Could a holiday job pay off some of your biggest bills? Because it's that time of year again. Halloween candy has given way to peppermint sticks. They are lining the shelves with stockings and the doors with "NOW HIRING" signs.
You've seen the signs of the holiday season too. But have you ever thought of becoming a seasonal hire?
My husband was completely against it," says Air Force wife Leigh. "Completely against it."
But, Leigh reasoned, Christmas was around the corner, and with it, the annual barrage of out-of-budget expenses: flights to see in her in-laws, trips for Thanksgiving, presents for the kids. "Don't forget holiday cards," she adds. "Those are pricey!"
For Leigh, a Christmas with three kids in the house brought with it not just that jolly feeling of joy but also the looming feeling of gloom that comes with a budget that is a little too tight.
"My husband said no, that he didn't want people seeing me working the wrapping station at the bookstore, but he didn't mind that big TV Santa was able to give him at Christmas."
Whether you are trying to pad Santa's pocketbook or just trying to make ends meet, now is the time to apply for the large influx of seasonal work you will see from now until January.
Many of these jobs are part-time and with flexible schedules, which make them great options for military spouses also balancing social holiday demands.
"Restaurants, warehouses, small boutiques, department stores, the box stores ... everyone is hiring," Leigh says. "I got a job really easily. I just took one Thursday and applied everywhere."
Leigh, who lives in Texas, says that she made a list of her favorite stores -- places she wouldn't mind being all day --and called to ask what their application requirements were.
Resume and applications in hand, she made her way from store to store after dropping her children at school. She introduced herself, submitted applications. Then she spent the next day following up.
"The very first place I called said they'd be happy to take me, and I worked four hours a day while my kids were at school until the day before Christmas Eve. It worked perfectly for me, and I brought in just enough to cover Christmas."
It's always a good holiday when Santa's not in the red.
Tori, a Navy wife in Norfolk, did the same thing. "You wouldn't believe how busy it will get during the holiday rush," she says. "I took a job at Belk. They took a week to get back to me, but I really enjoyed it. Everybody is happy and smiling when they go shopping during the holidays. It's fun. I was able to get a little more money in, and that helped us get a new house this year."
Like taking advantage of layaway, joining the workforce as a seasonal employee can be one of the best ways to go about maintaining fiscal responsibility during the holiday season, especially if you're looking for a long term job but haven't been able to land one yet.
A short, seasonal job can add experience to your resume, local contacts and, most important, a foot in the door.
"A few people I know got hired on to stay on full-time after the season was over," Tori notes. "It was great for them, because they had been looking for work for awhile. I know one woman who got hired for management too," she adds. "She was a really hard worker, friendly, and everyone saw it."
Thinking about seasonal jobs? Start now. Take stock of which local stores are looking for seasonal employees, either on their website or by inquiring directly at the store itself.
Have copies of your resume with you, and be prepared to sit down and fill out an application on the spot. "Smile, smile, smile," adds Leigh. "They want you to be jolly and all. So you need to look the part." Once you have submitted your application, follow up. "Just take the time to call and check in," she says. "That way they will know you're really serious."
With any luck, you will be able to trim your tree with a little extra green this year. And with tax season just around the next corner, more seasonal work is on the horizon for anyone with good numbers sense. Ugly Christmas sweater not required.