Life happens, and sometimes that means you’re short on cash when you need it most. What can you do when your wallet is empty, your credit cards are maxed out and your checking account is empty, but you think to yourself, “I need money right now”? Work your way through this list of 25 ways to make money in the next hour.
In addition to things I can do when I need money now, I’ve included ways to quickly borrow money and cash in on things around the house, plus a few tricks to get friends to help out while helping them.
There is just one rule: Each method must make it possible to put cash in your hands in the next 60 minutes.
Every minute counts, so let’s get started.
1. Sell Your Gold and Silver
You can turn your silver and gold coins and jewelry into cash very quickly. As suggested in my previous post on selling your gold and silver, avoid places that advertise constantly. They typically offer the lowest prices, plus mailing in your items will take much longer than an hour. Try a local coin shop first.
2. Do a Quick Job for Family or Friends
Your family or friends want to help out, right? So find something you can do for them in the next hour, for a fair wage. For example, offer to rake the yard or clean their windows for $20.
3. Use TaskRabbit
If friends and family turn you down, see what you can find on TaskRabbit. Someone near you might need a ride to the doctor right now, or want you to check in on their pets.
(Want to learn the secrets of the most successful Taskers? Check out this post.)
4. Presell Your Labor
Maybe friends and family don’t need anything done right this moment, but they may need your babysitting or garage-cleaning services in the future.
Use your computer to make a certificate good for an hour of your labor, and print out a dozen copies. Sell as many as you can for $10 or $15 each, or whatever you can get.
5. Find Your Lost and Hidden Cash
In a previous post I reported on cash and valuables hidden in your home, but that was about what others have left behind. You might have your own forgotten stashes. For example, my wife recently found a $20 bill under the insole of her shoe. She had put it there for security while traveling overseas.
Look through your dresser drawers, files, clothing and anywhere else you might have put away some cash for emergencies. While you’re at it, dig through your couch cushions and car glove box to gather up any loose change that might be hiding.
6. Flip a Freebie
Selling Craigslist freebies is another great way to make a profit, since you get the items for free. To accomplish this in an hour, go to the free section on Craigslist and look for things that are close to you and easily sold immediately. Generally, these will be things you can sell at a pawnshop or metal items you can sell, which brings us to the next item on the list…
7. Sell Scrap Metal
I rounded up all the scrap metal in my garage the other day and took it to a recycling place a mile from my home. My bundle of wire, bags of soda cans and a few old aluminum window frames netted me only $13.60, but I had to do something with that junk anyhow.
Copper and aluminum are the most valuable metals you’re likely to find. Collect and sell your family and friends’ scrap metal too, perhaps offering to give them half of what you get.
8. Sell Your Clothes
Some secondhand clothing stores pay cash for “gently used” clothes. For example, check online to see if there is a Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange near you. Brand names usually fetch the most cash.
9. Sell Gift Cards
You can sell your unused gift cards online, but you won’t get the cash in the next hour. To sell your cards quickly, you need to turn to friends and family again. If the cards are for stores where they typically shop, they might be happy to buy a $50 card for say, $40.
10. Sell Your Neighbors’ Junk
I sold a junk-picked table for $50 last year, and cashed in on a few other items retrieved from a dumpster. But it looks like I could be doing even better — this guy makes a six-figure income dumpster diving.
Look for items you can quickly sell at a pawnshop, recycling center or used furniture store.
11. Return Your Purchases
Have you bought anything in the last couple of months that you haven’t yet used? If you still have the receipt, you can probably get a refund. Return policies vary, but some stores are pretty generous. For example, Walmart’s refund policy allows up to 90 days for most items, and 15 days for electronics.
12. Return Soda Cans for the Deposit
If you’re in one of the 10 states with bottle bills, you can return empty cans and bottles to the store for the deposit refund. I once made $1,500 collecting soda cans at work, although it took months, and I lived in Michigan, where the deposit is 10 cents each (in other states it’s typically 5 cents).
