Personal Finance

When Money is Tight, These 9 Resources Will Help You

When money is tight, you can feel like you’re drowning.

You finally make that late payment on one bill, and the next one shows up in the mail. You turn to credit cards to stay afloat, but those bills pile up, too. And just when you think you’re in the clear and a nice paycheck comes rolling in… the rent is due.

Here are nine resources that can give you some relief when you feel like your wallet is stretched as far as it can go.

1. Ask for Some Help — You Deserve It

The arms of two people are shown extending toward one another beneath a shining sun and palm trees.

Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

If you’re really in a bind, start with 2-1-1, a confidential service offered through United Way that’ll help you find the resources you need to find affordable housing, make rent or pay utilities. It’s there for people like you.

To use the service, head to 211.org and enter your location. It’ll show you services in your community and give you a number to call. It’s a clearinghouse for help with food, housing, utilities and employment. If you’ve never asked for help before, that means you don’t know what kind of help is out there.

You can also look into applying for a grant. Take, for example, Modest Needs grants, which are designed for workers just about the poverty line who are ineligible for most other forms of social assistance.

2. Turn Those Crumpled Receipts Into Free Gift Cards

What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper, and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.

But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn them into gift cards. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Chipotle and dozens of other retailers.  

And it’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into this. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.

When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn 2,000 points, and you’ll be well on your way to your first gift card.

Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?

3. Earn up to $225 Watching Movie Previews

Most of you already know about InboxDollars, but did you know that it will pay you to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news and dozens of other videos? Plus, you’ll get a $5 bonus just for signing up.

You need to watch all of the shows in a specific playlist to earn your bucks, so be prepared. InboxDollars lets you know how long the playlist runs before you start watching, and playlists range from a few minutes to about a half-hour.

The availability is subject to change, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 a month watching these videos!

4. Make up to $15/Hour to Pick up Milk for Your Neighbors

The grocery store is a surprisingly zen place. Somewhere between the soothing elevator music, the free samples and the wafting aroma of rotisserie chicken, you settle into a peaceful groove. 

None of the stress of work or home — it’s just you and the aisles.

Some people, for some reason, don’t feel the same. They’d rather avoid it altogether. And with an app called Postmates, you could get paid to pick up a few extra groceries for them. 

Even better than getting paid to grocery shop? If you need the money, like, now, you can cash out instantly after each delivery.

Holly Gaston, of San Francisco, California, has tried plenty of side gigs. With Postmates, she makes an average of $15 an hour. Plus, she says it’s been much more enjoyable than any of her previous side gigs.

Signing up shouldn’t take you more than about three minutes. The hardest part will be choosing which selfie you want to use as a profile pic.

5. Get Free Lottery Tickets

The last thing you want to do when money is tight is to waste the little you have on gambling. Instead, try scratching for free using an app called Lucktastic.

Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $10,000.You can also earn tokens that you can exchange for free gift cards to retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Kohl’s, Sephora and more.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free.

6. Sell Someone Else’s Trash

Selling Craigslist freebies is a great way to make a profit quickly, because you get the items for free.

You could even have cash in hand today.

Go to the free section on Craigslist and look for things that are close to you and easy to sell immediately. They could be scraps from a job site or metal items you can sell, for example.

Pro Tip

For a quick turnaround on Craigslist, avoid items like furniture or electronics. These can be good to sell, but they’ll take longer.

Cash in your treasures by reselling on Craigslist, including them in a rummage sale or selling to specialty buyers, like a pawn shop or a local business.

7. Reduce Your Phone Bill Down to $9/Month

Your phone buzzes. It’s your cell phone provider, which might text you more often than some of your friends.

“90% of your data plan has been used,” it kindly informs you. “We’ll add 1GB of shared data to your plan for $15.”

How nice. Just go ahead and add that to my already-enormous cell phone bill.

If you’re sick of of paying your cell phone carrier hundreds of dollars each month, look beyond the so-called Big Four and into the discount carrier Twigby.

Twigby charges as little as $9/month and plans include unlimited global texting and unlimited 2G data for free. 

Plus, new customers get 25% off the first 6 months of service.

8. Get Your Paycheck up to 2 Days Earlier

Wouldn’t it be nice to get your paycheck early? Chime is an online bank account used by more than one million people because it gives you access to your paycheck early. 

As soon as Chime receives notification of a direct deposit from your employer, it immediately posts those funds to your account — up to two days early.

But, even better — the bank charges no hidden fees. No overdraft fees, no monthly service fees, no foreign transaction fees. Nothing.

That should take a little pressure off your budget.

9. Get a $5 Amazon Gift Card For Playing Words With Friends

Get paid to play games on your phone? Yeah, right. We’ve all heard that before. 

Here’s what that usually means: Logging dozens of hours on games you’ve never heard of, just for a few cents.

Gee, thanks. 

But a free Android app called Mistplay actually pays you for playing popular games like Words With Friends 2, Yahtzee, Clash Royale, Star Wars and more. 

As you play, Mistplay rewards you in points, which you can exchange for gift cards for brands like Visa, Amazon and more. 

You’ll get 200 points just to sign up, plus an extra 100 points when you enter the code penny100 after sign up. Those easy 300 points are already worth $1, and once you earn $5, you can cash out.

The more you play, the more you’ll earn. Plus, Mistplay offers some bigger in-game rewards — up to $20.  

It takes just a few minutes to sign up and start getting paid to play games.

 

This article originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder