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Whether it is the upcoming holidays, a budget miscalculation, or just an unforeseen expense, sometimes when life’s little (or big) emergencies crop up there is a need to get some extra cash in your pocket TODAY. While I strongly recommend that everyone set up their emergency fund to draw from when the basement floods, your husband needs an emergency root canal, or the dog eats all of your kid’s socks.
Even so, there are times when an emergency fund just won’t cover it. We’ve all been in situations where we’re between the proverbial rock and hard place—and frankly, it stinks. It’s stressful and anxiety provoking.
What do you do then?
Well, luckily there are many ways you can generate extra cash quickly—and many you can even do from home. Here are some ideas…
1. Hold a Yard Sale
In one Saturday you can generate hundreds of dollars, clean out your garage and house, and even enjoy yourself. Organizing a garage sale, rummage or yard sale (whatever term you prefer) is pretty easy with a few planning steps. Get some friends and your kids on board to help and get selling! And if the weather is crummy? Well, see number 2 ebook
2. Sell on Craigslist or FaceBook
Craigslist is a great place to sell items locally and generate some fast cash. You can post offers for dog walking, babysitting, and more. Plus, you can sell everything from sports equipment to small appliances.
3. Sell Your Handheld Electronics
Raise your hand if you have a stash of old (but still working) cellphones, iPods and other small electronics. Gazelle will give you money for trading in and selling your electronic devices. Bonus—you’re cleaning out clutter!
4. Enlist a Crowd
If you have an emergency (and a strong social media network), gofundme.com can lend a helping hand. Personal crowdfunding can seem, well, tacky for posts of “help my family go to Disneyland for the fifth time,” but for medical bills, pet and household emergencies, or projects for a greater good, they can be very successful. Friends are often willing to help out and it’s literally just a matter of asking.
5. Sell Your Space
Depending on regulations in your area, you may be able to rent your space on Airbnb, or HomeAway, especially if there’s a pending event, conference or festival in your area. If your home is kid friendly (and childproof), Kid & Coe is another way to list your space. If you live close to a popular venue, you can also sell your driveway as a parking space or an extra slot in your garage.
6. Share Your Ride
If you commute, consider picking up a passenger or two from your area. The wear and tear on your car is the same and you can make some extra cash doing something routine. Post your rideshare offer on your corporate site, at a local coffee shop, library or another spot fellow commuters frequent. Many people are thrilled to be able to enjoy their coffee and read the news on their smartphone while you navigate through gridlock.
If you particularly enjoy driving, consider joining Uber or Lyft. Ladies who live in larger cities can also consider partnering with She Taxis, which caters to rides by women for women. If you have an extra vehicle, rent it out with RelayRides or Getaround. If you’re lucky enough to have a boat, consider Boatbound when it’s not in use.
7. Pick Up a Gig
There are several sites offering short-term gigs, jobs and quick temp assignments to the right worker. Check out Gigwalk (technical, virtual assistant and administrative assignments), Zaarly (yardwork, handyman and home service jobs), and CloudFactory (crowdtesting, transcriptioning and beta testing). Put your skills to work! Virtual assistant programs such as eaHELP and freelance programs such as Upwork can also help you get started with a side gig or two.
Post your skills on Fiverr to make $5 at a time. Users post skills such as “I will design your small business logo” or “I will draw a portrait of your dog.” If you’d prefer more substantial tasks, try TaskRabbit where you can earn money for cleaning, delivering items, helping someone move, or other local jobs.
8. Earn Money Online
InboxDollars, Swagbucks, SurveySpot and MySurvey can help you generate extra income just by taking surveys, playing games or watching short videos online. It’s simple to sign up and the surveys are interesting and fun to complete. Sometimes you’re asked to review a product or check out a website. Make a lot of purchases on the web? Ebates gives you back money for online purchases. Apps OhmConnect and Ibotta give you money for your utility use and grocery purchases.
