Make Side Money Before the Holidays

This Friday I wanted to feature something that I think a lot of people may be interested in: Ways to make extra money for holiday spending. I like to try out different ways to earn money (mostly online or through mobile apps) and I wanted to share my personal experience and favorites with you. I figured this would be especially helpful during the holiday season when money may be extra tight.

Please note that everything listed below are websites and apps that I use regularly and are all easy to use. I like to use these sites throughout the year and then cash out my earnings near the holidays to help with the extra expense. None of the suggestions below will get you rich but will hopefully pay for a holiday gift or two.


Shopkick is really the perfect app for the holidays. If you are unfamiliar, it is a shopping app that gives you points for checking into stores. You don’t even need to buy anything, and the best part is there’s often extra bonuses, points and missions, especially during the holiday season. For example, if I walk-in to Best Buy with the app open, I will receive 80 points! This can add up quickly, especially if you are at the mall and/or do missions on top of check-ins.

You can redeem your rewards straight from your smartphone and use your gift card from your smartphone. If memory serves me right, these gift cards get loaded to your account fast too!

My Holiday Progress: $50 in Gifts Cards, with kicks remaining for next time.


Mobee is another great app for people who are out and about a lot! Mobee is a mystery shopping type app that pays in rewards for reviewing different restaurants, fast food chains, retailers, and more. The surveys are usually pretty quick and different missions pay different amounts, but you can easily select missions on the go. If you sign up, use my referral code RWLH for 300 points. You can make a donation to charity at 350 points and earn gift cards at 500 so you are already really close to redemption after sign up!

You can redeem points for rewards with a good variety of gift cards and more. Gift Cards may take a few days to reach your e-mail attached to your Mobee account.

My Holiday Progress: $75 in Gift Cards

Ebates, Shop At Home, etc:

If you haven’t signed up for a cashback site yet and plan to do any online shopping, please do. Cashback sites are insanely easy to use and the savings can add up quick if you make a large or a lot of online purchases! The two I use often and like a lot are Ebates and Shop At Home.

If you are not familiar, you sign up for account and then search for the store you will be making a purchase from. If I am going to buy something at Kohl’s, I will search for Kohl’s and see they offer 6.5% cashback for my purchase. I click the link that takes me to Kohl’s, and then I act like a regular shopper and make my purchase. If I spent $100 at Kohls, I will receive an e-mail from the cashback site within a few days stating I earned $6.25. I will get this money every quarter in my PayPal account, but there’s other payment options too! This definitely adds up, especially for savvy online shoppers!

Depending on the Cashback website, typically these get paid through PayPal or by check every Quarter. You won’t receive the cashback before the holiday season is over but it will be nice extra money in 2015. However, Ebates offers a $10 gift card after first purchase for new users so you may receive it soon depending on when you sign up!

My Holiday Progress: $0 (because I didn’t save it for Christmas and the next check is after the holidays)


Swagbucks is a website that pays you to do certain things on the internet from taking surveys, searching the internet, participating in polls, printing coupons and more! I mostly use Swagbucks for the occasional search and coupon print but points can add up!

You can redeem Swagbucks for Gift Cards and more, and it takes a few days to receive the gift card in your inbox. I like redeeming for Amazon Gift Cards because they are only 450 points!

My Holiday Progress: $30 Amazon Gift Card

Ibotta, Checkout 51, Snap by Groupon, SavingStar, etc.:

The above are all coupon apps and websites that gives you cashback in your account when you buy certain items, mainly grocery and household items. For example, if there’s a coupon available for $1 off any milk, I would submit my receipt through the app to get the $1 back. I can use the same receipt for many different offers. (SavingStar works a little differently since it can be attached to your reward card so you would get that money automatically). Sometimes I hate uploading the receipts, but it really takes less than a minute and some of the offers are really worth it. I already have over $20 from Snap and I’ve only had it for a month since you can get multiple savings for one item on certain offers.

Depending on the company, there may be a minimum limit of $10-$20 before you can redeem. Most are offered through PayPal with other payments available, however, I haven’t redeemed these yet since most are fairly new to me.

If you are just starting out, I would recommend SavingStar, Snap, Checkout 51 and Ibotta in that order. Both SavingStar and Snap do not require a Smartphone either, but the other two do.

My Holiday Progress: Roughly $70 between the four sites

Discover Credit Cashback:

It’s not for everyone, but I like to use my credit card for purchases to receive cashback to save for Christmas. You do need to be careful if you use your credit card for everything since you want to make sure you pay off your credit card each month to avoid charges. There’s a lot of different options for cashback cards and you may prefer air miles over cashback. I do like using my Discover card and there’s options for 5% cashback but there’s really a ton of credit card options. I recommend doing a lot of research to see if cashback credit cards are a good fit for you and your spending habits.

Depending on the credit card, there many be certain terms or restrictions. With Discover I can use my cashback directly on Amazon purchases, gift cards, statement credit and more!

My Holiday Progress: Roughly $140

Total Earned for Extra Side Money to put Towards Holiday Gifts: $365!

My extra side money total for the holidays might not seem impressive, but I didn’t put a lot of time and effort in these earnings either. I also cashed a little throughout the year at certain sites, so I may have been able to get a little more spending cash for the holidays.

I also really hate and avoid survey sites and things that are really tedious like Amazon’s MTurk, but it is an option if you are a bit more patient. If you are interested in taking surveys, the only one I really liked was Pinecone Research and they paid $3 per survey and paid timely.

All the websites and apps used above were routine and didn’t take too much extra time. I recommended an app (that I no longer recommend) to my father-in-law and he earned five times more than I did with a lot more effort and a little more trial and error. You can definitely have more success than me, or earn less depending how active you are.

If you use any of these websites and apps, how did you do this year? Did you save your earnings for holiday gifts too?

What are your favorite ways to earn side money for the holidays?

Please let me know in the comments below if I missed any of your favorite ways to earn a little extra side money online or through mobile apps!

*This post does contain some affiliate and referral links if you sign up through my link. However, I do use and recommend these sites whether or not you sign up through my link. If you have any questions, please see my disclosure policy. Thanks!

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