Exams are nearing their end and summer beckons. Beaches, friends, movies, going places, seeing people. But here's the catch: it all costs money. And few people have parents who can or do happily dole out wads of notes. So what now?
All is not lost. You are not doomed to a lonely summer in front of the TV. Remember the best helping hand is at the end of your own arm. Even with the economy being what it is, there are many ways in which you can earn extra money – you just need to keep your eyes open and grab every opportunity.
Babysitting bonanza. Many people who have children go out more often than usual over the festive season. Advertise you services as a babysitter through the grapevine, at local crèches or on the community notice boards at supermarkets. Remember, word-of-mouth recommendation is the best way to go. One job well done will lead to others. This is obviously not a job for someone who has no experience with children.
House sitting habit Many people go away for the summer and need people to look after their homes/gardens/pets. Some people want you to live there, others are happy for you to come round once or twice a day, feed pets, water the garden and switch lights on and off. You are most likely to get a job like this from people you already know – unless they come highly recommended, most people are not happy to leave their homes in the hands of complete strangers. Whatever you do, don't invite friends over for a party in 'your' house – it could be the end of your house sitting career when an antique vase is broken and one of them runs the cat over.
Odd jobs. Many people have odd jobs that need to be done around the house – from changing bulbs through to fixing leaking taps or helping to clean out the garage. Offer your services, but make sure you know what you are doing. The last thing you want is a rumour spreading through the neighbourhood that you are unreliable or caused damage to someone's home. Advertise with leaflets in the postboxes in your neighbourhood.
Pool cleaning. Everyone wants to swim in summer, but no one wants to clean the pool. If you offer to do so on a regular basis, it could net you a tidy sum. Get written instructions on what each pool owner wants.
Get all wrapped up. Offer to wrap Christmas presents for people. This is a job which takes time and for which few people have the energy – especially the day before Christmas. Charge a flat rate per present – whether they are easy or difficult to wrap.
Clean sweep after parties. The last thing people feel like the morning after a large party, is to clean their own homes. Cleaning up after Christmas or New Year parties when everyone's domestics have gone one leave, could earn you quite a bit. Do it with a friend, so you'll have some company, and you'll get through it all more quickly. Advertise in your area and stress that no mess is too big for you to handle.
Flea market frenzy. In bigger cities, there are numerous flea markets in the run-up to Christmas. Approach stallholders directly and see if you can perhaps find a casual job minding the stall for a few days. Help is also often needed to set up and dismantle stalls. Some of the stallholders may even have other work for you, such as packing boxes or helping to manufacture the good they sell at their stalls.
Just remember, no one is going to employ anyone if they look as if the only fashion accessory they lack is an empty beer bottle. Dress for success – be neat and tidy and dress as plainly as possible. You will simply look more trustworthy and will therefore be more likely to be gainfully employed.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2010)