When I started working my first job, I was broke — and not “I can’t go out to the bar” broke. I was regularly scrounging for change to pay the water bill, and I often didn’t eat anything besides peanut butter sandwiches until I got my next paycheck.
I became the master of making money on the side. Thanks to some weird money-making ideas, I was able to stay on top of my bills without ever missing a payment.
If you need to figure out how to make money fast, the usual side hustle ideas like blogging, delivering for services such as PostMates, or tutoring often don’t work. There simply isn’t enough time to apply, get approved, and start working before bills are due.
How to make money fast
Whether you’re short on rent or need to come up with the money for a car repair, you need cash quickly. You can’t wait weeks or even just a few days for the money to hit your bank account.
These 29 ideas can put money in your pocket this week — or in some cases, just a few hours.
1. Request a cash advance from work
Before resorting to a payday or personal loan with sky-high interest rates, see if your employer offers cash advances on your paycheck. If you contact your human resources department or the folks in charge of payroll, you might be able to get a portion of your next paycheck early.
2. Ask for help
When I was just starting out and struggling, I needed emergency dental surgery. It would cost over $2,000 even with insurance coverage, and I just didn’t have the money. I delayed the procedure as long as possible to give me more time to save money, but soon, I began to experience awful mouth pain that kept me up at night.
I was ashamed, but I reached out to my parents for help. Admitting that I was floundering was tough, but it was necessary to get the care I needed.
If you’re in your 20s or 30s, the idea of asking Mom and Dad for more financial assistance can be mortifying. But admitting to family or friends that you need help can be the difference between paying your rent and getting evicted.
If it helps, consider the money a loan. When your situation improves, you can repay them with interest for the financial help they gave you.
3. Assemble furniture
If you’ve ever shopped at Ikea, you know how brutally frustrating assembling furniture can be. But if you have a knack for putting things together, you can turn that talent into cash.
If you’re good with children, you can make upwards of $15 per hour babysitting. Check Craigslist ads and Facebook city groups for people in need of a last-minute sitter. You can also email friends and post on your own social media accounts when you’re free for an evening to find clients quickly.
To find ongoing clients, create a free account on Care.com.
5. Be a retail spy
Large companies and retail stores often don’t know what goes on during day-to-day operations. To ensure things are going smoothly, businesses hire retail spies. With this gig, you’ll visit local businesses and retailers and look to see if prices are correct, displays are up to the headquarter’s standards, and special events begin on time.
You can find jobs by signing up with Gigwalk. The signup process is quick and easy, and you can even start work and get paid today.
6. Become a sperm donor
If you’re a healthy man, you could make up to $1,000 a month as a sperm donor. At the same time, you’ll be helping local families have children they couldn’t otherwise have themselves.
You can find a list of donation centers on the Infertility Resources website.
7. Check everywhere for change
In a world dominated by credit cards and phone payments, it’s easy to forget about the value of change. But that piggy bank or jar of pennies can really add up.
Take the time to go through your pants, handbags, and old wallets for any cash you tucked away and forgot about. Then, ransack your house and car for change. You can even scour parking lots at grocery stores to look for dropped change.
I keep a piggy bank by my front door. Every time I walk in the door, I toss in my spare change. Once it’s full, I take it to the bank and exchange it for cash. The last time I took my piggy bank in, I had $75 in change.
8. Clean homes
I’m a messy person by nature, so people laughed at me when I offered to clean homes for cash. But it turned out to be a reliable source of income. I cleaned the houses of friends and neighbors and could make $50 in a few hours. I hated every second of it, but it helped pay the bills.
Find people who need cleaning help on sites such as Handy, where you can make up to $22 per hour.
9. Cut your hair
If you’re short on time and need to know how to make extra money now, selling your hair can help you pay several bills.
Selling your hair can be a difficult and emotional decision, but long, healthy, undyed hair can go for as much as $1,000. You can sell your hair online on sites such as BuyandSellHair.com.
One of the few truly easy ways to make money, dog sitting can be a fun and lucrative side gig.
Just like babysitting, your community Facebook groups can be a great resource to find people stuck at work who need a dog sitter right away. Or, sign up for an account on Rover to advertise your services and find new customers.
11. Donate plasma
Using your body to pay the bills is far from ideal. But when I was scraping by, I regularly donated plasma to cover the cost of my monthly cell phone bill. Without plasma donation centers, I couldn’t afford a phone at all.
Compensation varies from place to place, but based on my own experience, you can expect anywhere from $25 to $50 per donation. The entire process takes about two hours, and you must be in good health to qualify as a donor.
To find a donation center near you, visit DonatingPlasma.org.
12. Do yard work
People always need lawns mowed, bushes trimmed, or leaves raked. Ask friends and family if they need help cleaning up their yards in exchange for cash. You can find other people in the community who need help by checking listings on TaskRabbit or Craigslist.
13. Drive for Uber
While it might take a few days to sign up as an Uber driver, it can be a lucrative source of quick cash once you’re approved. You can make up to $19 an hour as a driver and, with Uber’s payout system, cash out your account each day.
14. Flip free Craigslist finds
Flipping furniture was one of my best side gigs ever. I would check the free section of Craigslist for nightstands or tables. I’d pick them up, paint them white, and list them for sale on Craigslist. I could usually get $20 for a nightstand or $15 for a small table, and my only expense was a bucket of paint.
You can find great items on Craigslist that people are throwing away for free; I’ve found car parts, televisions, and great furniture. Most things just need a good cleaning before you can sell them for a nice profit.
15. Hang up holiday decorations
Around the holidays, you can make money hanging up Christmas lights or decorating a tree. Look for help-wanted ads online and at local coffee shops and grocery stores, and let friends and family know you’re willing to help.
