11 Ways to Make, Save Money Over Winter Break


Make money: winter internships

The length of winter break varies, ranging from three weeks to upward of seven weeks at schools like the University of Delaware. Experts advise students to use the time to rest and to also be productive by gaining career experience. One way to do so is by participating in a winter internship. Before leaving for break, a student should check with his or her career center for available options or search for openings on websites like LinkedIn, Handshake, Glassdoor and Indeed. “Sometimes internships are paid and sometimes they are not,” says Laurie Kopp Weingarten, president of One-Stop College Counseling. “Even the ones that are unpaid can often lead to a full-paying summer job. Even if the goal is to make money, I wouldn’t necessarily turn down an unpaid internship if you thought there was potential for a high-paying job later on.”


Save money: shared or discounted travel

When traveling home for break, students who live close to campus or in nearby states may have the option to carpool. To find a ride, check residential housing or class social media pages. But if driving is not possible, look for discounts on paid transportation. Amtrak, for example, currently offers 15% off for students between the ages of 17 and 24 who book a ticket at least one day in advance. Students who rely on air travel can save money by choosing flights during less busy times such as on a Tuesday or Wednesday rather than on a weekend. Additionally, some colleges offer shuttles at little to no cost to help students avoid taking expensive car services to the airport, Weingarten says.


Make money: seasonal employment

The holiday season is busy for retail stores and restaurants, with many hiring temporary employees to accommodate demand. Check for “help wanted” signs at local stores or at larger companies such as Target, Best Buy and Walmart. “Students should not be complacent and say ‘there’s no way I can earn money, I’m not going to get a job in these few weeks,’” says Helese Sandler, director of college counseling for Savannah Educational Consultants. “That’s not true because there are a lot of jobs that are temporarily available.”


Save money: scholarship hunting

Instead of binging on daytime television, college students can use their downtime over winter break searching for scholarships to help pay for tuition and school expenses the following year, says Kevin Ladd, chief operating officer and co-creator of Scholarships.com, and a former U.S. News contributor. Visit websites such as Chegg, Niche, CollegeXpress, Scholarships.com or the U.S. News Scholarship Finder to look for aid options.


Make money: babysit, housesit or pet sit

With children temporarily out of school for break, many parents need help with child care. The months of December and January are also often filled with planned family vacations, increasing the need for pet sitters or housesitters. Students can sign up for companies like Care.com to find clients.

Save money: student discounts

Going home for the holidays can be as much about catching up with friends as seeing family. If you’re going out to dinner, watching a movie or shopping, ask about a student discount. The biggest opportunities for discounts are related to software, laptops and subscriptions, says Kent Belasco, director of the commercial banking program at Marquette University in Wisconsin. “All they have to do is search online for a lot of these types of things to find out what’s available to them. There’s a lot.”


Make money: sell items

Consider cleaning out a bedroom or closet over break. While some items can be donated, less-worn clothing, for example, can be sold online or at local consignment shops. Students can also turn a hobby into a job by selling homemade crafts or baked goods on websites like Etsy or Redbubble, Weingarten says.


Save money: home cooking

It can be tempting to catch up with friends at restaurants or coffee shops, but eating out adds up. Bring gatherings home by hosting a potluck or cooking together, says Kristina Dooley, founder and president of Estrela Consulting. “Everyone’s parents want to see them and parents like to see their kids’ old friends as well. Offer to invite your friends from high school over so you’re not spending that money and you’re also doing double duty in letting your family see your friends.”


Make money: social media savvy

Serve as a brand ambassador and promote products or services on social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok. Be proactive and reach out to companies for opportunities, Dooley says. “That’s the way a lot of startup companies get to where they are. From the company’s perspective, it saves them a ton of money to ship you a box of free items and have you post about using, eating or wearing those products.” Buy a hosting at 80 percent of the deal!


Save money: deposit cash gifts

Gift-giving is often part of the holiday season. A student may receive clothes, gift cards or even cash from family or friends. Rather than spend the cash all at once, put it directly into savings, Belasco says. It will come in handy when you head back to school.


Make money: substitute teach

While colleges are on extended winter break, K-12 schools are typically in session much of that time. One job to consider, especially for education students, is being a substitute teacher. State or district rules vary, but requirements include a GED or high school diploma, college credit, a background check and sometimes certification. “You are getting paid sometimes $100 a day and it’s a short day and you choose which days you want to work,” Weingarten says. “If you have plans one day with your family then you don’t have to work.”


Ways to make and save money over winter break:

  • Winter internships.
  • Shared or discounted travel.
  • Seasonal employment.
  • Scholarship hunting.
  • Babysit, housesit or pet sit.
  • Student discounts.
  • Sell items.
  • Home cooking.
  • Social media savvy.
  • Deposit cash gifts.
  • Substitute teach.

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