Here Are The Best Ways To Make Quick And Easy Money Before Christmas

Ah yes, that most wonderful time of year is once again here, so it is time to break out the eggnog, festive attire, and credit card so that you can rack up massive amounts of debt, right?

If you know me, you know that I LOVE Christmas (like, I listen to Christmas music/watch Rudolph/buy gifts year round), so I cannot help but feel giddy when Christmas commercials begin airing on November 1st! While this happy time of year brings great joy, it can also bring great anxiety, as gifts, turkeys, and higher electric bills cost lots of money. 

Before you go opening new charge accounts around town, we recommend checking out our list of the best ways to make extra money for Christmas:

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Become a personal shopper 

Mystery shopping has a negative connotation, but becoming a personal shopper with an accredited company like Instacart? 100% legit! Whether you are wanting to pick up a few hours here and there during the holidays or are looking for something a bit more consistent, there is money to be made as a grocery shopper/deliverer. 

Rent your guest room on Airbnb

You can read A LOT more about the Airbnb opportunity here, so I will just recap by saying that you can rent your extra room or guest house as little or as often as you want, and come out ahead each time.

Open a tiny boutique. 

As you may remember, I recently partnered with Kollectin and was super impressed by their incredible selection of bling and by their business opportunity! How does it work? In their own words, "you get to pick and choose the jewelry you love, and manage everything with a couple of swipes of your phone: keep for yourself, sell, or send back and get something new. It's that simple." (In addition to the business opportunity, Kollectin also has a lot of beautiful jewelry for sale, which makes for that perfect Christmas gift!) To get instant access to the app, use promo code Annie491!

Cash-back apps

If you have been around for awhile, you know that I LOVE me some Ebates... and what's not to love? To use a cash-back app like Ebates, simply go to their site/app, find the online store you're planning to shop at, click the link, and shop. That is literally it! The cash back varies depending on where you shop (it will tell you the cash back percentage on the store's home page), but it is a simple way to earn some extra money here and there.

Take surveys 

Are survey sites legit? Depending on the site? Yes. Can you get rich off of taking surveys? I wish... BUT if you are consistent, you can easily earn cash and/or gift cards, perfect for buying Christmas gifts! (Not sure which survey sites/apps are the best? We recommend Survey Junkie, My Points, and Swagbucks.)

Do quick, odd jobs around town 

Want to make $10+ in less than an hour? Do a few quick audits for Gigwalk! How does it work? In their own words, "Gigwalk is a mobile app for Android and iOS that allows you to find quick jobs (“Gigs”) in your area. A Gig is represented by a pin on the map in our mobile application and can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours to complete and pay anywhere from $3 to $100. Clients see the work Gigwalkers submit through the app on our back-end Gigwalk platform.)" I have completed several gigs since beginning my Gigwalk venture and cannot recommend it enough... you can read a lot more about my experience here.

Flip on Craigslist 

Not to brag or anything, but... I have pretty much perfected the art of the Craigslist flip! Just how does one do it? You can start by emptying out your closet and/or the kids' toy box, OR you can do what I do, which is buy larger toys on sale at Goodwill, clean them up, and then sell them on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for a profit. Easy peasy, right? To give you an example, last year I bought a Fisher Price playhouse for $2, buffed out all the scuff marks, and sold it on Facebook Marketplace a few days later for $15!

Flip on eBay

While the money may not come as quick as Craigslist, there is still cash to be made on eBay! For those of you who are unfamiliar with flipping something on eBay and what all that entails, it is essentially just finding/buying items like clothes, antiques, electronics, etc., and then re-selling them for a profit. (Side note: I have several friends/family members who sell full time on eBay, so it's great for both chump change and a full-time income.)

Turn your passion into profit 

Do you knit beautiful scarves? Sell them. Bake incredible cookies? Sell them. Create gorgeous jewelry? Do you see where I'm going with this?! My mother-in-law is one of the busiest people I know and -- in addition to working full time -- farms, bakes delicious breads, pours and sella her own candles, and more. If this is something that may interest you, start by marketing your product to friends on Facebook and then expand to groups, farmers markets, and/or artisan fairs.

