9 Things Everyone Has Done to Pay the Darn Rent (and What You Should Do Instead)

Updated February 21, 2017
by The Penny Hoarder

The first of the month just rolled around, and if you scrambled to get your rent payment together, you probably weren’t alone.

We’ve all been there.

But after years of listening to our readers — and okay, fine, our parents — we’ve finally learned a few tricks for adulting a little less painfully.

Here are nine things you’ve probably done to pay the rent… and what you should do instead.

1. Rolling Quarters

Step 1: Check the couch cushions. Step 2: Check the car. Step 3: Start rolling.

Sure, quarters are great for laundry. But when it comes to rent, there’s gotta be a better way.

What to Do Instead: Sign up for an Aspiration bank account.

This online-only bank has no fees — and no minimum balance.

Last year, Money magazine named Aspiration’s checking account one of “the best in America.” Probably because it doesn’t charge ATM fees and offers an interest rate nearly 100 times that of a regular checking account.  

2. Selling Plasma

This is one thing I haven’t done before. But I know plenty of people who have — and TBH, it sounded kind of awful.

I get it: It’s an easy way to earn money. But you know what’s even easier? The solution below.

What to Do Instead: Take a few surveys at Swagbucks.

Yes, it’s almost as boring as giving plasma, but you don’t even have to leave your house. You can even do it while watching TV on your couch. While riding your exercise bike. While sitting on the train.

Oh, and how could I forget? Zero needles are required.

3. Calling Your Parents

If you haven’t called your parents for rent money, you’ve probably called them for a loan for textbooks. Or maybe you’ve just hit up your crew.

Whatever the reason, leaning on friends and family for loans is never a smart strategy.

What to Do Instead: Call 211.

This free hotline is a United Way service — and here to serve you 24/7.

The trained professionals on the other end can tell you about programs offering rental assistance, subsidized housing and housing vouchers. If you’re in real dire straits, they can also inform you about emergency shelters for individuals and families.

Calls are free and confidential — and available in every language.

4. Mowing Your Neighbors’ Lawns

Or shoveling their driveways. Or whatever the job of choice is in your neck of the woods. When you need rent money, knocking on doors and asking for work isn’t uncommon.

But what happens if it’s not the right season, or none of your neighbors are around?

You need a more flexible side gig.

What to Do Instead: Drive with Uber.

Unlike mowing lawns, driving with Uber is all on your own time. Got a few hours to spare? Drive around and make some money. In the middle of finals? Leave the car parked.

Since you can work as much or as little as you like, your earning potential is pretty much unlimited. When rent is coming up, you can work more; once it’s paid, you can relax.

And the best part? You won’t be obligated to sit with your elderly neighbor for two hours when she invites you in for “just a cup” of lemonade.

5. Throwing a Garage Sale

Akin to bringing your clothes to the consignment store, the need for rent money can sometimes lead to a sudden urge to sell all your stuff.

But let’s be real for a second: Garage sales are the pits.

Sticking on tiny price tags, arranging everything just-so and haggling with early-bird garage sale fanatics?

Nobody wants to do that.

What to Do Instead: Use Decluttr and letgo to sell your stuff.

Between these two apps, you’ll be able to sell all your extraneous goods, with minimal human interaction.

Decluttr buys your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus hardware like cell phones, tablets, game consoles and iPods. Enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!

Do you still have a prom outfit from, like, 10 years ago?

It’s never going to fit — or come into style — again, but something just keeps holding you back from sending it to Goodwill.

Maybe money could change your mind? Instead of storing clothes indefinitely, try selling them on an app like Poshmark.

And for everything else, use letgo. This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and upload your unwanted item in less than 30 seconds.

6. Searching Through Spare Purses

One of the first places I look when I need to scrounge up rent money? All my extra purses and bags — even my coats.

My hope is I’ll have brilliantly (or simply forgetfully) left a $20 bill in one of the pockets. Sometimes I luck out, but most of the time I don’t.

What to Do Instead: Start an emergency fund with Digit.

This innovative program saves your money without you having to lift a finger. Simply link it to your checking account and the app’s algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.

Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, I’ve put more than two months’ rent into an emergency fund.

Then, the next time you’re desperate for rent money, you’ll hopefully already have it stashed away!

7. Applying to Random Craigslist Gigs

Craigslist has quite the array of odd jobs — and I mean odd.

When you’re in a bind, it can be tempting to browse around and apply to dozens of different gigs — everything from training cats to posing for “professional” photographers.

Don’t do that.

What to Do Instead: Apply for a Modest Needs grant.

This well-respected nonprofit organization supports low-income workers, mainly through its “Self-Sufficiency Grants.”

These grants “assist individuals and families who, because they are working and live just above the poverty level, are ineligible for most types of conventional social assistance but who, all the same, are living one or two lost paychecks away from the kind of financial catastrophe that eventually leads to homelessness.”

So if you’re working and in need, reach out and see if this organization can help you.

8. Hustling Your Old Textbooks  

Trying to get your little brother to buy your old chemistry textbook is pointless; it’ll be completely outdated by the time he’s in college.

And besides, wouldn’t you feel bad for passing on the ridiculous cost of textbooks to your own flesh and blood? (You wouldn’t? Heartless!)

What to Do Instead: Sell your textbooks on Bookscouter.

Just type in your book’s ISBN (the number near the barcode), and Bookscouter will search dozens of book buyback companies to find the best price.

When you see an offer you like, click “Sell Now,” and you’ll be redirected to the buyer’s website.

With the prices of textbooks these days, you’ll have your rent money before you know it.

9. Taking Your Clothes to the Consignment Store

You need money, so in a rapid flurry, you clean out your closet and bring a garbage bag of items to the consignment store. They paw through everything… and buy one thing.

ONE THING? Some of your pieces still had the tags on them!

Ugh. Sounds like it’s time to ditch those consignment store divas and turn to the good ol’ internet.

What to Do Instead: Sell your clothes on Tradesy.

The online platform offers clothing categories including clothing, bags, shoes, accessories — even weddings.

In fact, one of our contributors wrote about Tradesy — and how the average seller can make $1,000 year on the consignment platform.

All you have to do is snap a photo and propose a price. If it’s accepted, you’ll use a free box and label to ship it off.

Can’t find anything you want to sell? Read our story on capsule wardrobes. I guarantee you will be inspired!

All you have to do is snap a photo and write a quick description, and your wares will be available to the world. Post enough items, and you’ll soon have rent — or at least utilities — covered.

Your Turn: What’s the craziest way you’ve ever paid rent?

Disclosure: You wouldn’t believe how much coffee The Penny Hoarder team goes through. This post contains affiliate links so we can keep the grinds stocked!

by The Penny Hoarder
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

Share Your Thoughts

Top Articles