Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you need fast cash to help cover your expenses. Rather than racking up a ton of credit card debt or accumulating late fees on your bills, get creative with alternative ways to get the money you need. With a bit of strategy and some extra work, you can quickly pad your wallet to help with those short-term needs.
Here are 30 ideas to get you started.
Lower Your Existing Bills
If you’re really in a cash crunch, try to lower your current bills so you have more room in your budget for other things. Cut back on your cell phone data plan and use wifi instead, for example. You can also shop around for new insurance policies or bundle all of your plans with the same carrier, like auto and renters insurance.
If you carry a credit card balance and have made your payments on time for at least the last six months, call and ask for a lower APR to lower the amount you pay in interest. All of these minor changes can add up to make a big difference in how much money you have left at the end of each month.
Cancel Your Biggest Subscription Service
Most of us tend to accumulate a lot of subscription services, especially with more and more streaming services becoming available to help you catch your favorite shows. Take a good look at how many services you actually pay for each month and choose at least one to cancel. That can quickly save you at least $12 a month and more if you cancel multiple services.
Also, take a look at any app subscriptions you’ve signed up for on your smartphone. If money is tight, look for alternative ways to get the same media. For instance, you can cancel your workout and music streaming apps and replace them for free with YouTube. For extra help, use an app like Trim to identify and cancel subscriptions you’re not using.
Get Bank Account Signup Bonuses
On top of saving money to help pad your budget quickly, you can also get some free money fast by taking advantage of bank account signup bonuses. Many banks give you a cash bonus simply for opening a new account and depositing a certain amount of money. Better yet is that most have an online presence so you don’t need to worry about whether or not they have a local branch near you.
These offers typically offer more money when you deposit more cash. In other cases, you may simply need to link your direct deposit to the account in order to get the incentive. Just make sure that the account doesn’t come with any fees or other prohibitive restrictions. Also, check the fine print for how long it takes to get your cash bonus deposited — some may be immediate, while others may take a couple of months.
Take Paid Online Surveys
Taking online surveys is an easy way to accumulate small amounts of cash in your downtime. If you complete enough of them on a regular basis, you can earn a nice bit of side money in a short period of time. Make sure you pick legitimate companies to work with, like Pinecone Research, Survey Junkie, and Opinion Outpost. Oftentimes you can choose between getting cash or gift cards from popular places like Amazon.
Many of these companies also offer money-making opportunities beyond surveys. For instance, you can watch videos or read emails all in the name of consumer research.
Use Cashback Programs
Many companies offer cash back when you go through them to make purchases online. Not only that, you can get some decent signup bonuses just for creating an account. Obviously, you don’t want to go on an online shopping spree just to get 5% cash back, but if you’re spending the money anyway, why not go through one of these affiliate links?
Services like Rakuten, Inbox Dollars, Dosh, MyPoints, and SwagBucks all currently have account signup bonuses ranging between $5 and $10 each. Get started with each one and you could quickly have an extra $40 in your pocket. Encourage your friends to sign up and get even more in referral bonuses.
Resell Old Gift Cards
When you need money now, search your wallet and junk drawers for old gift cards you’ve never used. This is a great source of money that doesn’t require you to dine at Outback Steakhouse in order to use the funds. Instead, trade those unused gift cards at a website like Cardpool, which converts them to cash for you.
You won’t receive the full value when you trade in, but you can get up to 92% cash back. Just enter what gift cards you have and you’ll get an automatic payout offer. If you’re really in a time crunch, Cardpool even has some physical locations that give you same day payouts.
Become a Personal Grocery Shopper
Getting a side gig as a personal grocery shopper can be fun and also lets you work on your own schedule. Plus, many of the hiring companies pay on a weekly basis, so it’s a great way to earn cash fast. Shipt and Instacart are two popular companies that pay up to $22 per hour.
The requirements are pretty basic, with the most stringent ones being that you can lift 40 pounds and have a somewhat new car (think 1997 or newer) with auto insurance. Alternatively, you can also start your own independent grocery shopping service, although it will take more time to get up and running.
Post a Room on Airbnb
Listing a bedroom on Airbnb is a relatively low-effort way to earn money quickly. The biggest barrier to overcome is simply being comfortable enough with a stranger in your home, even for a short period of time. Many Airbnb hosts, however, love meeting new people and sharing their home in exchange for some extra side cash.
It takes a few minutes to upload photos and describe your listing, but after that, you can sit back and wait for the reservations to come in. When potential guests do message you, be sure to respond promptly in order to grow your reputation and earn a fast response time.