Babysit 

Whether you nanny during the day or pick up jobs in the evening, there is always a need for trusted caregivers! Not sure where to find your next job? Offer your services to friends or utilize sites like Care.com

Paper route

I know, I know... the words paper route bring up images of teenage boys on bikes, but do you know what? Paper routes are a quick and simple way to bring in an upwards of $1K per month! Picture it: A quiet car, your favorite coffee, virtually no traffic... total dream job, right?!

Earn gift cards with Job Spotter

Have you heard of Job Spotter? It's an app that let's you snap pictures of help wanted signs around town, upload them, and then rack up points to put toward Amazon cards and more.

Cut the cord

This one is more about saving money than it is making money, but have you thought of getting rid of your expensive cable and switching to just over-the-air? We haven’t had cable in nearly 5 years now (and before that got it for free, thanks to my husband’s job) and are amazed by just how much we save by relying solely on over-the-air! Not only is the picture crystal clear, we still get 50+ channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, a bunch of oldies/game show/movie channels) and save an upwards of $150/month by not having pricy cable on demand! (My other favorite cable-less hack? We recently downloaded the FREE Pluto TV app on our Roku and get a ton of free news channels, a 24/7 Mystery Science Theater 3000 channel, and even a home channel that airs old HGTV shows from the late 2000’s, early 2010’s.)

Transport food (or people)

This is a super easy and popular way to make money that deserves mentioning: food delivery! Uber Eats and DoorDash are HUGE in the city (especially for us lazy folk who sometimes do not feel like cooking or driving anywhere for food) and give you the flexibility to work as little or as often as you like!

Seasonal Retail

Last but certainly not least is what is quite possibly the most obvious: seasonal retail. If you have someone to watch the kids and are able to commit 20+ hours a week through the new year, you can make some serious cash! To find out who is hiring, check out your local Target, World Market, Walmart, or any other of your favorite stores.

I hope these tips make your holiday season a little merrier, brighter, and greener! Do you have any tips for making extra Christmas money? Please share them in the comments!

Please Note: This post may contain affiliate linking. While these links don’t cost extra for you to use, a percentage of all sales made through these links will help fund future Side Hustle Mom content.

5 Free Apps That Will Pay You Get In Shape

Please Note: This article may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small kickback if you sign up via any of the links. Thank you for supporting the Side Hustle Mom mission!

Can I be brutally honest with you for just a second?

Promise me you won’t judge?

Okay, good. (And thank you.)

I have never stepped foot in a gym.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m intimidated, cheap, or lazy, but I have never had a real desire to go work out with equipment. Nevertheless, I do still have a desire to be fit and healthy, so I try to get in as much walking, toddler chasing, planks, lunges, dancing, etc. as I can each day. To track my steps and movement, I had been using the Health feature of my iPhone, but felt I wasn’t getting an accurate reading (seeing as though I had to have my phone on me at all times, which hardly ever happens at home).

Enter my awesome husband gifting me a FitBit wristband (affiliate) for Christmas!

I love my FitBit. It tells me the time, tracks my footsteps (though I do feel it is a little off from time to time), and even monitors my sleep — it’s like my new BFF! Come to find out, not only does FitBit track my every movement, it also pays me to get active.

Really!

Here are just a few of ways it (literally) pays to get fit:

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1. Walgreens Balance Rewards: This one is a little in-depth, so I will share exactly what Walgreens says: Get 20 points per mile when you walk, run or cycle. Plus, get 20 points per weigh-in, blood pressure test, blood glucose test, and earn points while you quit smoking/tobacco with Balance Rewards for healthy choices. As a Balance Rewards member, earn 5,000 points and receive a $5 reward to redeem on your next purchase. The more points you earn, the bigger your reward.

2. HealthyWager: Losing weight and getting fit works so much better when you have someone both cheering you on and holding you accountable, which is exactly where HealthyWager comes into play! To play, simply determine your weight loss goal, whether you're participating in a group wide pot or with your friends/co-workers, and then make a bet on how much weight you'll lose and in what timeframe. Depending on your group and goals, you could make up to $10K. Cool, right?

