In case you somehow missed the memo, the holiday shopping season is just around the corner. While the holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also cause anxiety because it can also be one of the most expensive times of the year. Whether you have gifts to purchase, parties to attend, or are traveling to see loved ones, the costs associated with the holiday season can add up quickly.
If money woes are on your mind, I’ve put together a list of 12 easy ways to earn holiday shopping money. These aren’t gimmicks or ploys. I’ve tried almost all of these options myself throughout the years, and some of them I continue to use to this day.
If you need to earn some extra holiday shopping money – or just need money period – check out these 12 options:
1. Take online surveys
There are a lot of survey companies out there, and I know that many of them look spammy, but *most* of them are legitimate companies that will pay you real cash for taking surveys. I used to take a LOT of surveys in my younger, broker days. The thing about taking online surveys is that it can take some time to build up enough points to earn money, but with diligence I promise you it can be done!
Here are the survey companies I have direct experience using:
- Mindfield Online – This site was my favorite and I once cashed out at $75!
- Vindale Research – I was a member of this panel and occasionally filled out surveys, but I never got chosen for one of their review campaigns (where they send you a product and you let them know what you think about it).
- Pinecone Research – I haven’t personally used Pinecone Research, but my husband has! Only one person per household can join this survey site and he beat me to it! What’s nice about Pinecone is that you earn a set amount of money per survey and they pay out immediately. You don’t need to reach a certain threshold to receive a check.
Surveys can take a lot of time and dedication to earn rewards, but it is definitely possible!
One thing you should note is that if you start taking surveys to earn holiday shopping money, you may want to set up a separate email account specifically for those surveys. Survey companies send out a LOT of email! I would receive a new email every time they had a new survey (which could be multiple times per day), so they were taking over my in-box.
2. Use Swagbucks
Once you’re registered for Swagbucks there are various ways you can earn swagbucks, which can then be redeemed for gift cards. Some of the ways you can earn include doing web searches via the Swagbucks search engine, referring friends, playing games, finding special codes that are hidden on the site, and more. I haven’t been very diligent about using Swagbucks recently, but over the years I’ve earned $695 in Amazon gift cards. (Seriously.)
While I always use Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards, you can also get Paypal gift cards (aka cash), Starbucks, WalMart, and more.
3. Shop online using Ebates
Ebates is a cash back shopping site. When you do your regular online shopping through Ebates you will earn cash back on your purchases. If you do a lot of online shopping (and many of us do, especially during the holiday season) there is really no reason not to use Ebates! To start earning money all you need to do is set up an Ebates account, and then whenever you want to shop just head over to Ebates first. Search for your retailer of choice from the Ebates website and then click over to the store from the Ebates website. They’ll keep track of how much you spend and you’ll earn a percentage back! The cash back amount varies by store and all of that is clearly listed on the site.
Way back when, Ebates was one of the first sites we reviewed here on FantabulouslyFrugal.com and it remains one of our favorite sites now! Check out our original Ebates review.
4. Sell old gift cards
If you’re anything like me, you have a few gift cards sitting around that you’re probably never going to use. That’s just wasted money! Instead of keeping your gift cards in a drawer (which is what I tend to do), you could sell them. You might lose a little bit of the value in selling, but you can do more with the cash than with the card sitting around collecting dust.
I’ve used PlasticJungle.com in the past although it appears they’ve now merged with CardCash.com. CardCash.com pays up to 92% of your card value back to you in cash. I’ve heard great things about Gift Card Rescue as well, and they offer a pay out up to 90% of your card value.
Here’s something interesting: While it won’t get you cash, United Airlines has a gift card exchange program whereby you can exchange old gift cards (must have at least a $25 value and come from a list of approved stores) for United airline miles! A $25 gift card will get you 840 miles, $50 will get you 1,670 miles, and $100 will get you 3,330 miles. This is a pretty awesome exchange rate! Click here to check out the United MileagePlus Gift Card Exchange.
5. Sell items on eBay
If you have items sitting around your house that could be sold, why not hop on eBay to see if they have any value to someone else? I’ve had good luck in the past selling old shoes and handbags, but there’s a market for almost anything on eBay!
6. Sell things locally
There are a couple of different ways that you can sell things locally. Depending on where you live, a garage sale may still be a viable option this time of year. My friend in Texas just had a garage sale where she sold all of her children’s baby clothes and toys and they’re going to use that money to fund this year’s Christmas.
