With Bob Niedt, Online Editor at Kiplinger.com
The holidays might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most expensive. It’s when most of us are wishing we had more to spend on presents, entertaining, or simply to pay off those end of year bills.
- Sell unwanted electronics: Check on Gamestop.com, com, Nextworth.com, and Usell.com for ways to sell your smartphones, tablets, game consoles, video games, textbooks. Shipping is free with all of these sites.
- Search for unclaimed property: Anyone can search a state’s unclaimed property database through naupa.org or missingmoney.com. You might discover uncollected insurance benefits, utility deposits, or an unclaimed inheritance.
- Adjust your tax withholding: If you’re one of the lucky ones who received a tax refund for 2015, you can go to HR and adjust your withholding so that your take home pay rises. Kiplinger offers an easy-to-use withholding calculator.
- Tutor or teach: Explore sites such as Wyzant.com and Tutor.com or check with social media sites for areas matching your skills and expertise. Various staffing firms across the country post positions for substitute teachers and other educational staffing positions.
- Be a tour guide: Check out the travel guide site Vayable.com and your local places of historic interest which attract more visitors during the holidays.
- Get paid for your opinions: You can participate in an in-person focus group such as those run by Focus Pointe Global or take online and phone surveys for the Harris Poll and Inspired Opinions. In addition, you can be an “online juror” at Ejury.com and Onlineverdict.com.
- Sell gently worn clothing: Take your used clothing and accessories to local consignment shops, sell online at thredup.com and Therealreal.com, or set up your own account on Ebay.com.
- Join a street team: Companies such as Street Team Promotion need helpers to promote films, products, and events by handing out samples or waving signs.
- Babysit: Be a nanny or babysitter by placing a listing on sites such as Care.com and sittercity.com, or do it the old-fashioned way by putting the word out with your friends and neighbors.
- Sell excess furniture: Take your used furniture and home accessories to a local consignment shop, advertise on Craigslist, or investigate online sites such as Chairish.com
- Redeem reward points: One-third of all rewards go unredeemed each year, so check your accounts and make your claim.
- Walk dogs: People are busy at this time of year, so taking Polly the Pug for a walk in the park could earn you anywhere from $15 to $30 an hour. Advertise on Craigslist or with your local veterinarian—or, again, ask around.
- Sell your creations: Your Christmas cookies, homemade decorative greeting cards, or any other creative hobby could sell on sites such as Etsy, Deviantart, or Zazzle—or at local fairs.
- Participate in clinical trials: Play safe with this one by checking with Clinicaltrials.gov, but you could pad your wallet by joining a legitimate study for medical or pharmaceutical companies.
- Cash in unused gift cards: Check in all your nooks and crannies for any forgotten gift cards and contact a gift card resale site such as Giftcardgranny, cardpool, and Junkcard to get at least partial value.
- Perform odd jobs & small tasks: Advertise your writing, translation, video or animation skills at Fiverr.com. Taskrabbit.com lists jobs such as waiting in line, running errands, or lifting heavy items. And, finally…
- Drive other people: Have license? Pass a background and driving check and you could earn bucks by driving for Uber or Lyft using your own car.
You can see that where there’s a desire for earning extra cash, there’s a way to do it for almost everyone. Pick yours carefully, investigate the fine print, and enhance this holiday season with a little extra to buy that special surprise gift for your most special person…or maybe even treat yourself.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily of the radio show. Interviewee is not a representative of the radio show. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions. Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances. The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by the radio show.
Steve Pomeranz: I want to welcome to the show Bob Niedt. He’s an award-winning journalist who lives in northern Virginia, and he’s come up with a great list of ways to earn extra cash for this holiday season. Welcome back to the show, Bob.
Bob Niedt: Well, thank you. Thank you, appreciate it.
Steve Pomeranz: In your article, you wrote 17 ways to earn extra cash for the holidays, and I was really astonished at the clever number of ways that people can pick up hundreds of extra bucks—and maybe thousands of extra bucks—and maybe even find something to take them through the next year. So, let’s just get started. The first one: sell unwanted electronics. Take us through it.
Bob Niedt: There are several ways to sell your unwanted electronics. We all have these sitting around our houses when we upgrade to something new and we don’t trade it in. There are ways to get rid of them. There are several sites, one you might be familiar with is GameStop.com. That’s a good one to use. And there are also two others. One’s called NextWorth.com and another is called uSell.com. It’s U-S-E-L-L.
