A 2011 CNN report indicated that 64% of Americans would not be able to quickly get their hands on $1,000 cash if they had an emergency. So what do we do when when we need cash quickly? Well many times the answer is pull out the plastic. Many people get themselves into deeply in debt by using that credit card that they kept only for “emergencies”. Ten emergencies later they wake up one day with thousands in debt.
1. Revisit the budget
The first place to go when you need cash is your budget. If you don’t have one, now would be a real good time to get started. When you don’t have a plan money has a way of disappearing. A few dollars here and a few there? How much do you spend on eating out? Your daily coffee? Entertainment? Nothing wrong with those things, but if you are in a pinch financially it’s time to do some cutting.
2. Cut your expenses
Take a look at your monthly bills. Do you have options on your cell phone you never use? Have the deluxe cable package with 500 channels, but you only ever watch about a half a dozen of them? Check with your utilities to see if they have a budget plan that can save you money.
3. Have a garage sale
Most of us have lots of stuff sitting around that we rarely use. If you need some quick cash it’s time to put out a sign and have a garage sale.
4. Sell something online
If a garage sale isn’t a good option because of weather or where you live, then consider selling online. E-bay works great for smaller items. Craigslist is good for larger items that are more difficult or expensive to ship.
5. Sell parts of yourself
Sell your plasma. Technically you can’t sell your blood, but you can be compensated for your time. If you have long healthy hair, consider selling your hair.
6. Go door to door
Take a walk around the neighborhood or if you don’t want to go to your neighbors take a walk around a nearby neighborhood that is more affluent. Offer to mow a yard. Rake some leaves. Clean out the gutters. Shovel snow. Walk the dog. Run some errands. Offer to babysit. There are lots of low-cost ideas like this where you can turn a little sweat into dollars.
7. Volunteer for overtime
If you have a job where overtime is an option volunteer. I don’t want you having to work 80 hours a week forever, but for a short time when you are in need of some extra money, overtime is a great option. (And if you show your boss that you aren’t afraid of some hard work, you might just get a raise or a promotion!)
8. Get a part-time job
Deliver papers. Flip some burgers. Deliver pizzas. Many retailers are looking for extra help for the holidays. Offer tutoring services.
9. Look online for work
Sites like Fiver.com, Elance.com, or odesk.com provide opportunities to use your skills to bid for work online.
10. Check your taxes
Do you regularly get a large tax refund? If so that just means you are giving the government extra money each week so that later they can give it back to you. Adjust your withholdings so you can bring that extra money home.
11. Get back a deposit
Did you have to leave a deposit for utilities or other services. If you have been regularly paying your bills, call and see if you can have that deposit refunded.
12. Sell some scrap metal
Have a bunch of junk lying around. There could be value in that metal. Load it up and take it to a scrap yard.
13. Temporarily stop investing.
This should be one of your last resorts, but if you are really in desperate need, temporarily stop saving for college or retirement. Just don’t make a habit of this, and only consider doing it for a very short period of time.
14. Make something
Do you have some crafting skills? Woodworking skills? Sewing skills? Make something and sell it at a local craft show or an online site like etsy.com.
15 Take on a boarder
If you have an extra room consider renting it out.
What not to do
While there are many good ways to earn some extra money, there are also some common ways that are very bad ideas.
- Payday loans
- Borrowing from friends or family
- Take a trip to the local casino
- Buying lottery tickets
- Compromising your integrity
Get an emergency fund
While many of us have found ourselves at times needing some extra cash quickly whether through unforeseen circumstances or because of poor financial decisions, the trick is to make sure this isn’t a way of life. Having a good emergency fund turns a crisis into an inconvenience. If you are in a rough spot financially, do what you need to do to raise some quick cash, but use the pain of your current circumstance to motivate you to change. As this crisis passes, build up your emergency fund so when the next bump in the road comes (and it will come), you aren’t left in a panic.