While we’re all sick of the retail creep of Christmas — remember when we didn’t see yuletide items in stores until after Thanksgiving? — it does serve one useful purpose: it can help us remember to start budgeting for Christmas earlier. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American is expected to spend just about $750 for Christmas this year — an amount that can be hard to find in the budget if you haven’t planned for it.
While some savvy savers may have been setting money aside for Christmas expenses since the beginning of the year, for most of us, the end of the year can take us by surprise. The alternatives may seem grim: either tone down your Christmas plans, or put yet another holiday on plastic.
However, there’s a better bet for getting through a big Christmas debt free: take a seasonal job to pay for your holiday. Here are some great short-term gigs that you can work in November and December, so you can start the New Year with sweet holiday memories and no debt:
This is the typical place to look when thinking about temporary holiday employment. The holiday shopping season is big business for retailers, and the National Retail Federation estimates that stores will hire between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers this year.
The fact that job numbers are continuing to improve means that fewer unemployed job seekers will be vying for these retail gigs. Get your application in early to the usual big name retailers: Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Kohl’s, Target, etc. They will want you in for training so you’re ready for Black Friday.
Also, if you’re doing this gig in addition to your usual job, make it clear that you’ll be available for evenings and weekends, even if your schedule is not otherwise flexible. Those are both the toughest times for retailers to staff and the hours they need the most hands on deck.
Finally, working for one of the major retailers has another big benefit: the employee discount can help your gift dollars go farther.
UPS and FedEx
Those shoppers who aren’t cruising the mall and the big box stores for gifts are likely doing their shopping online, which means shipping needs go up at this time of year, too. In particular, UPS and FedEx will be hiring 55,000 and 20,000 seasonal employees this year respectively. Depending on what you do for these companies — from early morning sorting to delivering packages during the day — you may be able to find a temporary schedule that works around your regular job.
In addition to shopping more, Americans tend to eat out (or order in) more often during the holiday season. Consider working at your local chain sit-down restaurant. Depending on your tips, this could potentially be one of the most lucrative part-time seasonal positions you can get.
For those who don’t quite have the peppy personality to be a successful server, delivering pizzas can be another great way to make money over the holidays. You can still make a decent amount with tips, and you don’t have to spend your time trying to up-sell your customers.
The Bottom Line
Even if you can’t fit a traditional seasonal job into your crowded holiday schedule, you can always find some ways to make extra money. Earn some extra cash by shoveling snow, baby- or pet-sitting, or even wrapping gifts for others. Anything you can do to keep Christmas from taking a bite out of your budget will be a big relief when your January credit card bill arrives.
Have you ever worked a seasonal job to help with Christmas expenses?