Yesterday marked exactly three months until Christmas day. The day when all the kiddies rush to the tree and count, shake, categorize, and speculate about the presents with their names on them. Or, at least, that’s what my kids do.
By the time they finally manage to drag my husband and me out of the bed, they have already sorted their presents and, in my one daughter’s case, placed them in a strategic order from the first to be opened to the last. Also by this time, the stockings have been completely ransacked with nothing but candy wrappers left in their wake.
And mom feels almost giddy with relief because I did it. Don’t get me wrong; my husband helps a smidge with the shopping, but the rest of it is all my responsibility. All the list building to make sure the three children’s gifts are equally distributed. All the hours spent brooding over which gifts to buy when and worrying about missing a sale. All the wrapping of countless (not really countless because my list has every item accounted for) presents for not only my children but the teachers, family members, and friends. All is done by mom. Oh yeah, and the stress of the astronomical amount of money that could have otherwise been spent on a luxurious tropical vacation, or used to pay the bills which while wouldn’t be as relaxing would bring about a feeling of satisfaction.
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But the joy on my children’s faces makes it worth the added stress of the holiday season. This particular year several unforeseen minor catastrophes caused me to dip into the Christmas fund. Because of that, the thought of this upcoming Christmas already has a weight pressing against my chest, and I still have three months left. So I’m implementing a plan for raising/saving money for the holidays. My ultimate goal is to go without pulling any money from our regular checking account.
I will be doing a series of post on ways to make or save money for the holiday season over the next few months as well as giving updates on how much money I’ve made. I have created a spreadsheet to keep up with my time spent and the amount made.
Before starting any of my side hustles/money saving techniques, I thought about my time-to-income ratio. As a work at home mom of three, my time is valuable to me. So doing a survey that makes me fifty cents for a half-hour’s worth of work isn’t feasible. That is only equivalent to a dollar an hour, and that is nowhere near worthy of my time.
So my ratio is simple. I should make at minimum seven dollars an hour. That’s close to minimum wage. Now, while some side hustles are easy to figure up the time-to-income ratio, some money saving techniques aren’t so easy to figure out. Because of that, I did my best to find the ones that fit my lifestyle. For other people, some of these won’t work, but I think most moms would be able to relate. Without any more posturing, let’s get to the list. I’ve broken it up into two categories: money making and money saving.
Through eBay, I will be selling anything my family no longer needs or uses. I know some people buy items from thrift stores and yard sales and then sell those items on eBay, making triple or more of what they paid. Since I’m not looking for a longtime job as an eBay seller, I will only be selling items I already own. Examples of what I plan on selling over the next month or two:
- Brava by Irobot. This is my largest item as far as price. My husband bought it for me for Mother’s Day last year, and I didn’t like that it would only sweep the middle of the room leaving not only the edges and corners but sometimes missing large sections of the room entirely.
- DVDs and Bluerays. I have tons of these and my children never watch them. I’ll give the kids the opportunity to pull any out that they can’t stand to part with and the rest will go to the highest bidder
- Fall/Winter Clothes. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Kids outgrow clothes. Why not make some of your money back on them?
- A Dell Mini Laptop. This laptop bit the dust over five years ago and has been collecting dust ever since. Even if I get five dollars for it, it’s more than I’ll get by leaving it under the guest bed.
- Bows. I make bows for my daughter, and I have tons of excess ribbon where I bought a spool and then made one bow out of it. The rest went into my ribbon box. Making and selling bows works two-fold. I get to make a little bit of money and help get my ribbon box back under control at the same time. Selling handmade items is a great way to make some extra cash.
- My son’s old Nabi. Again, I’ll take what I can get. The one good thing about this item is that it still works.
The thing about eBay is that if the item is small enough to ship, it’s worth at least trying to sell it.
I listed this one right under eBay because anything that doesn’t sell on eBay will go into my yard sale, but I will first at least try to sell it on eBay, and I might try using Facebook’s Resale page on any items I find worthy of more than yard sale prices. I usually have a yard sale once a year, and it’s usually in the fall. I live in the deep south where most of the year is far too hot to sit outside all day. Spring is often riddled with rain, so that leaves the fall as the best time for dry, cooler air.
My yard sales don’t generally generate a lot of money, putting them on the low side of the time-to-income ratio, but I do get the added benefit of clearing out my storage room, which is where I store my Christmas presents as well as where I wrap them. So it is definitely worth the effort. This year I’ve already begun contacting everyone I know who lives close to me asking them if they’d like to join me. The larger the yard sale, the more people who will stop.
By far the most time consuming of my money making ventures is this blog. I’ve put aside other projects in an attempt to build this blog so that I can share with the world my projects, recipes, and tips. That I might be able to add to my Christmas fund is a bonus. One day I hope to be able to blog full-time, but for now, it will remain a hobby I’m completely addicted to. Here’s how I’ll be trying to make a small amount of money through this blog over the next several months.
Ads only work if there is traffic to your blog, but if you can get enough quality content and work to get the word out there about your blog, you can make some money with ads. The more traffic, the more money. I’ll be using Google Ad Sense and Media.net, which is Yahoo and Bing’s ad company. The thing with ads for those who are just getting started is that you have to have an established website with some traffic already coming to it before they will allow you to add their ads.
