How I Make Money from Home with Minimal Effort
A few months ago, I wrote about my zero budget Christmas experiment that I’m trying this year. We are focused on paying down debt and saving money at this point in our life, and Christmas spending is always a huge slow-down that throws us off track. No matter what my intentions are, it seems I can never stick to my Christmas budget. So this year, I decided not to make a Christmas budget at all! (You can read more about this here).
So you might be wondering if I’m just giving up on budgeting at all, or if we are not having Christmas. Neither of those are true – we ARE celebrating Christmas and exchanging gifts this year. I could never give up giving presents to my family! And I love my budgets and am more motivated than ever to stick to them.
No, this year, I am EARNING my Christmas money through various sources. I definitely wanted to have more saved by now (Christmas can get EXPENSIVE!), but I’m also super proud of what I’ve already accomplished!
Although I’m writing about saving for Christmas specifically, all of these methods can be used at any time of the year to supplement your income or save for something specific, like a vacation fund or purchasing a larger item. The possibilities are endless! And there are certainly many more ways to earn money from home, I’m just listing my favorite ones that are the easiest to implement. (I want you to be able to actually DO them and make some money!)
My Christmas Savings Summary
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So how have I earned my money so far? I’m a stay-at-home mom to two young kids and have no easy way to work at a traditional job (and even if I wanted to do that – which I don’t, I LOVE being a stay-at-home mom – any money I earned would go towards childcare). So I have to think outside the box if I want to earn money.
Here is the list of sources I’ve used to earn money, as well as how much I’ve earned from each.
I’ve made $85 selling things I no longer use! I’m looking to sell even more very soon, since we have some furniture just sitting in our garage that I don’t think we will ever use. May as well free up some space and save some more money for Christmas gifts!
I don’t know about you, but I was always afraid to list things on Craigslist. I’m a serious introvert and the thought of having to meet people and make an exchange sounded terrifying. Plus making the listings sounded like a lot of work.
To my surprise, it was incredibly fast and easy to list items on Craigslist. I just snapped the photos on my phone, quickly loaded them, wrote a short but clear description, and I was done! (And it wasn’t scary at all!)
To learn how to sell items on Craigslist, click the photo above or click to read this wikiHow How to Sell Items on Craigslist article.
I’ve recently earned a $10 gift card from MyPoints (and I’m well on my way to earning another $10), just by clicking through the periodic emails they send me.
If you’ve never heard of MyPoints, it’s a point-earning site that I’ve used for over a decade. You can earn points from using their search engine, watching videos, completing surveys, and more – but I mainly just click through their emails. I usually get several a day and they add up quickly!
When you have enough points, you can redeem them for a gift card or e-gift card (there are lots to choose from – Amazon and Starbucks are my favorites!). If you don’t want a gift card, you can redeem a PayPal gift card and then transfer the funds straight to your bank account!
It’s one of the easiest ways I earn gift cards from home with barely any effort. I’m so used to the emails now that I automatically click through without even thinking about it.
I have made $5 from this rewards program to go towards Christmas. This is another SUPER easy way to earn a little bit of side cash fairly quickly with minimal effort. They make it very easy to earn points, and frequently have great bonus point opportunities.
Just spending 5 minutes a day could earn you a gift card in a couple weeks – or just set Bing as your search engine and earn points just from searching for things you would already be searching for anyway! Just make sure you are logged into your rewards account.
I’ve earned $10.36 from Ebates – by doing nothing but shopping online! Ebates is super easy to use, just install their toolbar on your computer’s web browser or download the app. When you shop online, activate your Ebates cash back and they take care of the rest. Each quarter, they’ll send you a physical check with your cash back earnings! I LOVE free money!
I’m a little bummed, because we ordered some larger items online and I forgot to use my Ebates! My laptop reminds me to activate the Ebates cash back, but we ordered the items on my husband’s computer (clearly I need to get him signed up too! Haha). That would have given us a nice chunk of cash, since they were larger items. Oh well, lesson learned. Even without that, I’m pleased with earning the $10.36 since it took literally no effort on my part! And getting that check in the mail was so much fun!
Cleaning out my purse
Not even kidding here, I found $5 in my purse a couple months ago, just cleaning it out. I have no clue what it was for, so I threw it into my Christmas fund!
Then, a few days ago when I was once again cleaning out my purse, I found $20 stashed in a section of my wallet! I have vague memories of my husband giving it to me (I believe someone gifted it to him for something) and telling me to use it for spending cash… But I totally forgot about it, until I found it. Apparently it pays to clean!
But in all seriousness, deep cleaning really can earn you some cash. Check your purse, coat pockets, couch cushions, car… then gather up all your loose change and turn it in for cash or a gift card. I have tons of loose change lying around (mostly from my wallet from when I’ve used cash envelopes in the past) that I intend to turn in soon for a gift card to use for gifts.
Cleaning can also help you find items you no longer use that you could sell on Craigslist!
Giving my husband a shoulder rub
Several weeks ago, my husband was desperate for a shoulder rub and told me he would pay me whatever cash he had in his wallet, if I would give him just massage his neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. I of course agreed and he had $6 in his wallet. Score! $6 for 10 minutes is a pretty good deal, if you ask me! Especially since I would have done it for free, out of the kindness of my heart…but don’t tell him that!
Total amount earned so far: $141.36
My Plan to Make More Money
For the next few months leading up to Christmas, my plans include the following:
- Use Ebates with all of my online shopping. I just can’t pass up free money! I’m going to shop through them for my online Christmas purchases, then use my earnings to buy more Christmas presents!
- Continue listing items on Craigslist – I’m hoping to make an additional $300 for Christmas this way.
- Earn gift cards through Swagbucks. I’ve earned almost $200 since I joined Swagbucks, but I haven’t been very active in a long time. When I actually try, I can earn gift cards pretty quickly, so I’m hoping to earn at least $50 for Christmas, maybe more!
- Continue using MyPoints and Microsoft Rewards. I should be able to earn $10-$15 more from MyPoints and $15-$20 from Microsoft Rewards.
- Be more diligent about using grocery rebate apps, like Ibotta and Checkout51. I used to use these ALL THE TIME and I actually got some serious cash back just from scanning my receipts and a few products! These apps are super easy to use, and a great way to earn a few bucks every time I go grocery shopping.
- Turn in all my spare change. I have tons (and I mean TONS) of change lying around the house. Two piggy banks, a large mug, and an old soup-can-turned-pencil-cup have been filled. I collected the change from the car, emptying pockets, and clearing out my wallet over the last couple years. I would guess there’s $40-$50 in change.
Other Ways I’m Stretching My Christmas Giving
Besides earning money for Christmas, I also want to make some gifts for my family. I am a knitter and crocheter, but I haven’t spent a lot of time on crafting since becoming a mom. I would like to make hats, scarves, and gloves/mittens for Craig and the kids this year, as well as some other homemade gifts for other family members and close friends.
I’m also going to try spending less from my grocery budget and putting the extra in my Christmas fund. Normally I would use my extra grocery cash to go towards stocking up on sales prices or paying down debt, but in these last few months leading up to Christmas, I think I will put it in my Christmas fund instead. This will also help motivate me to be more frugal in my grocery shopping and meal planning!
What are some ways you make or save money from home? Let me know in the comments!
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