There’s no shortage of advice online about ways to find cash fast. Not having enough money is an almost universal problem, and everyone is looking to solve it one way or another. Unfortunately, a lot of the suggestions you’ll find are more trouble than they’re worth. Some cost too much money upfront, some take too much time, some just don’t work and some involve payday loans or tribal loans (trust us, you do NOT want to go down this road.)
Don’t bother reading a list of crazy ideas that will only net out to another five dollars in your pocket. Here are the seven best ways to get money when you’re in a pinch.
1. Take on more work from your employer
Estimated Monthly Earnings: $1,000+
One of the easiest, and potentially most profitable, ways to make cash fast is the same place people get most of their income: Their day jobs.
Some careers naturally allow people to boost their incomes by working more. These are usually shift-oriented positions, like serving food or tending bar, but it’s not limited to these careers.
Office workers and salaried employees can still ask their employers for additional work. Remember that managers and business owners are people too. Their rules aren’t always as rigid as they may seem. Tactfully offer to take on additional responsibility or solve a problem for them.
2. Gig economy: deliver, drive, run errands, watch or walk pets
Estimated Monthly Earning Potential: $1,000+
The gig economy is no longer a fringe part of the economy. Over a quarter of workers today use it to supplement, or even supply, their income.
And there’s no shortage of demand for assistance now that the pandemic has helped people become accustomed to paying for these services.
Even better, there’s something out there for everyone. People can reliably make money from a dozen different odd jobs, including:
- Delivering food with Postmates, Uber Eats, Doordash or Grubhub
- Driving for Uber or Lyft
- Getting people’s groceries with Instacart
- Doing odd jobs with TaskRabbit
- Walking or watching pets with Rover
- Charging e-vehicles with Lime or Bird (if you live in a city where these are still allowed.)
They might not be enough to live a life of luxury, but they’re reliable, profitable, and accessible for most people. They don’t require a ton of investment to get into and they’re not scams, which are two usual dangers of many “fast cash” opportunities. All the majority of these gigs require is a vehicle and some time.
What’s more, there’s something for everyone. Have a dog already? Bring the neighbors’ dogs on walks to make that time more profitable. Have a long commute? Pick someone up on the way to and from work.
3. Sell some of your stuff
Estimated One-Time Cash Potential: $500+
Most people have a bad habit of buying and holding onto things that they don’t need. Go through any random garage and there’s a great chance something in there is both unused and could make you at least $100.
In years past, it might have been difficult to find a buyer for a guitar that’s been sitting in a garage for three years. People were pretty much limited to pawnshops and garage sales.
But thanks to the internet, there’s no shortage of ways to sell things anymore. It’s easier than ever to post photos of belongings to an online marketplace and connect with a buyer. Some great options are:
- Apps like OfferUp and LetGo
- Social media like Facebook’s marketplace
- Websites like Craigslist and eBay
There are buyers in each of these sites for furniture, clothes, jewelry, old electronics, and more. Sellers can ask for payment in cash or through Venmo, and those who don’t want strangers coming to their house (especially in a pandemic) can meet in public. Perhaps best of all, most of these tools are free of any commission.
4. Rent out your space through Airbnb or VRBO
Estimated Nightly Earnings: $75+
COVID-19 has put a damper on a lot of people’s travel plans, but the pandemic won’t last forever. And in the meantime, a lot of people still need places to rest their heads at night.
It’s easy to think that renting out living space is something that only rich people can afford to do, but that’s not necessarily the case. Plenty of the listings on Airbnb are for shared homes or apartments.
Those who don’t have any extra space can still rent out their home when they go away on trips. If they plan ahead, the space can make money instead of sitting idle.
Even people who don’t own their homes might be able to rent out a part of their space. Landlords will sometimes allow their tenants to sublet, though they have to expressly give consent beforehand.
It may take some convincing, but they might consider the possibility, especially if they’ll get a little kickback out of the deal.
5. Donate bodily fluids (don’t freak out yet)
Estimated Earnings per Donation: $20 to $50
This one’s a bit more controversial than the other items on this list, which is why it ranks lower than the other income strategies.
Donating bodily fluids isn’t glamorous, but it is a way to find cash fast that’s simple, profitable, and repeatable. People can donate multiple times in a month, sometimes even more.
Each donation can net people up to $50. In a crisis, that may be life-changing money, even if it’s probably not as much as donors deserve.
It’s not a pleasant option, but it’s usually safe for healthy people who take the proper precautions. And if it’s any comfort, the fluids do eventually go to a good cause. The healthcare industry relies on people who provide their blood and plasma to make life-saving medicines.
Just try to stick to reputable facilities and don’t overdo it. It’s not worth risking your health or your safety for the cash.
6. Reduce your insurance premiums
Estimated One-Time Savings: $150+
Cutting back on expenses isn’t usually a great way to find cash fast. Most people who are running low on funds have already tried to reduce their day-to-day spending as much as they possibly can.
But it’s easy to overlook annual expenses since they feel like they’re fixed in nature. They’re also out of sight and out of mind for a big portion of the year.
Insurance premiums, especially for car insurance, are a perfect place to look for significant cash savings. People who pay their premiums once a year instead of monthly can get their money back by:
- Reducing their coverage
- Switching to a new provider
- Qualifying for new discounts
It doesn’t take more than a day to figure out and readjust car insurance premiums. Check whether all of the coverage is necessary. If not, just call up the insurance company and tell them to reduce it. Ask about any discounts they may have, such as a good driver or bundling discounts.
Though it will save you some money initially, don’t increase your deductible unless you know you can afford the higher amount.
If reducing the rate with the same provider isn’t working, consider working with a new one. Rates can differ drastically between providers, and discontinuing coverage with a provider will cause them to give a refund of the prorated balance remaining for the year.
7. Take out an affordable loan
Estimated One-Time Cash Proceeds: $500+
Last and probably least, people can take out a loan to make ends meet. But not all loans are safe, so it’s important to stipulate that these should be affordable loans.
For people with good credit, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Banks provide many options to people who need a little bit of cash. Some good choices might be:
- Unsecured personal loans
- Home equity loans or lines of credit
- Cashback credit cards
It’s more difficult to get a loan with bad credit, but it’s still doable. Consider taking out a secured personal loan or a Payday Alternative Loan from a federal credit union.
If you need less than $500, consider signing up for a cash advance app. These Fintech companies offer small-dollar short-term loans that are similar to payday loans, but without the high interest. You might have to pay a small monthly fee.
Bonus round: These ways to find cash fast aren’t worth it
These are a few other ways to find cash fast, without undue hassle, cost, or risk. But there are tons of better options out there, and rather than leave it up to ambiguity, here’s a breakdown of the ones that are just not worth it.
Stay away from cash sources like:
- Unaffordable or predatory loans: Some types of debt just aren’t worth the cost. Payday loans, cash advances, and 401(k) loans almost always make matters worse later on down the line. They’re just too expensive and create more problems than they solve.
- Surveys: These sound good, but they usually end up being a huge waste of time. They just don’t pay enough to be worth the time suck, often netting out to well below minimum wage.
- Gambling: If there’s any surefire way to ruin everything in the pursuit of cash, it’s gambling. Whether it’s at a casino or an online poker tournament, the house almost always wins. Don’t bother trying to make money this way.
The bottom line
Try and stick to the ways to find cash fast that we mentioned in our list above. Don’t waste time, money, or effort chasing strategies that aren’t going to pan out.