4 Christmas Shopping Tips When You’re Low on Cash

You can hear the sleigh bells ringing over the mall’s PA system; the lights are glowing in soft shades of green, red, gold and silver in the city park; you spot the mistletoe in the restaurant doorway just in time to pull your loved one close for a kiss. There’s no doubt about it – it’s Christmas time again.

Along with the joy of seeing the lights and colors, and the sound of carols, Christmas brings for many families the time-honored tradition of exchanging gifts. But if you’re struggling financially, it can be tough to justify spending money that you don’t have on someone else, when you can barely afford to make your own expenses. It can be a source not only of stress and anxiety, but guilt as well.

There’s nothing that will help you suddenly make a ton of money overnight (winning the lottery is one Christmas miracle that passes most of us by, sadly), but you should consider the following ideas if you need a little bit of help affording the perfect gifts for your family and friends.

Take Out a Loan/Get a Credit Cardcash

It seems simple, but if you need money, even just enough to get through the holiday season, you should consider borrowing it.

You may be hesitant about taking out a loan, but it’s more common than you might think. According to Finder, 34% of Americans, or roughly 8.35 million people, took out a personal loan this past year. While it might seem strange to think about taking out a loan just to afford gifts, it can be a great option for consolidating your other outstanding debts and boosting your credit score.

Alternately, you can consider applying for a credit card to shop for your Christmas gifts. A credit card will allow you to buy what you need now, and pay for it later. If you decide to apply for a credit card, make sure you read the terms of use carefully, and understand any recurring fees you may incur, what your credit limit is, and especially, what your interest rates are. While you have to be careful using them, getting a credit card can be a great option to afford your gifts, while building your credit responsibly.

Drive For Uber

In recent years, traditional taxis have found themselves in direct competition with people giving rides using their own vehicles, and making money doing it. By becoming a driver for Uber, you can work on your own schedule, using your own car, and you’ll essentially be your own boss. At an average of $15 an hour, that’s a pretty good deal.

This is especially true during the holiday season, as there will be a host of people out shopping, and if you happen to live in a big city, people will love the fact that you’ll come to them, instead of waiting to flag a cab. Additionally, driving for Uber will allow you to make new connections, avoid the bustle of working a traditional 9-to-5 job, and allow you to gain additional, stable employment, which will help strengthen your application for future loans.

Sell Your Old Items

A lot of people have a hard time parting with items they’ve had for years, either because they’re sentimental or are wary that they may need it again someday. However, you could be sitting on a gold mine, and not even know it. An infographic on signs.com revealed that the average profit margin for old items sold on eBay was 462%; in dollar-sense, if you paid $5 for a mug, you could potentially sell it for nearly $30.

In addition to providing funds that you’ll need to make someone else’s Christmas special, selling your own items will help you too. Selling old items will allow you to free up space in your home for other things, save you cleaning time because you have less clutter, and potentially, find an item worth far more than you thought, giving you extra cash to put towards the debt that’s dragging your credit score down.

Take a Babysitting Job

A traditional side job that has grown into a full time business for many daycare centers, babysitting for another family’s children can be a great way to raise some additional funds for the holiday season, and there’s a wealth of benefits for you besides money.

For one thing, especially if you think want to have children of your own, babysitting will allow you to cut your teeth on child care, in small bursts at a time, and you can call it quits as soon as your job is done if you find it’s not for you. Changing a diaper for the first time, testing the temperature of a bath, and enforcing bedtimes are all common parts of parenting, but can be intimidating if you’ve never done them for a child before. If you get some experience now, before your own child comes, you’ll have a much easier start, and provide much better care for your own child. Plus, if you do well, the parents may decide to reward you with some extra money for taking especially good care of their precious angel.

If you’re already a parent, you can still benefit from a babysitting gig. Babysitting can allow you to network with new people, and build up a reputation of dependability and responsibility, which may help you find a better job down the road, or at the least, make some deep friendships with other parents. In that same vein, babysitting other people’s’ children may open up some new friendships for your own children, with the added benefit of introductions in a controlled environment that you can help foster.

Jingle All the Way

The above are just some ideas to help you out, and I sincerely hope that one, or more, of the options helps you get some much needed cash this holiday season. Regardless of whether you use one, all or none of these suggestions, I urge you to remember that the real joy of Christmas doesn’t come from how perfectly you wrapped a gift or what the price tag for it is. Your family will just be glad to spend some time together with you, and by finding your own course to getting the funds you need, and not letting it dominate your mindset, you’ll find that you enjoy it just as much.