17 Ways to Make Money Quickly — When Your Bank Account is Nearing Zero

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Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder


We’ve all been there. You’re in a pickle, and you need an extra $200 to make rent. Or you wake up to a flat tire. Maybe the electric company is threatening your life. Not cool.

So you don’t have to dip into the red, we handpicked 10 ways you can make money by the end of the day. Yup — that means cash in your pocket by nightfall.

If you have a little more time, or simply want to cushion yourself for future expenses, continue on. You’ll find an additional seven ways to easily  earn an extra $183 online in a couple of hours — though it might take more time for the cash to land in your pocket.

How to Make Money Now

If you’re desperate for money, here are 10 ways to make money today. They’re not

all glamorous, but you’re certain to have cash in hand by the end of the day.

  1. 1. Sell Your Old Phone

    Got an old iPhone or Android collecting dust? Probably. Clear your data — then sell it.

    There are a number of ways to earn instant cash for your phone. For example, you can recycle your device (iPhone, Android, tablet, mp3 player) at an EcoATM kiosk. Enter your phone’s information into its estimator tool, then find a location near you — likely at a local mall or Walmart.

    Depending on the condition of your device, you could earn cash. For example, an iPhone 6 with 32GB of storage in decent condition could get you $30. A newer tablet, on the other hand, could help you bag more than $100.

  2. 2. Pet Sit for Your Neighbor

    Tons of apps help you secure a pet-sitting side gig, but you likely won’t pocket the money immediately. Plus, the apps typically take a cut of your commission.

    If you don’t have that kind of time, offer up your services to family, friends or neighbors. You can even post in a local Facebook community page, advertise on Craigslist or set up a profile on Care.com.

    You could get paid $40 just to take Pup for a walk.

  3. 3. Sell Your Plasma

    Nope, you’re not going to want to sell your plasma every day, but if you’re desperate for money today, it can be a good deed that’ll reap a monetary reward.

    Look into plasma donation centers near you. Be careful to do your research.

    We found an International Quality Plasma Program-approved center near us, and it says first-time donors can make up to $400. However, you should probably expect something more like Penny Hoarder contributor MaryBeth Matzek’s experience. She sold plasma in 2014 and earned about $20 for two hours of her time.

  4. 4. Sell Your Clothes — or Make Returns

    Take a look in your closet. If anything still has tags on it, return it if you can. After all, you haven't worn it yet.

    Then ask yourself: When’s the last time you wore that blouse? Or dressed up in those heels?

    Gather up a bag of clothing, and take it to a consignment store like Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange. Pro tip: Brand names will likely get you the most cash.

    If you don’t have luck there, you can always market and sell your items to locals though Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or Letgo. For other options, we reviewed four of the most popular peer-to-peer selling apps.

  5. 5. Sell Your Unused Gift Cards

    No need to hang onto that gift card you’ll never use — exchange it for cash.

    Although you can sell your gift card online and receive cash within several days, you can also find a physical location that’ll take your gift card through Cardpool.

    Search Cardpool’s cashier-assisted and kiosk locations. For example, a popular buy-back location is Target’s electronics section. Be sure to read the details and restrictions of each location. You might be able to exchange that Starbucks gift card only for a Target gift card, for example.

    If you have more time on your hands, check out these five sites that’ll buy back your gift cards.

  6. 6. Sell Your Gold and Silver

    If you need money by the end of the day, dig deep in your closet. Remember those gold and silver collectors’ coins your grandpa gave you? Or maybe you have an old piece of jewelry from a long-ago ex… Exchange these items for some cash.

    Use a few of these tips to sell your gold for cash. The biggest one? Find a local shop to sell to. You’ll get paid a lot faster than with a national buyer you see advertised on TV.

  7. 7. Find a Quick-Paying Side Gig

    People always need help, whether it’s with yard maintenance, moving or a simple repair.

    You can sell your services via Craigslist under its “Gigs” section. Pay and tasks will vary, of course, but start advertising. The platform has millions of users.

    If you don’t trust Craigslist, you can always check out other gig platforms, including TaskRabbit or Fiverr — to name just a few.

    You can also break out of the internet bubble and reach out to your family, friends and neighbors. Chances are someone could use a hand.

  8. 8. Sell Your Old College Textbooks

    Yeah, we know you’ve still got some textbooks lingering in your closet or on your bookshelf. Dust them off — then see whether they’re worth anything.

    Use BookScouter to see how much your books are worth. It’ll suggest the best online marketplace to sell them, but if you want to get money by the end of the day, list them on eBay, Letgo, OfferUp or Craigslist. Heads up: They might not sell immediately, but you can at least get the selling process rolling.

  9. 9. Flip a Craigslist Freebie

    Craigslist is plagued with freebies. Just hop over to its “Free” section, and see what you can find — whether it’s clothing, furniture or appliances.