16. List photos online
Selling photos online can take some time to become profitable, but once you’re established, it can be a useful source of passive income. You don’t even need fancy equipment or a background in photography. Sites like Foap allow you to sell photos you took with a smartphone for $5 to $250.
17. Open a bank account
If you’re looking for easy ways to make money, opening a new bank account can be the perfect option. Many banks offer cash incentives to encourage you to open a new checking or savings account.
As of October 2017, for example, you can earn $300 by opening a Chase checking account and setting up direct deposit.
Use this method with caution, however. Banks could choose not to work with you if you frequently open and close accounts, and if you don’t read the fine print you might be ineligible for the bonus. Be sure to check out the three times chasing bank account bonuses could be worth it.
18. Perform on the street
Do you have an interesting skill such as juggling or playing the violin? If so, you could make money by performing on busy street corners or in train stations. Many commuters will give you loose change or even dollars if they enjoy your performance.
Laws concerning street performers vary from county to county, so make sure you check your area’s regulations first.
19. Rent out your car
Your car can become a moneymaking machine. If you don’t use your vehicle frequently, you can rent it out to tourists on Turo. According to the company, car owners make an average of $720 a month.
Renting your car for just a day or two can net you $30 a day or more, depending on your location and the type of vehicle you own.
20. Return purchases
While this works best if you bought things such as clothes or video games, it can work even when you’re on the tightest of budgets. If you’ve purchased anything recently — even basics like paper towels or canned goods — consider returning them if you really need money quickly.
Adding just a few dollars back into your bank account can mean the difference between overdrawing your account and staying in the black.
21. Sell clothes
Selling clothes on eBay can be a lucrative side gig, but it’s time-consuming. If you need cash right away, you probably don’t have the time to list items, wait for a buyer, and ship clothes. Instead, you can sell your clothes in person at places such as Plato’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange, and Clothes Mentor.
Unlike eBay or consignment shops, visiting these types of shops allows you to get immediate offers on your clothes. After stopping by the store for just a few minutes, you can head home with cash in hand.
22. Sell jewelry
If you have any gold or silver jewelry around the house, consider selling it at a pawn shop or coin store. Even if the jewelry is broken or tarnished, you can still get money for it. They’ll likely just melt it down and sell it.
If you have a little more time and don’t need money this week, you can get higher offers for your jewelry by selling your pieces online. You can sell items in good condition on sites like Worthy, Poshmark, and Tradesy. If you have damaged jewelry, you can sell it to gold dealers like APMEX.
23. Set up a GoFundMe page
Asking for financial help from strangers can feel strange or embarrassing, but it’s better than getting evicted or losing electricity in your home. Set up a GoFundMe listing and share it on social media and with friends and family. If you only need a small amount, such as $500 or less, you could get the money in as little as a day.
You can increase your chances of successfully raising money by writing a compelling story about your financial need and how the cash will help you get back on track.
Keep in mind that GoFundMe does take a portion of your donations as an administrative fee, so you might need to ask for slightly more than you really need.
24. Start a social media challenge
If the idea of asking for charity from friends and family is too embarrassing for you, consider a social media challenge instead.
In the past, I posted challenges to friends, stating I would do certain tasks for $5, $10, or $20. If a friend paid me $5, I would dance in the middle of a mall (and film it) or would attempt to sing on Facebook Live. For $20, I might dye my hair red or shave an eyebrow.
It’s bizarre — and you need generally kind friends — but it can be a quick way to earn money.
25. Take advantage of big events
If there’s a sports event, concert, or festival going on nearby, earn money by selling bottles of water outside of the venue. You can buy a 32-pack of bottled water for as little as $6, and sell each bottle for $1.
26. Trade unused gift cards for cash
A lot of people have unused gift cards lying in a drawer or tucked in the back of a wallet. If you have a gift card that you don’t have a need for, turn it into cash. You can sell gift cards on sites such as Gift Card Spread, Raise, and Cardpool for up to 90 percent of their value.
That means if you have a $100 gift card to Cabela’s — and you don’t hunt or fish — you could sell it and get as much as $90 in cash to pay for essentials.
27. Wash cars
Washing cars can help you earn money in just a few hours. And if you go to the customer’s home, you can get free access to their water and hose. All you need is a bucket, sponge, some car-safe soap, and a windshield-washing spray.
Find customers by hanging up a simple flyer in your apartment complex, a local grocery store, or on a community center notice board.
28. Work on a farm
I enjoy horses and I’m good with them. When I was broke and needed cash, I’d call a local horse stable and ask if they needed help that day grooming horses or mucking stalls. Most of the time, they were delighted to have the extra help, so it was a good way to make money when things were tight.
Farms are notoriously understaffed. If you live within driving distance of a farm or ranch, you can often get day jobs doing tasks such as picking crops or repairing fences. In many cases, the farm manager will pay you cash at the end of the day.
29. Write short blog posts
Before I became an established freelancer, I often churned out short blog posts and product descriptions for one cent per word. The rates were super low, but I could pound out several a day and make an extra $250 or so a month.
If you have a knack for writing and can produce content quickly, you can start making money this week. Sites such as Textbroker and BlogMutt pay writers for short pieces, and you can make between $5 and $20 a post. If you’re fast, you can complete three or four in an hour.
Making ends meet
If you’ve been trying to figure out how to make money fast, the above ideas can get you started. These easy ways to make money will help you get the cash you need without going into debt, so you can keep a roof over your head, food on the table, and gas in your car.
If you’re constantly wondering how to make extra money and are often behind on bills, maybe a bigger change is needed. Learn how to end the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and save your first $1,000.
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