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9 Ways to Make Some Serious Holiday Cash

Let’s face it, $10 a survey isn’t going to pay for that $800 phone on your partner’s wish list


Published on: December 11, 2017


As the holiday season gears up again, it’s time to talk about side hustles. After reading a dozen articles on taking surveys or clipping coupons to make extra money, I’ve decided to compile real ways to make real money because, let’s face it, $10 a survey isn’t going to pay for that $800 phone on your partner’s wish list.

Babysit. As parents, we spend a large percentage of our time watching our kid(s). Why not make some extra money while on baby duty? Create a profile on sites like SitterCity or UrbanSitter to babysit additional kids for anywhere from $7–$25 an hour. Your own kids will have a playmate for a day and you’ll allow another parent to get their holiday shopping done — all while making extra money!

Donate plasma. Donating plasma can earn you $300–$400 a month depending on how often you’re willing to donate. Each visit earns you $30-$50 and you can donate up to two times a week. Unlike typical blood donation, plasma is donated to for-profit centers that typically use the blood byproduct to develop medications or medical treatments. During a 90-minute visit, blood will be removed from your arm, cycled through a machine to remove the plasma, and then pumped back into your body. Almost anyone can donate as long as you're relatively healthy and you can quickly find a center near you using this handy website.

Petsit. If you’ll be home for the holidays, help out some pet parents who are heading out of town. Apps like Rover allow you to list your home for pet sitting and set rates on a nightly basis. Because so many people travel during the holidays, rates typically skyrocket for sitters willing to accept dogs in their home during the most popular days, sometime reaching as high as $80 per night.

Model. Most people think of models as 5’9,” extremely lean and young, but that’s not always the case. Have you ever read an article with a photo of a nondescript woman smiling while talking on the phone? You could be that woman! Average people can pose as models for stock photos, which can pay anywhere from $50–$300 a shoot. Search on Model Mayhem or Craigslist for paid stock photo shoots. You can also keep your eyes open for “fit model” positions, where your body is used as a way to determine accurate fit for clothing items like jeans or jackets. Typically you’ll find calls for fit models at fashion companies, factories and/or schools with fashion design programs.

Gift wrapping. Think outside the box — literally. If you’re a gift wrapping pro, sell your services to spruce up other parents’ presents. Decide how quickly you can get 5, 10 and 20 packages done and create a rate accordingly (don’t forget to add the cost of wrapping paper if you supply your own!).

Print some fliers to post around your neighborhood with a snapshot of your wrapping expertise and hang them around your neighborhood or outside local stores. You can also post a listing on Craigslist and any local Facebook groups you participate in. For those of you with older children, get them to chip in when it comes to curling the ribbon or adhering the bows.

Focus groups. I’ve seen a lot of blogs that reference online focus groups and surveys, which typically pay $10–$25. Instead, check Craigslist or your local newspaper for in-person focus groups. It’s not uncommon to be offered up to $100 for a one-hour visit where you’ll be asked questions about a new idea, given a new product to interact with or led through a brainstorming session.  

Clinical trials. If you live in a big city with a teaching hospital or medical school, clinical trials may be the way to go! In Seattle, you can find studies at the University of Washington for both psychological studies (usually consisting of a survey or questionnaire) and drug/treatment trials (where you take a controlled dose of a medication or participate in a new treatment). I’ve gotten paid up to $1,500 for an overnight trial at a medical school, which paid off some major holiday bills.

Tutor English students online. Check out online tutoring sites like VPKID or Berlitz to earn rates of $12–$18/hour. During online tutoring sessions, you’ll be paired with international students who are learning or practicing their English skills. To get started, all you need is a working webcam and a few extra hours a day.

Donate eggs. Egg donation is a medical procedure and should be taken extremely seriously. However, if you’re at a point in your life where giving yourself a hormone injection every evening for a few weeks is doable, this is one the fastest ways to pay off a bulk sum since egg donors make anywhere from $7,000–$25,000 per donation. If you have an advanced degree from a desirable university, are of Asian descent or practice a particular religion, your eggs may be in high demand, which would put you in the higher earning bracket.

To get started, find an egg donation agency through a quick Google search and fill out the extensive paperwork. You’ll be added to a database of donors and if/when you match with an intended mom, you’ll get a call to start treatments. The whole process can take 1–2 months once you’re chosen as a donor, but it’s a very small time commitment on a daily basis. In addition to the hefty payout, you have the knowledge that you’ve given the gift of parenthood to someone who can’t get there alone.

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