Steve Pomeranz: U-S-E-L-L, okay.
Bob Niedt: Yes, uSell. And you can sell your smartphones, tablets, game consoles, video games, textbooks, all kinds of things.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay, great.
Bob Niedt: You get paid by check and shipping is free.
Steve Pomeranz: If you’re listening to this why don’t you grab a pen. Bob just mentioned GameStop.com, like the store, NextWorth.com, and uSell with the letter U and the word sell. What about Gazelle.com? I know that’s here on your list.
Bob Niedt: That’s another one. That’s definitely a good one too.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay. I have an old iPad, I’ve got three or four old phones and I’m always afraid to send them in because I’m afraid that even if I try to clear it, it’s going to still have some information there.
Bob Niedt: Yeah, that’s a scary thing. As a matter of face, the Apple website has a way- they’ll show you how to clear your Apple devices before you send them in. In fact, Apple has a trade-in program too where they’ll reward you if you trade in a newer type of Apple product.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, that they can still resell, I suppose.
Bob Niedt: Right, exactly.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay, let’s move on. Search for unclaimed property.
Bob Niedt: This a good one and I actually tried it and, of course, I didn’t find anything. You can go to a couple of state sites or the IRS and see if there’s money out there that’s in your name like deposits for uncollected insurance benefits, deposits on utilities, things like that. It’s very interesting, I found some of my relatives on there so that was a pretty good thing.
Steve Pomeranz: Oh, that’s nice. You know, usually what happens too is that if you actually do have some money hanging out there that you don’t know about, you’ll probably get a letter from a lawyer who wants to then go after on your behalf and to claim it for you. And they’ll take a percentage of what they’re able to recover for you. Of course, if you just look at yourself and then you contact the various agency you can just go direct, but a lot of times people hear about these because they get a letter from a lawyer. As a matter of fact, when my dad passed away many years ago, he passed away totally broke, but about two years later we found that he had $7,000 sitting in a bank account out somewhere in California and we split it up amongst the family. So that’s a real thing, pretty interesting.
Bob Niedt: Oh, great story! Great story!
Steve Pomeranz: Thanks. How about adjusting your tax withholding?
Bob Niedt: Very easy thing to do. All you have to do is go to your HR department, have them fix your W-2 form through your W-4 and also on our website, Kiplinger.com, we have a withholding calculator that you can figure out for you, personally, how much withholding less, withholding more would affect your paycheck.
Steve Pomeranz: That’s really very important because I think you wrote that the average person gets $3,000 back per year. We’re kind of against that idea of using the government as your savings account but that’s a way a lot of people do it. If you can adjust your W-2—or rather your tax withholding, I think you’re better off.
Bob Niedt: Yeah, the money’s going into your pocket every week instead of being held for you and being spent by the government.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, exactly. But also, you have to have the discipline to be able to not spend it and to save a portion of what you’re making because, let’s face it, folks, you’re never going to retire, you’re never going to get anywhere, unless you take a portion of your salary and get it saved for the long term. That’s a completely different segment, Bob, I’m not going there. I did want to mention. But I want to talk about some of the other, more unusual, parts of this list. One is, be a tour guide. Tell me about that.
Bob Niedt: That is very cool. I found some interesting things out with that. I had known about these tour guides and how they make money through an organization called Licensed Battlefield Guides of Gettysburg. I’m a history buff and I’ve utilized them before. To become something like that, though, you have to be tested and certified by the National Park Service and it’s a very grueling learning curve to do that, but there are upsides for the rewards that you get from that.
But another really interesting thing is running tours. You can become a running tour guide.
Steve Pomeranz: What does that mean?
Bob Niedt: There’s an organization called City Running Tours. People sign up for a running tour, people who run, and they’ll take running tours of, say, the monuments in Washington D.C. And if you’re a tour guide you get paid $20-25 plus tips.
Steve Pomeranz: Wow. You mentioned here there’s a White House tour led by a member of the White House Press Corps. And also you mention a travel guide site called Viable?
Bob Niedt: Viable. Vayable, I think it’s called.