While you won’t earn millions (or probably even hundreds), Amazon’s Mechanical Turk offers you pay and credit for performing simple tasks, testing sites, and doing transcription. The pay can be quite low, but if you’re someone who likes to have a simple task while watching TV or during idle time, the tasks are often interesting and some are really fast.
9. Take It Back
Did you make an impulse purchase you’re now regretting? Is there something sitting in your closet with the tags or did you get a birthday gift you just don’t want? Assess what you have around your home that’s returnable for store credit or cash back. You might be surprised to find an item or two taking up space and that could mean money in your pocket.
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10. Cut the Extras
Maybe you’ve tried a spending freeze and you’ve already cut out all of the budget-eating “extras” (like cable, phone, eating out, gym membership, etc.). If you haven’t done it yet and you’re trying to earn cash fast—stop spending on the little luxuries and you may be surprised what you’ll save. Can you work out from home? Reduce your cellphone plan or share a line? Is there another area of your budget that could use some pruning?
Did you know some companies pay you to be a driving billboard? Go to Free Car Media to see if there’s a local company that will pay you for simply putting a sign on your car. Yes, it can make the pickup line at school a bit embarrassing for your kids, but it’s simple and it requires almost no extra effort.
12. Make Items to Sell
We all know Etsy. If you’re wise about posting and you have a unique talent for making jewelry, art and gifts, you can earn a great income from an Etsy business. Redbubble allows you to design shirts, stickers, wall art and more and make a profit each time someone purchases your design. If you enjoy graphic design, photography or drawing, get your designs printed on nearly any item under the sun.
13. Clear Out Your Closet
If you’ve organized and paired down your closet, you might not have an overflow of extras. However, kids are constantly growing into the next size up (especially shoes—how do their feet grow so fast?!) and our own styles and sizes can change over the seasons. Put your clothing on eBay (handbags, brand names, or collectable items) or visit your local consignment store. Apps such as Depop are a great way to “quick list” your items with a few picture snaps from your phone. Just be honest about the condition of items and as thorough as possible in your descriptions.
14. Get Green
You can recycle soda cans, scrap metals and demolition wiring. You can also get money for electronics and items that would otherwise just get dumped in a landfill. Many municipalities offer programs to give you extra cash back when you bring in items made of aluminum, copper and even plastic and glass.
15. Teach a Community Class
Do you have a talent you could share with kids, teens, community members or seniors? Afterschool programs, community education classes and senior centers are often desperate for teachers who can do cooking demonstrations, sewing, art or music. Not only is it a fulfilling way to share your talents, but you can earn anywhere from $15 to $50 an hour!
16. Teach from Home
If your area doesn’t offer many community education options, consider opening your home to students and teach art, piano, voice, tutoring, or even computer basics. Offering lessons right from the convenience of your home means you have access to all your own materials and you can control the hours. Connect with your child’s school or ask friends and neighbors if anyone’s interested in sharing some of your knowledge.
17. Pawn It
With eBay and other virtual sales platforms, pawnshops might seem obsolete, but you can still generate some quick cash by selling off antique jewelry, coins, silverware, musical instruments and other items. Do some research beforehand to make sure you’re getting a fair price. The advantage of pawning items is leaving the shop with cash in-hand. You might not get to hold out for the highest bidder, but if you really need fast money it can do the trick.
18. Donate Plasma
As I said before, not every item on this list is for every person. If you’re squeamish about blood donation and needles freak you out, then this might not be a good option for you. There are many blood banks that pay anywhere from $15 to $50 for blood plasma donations. Not only do you earn money, but you’re helping someone who may have a rare or life-threatening disease who can benefit from your donation. Visit donatingplasma.org to find a local bank.