If you only have a couple of items to sell and you don’t think it’s worth having a garage sale you could list your items on Craigslist. I’ve done this in the past, but usually with bigger items like furniture.
If you are cleaning out your closet and have nice clothing, shoes, and handbags that you’re ready to part with you could try selling your items at resell stores like Plato’s Closet. If you don’t have stores nearby that will pay you cash for your items, online consignment stores like eDrop-Off are flourishing and they work with people across the country!
7. Sell back old DVDs to Amazon
With few exceptions, I don’t watch TV shows or movies more than once. For this reason, I only own about 10 movies/TV shows on DVD. Occasionally my husband and I will buy a series that we really want to watch, and what I’ve started doing is trading our used DVDs for Amazon gift cards. The Amazon Movie & TV Trade-In is awesome because you can earn gift cards when you trade in things you’ll never watch again.
To be fair, you won’t get anywhere near the original value unless it’s a just-released DVD or series, but I’d rather have a little bit of Amazon credit than DVDs I’ll never watch again cluttering up my house!
In addition to old DVDs, you can also trade in books, consumer electronics, and video games.
8. Mystery shopping
Before I really got into blogging I was a mystery shopper! While I rarely got paid cash for mystery shopping, I did receive a few really nice free meals (Roy’s comes to mind) and a mini shopping spree. Money saved is money earned, so the money I saved thanks to my mystery shopping gigs was money I could spend elsewhere.
In my free time I’ve started writing for a site called TextBroker.com. Basically, I write very short articles (that likely turn into blog posts on corporate/business blogs) and get paid about $5 per article. I’m not getting rich writing these articles, but generally they only take 5-10 minutes to write, so it’s easy money. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten paid yet but that’s only because I only remember to write an article every couple of weeks and the payout threshold is $25.
There are lots of other sites like TextBroker.com, and I’ve signed up for a few of them but I haven’t really used any other sites. RealWaystoEarnMoneyOnline.com has a list of sites similar to TextBroker.com.
10. Sell something on Etsy
Admittedly I have never sold anything on Etsy, but I know a few creative people who are doing quite well selling on this site. If you have a creative skill, why not share it with the world? You never know where it could lead!
11. Sell a service on Fiverr
I’ve recently gotten into Fiverr, and that’s because I very recently started a side business: blog consulting! I love teaching other bloggers how to make money blogging, so I decided to start a business where I can do just that. Because time is short though, I’ve used Fiverr to help me find people to do things like quick HTML/CSS fixes on my websites, and I’ve even had articles written for other websites that I own.
As I’ve been perusing Fiverr and getting the lay of the land I’ve been amazed at the wealth of services on there. People are getting paid for singing songs, transcribing, writing articles, and more. Nothing is too crazy! While the concept of Fiverr is that you offer a service and charge just $5, there are many ways you can upsell the service (such as charging an extra $5 for a quicker turnaround). While $5 doesn’t sound like a lot, if you get many orders that money will add up quickly.
12. Smart Phone Apps
I joke that I wish I could get a phone that only had access to email and texting. I don’t spend a lot of time playing with apps, though for awhile I was using Viggle. With Viggle you can check into the TV shows you’re watching (or not watching – I would check into baseball games my husband was watching) and earn points. These points can be redeemed for gift cards to various retailers.
Hip2Save.com recently posted about the Locket Android App, which will pay you for letting ads appear on the lock screen of your phone. (I think I need an android…)
Shopkick will reward you points just for checking into your favorite stores. You can redeem these points for gift cards. CheckPoints will reward points to you for watching videos, taking quizzes, and more. You can redeem your points for gift cards or products. If you save up 418,500 points you could even get an Hermes Birkin bag, which you could then sell for a pretty penny! JingIt seems to combine the best of Shopkick and CheckPoints into one app. You can earn points when you check into your favorite stores and for taking surveys and watching videos.
With Poshmark you can quickly sell items in your closet that you don’t want anymore. While this kind of fits in the “sell something” categories above, Poshmark is an easy-to-use app that also has a bit of a social element.
Believe me when I say that I know what it’s like to feel broke around the holidays (and really any time of year). These are the tried and true techniques that I have personally used – and continue to use – to earn holiday shopping money. While there’s no such thing as free money, with these methods you will be on your way to quickly and easily earning a few extra bucks this holiday season.
Do Tell: What recommendations do you have for ways to earn holiday shopping money? Do you like some of these techniques more than others?
Note: This post was originally published October 13, 2013, but with the holidays just around the corner this seemed like an excellent time to revisit these ideas.