Steve Pomeranz: Vayable. V-A-Y-A-B-L-E that lets anyone list a tour or experience that tells a unique story about a destination from its art to the history of food. And you find this out at the Licensed Battlefield Guides of Gettysburg. Of course, you’re going to have to be certified because they want to make sure you know your stuff. It’s kind of like when you’re volunteering at a museum and you want to be a docent. Usually, they put you through a pretty extensive course so you can learn what you’re talking about.
How about getting paid for your opinions? I have a lot of opinions and talk about them on a radio. What about other people getting paid?
Bob Niedt: There are organizations out there, one you’ve probably heard of is called the Harris Poll. They reward people for taking online and phone surveys. Sometimes between $100 and $200 for some of these opinion seekers. One is called Inspired Opinions. And I did mention Harris Poll and another is Focus Point Global but aside from that, speaking of opinions, you can also become an online juror.
Steve Pomeranz: Oh wow!
Bob Niedt: And get paid for that.
Steve Pomeranz: What is that? An attorney that wants to kind of pre-test-
Bob Niedt: Yes.
Steve Pomeranz: A particular case and they want to get opinions and see how the general public would react.
Bob Niedt: Right, so bear in mind, you’re not actually a juror on an actual jury duty. It’s just a mock jury.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, and they’re willing to pay for that. That’s really cool, I didn’t know about whatsoever.
Bob Niedt: And it adds up. It adds up.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay, well good. By the way, all of these sites will be listed on our website which is StevePomeranz.com. That’s P-O-M-E-R-A-N-Z, StevePomeranz.com. You can hear this segment again and again and again to get the names of all these sites if you go to StevePomeranz.com this will all be posted here.
All right, let’s skip around. I like this one here, join a street team. What is that?
Bob Niedt: Yes. It’s a promotional; you’ve seen these people that hand out brochures or promote films. I was going to a concert recently and they were promoting, I forget what movie it was right now, but they had hats and posters and things like that and this person was hired by the film company to distribute this information, products.
Steve Pomeranz: Right, but that’s the same as me spinning a sign on some corner-
Bob Niedt: Sign spinners.
Steve Pomeranz: How come that’s not on your list, Bob? Sign spinners? I feel sorry for those people. Some of them seem to be having fun, many really don’t.
Bob Niedt: Some of those guys are really thoroughly trained to spin those signs around and it’s pretty amazing.
Steve Pomeranz: You know there’s a new store that opened up near me and they sell hot dogs and there’s this poor guy who stands out there in a hot dog suit all day and that’s just sad. It’s just basically sad. So, when we talked about joining a street team and so how would you find that kind of a job?
Bob Niedt: Of course, there’s a website it’s called StreetTeamPromotion.com.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay, well that makes sense. That’s a great idea. All right, be a babysitter. That’s not too out there but we’re talking about adults as well as kids, I guess here, right?
Bob Niedt: Yes. Babysitter or a nanny. Rates vary from small cities to larger cities, but you can make some pretty good change plus the aforementioned tips as well.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay. My guest is Bob Niedt, he’s with Kiplinger.com and we’re talking about 17 ways to earn extra cash for the holidays. I’m not sure we’ll get to all 17 but another one here is to sell excess furniture. Okay, sure. Tell us about that.
Bob Niedt: Craigslist is always a place to sell your excess furniture. Whether you’re moving out or moving on or just have this extra furniture that’s been sitting around your house and your attic.
Steve Pomeranz: Let’s face it, we all accumulate stuff.
Bob Niedt: Too much.
Steve Pomeranz: Too much. We move into a house that you know fits us, there’s extra room and within three to five years it’s totally stuffed. It’s time to let some of this stuff go, right?
Bob Niedt: Yes. You grow your possessions to the size of your house, basically.
Steve Pomeranz: That’s right, exactly. So, you either have to sell your stuff or you have to move and it’s better to sell your stuff.
Bob Niedt: Absolutely.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay. So, Craigslist, any other ideas with regard to selling online furniture, let’s say?
Bob Niedt: Consignment is a good place to go too. There are private consignment shops around your town, I’m sure.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, there are.
Bob Niedt: There are online furniture consignments as well.
Steve Pomeranz: Really?