3. Achievement: AchieveMint lets you earn rewards with the health and fitness apps you already own, use, and love. From sleeping well to eating healthier to taking the stairs vs. the elevator, you will earn rewards just by making better choices. The more you do, the more you earn (via Paypal, gift card, or Visa gift card). Cha-ching! 

4. Ebates: As if you didn't have enough reasons to love Ebates (remind me to tell you about the time I used their link for less than a MONTH on my regular Amazon, eBay, and Groupon purchases and received a check in the mail for $43), the FREE cash back app will also give you money back on purchases like Nike, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, GNC, and more. 

5. Commit: "Have a goal? Commit to it" with the new Commit app, which "eliminates all of your excuses and encourages you to follow through on commitments and become the best you." Whether you are looking to hit work goals or start living healthier, Commit will both hold you accountable and reward your favorite non-profit for your productivity! 

Do you use any of these apps? Let us know what you think in the comments! 

How To Make $10 In Less Than An Hour With Gigwalk

Have you heard of Gigwalk?

Apparently it has been a thing for years now but I just recently discovered it after my aunt's friend recommended I check it out. 

For those of you who, like me, have never heard of Gigwalk, it works like this: Big companies and businesses are looking for people to do small gigs/tasks/reviews and report back to them, and the way they find these people is through the app (or, put more sophisticatedly, Gigwalk is a mobile app for Android and iOS that allows you to find quick jobs (“Gigs”) in your area. A Gig is represented by a pin on the map in our mobile application and can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours to complete and pay anywhere from $3 to $100. Clients see the work Gigwalkers submit through the app on our back-end Gigwalk platform.)

Since it is free to sign up for an account, I said "Oh, WTH" and got myself registered.

Fast forward to a few days later and I just so happened to open the app and notice that there were A TON of newly-listed gigs at local auto part stores, two of which were within a three-mile radius of our house. Since I was new to this entire process, I went ahead and applied, saying I could complete the gigs within the next 3 hours, and was instantly accepted.

SCORE!

In addition to learning about the actual app through my aunt's friend, I also learned that she takes her 4-year-old with her on audits and pays him $1 for each, which gives them both something new to do together and teaches him the value of hard work! Since I love/agree with all of the above, I grabbed Jackson and off we went on our first gig!

My photogenic four-year-old... he was even posing for pictures next to the shelves of the stores we were auditing. 

My photogenic four-year-old... he was even posing for pictures next to the shelves of the stores we were auditing. 

Here is what we had to do on our first audit:

1.) Take a picture of the exterior

2.) Observe what kind of shelf the specific product was displayed on

3.) Take picture of said shelf/products 

4.) Check the product for any leaks/problems 

5.) Inconspicuously leave

6.) Profit

Easy peasy, right? The entire gig took a whopping 10 minutes from start to finish and made us a quick $5... so off we went to another auto shop just up the street to complete the same tasks.

In about 45 minutes (taking into account both drive time and the actual audit), our work was done. To celebrate, Jackson requested we go to the Starbucks next door so that he could spend his $2 on a cake pop. (In addition to instilling in him a good work ethic, we need to begin discussing the value of a dollar... but that can wait until another day, because life isn’t complicated when you’re 4 :P).

Fast forward a few days later and my youngest and I went to our local grocery store to pick up a few things and I just so happened to open the app and notice that they were needing a rye bread audit at the exact store we were in! I quickly requested the gig, received immediate acceptance, and then tromped around the store with my 17-month-old in tow in an effort to find a non-existent rye bread display. 

My other little assistant... instead of being paid in cash, he was paid in cookies and kisses.

My other little assistant... instead of being paid in cash, he was paid in cookies and kisses.

As this chain grocery is on the larger side, this gig took us longer than the first two (we walked around three times looking for the dang display), but we were still $3 richer when all was said and done.

As per their website, Whether you’re looking for a little spending money or want to earn an entire extra paycheck, Gigwalk can help. My experience so far is that Gigwalk is a great way to support my McDonald’s coffee addiction, but it isn’t sustainable enough to pay a bill or even fill my tank.