Scan Your Receipts
Another cash-earning strategy for something you’re already doing is scanning your grocery receipts into a cash back app. You then accumulate points for purchasing qualifying items in different categories. Popular apps include Ibotta and Fetch Rewards. You can redeem points through gift cards, PayPal, or Venmo. Plus you get a $5 referral bonus for every friend you get to sign up.
Walk Dogs for Cash
Being a dog walker sounds like an old-fashioned way to make extra money but modern apps make it easier than ever to find clients in your area. You can either advertise your services online on your own or sign up through an app like Rover. Depending on your schedule, either accept gigs at any time or set specific hours of availability. Once you complete a job, you’ll get paid two days later.
Teach English Online
This is a great way to make extra money if you already work a 9 to 5 job because most online English gigs serve students in Asian countries. That means the most in-demand time to work in the U.S. is in the evening. You generally need a college degree to be eligible as an online English teacher and also need to complete a Skype interview and mock teaching session. Reputable companies like VIPKID help you earn between $14 and $22 per hour.
Become a Babysitter
Make some extra cash on weekends and nights by babysitting kids in your area. Start by advertising your services to people you already know (like coworkers) since they’ll be more comfortable letting you in their home to watch their kids. You can also sign up to apply for gigs through a job website like Care.com.
Also, get creative with your services to earn more and provide more support. Adding “mother’s helper” style services can justify a higher rate for doing extra things like chores or driving kids to and from their after-school activities.
Sell Your Stuff
When you’re in a financial pinch, it may be time to start downsizing your stuff. One option is to go the old-school route and list your excess items on places like Ebay, Craigslist, or Facebook groups.
You can also sell directly through apps. Popular options like Decluttr and Gazelle accept used tech items like phones, tablets, games, and even books. Enter in your items, get a valuation, then ship your items for free in order to get paid the day after they arrive. It’s definitely a hassle-free way to pare down your home and bulk up your wallet.
Downsize Your Closet
Online platforms like ThredUp help you specifically sell items from your closet (and your kids’ closets as well). It’s extremely easy to and takes next to no time — plus you end up with a cleaner closet. Get a free cleanout kit then fill up the bag and send it to ThredUp for free. As your items sell, you’ll receive a percentage payout. If your items don’t sell or aren’t accepted in the first place, you can choose to either have them sent back to you for a fee or recycled.
If you want a faster payout period with a little more effort involved, take you clothes to a physical resale store like Plato’s Closet, Kid 2 Kid, or higher-end consignment shops depending on your items.
Flip Thrift Store Finds
Flipping thrift store and yard sale finds is an easy (and often fun) way to earn extra cash fast. You can use the same places described above to resell cheap buys at a higher price point online. However, it’s worth doing a little digging at first to figure out what you can actually make a profit on.
Similarly, you can also implement “retail arbitrage,” which entails buying new goods from stores and reselling them online. This is great if you can scout out clearance items or seasonal products at popular stores that aren’t available nationwide (like Aldi or Trader Joe’s).
Count Your Change
It never hurts to dig around for lost money in your home, especially if you need easy money fast. With a minimum amount of effort, you may uncover anywhere from a few dollars in quarters in dimes to wads of cash you’ve long forgotten about. For starters, look under sofa cushions, at the bottom your drawers, and in your car console.
Check Your Credit Card Rewards
Never leaving any stone unturned, check each of your credit cards to see if you have any rewards points accrued. Maybe you were waiting to cash in when you accumulated more, but if you’re tight on money, now may be the right time. You might not even realize you have rewards points sitting unused so check every account. It usually only takes a few days to process, so you can get extra money in your bank account quickly.
Sell Crafts on Etsy
If you have a hidden talent, now might be the time to reveal it by selling your handmade items on Etsy. Whether you paint pet portraits or crochet scarves, you can make some extra money simply by listing these items for sale. It’s easy to set up a shop and you can start off small if you don’t want to pour a lot of money into supplies. As you start to make sales, reinvest some of the profits into making more items.
Be a TaskRabbit
TaskRabbit is a website that lets you apply to local gigs for tasks that people either can’t or don’t want to do on their own. It could be anything from putting together Ikea furniture to mounting shelves on the wall. While you should be relatively handy, you don’t need any major specialized skills to be a TaskRabbit.
TaskRabbit is currently available in nearly 70 cities worldwide. Pick and choose the gigs that make sense for your abilities. Payment is completed within 24 hours of completing your task, and then it usually takes between three and five days to get the funds in your bank account.
Post a Gig on Fiverr
Fiverr is an online platform that lets you advertise services in a wide range of categories. It started off as only charging $5 per service, but most successful Fiverr hustlers use add-on services to make a lot more than that.
Get paid for things like posting people’s content on your social media channels, providing graphic design services, selling downloadable reports, or giving video testimonials for companies.
