How to Get Extra Holiday Money: 3 Tips

December 6, 2012
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We could all use a little extra cash these days, right? And now that we’re into December, we could all probably benefit from finding some extra holiday money to spend on presents or to pay down debt.

I recently spoke with Jeff Trachsel, CMO of NextWorth, a leading consumer electronics trade-in service, when he offered to share some tips with me on how you can bring in extra holiday money. I’ve taken Jeff’s tips and added in some of my own to provide some ways you might just find a few more bucks in your pocket–or bank account–this holiday season.

FIND LOST MONEY
When was the last time you went cushion diving to look for spare change in your couch or easy chairs? What about in the laundry room? Every time I count spare change, I end up with an easy $40 or $50. If you don’t want to bother rolling your coins, you could take advantage of this Coinstar promotion, running through December 9. When you pour at least $40 into a Coinstar machine–and select a payout in certain gift cards–Coinstar will add $10 to your total. Meaning you get a $50 gift card for $40.

In addition to spare change, you may have find your holiday money in money that is owed to you. Every U.S. state has an unclaimed property program that actively and continuously finds owners of lost and forgotten assets. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators at Unclaimed.org, a total of $2.25 billion (yes, billion!) was returned to rightful owners in 2011, with the average amount being $892. I wrote a series of blog posts over on Home Goes Strong about unclaimed funds and how, after visiting the website mentioned above, I discovered that my husband had missing money and some unclaimed funds. Eventually, he got a check for $77.37. That’s not get rich money but I’ll take it nonetheless.

SELL USED STUFF
One tip that Jeff shared with me that I’d never heard before was this: Target stores nationwide accept trade ins of products in-store in exchange for store gift cards. I believe Best Buy does, too. Considering the average American household has about 10 unused electronics sitting around collecting dust–I’m looking at one old cellphone, two old laptops and one old desktop computer in the corner of my office as I’m writing this–you could really have unfound cash in those old electronics and gadgets.

If you prefer to trade in online, here’s how Jeff’s company NextWorth works. Just find your device on the site and answer simple questions about its condition for an instant quote. A free shipping label is provided to send it in. Items typically accepted for trade (online or in-store) include: iPhones, iPads, iPods, cell phones, point and shoot cameras, Digital SLR cameras, tablets, e-readers, game consoles, GPS units, laptops, movies, video games and calculators. Gazelle.com, a competitor, works in a similar fashion.

Here’s another used-stuff option to consider: consign your clothes. Twice a year I bring my clothing to a nearby consignment shop, and I usually walk away each time with between $50 and $100. (Here are my tips on getting your clothes ready for consignment.) I’ve even taught my teenage daughters to trade in their old clothes for cash on the spot.

GET A PART-TIME JOB
Though not the easiest, or the most fun option, putting in a few extra hours around the holidays is an excellent way to get some dough. The National Retail Federation reports that retailers will hire between an estimated 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal employees this year. Retail stores are the busiest this time of year and always need some extra hands. As a bonus, you’ll likely be eligible for the employee discount as well.

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