In conclusion, Gigwalk is a fun way to make a few extra bucks if you’re in a crunch, are craving a burger, or are saving up for the holidays! The gigs can be somewhat scarce in my area, but I’m sure it varies market to market, so be sure to download the app to look around! (Heck, you may even be able to replace your entire paycheck, as stated on their website.)

Have you ever been hired for a gig via Gigwalk! Tell us about it in the comments!

Mom Boss Interview: Meghan Benson from ellie & james

Another Monday is upon us and if you are dreading your upcoming work week, today's mom boss interview is for YOU! 

How so? 

Well, because it is with a smart, creative, and SUCCESSFUL mom boss who is making a great living while working from home and designing her own jewelry line! 

So, so fun, right?! 

Side Hustle Moms, meet Meghan Benson: A hard-working and loving mom, wife, and former teacher who now runs the popular jewelry line, ellie & james

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Meghan, we know you as a wife, busy mamma to three, and inspiring mom boss, but tell us a little more about yourself! What did you do before ellie & james? Have you always been in a creative line of work?

Hi! Yes, I am a wife, mama and mom boss, but beyond these current hats I wear I have a few hanging on the shelf that I still pick up from time to time. Prior to starting my business I was a high school math teacher and soccer coach (I LOVED working with high schoolers).  Outside of those day jobs I also taught in the Education Department of a local University, encouraging future educators headed into middle and high schools.  On campus I was a technology trainer for educators and spent most of my free time studying the newest ways to integrate technology into classrooms. I actually thought my next position would be in this area, and, I have a Masters degree in Educational Technology. Fortunately, my degree has helped tremendously with running an online business, and I still get to tutor math and help coach soccer from time to time (my daughter just finished her first season in her league of 5 year olds). :)

When did you decide to leave your job as a math teacher to stay home with your kids? Was it something you had always planned to do?

I have always felt career oriented and did not plan on leaving my job to stay home. I thought I could do it all, but once we made the decision to add to our family through adoption, I knew that staying home was super important for the bonding and attachment to our son.  I also could not resist staying home with our daughter. She was so much fun and at 15 months old I started to feel like I was missing out… then began the conversation about what it looked like for me to stay home.  My husband and I moved closer to family, left our Orange County lifestyle behind, and decided that maybe staying home was what I was called to do.  Just to put this in perspective, I did not feel relieved at first… I actually felt like I was sacrificing by staying home because I loved my job and had big plans for where I wanted to go professionally. My husband and I had even discussed the opposite scenario of me in the workplace while he stayed home.  In the end, I chose to stay home and I would do it again. This is definitely where I am supposed to be.  Opening my own business gave me a sense of professionalism and an outlet that I craved. I also learned that staying home is really hard but really important.  Parenting is the most difficult job I have ever had.   

When did you begin making your fabulous jewelry? Did it start off as a hobby or did you begin designing as a potential side income?

I began making jewelry kind of suddenly one day in 2014 while looking for a birthday gift idea for my sister. She had lived in Barcelona and was missing it a lot.  I wanted her to have a map of Barcelona to wear and found the idea through a random google search. I am a little on the penny-saving side so I thought to myself, “I could make that.”   I ordered a kit with 5 pendants and 5 chains and taught myself how to do it.  I made three gifts and one necklace for myself, and then people began suggesting that I sell them.  After about 2 weeks I opened a shop online!  The rest just unfolded in the most unexpected ways, and I learned very quickly the power of social media in today’s business world!  

What was it like to sell your first piece of jewelry (and, if you don’t mind my asking, what was it and who did you sell it to)? Did you begin your sales journey at storefronts or as a vendor, or have you always been online? 

The first sell was exciting, but I will admit it was to one of my best friends. :) She bought a pendant with lyrics from Mumford and Sons on it. The next sale was from her mom… when I began getting orders from people I didn’t know (a few weeks in), that is when it started to get really exciting!  I instantly began to figure out Instagram and how to sell on there. The majority of my sales even today are from customers who visited my site through Instagram.  I do sell in storefronts around the country, but many of the boutique owners found me through Instagram and I have not physically seen my products in the stores (crazy, right?!).

