9 Ways to Make Extra Money When You Can’t Stretch Your Budget Anymore
When you live paycheck to paycheck, the end of the month can be a tough time. (Case in point: the way we celebrate those months with an extra Friday — woot!)
Regardless of when or how frequently you’re paid in the month, those last few days can get tight. You’ve poured all your money into monthly bills and expenses, and now next month’s rent is right around the corner.
We know you’re doing your best to budget with what you’ve got — but what happens when that’s not enough?
How to Make Extra Money to Boost Your Bank Account
When you can’t stretch what you’ve got any further, get creative to add money to your bank account.
Here are some clever ways to bring in a little extra cash so you’re not running out of money at the end of the month.
1. Look for Money in Hidden Places (Not the Couch Cushions)
We’re not saying you should stop digging in couch cushions for loose change — just expand your search a little.
Items you would normally throw away could be worth a few bucks that’ll pad your bank account each month.
Look how this guy made $1,500 in a year collecting aluminum cans from his company’s break room. That’s a spare $125 a month!
Here are seven more wacky things in your trash that could earn you cash. For example, did you know you could find a website dedicated to selling your used moving boxes? What a great way to reduce waste and make money!
Finally, here’s a fun secret our readers love. The $1 bills in your wallet could be worth thousands of dollars. Just check for these sought-after serial numbers.
2. Turn Your Spare Room Into Cash
Have a spare room? Might as well use Airbnb to make some money with it.
If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.
Taking a few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.
Here are a few tips:
- Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events in your area.
- Be a good host, and make sure your place is stocked with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
- Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.
(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)
3. Get a Refund for Things You’ve Already Bought
Can’t hold off on that purchase for a big sale? Do the next best thing: Buy it now and get a refund next time the price drops.
Your secret weapon here is an app called Earny. It scans your emails for receipts, looking for online purchases from participating retailers like Amazon and Target. Then it tracks competitor prices for items you purchased and gets you money back when it finds a better price.
Earny takes advantage of retailers’ price-match policies to negotiate a refund on your behalf. So you don’t have to do anything — just wait for a notification that you’ve earned cash back.
You’ll get a refund via your original payment method, store credit or a check in the mail, and Earny keeps a 25% “success fee,” only when it saves you money.
4. Earn Cash Back on Everything You Buy
Make sure when you spend money you’re at least making something back in return. With a cash-back credit card, you can do just that.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)
Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
5. Earn Rewards for Shopping With Any Debit or Credit Card
There’s a new rewards platform on the market. Drop is a financial tech company that rewards you for your purchases.
As a Drop user, you’ll link your credit and debit cards. When you make a purchase with a participating retailer — like Walmart and Starbucks — you’ll automatically earn points.
You can cash in your points for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon.
It’s the ultimate loyalty card — without the card.
6. Eliminate Your Hidden Expenses
We all sign up for stuff. Sometimes it’s easier to put subscriptions on a recurring payment and forget about it — looking at you, Netflix.
From entertainment to razors to toothbrushes to magazines, we’re all about the set-it-and-forget-it convenience of the subscription model.
But that “forget it” part can end up costing you a lot of money.
To keep track of everything you sign up for, check out an app called Trim. Once you sign up and connect your bank account and phone number, it analyzes your transaction history for recurring payments.
Trim lets you know when it finds a new subscription and helps you cancel any you don’t want to keep. This is a good time to rethink that gym membership you haven’t used since January.
To get rid of it — sans judgment from that buff guy at the front desk — sign up for Trim here.
7. Get Your Paycheck 2 Days Earlier Than Everyone Else
Always feel like your last paycheck of the month disappears into next month’s rent and bills before you can even enjoy it? Gain a little buffer by getting paid earlier.
With an Chime online bank account, you’ll get your direct deposit up to two days earlier than your coworkers.
Samuel Demeny switched from Wells Fargo to Chime to get away from unnecessary fees and restrictive daily spending limits. Now he says he gets his paycheck on Wednesdays, while his co-workers wait until Friday.
“The fact that I’m paid on Wednesday versus Friday… helps me budget before the weekend even starts,” Demeny told us, “so … I can set up my plans accordingly without overspending.”
Unlike most financial institutions, Chime doesn’t wait to give you access to your money until your pay date. It immediately posts the funds to your account as soon it receives notification from your employer.
8. Earn Extra Money in Your Spare Time
Need a fun, flexible way to earn money while also meeting lots of new people?
Try driving with Lyft!
Demand for ridesharing has been growing like crazy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.
Best of all, he does it on his own time. You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!
Because it’s simple to switch between apps, many Lyft drivers also sign up as a driver partner with Uber.
As an Uber driver partner, you are an independent contractor. You create your own schedule and work as much or as little as you want.
Your earnings will be calculated by adding a base fare, plus time and distance traveled after your pickup, and Uber charges a service fee.
If you want to give it a try here are a few of the things to keep in mind: You must be at least 21 years old, have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. (three years if you are under 23 years old), have a valid US driver’s license and pass a background check.
Also, your car must be a four-door, seat at least four passengers (excluding the driver), be registered in-state and be covered by in-state insurance.
9. Sell Your Stuff
When you’re short on cash, start looking to the back of your closet and in the depths of your attic or basement. No, you probably won’t find cash hidden there (bonus if you do!). But you’ll probably find a bunch of things you don’t use anymore.
A lot of people see this clutter and start plotting a garage sale to earn extra money. The prospect is tempting — but a garage sale might not be worth your time.
Try these alternatives to sell your stuff online or in town to earn more money with less hassle than hosting a full-blown garage sale.
Good luck Penny Hoarders — we really hope these tips help you keep from running out of money!