Money Health

Boost Your Holiday Budget with Seasonal Employment from Home

Boost Your Holiday Budget with Seasonal Employment from Home
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‘Tis the season to start thinking about your holiday plans. And if you’re worried how you’re going to afford holiday extras while still trying put some cash in your emergency fund for next year, we are here to help.

Read on to learn how to getting a handle on your holiday budget and seasonal employment could work together to help you stay on budget and afford a little more holiday cheer.

First, create a holiday budget

Before you search for seasonal employment opportunities, it’s important to get a sense of your current financial situation. The best way to do this is to create a holiday budget. This might be easier to do if you already have a monthly household budget. By understanding your current finances and what amount can be used for holiday spending, you can get a better sense of your needs as you look for seasonal employment.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or some other winter celebration, you’ll probably be spending a little more than usual in November and December. As with any ordinary household budget, your winter holiday budget should include your typical monthly expenses (including amounts put into savings) and regular income. Then add in any amount you want to earmark for special meals, gifts, or events.

Now that you have a holiday budget that includes your regular expenses plus splurges, you may even be able to estimate how many hours you’ll want to work to get to the amount needed for your extras this year. Your budget may also give some insight into where you might be able to cut some unnecessary spending, like limiting unused online subscriptions or excessive takeout meals.

Finally, you may also find that taking on seasonal jobs can help you save money beyond your holiday budget and put you on a better path to saving for year round goals like college, retirement, or a new home.

What seasonal employment best fits your skills and needs?

Not all seasonal jobs are going to be right for you, but finding a job that fits your skills and experience will be more enjoyable and may even pay more, if it’s in demand. Just like “regular” employment, factor in your skills and preferences. Are you a people person? A customer service job could be a good fit. Just like to quietly dig into the details? Tax prep or data entry might be your best bet.

Keeping these factors in mind, here are a few categories of jobs to consider for seasonal employment, which you can do safely from home or other remote locations.

Mystery shopping

Hiring mystery shoppers is nothing new in the world of retail, but online retailers also hire mystery shoppers in order to better fine-tune their customer experience. A significant portion of most retailers’ revenues come during the winter holidays, so there is often increased demand late in the year. As with many online interactions, be sure to protect yourself by researching information on mystery shopping companies like employee reviews and Better Business Bureau ratings. For example, take a look at ratings for companies such as BestMark, IntelliShop, and MarketForce.

Call centers

Given the increased sales generated throughout the holiday season, retailers expect a spike in customer service calls to help with orders, exchanges, returns, and other tasks. You don’t have to be located in a specific place to work for a call center, and many employers don’t require previous call center experience.

Sales

Many companies still get a substantial portion of their sales through phone calls to potential customers, often in conjunction with online advertisements. As the volume of sales spikes in November, these companies need temporary salespeople who can close deals, often with the incentive from a commission. One well-known online retailer often in need of seasonal sales representatives is The Popcorn Factory.

Crafts and gifts

If you’re crafty, then making crafts to sell as holiday gifts may be a great alternative to traditional seasonal employment. People are always looking for unique, locally made gifts to give friends and family members for the holidays. Your community may host holiday bazaars or “maker fairs,” while there are plenty of online marketplaces for homemade goods, such as Etsy and Makers Market.

Other types of seasonal employment may include workflow analysis, quality assurance, logistics (shipping, etc.), event coordination, marketing content, and design roles. Check the big job sites like Indeed, Monster, and FlexJobs, to find companies that are hiring.

Additional side gigs that aren’t seasonal jobs

There are plenty of side hustles that you can pursue throughout the year, although they could fulfill the need for seasonal employment as well. Here are a few examples.

Virtual assistant

Virtual assistants, or VAs, handle administrative tasks for organizations or individuals. VAs may schedule appointments, make phone calls, or help with social tasks (such as sending thank you notes). If you have specialized skills, you may be able to earn more by performing tasks such as bookkeeping or putting together online presentations.

Micro tasking

Just as it sounds, a micro task is a simple, “bite-sized” job. Tasks might include research, data entry, transcribing audio, or data verification. One of the best way to get connected with micro task opportunities is through micro task sites such as Appen, Clickworker, and ySense. Think twice about using a service that requires a paid membership.

Selling online

Do you have valuable items that are just taking up space? Perhaps that baseball card collection in the corner of the attic has tripled in value over the years. It may be time to considering set up an eBay account and sell your forgotten treasures online.

Surveys

You’ve probably completed surveys after completing a transaction, but you may not have considered it as a form of seasonal employment. They’re not all legitimate, and some that are legit don’t pay very well. You can do the math to see if the rate of pay per survey is worth your time, maybe comparing it to the hourly rate of another job you are considering. Take a look at Pinecone Research, American Consumer Opinion, and Swagbucks (just to name a few) to participate in surveys that compensate you for your time and opinion.

Companies offering seasonal employment

It’s not about a job downtown anymore, especially this year. Seasonal jobs that Americans can perform from home are usually available to anyone in the U.S., and sometimes anywhere in the world. With this in mind, you may search for work from home seasonal employment opportunities by employer, rather than by location.

Here are some companies that regularly hire remote, temporary help during the holiday season:

  • Amazon. The online retail giant is always hopping, but even more so during the holidays.
  • Harry & David. Since they sell fruit and nut gift baskets, Harry & David gets extremely busy around the holidays.
  • UncommonGoods. This online retailer features unique gifts by various artisans.
  • DraftKings. The legal sports betting website sees high demand around the holidays, which corresponds with the peak of football season.
  • Williams-Sonoma. The popular cookware and cooking supply retailer plans to offer remote, seasonal employment to 2,000 people this holiday season.
  • TaxSlayer. If you’re skilled at tax preparation, TaxSlayer is hiring customer support and tax research associates for seasonal work.
  • Teleflora. The online flower retailer is busy during most holidays throughout the year.

If you’ve found seasonal employment, stick to your budget

If you’ve found suitable remote, seasonal work to help you through the holiday season, congratulations! After all, holiday celebrations aren’t much fun if you’re worried about going into debt in the New Year. Now you can revisit your holiday budget and add in your expected income from the side gig, and then determine how much you can spend on each person on your gift list. Don’t forget to include other expenses such as dinners out, decorations, and special events.

Considering the fact that you may need to spend some of your anticipated extra income before your first paycheck, you may need to use your credit card. Just be sure you track your spending and pay off your debt before you accrue interest charges. Properly managed, short-term debt may not be harmful to your holiday budget, but it’s a slippery slope and you want to ensure that your hard work to find seasonal employment leaves you in the black, not the red.

Make your holidays truly happy and debt-free

Learning how to deal with debt, money, and planning for your future doesn’t need to be difficult, even during the winter holidays. Finding seasonal employment is a great way to finance your holiday festivities, but personal finances is a year-round endeavor. Our simple-to-follow guide will help you find the tools you need to realize a better financial future. Get started today by downloading our free How to Manage Debt guide.

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Steve Tanner is a veteran writer and editor with experience covering topics from law, to business, technology, and finance. He started his career as a business and technology reporter in Silicon Valley and helped lead the direction of several publications, both print and online. His work has been published in Red Herring, San Jose Business Journal, SFGate.com, and FindLaw.com, among others.