6 ways to earn extra cash this holiday season that you haven't thought of

man wrapping gifts

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  • Americans spend $700 each on average during the holiday season.
  • Many people try to generate extra cash to cover that expense, but not all holiday side hustles are truly flexible.
  • These six ways to earn extra cash include helping prep college applications, leading holiday tours, and transcribing audio.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

The holidays are wonderful, exciting, and ... expensive. This year, Americans will spend more than $700 each (on average) on holiday gifts and festivities.

With most Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, many people are looking to earn extra cash during the holiday season to cover those expenses. Advertisement

There are many ways to make extra cash around the holidays. Retailers hire about 700,000 seasonal workers in November and December. Then, there are the tried-and-true side hustles, like renting out a room or driving for a ride-share service.

However, none of those are truly feasible at the last minute. If you're in need of some last-minute cash this Christmas season, consider trying one of these flexible holiday side hustles.

Edit college applications

Many college applications are completed in December and January, which means there are lots of stressed-out high schoolers (and their parents) willing to pay for extra help.
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Logan Allec, a CPA and personal finance expert, said that you can charge up to $40 per application to help review and fine-tune essays.

Allec suggests leaving a flier at the library advertising your services. For added appeal, target students who are applying to your alma mater, where you've already proven you can create a successful application.

Get into transcription

If you're quick at the keyboard, you could earn extra money by transcribing audio. Journalists, academics, and business people all hire transcriptionists to get their interviews and presentations into writing. Advertisement

There are no educational requirements, although most companies will require you to submit a transcription test or take a grammar proficiency test, said Chloe Brittain, owner of Opal Transcription Services.

However, that's usually a quick process. Once you're up and running you'll be paid per minute of audio that you transcribe, earning up to $1 per minute.

Become a holiday tour guide

Do you know where all the best light displays are? If so, you can monetize your knowledge and spread holiday cheer by giving holiday light tours, says Kathy Kristof, editor of SideHusl.com. Advertisement

Kristof knew one man in Newport, Rhode Island, who made "a small fortune" giving harbor light tours on his boat. However, you don't need to have a watercraft to make this work.

Kristof recommends using sites like Viator to create your own hometown holiday tour, which you can lead on foot or by car. You could also create an Airbnb Experience centered around a light tour, or perhaps a holiday history tour or seasonal food adventure.

Lead tech tutoring

If you're great with technology (or at least have a good working knowledge), you could become a tech tutor for people who need a bit of extra help streamlining their devices. Advertisement

Kristof recommends using neighborhood websites like Nextdoor to advertise your services, although using fliers at a local seniors' center and other areas in the community can also work.

Think back to your teen years

Remember when you were a teenager and you were desperate for extra cash? Tapping into the same service jobs as an adult can help you handle holiday bills.

Advertise yourself as a babysitter for busy parents (you can make yourself standout by offering on-premises babysitting at the mall or shopping center). Or, sell your services removing snow from driveways, walkways, and roofs. You can even earn extra cash by helping people hang Christmas lights. Advertisement

Be a holiday helper

OK, you might have already considered this one. However, it's worth a mention anyway. There are lots of ways to be a holiday helper, removing stress from people who are especially busy this holiday season.

You can offer to wrap gifts, run errands, or clean for people at their homes. If you've got beautiful penmanship, you can fill out holiday cards, or help write personal notes. You can even sell services as a household organizer, helping families make room for the next wave of holiday gifts. Advertise at your local community center, church, or anywhere else where people in your community will see your flier. You could also leave notes in your neighbors' mailboxes to spread the word.Advertisement

The holidays are expensive, but with the gig economy thriving there are more ways than ever to earn cash in short order and avoid going into debt this holiday season.

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