19. Sit for Cash
Babysit, housesit, dog sit—maybe you haven’t thought of yourself as a “babysitter” since your teen years, but you can earn quite a bit of money giving parents a night out. Most parents are thrilled to find an experienced and responsible adult who doesn’t mind keeping an eye on their little ones. Similarly, check Craigslist or your neighborhood listings for housesitting gigs, as well as dog walking and dog sitting. If you’re home during the day, it can be a simple way to get extra exercise and get your pet fix!
20. Do Seasonal Jobs
Many neighborhoods have residents who might not be able to put up decorations, winterize their yard, do leaf removal or pull weeds due to physical abilities or time constraints. Get your services out there! Make flyers, have a few conversations or even go door to door and offer to help with moving items, putting up holiday décor and clearing walks. Be clear about your abilities, time constraints and price, and you’ll find you can earn money in your own neighborhood.
21. Look for Free Money
Check for any “free money” you might have around. This means couch cushions, old handbags and coat pockets. Check through your stash of gift cards and any virtual certificates and coupons you might have acquired. If you have gift cards you don’t want, trade them in on Cardpool towards stores where you’ll actually use it. While you’re at it, check out the US Treasury and your state’s site for any unclaimed funds. You may have money out there you don’t even know about! Cash your coins in at the bank or take them to your convenient local Coinstar kiosk.
22. Be a Test Subject
Similar to donating plasma, this one isn’t for everyone, but if you go to ClinicalTrials.gov or CenterWatch you can find listings of clinical trials you may be qualified for. Participating in trials can be a way to access free medical care as well, and it can be a good option for smoking cessation, sleep aids and dietary aids. Many paid trials are safe and highly monitored, and some can even be very simple.
23. Pick Up an Extra Shift at Work
If you’re in the workforce, your own office might offer a few extra jobs you can do on the side. If your boss mentions they need to get in a temp to clean up files, scan documents, help clean the office or another simple task, make them an offer. Many employers are thrilled to have someone already vetted and familiar with the office who’s willing to do the extra work. It might mean a weekend or some long evenings, but it’s a great way to pick up extra dollars.
24. Be a Mystery Shopper
Consumer testing and mystery shopping is a big market. Companies pay you to simply try their products or shop at their stores, then provide a review and assessment of your experience. There are also many ways to sign up for free product samples, letting you try items before spending extra money on them.
25. Become a Temp
If you aren’t ready to take the plunge and get a full-time job, consider temp or seasonal help, especially around the holidays (and during the summers in resort towns). Lawn and garden centers hire people in the spring to help for just a few months. Retailers always need extra help over Christmas. Temp agencies can fit you with a few weeks or months of work and some temp-to-permanent positions let you “try” a job for a while before you make a commitment.
26. Be a Coach or Ref
Social leagues, community sports groups and even Little League and kids’ sports are often looking for coaches and refs to help during games. Usually advertised through your community parks and recreation department, these gigs pay $10-$25 a pop and can be a fun way to get involved in a sport you love—plus, it gets you on your feet.
27. Go into Personal Organizing
Are you great at organizing? If your house is already organized and you’re ready to help others, consider offering your services as a personal organizer. Sit down with people and help them clear the clutter from their life. If you’re technically inclined, you can also offer to organize files and assist with virtual housekeeping.
28. Be a Photographer
If you take great photos, FOAP is a site where you can share stock photos and earn money each time one of your photos is purchased and used. This is a great tool for bloggers who may take many photos, maybe you don’t use them on your personal site, but you’d hate to just delete them.
29. Play it Again
Give new life to sports equipment, books, videogames and musical instruments. If you have a guitar collecting dust in the attic or your son has given up his hockey dreams for soccer, there are many places that purchase gently used sports items and musical instruments. Similarly, books and other media can be sold on Amazon or taken to your local Half Price Books.
While some require more commitment and some ideas might not be quite the right fit, there IS fast cash out there, you just need to know where to look. Before you have to make choices that can put you in dire financial stress (like taking on a short-term loan or a high-interest credit card), save your stress and consider these ideas when you need a little (or more) cash…and fast.