Be a Mystery Shopper
Mystery shopping is a fun way to earn extra cash and sometimes even get some free stuff in the process. You get paid a flat rate for each job so you know exactly how much you’ll get upfront. Attention to detail is important as a mystery shopper because you’ll typically need to observe many details and report them after you leave the store.
It’s easier now with smartphones because you can act like you’re texting someone but really take notes instead. Some jobs also require the mystery shop to be completed during certain hours or days and you can be disqualified if you don’t adhere to the requirements.
Sign Up for UberEats or DoorDash
Becoming a driver for UberEats or DoorDash lets you pick up restaurant orders for people and deliver them straight to their door. One of the upsides to this side gig compared to being a regular Uber or Lyft driver is that you don’t necessarily need a car. You can also make deliveries using a bike or scooter.
You receive a variable fee for each delivery and can also receive tips from customers. On the upper end, you can expect to earn as much as $20 to $25 per hour. On the lower end, you may only end up earning $8 to $12 an hour. You can, however, get money fast with either of these companies, both of which pay out on a weekly basis.
Proofread for Cash
If you have an eye for details and cringe every time you see a typo, you could earn some extra money as a virtual proofreader. Many freelance proofreaders report earning between $25 and $44 an hour. The hardest part is getting started and finding clients to work with. You may decide to charge on the lower side as you gain experience, then raise your prices as you gain more references. Depending on how quickly you need cash, this could be a good option to build a long-term solution.
Trade In for Amazon Credit
Amazon offers a trade-in program that doesn’t offer cash but does offer the next best thing: gift cards to spend on Amazon. If you can purchase some of your necessities online, you can use your leftover cash for other needs.
There are tons of categories eligible for the trade-in program, including Amazon devices and other electronics, books, and video games. You can enter your specific information and receive a quote. If you accept it, simply print out a free shipping label and send your stuff to Amazon. Once the package is received, the Amazon credit will automatically post to your account.
Be a Website Tester
It’s easy to qualify as a website tester, with just minor requirements like having a laptop, phone, or tablet that has the ability to record audio and video. You may also need to download certain software to track your tests.
Most companies offer quick cash on a weekly basis and pay as much as $10 per 20-minute testing session. This can vary though, so check with the specific company for details. Also consider joining multiple website testing companies, since some limit how many tests you can complete each month.
Work as Event Staff
If you like getting out and meeting people face to face, consider working as an event staffer. It’s an easy way to earn quick cash, though probably not on a regular basis. To find work in this area, check out event gigs on Craigslist to find a last-minute money-making opportunity in your area. You could find anything from handing out free samples as a brand ambassador at a convention to helping a food vendor dish out meals at a festival.
Deliver with Saucey
Saucey is like the DoorDash of alcohol, paying couriers to fetch alcoholic beverages, snacks, and cigars and deliver them to customers. You’ll earn $5 per delivery, plus an extra 50-cents for each item in the order. Customers can also tip through the app. Hours are in the afternoon and evening, going as late as 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends.
Currently, Saucey is only available in the following cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Sacramento, Oakland, Brooklyn, and Dallas. You must be 21 years old in order to become a courier.
Be an Inspector with WeGoLook
This is another gig-based opportunity to make extra cash on your own schedule. In most cases, you’ll be checking the condition of vehicles, such as those going to auction or being purchased online. In other cases, you might retrieve documents from a courthouse or inspect a physical property. All “Lookers” need a smartphone to snap some photos and you can access additional opportunities if you’re a notary or a licensed drone pilot.
WeGoLook says most gigs take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete (not including drive time). Simple tasks pay around $20 each but can earn you more if they’re more complicated. As you take on more tasks, you can also qualify for better opportunities as a WeGoLook PRO. Payment is made via direct deposit one week after completing the gig, so it’s a pretty fast turnaround time.
Rent Out Your Parking Space
Live in a large city where parking is tough? Consider renting out your parking space. You can even rent out your driveway or garage if you live in a suburban area. Simply list your spot on one or more parking apps to start earning cash. It’s a great way to earn money if you don’t have a car, or leave your parking area empty all day while you’re at work. Depending on where you space is, you could earn anywhere between $2 and $20 a day.
Get Refunds on Previous Purchases
Make money off of stuff you already bought by taking advantage of an app like Paribus. It monitors your order confirmation emails to track potential price drops over a 30-day period. If one is found, Paribus initiates the negotiation process with the retailer to ideally get you either a refund or a store credit for the adjusted amount. Since being acquired by Capital One, it doesn’t cost anything to use Paribus.
The Bottom Line
Not every single money making method will get you the cash you need right away. But if you choose a few strategies that help pad your pockets now in addition to some longer term gigs, you’ll set yourself up for better financial success over time.