About 70 percent of all recent college graduates have student loan debt, while nearly 30 percent of Americans admit they have zero emergency savings of any kind. If you find yourself in both camps, trying to figure out how to save money and pay off debt at the same time can feel like a vicious circle.
Yet, ideally, you should have at least $1,000 set aside for a financial emergency; some experts recommend up to eight months’ worth of expenses. That’s a tough number to reach with student loans debt looming over your head.
So what if you’ve scrimped, saved, and budgeted – but still aren’t seeing results? It might be time to get creative.
How to build an emergency fund with these offbeat ideas
They may seem unorthodox, but try some of these tips to start saving up your emergency fund without missing a single student loan payment:
1. Have a “Bill Haggle Day”
We all have to pay the bills – but did you know you don’t necessarily have to pay as much as you are right now?
Don’t be afraid to contact your insurance providers, reach out to other creditors, and call your cable company to ask for lower rates or better deals. The worst they can say is “no,” but you’ll never know their answer for sure if you don’t ask.
Use a good driving record to score a $20/month reduction on your auto insurance. Or look up competing cable providers’ fees and take that to your current carrier. The same goes for your credit cards; if they don’t match the rate, tell them you’re jumping ship.
Add up these savings for some much-needed dollars to your emergency fund.
2. Pawn off your stuff
In the age of Craigslist and eBay, it’s easy to forget about good ole pawn shops. But they’re still a simple way to get cash fast by selling your old stuff.
Raid your closet, drawers, basement, or garage and get rid of what you don’t need. It could be clothes, or old furniture, computer equipment, or anything hanging around.
While you might not be able to get a spot on Pawn Stars, check with a few local pawn shops to see if you can get a fair price on your goods. Don’t relinquish anything of sentimental value you might regret.
Another suggestion is to browse flea markets and thrift stores for vintage objects of value, buy them, and resell them at a higher price. Remember to bring your phone along with you to spot price differences before you buy and resell. It’s another way to earn some extra dough for your emergency fund.
(Scavenging for scrap metal at your local junkyard or dumpster diving for treasure are at your own risk.)
3. Quit your bad habits
Too many cigarettes, eating out with friends, Starbucks lattes, or more junk food than what’s healthy – the first reason you should be giving up those vices of yours is for the sake of your well-being. Then again, it could also save you a bunch of bucks for that emergency fund (or your student loan payments, whichever you prefer).
According to Daily Finance, one pack of cigarettes a day can cost you $511 a year. Eating at McDonald’s twice a week can run you up $860 annually. A weekly beer run may rack you up $234 per year. And let’s not forget that daily $1 lottery ticket purchase is $365 by Dec. 31.
Start cutting back or give up some of these habits, if you can. Your savings will benefit and so will your health.
4. Become a human guinea pig
Schools, hospitals, and clinics are always looking for volunteers to participate in clinical tests, drug trials, and other research projects. Some will pay you as an incentive to participate.
The National Institute of Health, for one, offers more than 300 studies for healthy volunteers. You might check online to see if there are any similar opportunities.
If getting poked or prodded isn’t your thing, you might check into participating in a psychological, focus, or survey group – in-person or online – where you can get paid to log your opinion on everything from product testing to polling. Just make sure to read the rules and fine print before you sign up and be certain that the organization is legitimate.
5. Rent out your car
You don’t need to become an Uber driver to raise some extra cash. Also consider renting your car out for money.
Sites such as Turo.com are like the Airbnb of cars. List your car, respond to renters’ requests, and lend your car for the amount of time you set. If you don’t need your car for extended periods of time, renting it out this way can contribute to your emergency fund earnings. According to Turo.com, a $14,000 car rented out for 10 days a month can net you $3,466 per year. There’s also a $100 signing bonus.
6. Sell your body parts
Those student loans may cost you an arm and a leg, but don’t worry, you won’t need to go as far as putting your limbs on the market for cash. However, you can receive money in exchange for blood, plasma, hair, sperm, breast milk, eggs, and yes … even poop.
You can earn about $20 to $50 per blood or plasma donation; you’re legally allowed to donate up to twice a week. In some cases, you might be paid a bit more on your second return visit of the week, so you could stand to earn some regular side cash if you’re not squeamish. For hair, many websites solicit long, healthy hair in exchange for cash.
And yes, believe it or not, a company called OpenBiome will pay you $40 per feces sample, $50 if you donate five days a week. The screening process can cost up to $5,000, however, and you have to be super healthy to participate.
Some of the best ways to keep on top of student loan debt without dipping into your vital emergency funds is to keep a tight budget, track your spending, and keep your savings in a high-interest deposit account.
Combine these with some of the above more creative tips and your student loan payments won’t become the emergency that your emergency savings need to rescue.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.49% effective March 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.50% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.81% – 8.79%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.55% – 7.12%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.00% – 9.74%6||Undergrad & Graduate|