20-Something, Austin

Broke Hipster’s Guide to Saving for the Holidays

The end of the year always sucks major ass in the financial department.

Butt loads of money spent on gifts, flights home and wine for holiday parties. Yo, bottles of Yellowtail add up after awhile! For freelancers it’s even worse since work trickles to a sloth’s pace near Christmas- and not like a cute sloth that you see plastered all over Buzzfeed. More like a sloth you want to punch in its weird, dopey-eyed face.

I guess the nice thing about being broke around the holidays is that you have to get really creative with gift-giving. In order to save money you actually have to put time and energy into a gift; your parents are going to love the short story you wrote for them about how wonderful your childhood was and how you hope that you’ll be as great of a parent as they were one day.

But if short-story writing is not your thing, below is a list to get your creative money-making and money-saving juices flowing for the holiday season.

1.) Clinical trials In Austin, we have PPD Clinical Research Program. You know, the people that have the giant billboard on I-35 that says, “Have itchy feet?! Get $500!”.  PPD enables you to sell a part of your body participate in trials where you test new drugs in exchange for money. I don’t think they pay until a month later, so you may not get your check until January, but you’ll be so hopped up on whatever drug they’re giving you, you might not care that you’re broke.

2.) Sell books to Half Price Books– Sell your old books sitting on the shelf for credit at Half Price Books (or other comparable used book store in your area), then turn around and buy used books for your friends and family for the holidays! This is also a good way to feel morally superior in not jumping on the Kindle bandwagon (broke= fake activism).

3.) Pickle the living shit out of everything– Pickling is cheap and easy to do (read my pickling recipe here). The upfront costs entail pickling jars, vinegar, pickling salt, and veggies. Luckily some of this stuff might already be sitting around our house, or if not, steal from your friends. They’ll never know that their pickling salt is missing because they probably bought it three years ago when they wanted to go on a pickling spree and then promptly lost interest. Everybody loves pickles and it will impress people who don’t understand how easy pickling actually is.

4.) Sell your plasma– From your body. It’s about $20-$30 per donation at BioLife Plasma Donation in Austin. Or you could sell your plasma TV too. You don’t actually need it.

5.) Give people rides for cash– Austin has a new car-sharing app, Heyride, that enables people to buy rides from complete strangers or sell rides to complete strangers. Just understand that by doing so, you can get in trouble with the city.

6.) Sell your services on Task Rabbit Even though I’m on their mailing list, Task Rabbit kind of freaks me out and even when I’m broke, thinking about hanging Christmas lights for a complete stranger and then being blundgeoned to death in their basement for money just doesn’t sound appealing to me. I recall an NPR journalist trying Task Rabbit for a week and he didn’t end up murdered so maybe it’s a-okay.

7.) Bake Cookies!– Because really- who doesn’t like cookies? I’d much rather get a big ass pile of cookies for Christmas than underwear. Underwear is overrated, cookies are not. You will never hear someone saying, “Oh man, cookies are overrated!”, but you will often hear people say, “Oh man, this underwear is chafing my junk!” Do cookies chafe junk? I don’t think so.

8.) Frame an Instagram photo of yourself– But give it to your parents. They’re the only people who are going to think its beautiful and not a pretentious piece of crap.


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  • Reply Adria December 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I think you’ve just inspired me to pickle something for someone for Christmas. Although, I don’t know if my family likes pickles. Crap. Oh well, plasma sales, here we come…

    • Reply hipstercrite December 14, 2012 at 11:52 am

      Who doesn’t like pickles?! They’d be crazy not to! 😉 Pickled carrots, beats and peppers are good too!

  • Reply @distract_me December 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    My parents don’t like pickles and they would struggle to pretend to want a photo of me. Perhaps cookies/drug trials are they way forward. xx

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