To maximize your take and get it done quickly, gather up your own empties, and then stop at the homes of family and friends for “donations” on your way to the store.
13. Make a Bet
I figure a few readers will be sitting in a pub saying, “I need money now,” while reading this post on their smartphones. If that happens to include you, check out my previous post on sneaky bar bets you’re sure to win. You could have a small pile of cash in front of you in the next few minutes.
14. Sell Your Furniture
My wife and I learned how to buy and sell used furniture when furnishing our home in Colorado. We sold on consignment, which takes time, but some used furniture stores pay cash for good tables, couches and other items. Sell a few things you really don’t need, and while you’re at it, see what your friends want to dispose of, which brings us to…
15. Sell Things Belonging to Others
If you’re already on your way to the pawnshop or used furniture store to sell your own items, why not see if friends or family members want to get rid of anything?
Take their stuff along, and after you get an offer on the items, call them to see if they’ll sell to you for less, so you can pocket the difference. Otherwise, return their things.
16. Collect Debts
If anyone owes you money, pick up that phone and collect. If necessary, you can motivate your debtors to pay now by giving them a discount. Sometimes getting $40 now is better than waiting to get $50.
17. Sell Books
The Penny Hoarder has covered selling used textbooks online, but to get that cash in an hour, you need to find local buyers. If you have textbooks, try the closest college bookstore or throw a quick ad on Craigslist.
For other used books, you’ll need to look for bookstores that pay cash. For example, see if you have a Hastings store near you. The store buys for cash (although it pays more if you take store credit).
17. Sell Videos and CDs
Most pawnshops will buy your CDs and DVDs, although they will pick and choose which ones they’ll take, and they won’t pay much. Expect to get a dollar or less for each one — so you’ll want to combine this strategy with a couple of others. But hey, every dollar counts!
19. Get an Advance From Your Boss
Will your boss give you a cash advance on your paycheck? Probably not, but you won’t know until you ask. My friend recently convinced his boss to advance him $1,000 and then pay back $200 from each of his next five paychecks. It isn’t common, but it happens.
20. Get a Credit Card Cash Advance
If you haven’t already tapped them out, you can tap into your credit cards for cash. For the best rates, dig out any of those 0% convenience checks you may have received in the mail and cash them at the bank. You’ll still pay a 3-4% fee, but $30 or $40 to borrow $1,000 for a few months is cheaper than some of these other last-resort options.
21. Try Busking
Maybe you’ve ruled out or used the first 20 ways to make money in an hour, and you still need more cash. What can you do? Get out that guitar or those juggling balls.
Street performing, also called “busking,” can quickly produce a nice pile of currency if you’re in the right location. What if you have no performance skills? Put on that outfit you wore for Halloween, and see my post on how to make money dressing up in a funny costume.
22. Borrow From Friends and Family
Your friends and family still want to help you out right? And you’ve always repaid your loans from them on time, right? Great!
Offer to pay interest if one of them will lend you what you need (and the rate will be better than our last few options). Just make sure to put your agreement in writing.
23. Pawn Something
If you don’t want to sell anything, but have some things of value you can part with for a while, you can always pawn them and get them back later. Be aware though, that pawnshops charge interest of 3-25% per month, so this is not a cheap way to borrow.
24. Get a Payday Loan
In absolute terms, you won’t pay that much for a short-term payday loan. A $100 loan might have a fee of $15 for two weeks. But as the FTC warns, that’s an annual rate of interest of 390%! If at all possible, try other options before relying on these loans, and don’t roll them over very often.
25. Cash in Part of Your IRA
This strategy works quickly only if it’s a weekday and your individual retirement account is at a local bank. Of course, if you take money out of your account, you’ll have to pay the taxes due and a penalty when you file your tax return, so use this as a last resort.
Your Turn: Can you add to the list? What’s the fastest way you can think of to make money?
Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).