How do you find the time to be a full-time mom, design the jewelry, photograph it, update your website, etc.? Can you walk us through a day in your shoes? 

There are no two days that are alike. I have three kids, three schedules, and they are little so those schedules change ALL. THE. TIME.  I struggled with balance and had a lot of growing pains once the business took off. This happened around year two.  My third year I finally hired help and life makes sense again! No, really, hiring was the biggest game changer because it allowed me time to do the business side of things, creative, designing, accounting, etc. 

Here is a ‘typical’ day… when my older two have school:
6 AM - up and get dressed before kids are up (otherwise it’s hard to ever get totally dressed)
7 AM - breakfast for all, nurse baby, snack for my son’s preschool, lunch and snack for my daughter in Kindergarten
7:45 AM - Out the door and the drop offs begin, kinder first, maybe a quick drive thru Starbucks run, Pre school drop off
9 AM - home to feed baby food and myself because I usually don’t get to eat when feeding the kids
9:30 AM - baby plays in office while I answer emails or plan out work for the day. Maybe I get things ready for my employee or I design something I plan on making later in the day (custom orders, wholesale, etc.)
10 AM - nurse baby and try to get her to take a nice nap :)
10:15 until baby wakes up - WORK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!! The small window of “kid-less” time is so important if I have any making to do, business calls to make, or anything that needs undivided attention
11:45 - pick up time for pre school and kinder… race around getting kids
12 PM - lunch for all! 
12:30 PM - Homework time (yes, there is homework in Kinder and my Pre Schooler loves to do ‘homework’ too)
2 PM - nurse baby again and hope for a second nap (sometimes this is the first one)
2:15 PM - Back in the office! Photos, gluing, chains, charms, packaging, shipping… get it done! 
4 - 5 PM - Wrap it up for the day, post office trips, emails, etc.
5 PM - make dinner, the occasional dance party to celebrate the end of the work day, take kids outside to play
6 PM - Family dinner when daddy arrives home
7 PM - The bed time routine begins...
8 PM - We made it! Parents celebrate with some homemade sweets or This is Us/Fixer Upper. I try not to do work after hours so that my husband and I can spend time together but occasionally I have a thing or two to finish up.

What tips can you give to anyone out there interested in beginning their own creative side hustle? Is there anything you wish you would have done differently? 

Find a small group of local creatives like you who are running a business (and moms!). I have a group of 3 mamas that I meet with 1-2 times a month to talk about our businesses. We encourage, support, advise, review, etc. with one another and because each of us runs our business alone it is great to have others to bounce ideas off of. Also, we are all in different industries so it works really well to have outside perspectives (and not be in a group with a competitor… instead we can collaborate).

Second tip, don’t reinvent the wheel, but don’t steal. You will see others in your industry with awesome ideas. Learn from them, but make it your own. DO NOT STEAL OTHERS’ WORK.  It happens all the time in the creative world and is obvious. If you want a creative side hustle, get creative with your product. No copycats!

Learn your target audience. Who do you want to sell to or appeal to? What is unique about you, your product and your audience? Don’t waste your time with events or avenues that have nothing to do with your target audience. This is one area I would have examined more if starting again. I wasted a lot of weekends at un-targeted events. It puts a strain on your family when you have a lot of littles running around and you are away, especially when it isn’t productive. 

What is your favorite way to market your brand? Do you stick to social media or have you found better ways to promote ellie & james?

Social media and handmade events have been successful for me. Again, find your target audience and run with it!

Let’s end our interview on a fun note: Is there a certain piece or collection you have designed that is your absolute favorite? What was it and why?

Oh, I am always changing my favorite as I come up with new things here and there. Currently, I LOVE the bar necklaces (I wear those all the time). I created one that said 'I am enough’ just for me, one of a kind. That was probably my favorite. But now it lives with a friend who was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Vegas.  It was one of those times I knew she needed it more than I did and I probably designed it with myself in mind but was always meant to give it away. :) 

Meghan is so awesome, right?! Now that you know all about Meghan, be sure to connect with her via the ellie & james website, Facebook, and Instagram