a good living. The truth is that we all have skills that we can market to earn some additional income, so you can absolutely make extra money without a lot of skills.

Monetize Your Hobby

Everyone is good at something, and everyone has skills that others don’t, so figure out what you can offer and monetize those skills if possible. A great place to start is to consider what your hobbies are and research how you can turn them into some extra money.

If you love spending time with animals, be a dog walker or watch someone’s cat while they’re on vacation. If you love being outside, offer to mow lawns or do yard work in your neighborhood. If you like to DIY, paint rooms and furniture for people who don’t want to spend the time doing it. Even if you don’t feel your hobbies can be monetized, don’t fall for that trap. Heck, you can even make money surfing the web or using a different  web browser through sites like Swagbucks.

Fulfill a Need for Someone

If you can’t monetize your hobbies, try to fulfill general errands and tasks for those who are pressed for time. Consider if you could do something like wash cars, babysit, be a general handyman or house sit. You can even find opportunities to be a personal grocery shopper in some communities, because people who are pressed for time will pay for anything. (I’ve actually seen ads for personal grocery shoppers in my town!)

Sell Goods on eBay to Make Extra Money

Maybe you love browsing eBay, and because you’ve spent a lot of time on that website, you know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to selling items. If you have some pieces wasting space in your home that you could sell, start there or at least consider Craigslist as an option.

If you are out of stuff to sell, consider if you could sell items for others and take a commission once the item sells. People have a hard time donating much of their stuff, so if you are willing to put the time and effort into selling other people’s junk for a small fee, there are people willing to pay you for it.

…or Etsy

Another great place to try is Etsy. Etsy has everything from crafts and antiques to homemade items such as hand sewn clothing and natural bath products.

If you have a skill that you can market on Etsy, then it’s a great opportunity to try to earn some extra money from it, but if you don’t, there are other ways to utilize Etsy.

If you have an eye for retro and antique items, there is a huge market for those right now. Consider prowling estate sales and thrift shops for good deals on antique finds and then reselling them on Etsy for a profit. All you really need is a good place to photograph your finds (you can use your phone to do that), and that could be as simple as using a white sheet and some natural light. Upload your photos and set up shop!

Work as a Virtual Assistant

I really had no idea what a virtual assistant was when I first heard about it. I really thought that being someone’s assistant meant sitting outside their office to bring them coffee and handle their most mundane tasks. It’s a very antiquated view of assistant work, I know, but I didn’t realize that working as a virtual assistant was actually very lucrative.

As it turns out, making money as a virtual assistant doesn’t have to involve complicated tasks. I know so many people who make money through VA work online, sending out emails, handling social media accounts, scheduling blog posts or managing invoicing through Freshbooks so it is definitely a very lucrative side hustle that anyone can try out.

My favorite part of VA work is seeing how people utilize their knowledge of social media. What started out as a colossal time suck for most people has turned into a way for the savviest millennials to make money by managing company’s social media accounts.

You Will Build Skills as You Go

Whatever you decide to do, remember that you are building additional skills when you create your own business, such as marketing and bookkeeping. You will gain more skills as you continue working, especially when it comes to learning how to run your own business or side hustle.


Have you started a side hustle out of some skills you already have? What are some other ways to make extra money that don’t require a lot of skill? What was your first attempt at making extra money.