What are you planning to do on Black Friday? Will you wake up at 4 a.m. to fight your way through crowds? Stand in line for hours only to discover that this year’s hottest toys are sold out?
That doesn’t exactly sound like fun. And no, leaving Thanksgiving dinner to visit the mall on Thursday night isn’t the answer, either.
Instead of battling the crowds as suggested by this tongue-in-cheek post, put your time to better use. Erin Burt shared 10 great ideas for Black Friday on Kiplinger, which inspired me to add to her list.
Here are 12 more smart strategies to make the most of your time on Black Friday — and most will leave you with extra money in your pocket.
1. Sign Up for Free Money
Yes, you read that right. Take advantage of bank account promotions to earn free money from several banks. While chasing sign-up bonuses isn’t always worth your time, these ones could earn you $400 in total.
Here are a couple to check out this week:
Capital One 360: They do a Black Friday promotion every year, and this year they’re offering a $100 bonus when you open a new checking account and a $100 bonus when you open a new savings account between November 28 and December 1 (normally the bonus is $50). The account must be your first checking or savings account with Capital One 360 and you’ll need to meet a deposit minimum ($250 for the checking account, $1,000 for the savings account), but it’s a great chance to earn a little extra cash.
Nationwide: When you open a free checking account with Nationwide before December 31, you can earn a $200 bonus. You’ll need to deposit $50 to get started and use the offer code 03110470, then set up a monthly direct deposit of at least $200 within 60 days. Leave the account open for at least 90 days to receive the bonus. Click here to sign up.
2. Find a Seasonal Job
While many people think it’s too late, there’s still time to pick up a seasonal job for the holidays. Some businesses will have finished their hiring already, but you might luck out — especially if you hustle early this week.
Try Snagajob, which specializes in hourly work, as well as good old-fashioned walk-ins — though you probably don’t want to try those on Black Friday itself.
3. Get Your Kids a Job
No, not at the mall. Signing your kids up to be toy testers is a fun way to help Santa save a little cash on presents. Companies like Fisher-Price and Step 2 need feedback on new toys, such as whether they’re engaging and how they hold up to the wear and tear of playing, and the best people to share their feedback are kids and their parents.
Curious? Learn more about how to land toy-testing jobs in this post.
4. Strengthen Your Online Presence
Your social media accounts are great for sharing your professional accomplishments, your comments on polarizing issues or your photo of that amazing steak you grilled last night. But did you know your posts can also earn you free stuff — and put cash in your pocket?
Spend a few hours beefing up your Facebook profile, Twitter stream, LinkedIn network and other channels, and you could create new opportunities for yourself. To learn more about Facebook and Twitter contests and earning opportunities, check out this post. And all of your sharing and tweeting helps build “influence,” which Klout measures and rewards with free Perks.
Bonus? Your new, improved social media presence could also help you and your kids land those coveted toy-testing jobs.
5. Plan a New Small Business
Whether you’re ready to hit the ground running or you’re researching your options for the new year, start planning a way to earn money on the side. Figure out a way that your skills and experience could help people, and then capitalize on it.
Good with words? Try making money as a writer. Work in tech? Do a little freelance web development. Love dogs? Think about leading dog adventures or planning pet parties. Handy with tools? Consider building catios (yes, they’re a thing) or repair and resell used appliances. If you’re keen to try something a little more unusual, check out our Weird Business series for more inspiration.
6. Get Creative
Let your inner artist run wild while everyone else is still in their turkey coma. Create something cool, like jewelry, walking sticks or other crafts, that you can give to friends and family for the holidays. My biggest hit last year was a wine-tasting kit: I simply sewed four bottle-shaped fabric covers and painted a number on each, to make it more fun to blind taste-test different bottles.
Want to earn some cash with your crafts? Consider setting up shop on Etsy or another online marketplace.
7. Write an Ebook
Have you been talking about writing a book forever? Put your money where your mouth is and write it already.
Not sure what to write about? Steve Scott, who has published 17 Kindle ebooks, recommends picking a niche market and then offering value by solving a problem for readers. Once you’re ready to share your work with the world, here’s how to self-publish it online.
8. Go for a Walk or Hit the Gym
While you might not feel like being active after stuffing yourself with turkey (and stuffing), perhaps a little financial incentive would motivate you to get off the couch. What if you could earn money for your workout — or even a walk around the block?
That’s right, these sites and apps will pay you to exercise:
- Pact (formerly Gympact): Set a goal for your workouts, including hitting the gym, visiting a yoga studio or walking outside, and earn cash by sticking to your pact.
- Diet Bet: Bet on yourself losing a certain amount of weight in a given time period, and earn up to $100 if you’re successful.
- Healthy Wage: Similar to Diet Bet, but competing with a team could earn payouts up to $10,000.
9. Sell Your Blood Plasma
It takes about two hours and yes, it involves a needle, but selling your plasma could earn you about $25 for your first visit. The process is simple, and you’re free to read or watch TV while a machine draws your blood and separates the plasma.
Interested? Search “plasma center + [your city]” for options, and ask your friends for referrals — many centers offer referral sign-up bonuses.
If you prefer just to donate blood — which the American Red Cross says is especially necessary between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day — look for a blood drive near you on their website or download their Blood App.
10. Plan to Give to Charity
If you’re going to make any charitable donations, you’ll want to make them before the end of the year so you can deduct them on your 2014 taxes.
Make sure to read the the IRS guidelines first — you’re only allowed to deduct donations to qualified organizations, not individuals or political campaigns, and donations of property or goods are treated differently than cash.
11. Shop Online, Strategically
If you really need to get started on your holiday shopping, do it from the comfort of your own home and use these tricks to save extra cash and earn rewards.
For example, signing up for Ebates earns you cash back on purchases you’re going to make anyway — like 10% on TOMS shoes, 7.5% on Helmut Lang and 4.5% at Bass Pro Shops. And when you buy your gifts, always use your rewards credit card to earn cash back or travel points. Your holiday gifts might as well give you something in return!
12. Spend Time With Family and Friends
Ok, so this option won’t earn you any extra money. But whether you’re traveling for Thanksgiving or enjoying a day off at home, take a little time to relax this week. After all, what’s the use in earning cash and rewards if you never enjoy them?
Your Turn: What are you planning to do on Black Friday?