How Real People Earn Extra Money for the Holidays

Image courtesy of and Dream Designs


I’m a student heading home for the holidays, and was wondering if you have any ideas on how to make some money during the month or so I’ll be at home. Any suggestions?

Getting temporary jobs can be challenging because sometimes it takes a month or two just to get an interview with a company! Of course, I have my own favorite ways to make extra money (like Mystery Shopping!) but I wanted to see what others had to say. So, I put a call out for real people to offer their advice on how to earn holiday income and posted their responses below. Don’t forget, there are over 700 ideas, resources, and companies to help you find other ways to earn income in the award-winning book, The Work at Home Training Program. (Makes a great gift!)

Seasonal and Temporary Work:

Back when I was doing my undergrad, I would come home back to home in Connecticut during breaks. Knowing I wanted to earn extra cash for the holidays, I called up a place I’ve worked at, Dollar Tree, that becomes busy during the holiday season back in mid-November to inquire about the possibility of seasonal hours. Fortunately, I had a good reputation with the manager, so they fancied the idea. A week before returning home, I followed up with the manager to confirm everything was okay to snag some extra hours. Once given the green light, I showed an attitude of will the work whenever – even taking other coworkers dropped shifts to pick up the slack. Made a lot of income that way.

Bryan M. Waring

I start looking at temp agencies like Kelly, around October. There are always people looking to take time off, or companies in need of extra hands around the holidays to process orders. I’ve worked several Black Friday sales – they were exhausting but fun because I knew it wasn’t a long term career. Even in mid-December I always get calls for job offers in retail and restaurant work. And the tips can be great!

– Francine Peyton

Sell your stuff:

The first Christmas after college my husband and I were super broke. We’d just paid off our student loans and didn’t have much left. To make some extra money for the holidays we sold products on Amazon. We would scour clearance racks scanning them to see what was selling for 2-3x more on Amazon then we would buy it, ship it to an Amazon warehouse and when it sold they would ship it to the customer for us. We did it on a smaller scale to make some extra cash for Christmas, but there are many who can grow their Amazon FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) business into a full-time income.

– McKinzie Bean Company,

In order to make some extra income during the holidays, I sell my belongings on 3rd party apps, (editor note: check out OfferUp or LetGo) get a job in retail department store (for the discounts), and I teach more yoga classes while regular instructors are away visiting family. I end up making around 6k extra by doing these things. I use the extra income to pay off expenses, buy gifts and invest into stocks and my money market/IRA accounts. It’s a great way to boost your income without having to commit to the jobs full-time and throughout the year. It’s also a great way to make new friends.

– Alex Tran

The holidays are the best time to be selling things. Everyone is buying, and getting a piece of the pie is much easier because of that. To take advantage of the uptick in extra buyers during the holidays, doing some retail arbitrage by shopping in stores clearance sections is a great way to find items that have a hefty enough margin to resell for a profit, online or locally. You can easily scale this by going to more stores, and can bring in a solid $100 (or more) per week doing it for just a handful of hours.

– Dustyn Ferguson,

Home and Pet Care:

I’ve been a dog sitter for for several years. I look forward to sharing the holidays with my furry guests and opening my home to them while their pet-parents are away. Being a Rover pet-sitter can be as simple as checking on a dog while its pet-parents are out doing holiday shopping, away for a weekend traveling to visit family, or even longer while their pet-parent needs a hand while recovering from a planned year-end medical procedure.

Over the past two years alone, I’ve made more than $600 from the week before Christmas thru New Year’s. Rover is a fun and easy way to make extra money, and the best part is that Rover does all the work of finding my clients, even if they live out of state and are just passing thru town to visit family.

Shawna Murph of Reno, Nevada


I love housesitting and taking care of pets over the holidays. Since I live in a small community, I’ve found that networking through Facebook is the best way to get referrals. Not only to I have my own Facebook page where I advertise my services, I also do a lot of community outreach actively promoting other small businesses as well as posting for lost pets. Clients find me through several “buy/sell” groups in my area, and I’ve earned the support and trust of our local pet store which also sends me referrals. The best part of housesitting is my clients! It warms my heart to know that they trust me to take care of their most precious possessions: their pets and their home.

-Lisa Spesard, I’m Your Huckleberry on Orcas

Mystery Shopping:

I write constantly about how I adore Mystery Shopping as an extra way to earn money. I’ve been Mystery Shopping since 1999 and have been a shopper, scheduler, editor, mystery shopping company owner, consultant to both businesses to train their employees, and MS companies to train their shoppers. I’ve been teaching Mystery Shopping since 2003, have a book out on Mystery Shopping, as well as online classes. Check out the Mystery Shopping section of this website which will answer common questions about the industry. Or, just get the book to learn how to get started! Here’s what others have to say about Mystery Shopping:

You may not get rich mystery shopping, but it’s a fun way to earn extra money or save on items that you would purchase anyway. Plus, you get to contribute to customer service improvements in your local establishments. Mystery shoppers get paid an average of $5 – $20 per assignment. They also get reimbursed for items they would normally buy, such as meals, groceries and gas. Market Force Information is one of the largest and most reputable mystery shopping companies in the world and is currently recruiting shoppers in all areas of the country. Those interested in becoming a mystery shopper can learn more and register at

– Brad Christian, chief customer officer for Market Force Information

My trick to making extra money during the holidays is mystery shopping! Not only can you make extra cash, but you can shop for gifts for friends and family members and be reimbursed for purchases! This is a great way to stay out of debt during the holidays. I’ve mystery shopped for gifts such as jewelry, handbags, toys, gift cards, and, best of all, NBA basketball game tickets! My son was thrilled with his gift of an NBA game and it cost me exactly $0.

– Jen, Smarty Pants Finance

Rent out your space…or boat!

Many people use AirBnB to rent out their whole home while they’re away. I’m just not that trusting! But, I do know that people travel for the holidays, and since I have a spare room, I’m happy to host someone during that time. I feel like I’m doing a bit of community service as well since travelers get a break from their family (oh the crazy stories I’ve heard!) and don’t have to pay full price for a hotel room. Plus, AirBnB sets room rates automatically based on supply and demand, so I don’t have to constantly worry about whether I’m priced too high or too low. I easily make over $1000 between Thanksgiving and New Years.

-Alyson, AirBnB host

I have used the Airbnb-like boat sharing platform, Boatsetter, since 2017 to make money on the side for the past year and recommend it as a great side hustle to earn extra income for the holidays. In this short time frame, I have created a new source of revenue that allows me to enjoy a flexible schedule and do what I love: show others the beautiful spots in the Florida Keys that are only accessible by boat while earning nearly +$500/month traveling (not including tips from passengers). I’ve rented my boat to millennials looking to experience luxurious cruises along the coast for a day in Miami. Many retired workers with a yacht or small charter boats also use the platform as their “go-to” to offset ownership costs and as a fun way to get back out on the water by signing up to be a  “captain” with Boatsetter. 

Bela Fischer, Business Development Manager and Boatsetter Captain

Think about all the extra money you could make by being a mystery shopper, starting your own business, or working from home for a legitimate company. Take control of your income and check out our LEARN page for a list of classes, books, and more!

Sign up for the Work at Home FAQ newsletter and enter to win monthly giveaways like free books, classes, or telephone/Skype consultations!

Disclaimer: Links to products and services throughout the site, videos, and blog may or may not contain affiliate links. This means, we may or may not earn a small commission from sales originating through this website. We would not recommend any product that we wouldn’t use ourselves, regardless of whether we earn commission or not. There you go: complete transparency at it’s finest!

Leave a Reply