Working over the holidays

Make your holiday job work for you

So, you’ve got a job, and you’re going to spend your holiday break working. Good for you! Here’s how to make the money you earn work as hard as possible for you.

Podcast transcript


PETE: You’re listening to How to Not Move Back in With Your Parents here on the IU Money Smarts Radio Network. I am Pete the Planner joined by my good buddy, Alex. Hello, Alex.

ALEX:Hey everybody.

PETE: We’re on episode, what are we, 10, 11, 50, 12?

ALEX: We’re getting there.

PETE: Fourteen, this is 14! By God, it’s a lot of talking.

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: How are ya? So this show helps people deal with financial issues as a college student. Make sure when you get out, you’re not so much in a hole that you start getting angry and sweaty. We prevent people from sweating. We’re like antiperspirant.

ALEX: Yeah, you could say that.

PETE: I did. Hey, this week, we’re talking about whether you should work on holiday break. Got our good buddy Dean in studio with us. Dean, welcome to the show.

DEAN: Thank you.

PETE: I know you’re a big fan of the show.

DEAN: Yes.

PETE: All the fan letters are appreciated, and the collage you sent me of things that look like me looks very nice.

DEAN: Thank you.

PETE: So Dean, you work over holiday break, that’s kind of your thing.

DEAN: Yeah, a little bit, yeah.

PETE: And you’re a choralist?

DEAN: Chorister, yes.

PETE: What’s a chorister?

DEAN: It’s a member of the choir.

PETE: What’s a choralist? Is that anything?

DEAN: No, that’s not a word. You just made it up.

PETE: It’s like a flux capacitor.

DEAN: Yeah.

PETE: Alex, are you a choralist?

ALEX: I wish I was, but I’m not.

PETE: Is that someone that studies coral?


PETE: But you’re a choir, what is it?

DEAN: Chorister.

PETE: Sure.

DEAN: Yes.

PETE: You’re a singer.

DEAN: Yes, I sing with the choir.

PETE: We don’t have to go with the alternative words for singer, right? So you sing over holidays and make money?

DEAN: Yes.

PETE: And so you enjoy singing.

DEAN: Yes, quite a bit.

PETE: But you’re getting like 13 bucks an hour?

DEAN: Well, more or less, yeah, it depends. But we get paid per call, so if you’re there for an hour range, it doesn’t really matter, you’re there every time you sing.

PETE: I could sing a little Ave Maria for you guys right now, but I’m not going to.

DEAN: Please don’t.

PETE: You don’t wanna hear it? You have no idea, I played Tiny Tim in the 1985 production of A Christmas Carol at CTS Theater in Indianapolis in Indiana. And I’ll tell you, I can sing, when I was in second grade. All right, so listen, so Dean, as you look at kinda Christmas break, obviously, you have fun singing. You’re gonna make a little bit of money. Before you start the season of singing, do you know, wow, by the time this is all over, I’ll have 600 more dollars? Do you think of it that way?

DEAN: No, well, it’s hard to judge that way. I don’t see it so much as I’m gonna have this amount of dollars. I just see it as this is, whatever money I get, I’m gonna put away. And I’m not gonna spend until I know how much is in it month after month.

PETE: Okay, and so is it, as you look at the second semester, which comes right after the holiday season, some of that money will fund whatever you’re doing in second semester.

DEAN: True, yeah.

PETE: Okay, Alex, do you work over the holidays sometime now?

ALEX: Not very much usually. I’ve gone back for a couple shifts at a restaurant I used to work at, but overall honestly, winter break, not too much.

PETE: Yeah, so here’s what’s interesting. The summer obviously is a great opportunity to make a ton, a few thousand bucks even, over the summer holiday, holiday, vacation. And so over Christmas, what I think would be interesting is if you’re gonna work, try to set a goal. Try to say, you know what, I’m gonna make 500 bucks. And that 500 bucks is gonna go to buy my books next semester or something like that. I think it could be really interesting to find a way to fund one particular aspect of your student financial life the next semester with what you do over the break. So I mean, you’re buying your books and things, Dean, right?

DEAN: Yeah, yeah.

PETE: I mean, is it reasonable to think that you’re choraling, what is it, choirstry?

DEAN: Singing.

PETE: Sure, do you think that the money from that could go to pay your books specifically?

DEAN: Well, I don’t see it as individualizing and categorizing my money. I just like to think of it as earning as much as I can and spending as little as possible.

PETE: Is that your same strategy over the summer as well?

DEAN: Yeah, whenever I can work, I work and try not to spend money.

PETE: All right, Alex, as we look at this, again, and I think another aspect to this whole thing is, it’s not just about making money over a holiday break, but it can also be a great time to set up a network for internships and job interviews for the spring. You’re gonna be home, the workforce is still working. Just because you get a few weeks off of school doesn’t mean your future coworkers aren’t sitting at home as well. So, what’s your strategy there? Do you start to look at internships and things at that part of the year, or before?

ALEX: Definitely, it’s in the fall is when I start looking for the next summer beforehand. So, the winter is really a time when you’re trying to set up even interviews, if you can that early, over winter break, for Christmas, things like that. If you can even get in touch, even if you don’t get an interview, get in touch. Just check in mid-year, how are you doing, I’m still interested, things like that. I honestly wish I had taken more advantage of that and of the opportunity to work over winter break. Because just a couple hundred bucks here and there like that is huge for your expenditures in second semester.

PETE: I think you’ve almost gotta set a goal going into break here. You’ve gotta do something productive, something. It doesn’t have to be make money. It doesn’t have to be drop off resumes or pop by a future perspective employer. But just do something, like do something that you can come back from break and be like, I didn’t just sit and watch Spongebob Squarepants marathon.

ALEX: I wouldn’t call that a waste of time.

PETE: I know how you feel about Spongebob.


PETE: Dean, do you share the similar feeling about Spongebob?

ALEX: I did, I don’t know if I’ve grown out of it, but I’m still nostalgic about it.

PETE: Alex is beyond nostalgic about it.

ALEX: 90s Nickelodeon.

DEAN: 90s, it’s all about Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

PETE: You guys with your cartoons. So anyway, there it is. I just want people to do something productive over this break. It’s all about goal setting, that’s what this whole podcast has been about all year long here on how not to move back in with your parents. Basically, set goals, set parameters, so you can move yourself forward. Don’t look at the semester as a semester. Look at it as months and periods of time that you can get something done and move yourself forward, and that’s all I’m asking. Do either of you have anything to add before I send you on your merry way?

ALEX: No, I think we’re good. Just be productive. That couple hundred bucks will go very far, so.

PETE: Dean, do you wanna hear me sing?

DEAN: No, no, please.

PETE: Okay, good. All right, so, this is How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents here on the IU MoneySmarts Radio Network.