Christmas has now passed but if you're like most people, you may have noticed a hole in your bank account comparable to the size of the Grand Canyon. When I look at my post Christmas bank balance, I do a little more than just whine - it's more like a full blown adult tanty. With 6 weeks of school holidays I pray that the Christmas gifts that I'd purchased for the Tiny Whinies are enough to entertain them until school goes back as there's little left over for costly school holiday activities. However, there are a few things you can do to put some dollars back in your pocket and help ease financial stress in the new year.
Gumtree / Ebay
We all know the saying 'one person's trash is another person's treasure'. If you're strapped for cash then it's time to do some decluttering and turn some of your unwanted household items into cold, hard cash. Studies show that within the average household there are approximately $4000 worth of unused and unwanted items. These can be appliances, clothing, toys or even unwanted Xmas gifts. So grab a box, fill it with your unwanted/unused stuff, start snapping some pics and get those listings up. You might be pleasantly surprised at how many bucks this can return to your bank account.
Online surveys are a great way to earn a few extra dollars here and there. Most surveys from popular survey sites pay anywhere from $1 - $10 per survey. It might not sound like much but they often only take 5 - 30 mins of your time (payment offered will vary depending on the surveys length) and it all adds up. Most sites allow you to redeem your points or credit for gift cards or PayPal cash. I usually save what I've accumulated for the year and either redeem during December to help pay for gifts or groceries at Christmas time or redeem during January to help replace funds after Christmas.
There are a number of survey sites out there but my favourites that send out regular surveys for pretty decent payments are:
Entering competitions has been a hobby of mine for a number of years. So this isn't a 100% guaranteed way to put dollars back in your pocket but as the saying goes 'you've got to be in it to win it'. Over the years I've won countless prizes, both big and small - but every little bit helps. Some things I've kept as they were items we've needed others I've saved for birthdays and Christmas to give as gifts and been able to greatly reduce my spending at Christmas time. I often enter giveaways that offer an experience as a prize ie. movie tickets, passes to local attractions and concerts. Winning prizes like these can save me bigtime during the school holidays and allow me to do things with my family that I would otherwise not be able to afford.
My go-to pages to find the best comps are:
Send Your Happy Snaps To Take 5 or That's Life
Got some cute pics of your kids or pets? Of course you do! Send them in to Take 5 or That's Life magazine. If selected to be published you can earn up to $50 per photo. I do this a couple of times a year. If I'm not in desperate need for the cash, I will deposit the payments into my kids bank accounts to boost their savings. After all, it's their cute little faces that brought in the bucks! Also, if you have something more substantial to submit than cute pics of your kiddies, you could be paid anything from $300 - $2k if you have an amazing story to tell.
Is there a 'Return & Earn' program running in your state? I'm in NSW and the program started here just over 12 months ago. We don't have a huge amount of eligible containers that are accepted as we aren't big consumers of soft drinks and unfortunately wine bottles don't qualify (**insert whines here**). We collect what we have and I take the kids to our local collection point every school holidays - fun and free activity, lol. We save what we earn each quarter, pop it in a jar and use it on a Summer school holiday activity ie. day at the pool, movies, visit to the reptile park, family meal at a restaurant or play centre. If we aren't in great need of the cash I pop these funds into the kid's savings accounts.
I am a member to a few loyalty points programs. The main ones being Woolworths Everyday Rewards, Flybuys and a program with my credit card. I have my Everyday Rewards card set up so that I can save the rewards until Christmas time. These ones I accumulate and use in December to help pay for Christmas shopping and groceries. The Flybuys ones I save and use to help after Christmas during the January school holidays. You can boost your points by making sure you check your inbox regularly for emails from either rewards partner. They quite often have offers that give you bonus points so that you can earn $$ back quicker but they usually need to be activated so keep your eyes peeled for the emails.
I have a credit card purely for the purpose of the rewards program. I always pay it off in full every month so that I don't pay any interest. This system isn't for everyone but it works for us, I don't spend money on the credit card if I don't have the money in the bank to pay for it when the payment is due. The fee for the program is approx. $150 for the year and I usually redeem about $600 worth of gift vouchers without paying any interest. Depending on our finances at Christmas I may use some of the points in December to help us along with gift purchases or save for January to help us recover from the Christmas spending. This year I'm trying to save them so I can replace and upgrade my ancient phone!
So even if you don't need the extra dollars for groceries, gifts or school holiday activities, you could always use it as your wine kitty and treat yourself to a drop that's extra special.