After the intoxicating rush of the winter holiday season, the hangover sets in. The money we spent on travel, gifts, and food is gone, leaving budgets askew. How to restore balance to our bank accounts? Earning a bit more and spending a bit less may do the trick—and may be easier than you think.
Here are seven viable, relatively painless ways to improve your cash flow in the short term and rid yourself of the post-holiday blues:
- Sell your stuff. That dress you haven’t worn in two years, the furniture collecting dust in your basement, the necklace you never really cared for, the piano no one has played since the kids left home: these can all be sources of ready cash. Why not put it up on eBay, take it to a consignment store, or have a good, old-fashioned yard sale?
- House sit. Like the birds, people in northern climates often head south in the winter to get a break from the cold. Hiring yourself out to take care of their homes while they are away provides them with peace of mind and you with extra income while still allowing you to carry on your everyday routine.
- Rent out a room. “Sharing economy” services such as Airbnb allow you to offer that unused spare bedroom for only the days you choose, and they pay instantly upon check-in. Done safely—by allowing guests only with multiple positive reviews from other hosts, for instance, this option puts money in your bank account and enables you to meet interesting people from around the world.
- Work part-time. If jobs are hard to come by where you live, technology makes earning extra cash a snap if you think creatively. If you make crafts, why not put them up for sale on Etsy? Why not drive your car for Uber or Lyft, and choose your own hours?
- Become a consultant. Are you social-media savvy? Businesses often need help in this area. Do you know about website design? Ditto. Do you speak a foreign language? Advertise your services as a private tutor. If you’re musical, consider offering music lessons. A fitness aficionado? Why not work as a personal trainer? The list of possibilities is endless.
- Cut down on energy costs. Simply turning off lights when you leave a room can shrink your power bills by a surprising amount. Turning down the heat a degree or two will do the same, and wearing sweaters around the house can make up for the small temperature drop.
- Pause and reflect. The end of the year is a perfect time to sit down with your expenses and take stock. Where is your money going, and why? Could you spend less? Do you really need all those channels on your cable TV subscription? So much content is available online at a low cost, or even for free. Are you spending more than you need to on auto and home insurance? You want it to pay for big problems, not small ones, so raise your deductible and watch your premiums go down.
It’s no coincidence, perhaps, that the holiday season falls during the darkest days of the year, providing light and good cheer when we see the very least of the sun. Just as the days begin to lengthen afterward, however, we can brighten our depressed finances with quick infusions of ready cash with a little ingenuity and effort. In just a month or two your budget could be back on track, and sunny days headed your way!