Bob Niedt: One is called Chairish and it’s spelled like the chair, C-H-A-I-R ish.com. Some of these sites are kind of limited to different markets, there’s one called Aptdeco For Apartment, A-P-T deco. And that mostly New York City as well as Washington D.C., confined to there.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. But I never thought of selling furniture online, so I’m going to take a look at this Chairish site, that’s pretty interesting. But I, actually, personally, use consignment shops all the time when I’m selling excess art or there’s just something I want to get rid of, and I’ve been very successful in getting some money back for this stuff, and what I can’t sell and what isn’t accepted in a consignment store, I give away to charity.
Bob Niedt: Yes, exactly. Good point.
Steve Pomeranz: All right, what about you’ve accumulated some reward points? What do you do with those?
Bob Niedt: You cash them in. For example, I have an Amazon credit card where my points go toward Amazon purchases, and they add up. Every time I get them accumulated, I knock them off when I’m checking out something on Amazon.com. But there’s a lot of rewards points that just go uncollected. People just don’t cash them in.
Steve Pomeranz: You mention here, on average about $205 worth of rewards per year that aren’t redeemed. That’s too bad, that’s kind of foolish.
Bob Niedt: Per household, definitely.
Steve Pomeranz: I personally like these cash back cards. The credit card I use gives me double cash back. I want cash, I don’t really want points.
Bob Niedt: You don’t want points?
Steve Pomeranz: I don’t really want points. I think when you get points you’re vulnerable to point inflation. Meaning that the company that’s giving you the points can make them less valuable over time. Meaning it takes more points to get the same thing. When I get cash, I guess I’m subject to the inflation rate, the general inflation rate of the country, which is pretty low, so I’m willing to accept that and anyway I want control, I want cash, so that’s what I recommend.
Bob Niedt: Nice.
Steve Pomeranz: All right, let’s see what we got here. Walking dogs. Well, we see people do that but are those jobs hard or easy to get?
Bob Niedt: You could do it on your own. You can start your own business. There are people in my neighborhood I see, they’re just walking all kinds of different dogs all day long. You could get, depending what your fee is, $15-20 dollars an hour. And you’re getting exercise along with the dogs as well.
Steve Pomeranz: You mentioned here that a good way to advertise your services is to go to veterinarian offices and maybe put up a little poster or cards or something.
Bob Niedt: Yes, definitely. And they’re usually open to that as well.
Steve Pomeranz: All right, here’s another one, sell your creations. If you have a knack for creating anything from baked goods to intricate art designs you can profit from your talent. Do you have some websites for us there?
Bob Niedt: Yes. Of course, there’s Etsy, that’s pretty well-known website for artwork. You know Tumblr as well, that’s a site where you can, mostly, sells art prints.
Steve Pomeranz: I didn’t actually know that. I’ve heard of Tumblr but I’ve never actually used it. T-U-M-B-L-R.
Bob Niedt: Zazzle, Z-A-Z-Z-L-E, that’s another site. And, also, just going to church functions, farmer’s markets, craft shows, places like that; you can make some money doing that.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay. Now we only have time for one more, so I’m going to choose, drive other people.
Bob Niedt: Drive other people, yes.
Steve Pomeranz: Tell us about that.
Bob Niedt: There’s some nice cash there. The usual sites are Uber and Lyft, and if you go to those websites, you’ll see what the requirements are. But the thing is, you set your own hours and when you want to work, and now they’re playing with some models of tipping the drivers as well, so there’s a little extra cash in that as well.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, you’re using your own car and, I guess, you’re using your own gas and they’re paying what? About $19 an hour?
Bob Niedt: Right.
Steve Pomeranz: So you’re going to have to factor in the wear and tear on your car and all that.
Bob Niedt: You do have to do it. And there have been some critics saying that you should take a real hard look at how much you’re going to have to make from this.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, I can see that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be, perhaps. Well, unfortunately, we’re out of time. My guest is Bob Niedt, and we’ve been talking about ways to make extra cash for the holidays. And don’t forget you can hear all these websites again by going to our website which is StevePomeranz.com. That’s P-O-M-E-R-A-N-Z StevePomeranz.com and sign up for our weekly update too. And you can listen to the show on a per segment basis if there’s something in particular that interests you or, of course, listen to the whole show as you wish. We also have summaries of the segments as well, so you can read about what we said. We try to be as all-purpose as we can when you come to our website. Hey, Bob, thank you so much for joining us today.
Bob Niedt: Thanks, Steve, my pleasure.