I’ll begin with Amazon and Walmart since they’re two of the biggest retail companies around and later I’ll add more depending on what I’m posting about. Does this mean I’ll refer people to stuff I don’t use or believe in? Heck no. But if I’m writing a post about my favorite spray paint and how much I love the results I get from it; I might as well add a link so others who read that post can easily try it out. That I might make a small amount of money from it is, again, only a bonus.
There are other ways to make money from a blog, like sponsored posts, but I am so far away from being at that point that I know I won’t be able to utilize it as a means of making money over the next few months, so I’m not adding any of them to my list.
I read tons of posts on different survey companies and how much they pay for those surveys, and while I won’t say that they don’t exist, I personally have never found a survey that pays a $100 for thirty minutes of my time. Because of that, surveys don’t meet my time-to-income ratio. But Swagbucks also acts as a search tool that allows you to make money just by surfing the internet. I Google stuff all the time, so I decided to try it out, and I’ve made a little bit of money just for doing the same thing I normally do. While Swagbucks won’t pay for everything on my kids’ Christmas lists, every little bit helps. Even better, if you refer others to Swagbucks, you make 10% of whatever they make for life. That means you can tell everyone you know about Swagbucks, and when they make any Swagbucks, you do too. You can click on any of the Swagbucks links in this post to go to the signup page.
I have a love/hate relationship with coupons. It always seems like every time I try to stack my coupons or what I would consider beating the system with coupons, something happens, and I have to argue for my right to use my coupons. I’ll add here that I’m a pacifist at heart. Having to argue with a cashier over the use of my .50¢ coupon is stressful and definitely puts it on the negative side of the time-to-income ratio. So I use coupons in moderation, but I use them none the less. I have a coupon organizer (the wallet kind), and when the Sunday paper comes, I immediately clip the coupons and place them in my organizer and then it goes back into my purse.
I do this because I know if I don’t do it right away, it will be forgotten, and the same goes for if I don’t put the organizer back in my purse. I do good enough to remember my list, so trying to remember my coupons too, tips the scales away from my favor. Realistically I save about $2-$5 per shopping trip with coupons. I know that is nothing compared to those extreme coupon ladies, and all I can say is my hat is off to them. I do also use some digital coupons and combine them with my paper coupons. One store that this works well at is Dollar General. I go on Saturday and buy any household items I need. When I get to the checkout I either pull out a $5 off $25 purchase coupon I saved from a previous shopping trip’s receipt or ask the cashier is they have one.
I do also use some digital coupons and combine them with my paper coupons. One store that this works well at is Dollar General. I go on Saturday and buy any household items I need. When I get to the checkout I either pull out a $5 off $25 purchase coupon I saved from a previous shopping trip’s receipt or ask the cashier is they have one. Usually, they keep extras. The key is to use the paper $5 coupon first. Once the $5 come off, then I hand over my other paper coupons for anything I picked up (laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc.) Once those coupons have been scanned, I put in my phone number and use my digital coupons too. I’ve bought almost $30 worth of household items and only ended up paying $13. While it’s not free, it’s still a win in my book.
Along the same lines of couponing, Ibotta gives rebates for certain items at each store. It’s simple to use, and I will typically earn another $2-$5 per shopping trip using this app. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Ibotta is an app you can download to your phone. Most of my local stores are on it including Dollar General and Dollar Tree. When you shop at a store that participates with Ibotta and buy an item that has a rebate offered, you simply click on the rebates you want to redeem and then take a picture of your receipt. Ibotta verifies that you bought the items and then gives you a credit for the rebate amount.
Once you reach $20, you can have it added to your Paypal account or request it in the form of a gift card. The thing I like the best about this app is that it gives rebates for staple items. If you use code vydewdq when signing up. You’ll get $10 bonus when you claim your first rebate, and I’ll make $5 dollars. While I’d love the extra 5 bucks, getting $10 right at the beginning is a great bonus since you only need $20 to cash out. Click on any of the links in this post to be taken to the Ibotta app page on the Google Play Store.
One thing I notice I don’t see much talk about is shopping the sales. I don’t mean buying your linens on Columbus day and things like that. I mean weekly sales. When I get the circular on Wednesday (I usually do my grocery shopping on Thursday.) I look through to find the best sales and choose that grocery store to shop at.
Sometimes I’ll stop at two stores, buying just the sale items at each, but I keep in mind my time-to-income ratio as I do. It’s not worth driving all over town stopping at a dozen different stores just to save a few bucks. I sit down and make out my grocery list, separating out the items I need to buy and the ones that are on sale. Using the sale items, I make a meal plan. Basing that week’s meals off the sales saves me between $10 and $20 per shopping trip. While it’s hard to keep up with exactly how much I saved and therefore put that money in savings, it does make my grocery bill smaller, giving me more money in the long run.
Another money saving trick I’ve implemented is that I’ve created a budget for my spending. By having a budget in place, it makes me more conscientious about what I’m spending and whether I truly need it. I’ll update this post if I think of any other money making/saving tricks but this is my plan for now. I’d love to hear how you save for the holidays. Maybe it would give me a few ideas.