How to boost your income to cover Christmas costs

Between buying gifts for teachers, neighbours, children, family and friends, getting to and from office Christmas parties, organising babysitters, hosting meals for the extended family, forking out for special occasion treats, taking a holiday ... there is no shortage of reasons for the outgoings to gush at this time of year.

(In some unlucky households, like my own, car registration and compulsory third-party insurance might also be due about now).

Research released by the Commonwealth Bank this week estimates Australians will spend $11 billion on Christmas, taking the average spend per person to $593, which is up 25 per cent over the last five years.

"Christmas isn't only an expensive time because of gift buying," Commonwealth executive manager Clive van Horen says. "It's also a time of year where we entertain and go out more and spend a little extra on our homes."

It's estimated that about two out five shoppers will head out without a budget for what they can spend. And despite the fact more of us are setting a budget for the festive period, many won't stick to it. The price tag for over-spending is likely to be about $625 million according to van Horen.

There is no doubt that making ends meet at the end of the year isn't without its challenges. And while there is merit in trying to make savings where-ever possible, it could also be worth exploring the flipside to that coin and trying to boost your income.

Tim Fung, chief executive of community marketplace Airtasker, says joining up at this time of year is popular.

"Between Christmas, the school holidays, summer and the New Year, spending is likely to see a significant up-tick, so it never hurts to have some additional income coming in," he says. "Whether you're a uni student, office worker, full-time mum or retiree, Airtasker lets you monetise your free time at your own convenience."

Whether members want to make Christmas cost-negative, claw back some credit card debt or make some extra spending money, Fung says it's relatively easy for new members to turn their spare time into spare money.

"In only a couple of minutes, you can be up and running on Airtasker and browsing through hundreds of available tasks," he says. "For many tasks, all you need are your hands, your brain, and some free time."

The premise is that people and businesses can list tasks they want to outsource - from assembling flat-pack furniture to admin tasks to setting up computers - and members can then apply to complete them. It is free, online and fast.

Fung says the sheer variety of tasks available and the simplicity of registering as a new member make it an attractive proposition for anyone wanting to boost their income.

From doing loads of laundry, teaching a kid to skateboard, hanging picture frames, helping to cater for and clean up from a dinner party, pet sitting, setting up a new IPhone, reviewing a presentation, there is no end to the variety of tasks members are willing to pay to outsource.

About a year and a half ago, Evis Alasevicius, a 25-year-old from Rozelle in Sydney, was looking for new income and he began offering his services as a removalist on Airtasker.

"I wanted some extra work, to make more money," he says. He now earns, on average, an additional $3000 a month from jobs he gets through Airtasker. "If you work a lot you can make more, or you work less and make less."

Alasevicius says anyone who has some time and the scope to help someone else can make some pocket money.

"It's a great platform for people with flexibility who want to get some more jobs," he says. "I have my own company but it's very good to have a side-job to earn extra money."

Georgina Dent is a journalist, editor and TV commentator with a keen focus on women's empowerment and gender equality.

This story How to boost your income to cover Christmas costs first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.