    Once you secure a freebie, you can resell it. Take notes from Penny Hoarder contributor Kerrie Urban. She sold her freebie finds on eBay and earned $545. If you need the money sooner than later, low-ball the prices and set it as “buy it now.”

    After all, you got it for free.

    If you collect enough, you can also consider hosting a garage sale, though that’ll require a bit more time.

  10. 10. Sell Household Items You No Longer Use

    If you’ve been meaning to declutter your house, now’s the time. Look through your kitchen cabinets, your desk drawers and your utility closet. Whatever you don’t need, purge.

    Advertise your items to locals on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, 5miles or Letgo.

How to Make Money Fast: 7 Ways to $183

You got out of the red for today, but what about next week? Or next month? If you want to cushion your bank account, here are seven more ways to make money quickly — all online.

In total, these tasks shouldn’t take more than an hour or two. You might not receive the money right away. The longest you’d have to wait to get paid for any of these is 90 days, but hey, it’s easy and, in some cases, free money.

  1. 1. Take Quick Online Surveys for a $5 Gift Card

    Surveys aren’t always the fastest way to make money, but you can quickly snag some bonuses if you’re a new member.

    One of our favorite paid survey sites that offers a bonus is Swagbucks.

    Swagbucks is a reader favorite, probably because of the wide variety of ways to make money beyond taking surveys. Plus, you get $5 just for signing up and taking a few surveys.

    The bonus is awarded one day after you qualify. You can cash out as soon as you hit 2,500 SBs (the Swagbucks currency).

  2. 2. Sign up for a Cash-Back Card and Work Toward a $150 Bonus

    If you’re looking for a passive way to earn money, a cash-back credit card is perhaps one of the easiest methods.

    Just don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and pay off the card at the end of each billing period.

    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.

  3. 3. Earn a $10 Walmart Gift Card for Shopping Online

    One of our favorite ways to save on any shopping is with Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something. For example, Ebates gives you up to 10% cash back on purchases at Walmart online.

    Plus you’ll get a free $10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.

    To earn your gift card:

    1. Sign up for Ebates with your email or Facebook account.
    2. Use the Ebates portal the next time you need to buy something. It’s connected to thousands of stores, including Walmart, Amazon and Target. You’ll need to make your first purchase through the site within 90 days and spend at least $25.
    3. Your account will be credited with rewards points. Every three months, Ebates will send you a check in the mail — or wire money over to you through PayPal.

    If you’re already shopping, why not earn some cash back?

  4. 4. Start an Emergency Fund and Get a $5 Bonus

    Acorns is a popular micro-investing app. Once you connect it to a debit or credit card, it rounds your purchases up to the nearest dollar and funnels your digital change into an investment account.

    That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account. Once you hit $5, Acorns will automatically invest it.

    The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think.

    Bonus: You’ll get a free $5 when you make your first investment. You can withdraw your money at any time, though it’ll take five to seven days for the payment to post to your account.

  5. 5. Share Your Amazon Purchase History, and Earn an Easy $3/Month

    If you’re a regular Amazon shopper, the ShopTracker app will pay you each month for contributing to research to help companies understand what people are buying online. It uses this anonymous information to improve the consumer’s online shopping experience.

    To earn your first gift card today:

    1. Sign up and download the ShopTracker app on your Windows computer and Apple or Android phone. It takes about two minutes. You’ll need to answer a few questions about your Amazon use to qualify.
    2. Open the app, and log in to your Amazon account to automatically share your purchase history.
    3. You’ll receive a Visa e-gift card code for $3 via email within 48 hours. Take a couple of minutes to share your purchase history to earn another $3 each month ($36 a year).

    Note: Your information is collected securely by The Harris Poll, a trusted market research company for more than 20 years. ShopTracker removes your name, shipping address and any personal payment information before reporting your purchase history.

  6. 6. Collect $5 in Free Stocks

    It’s no brilliant secret that investing can be a smart way to make money. Sometimes, though, it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.

    But Stash is different. This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000.

    Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money.

    But it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it. You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.

    Bonus: Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to fund your first investment — so you’ll get a $5 bonus when you enter the code PENNYH.

    Note: You can withdraw your money at any time, but it’ll take two to three business days to transfer funds over to your bank account.

  7. 7. Get a $5 Bonus When You Sell Old Movies and CDs

    If you have a little more time, start shuffling through your old movies or CDs, because Decluttr will pay you for them.

    Decluttr buys your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus hardware like cell phones, tablets, game consoles and iPods — it's easily one of the simplest ways to make money online.

    One user, Gil Flores, told us he sold about 100 DVDs and 75 CDs and made $275 — an average of $1.57 each.

    Just download the app, and start scanning the barcodes on your media to get immediate quotes. It’s completely free to use — no listing or seller fees.

    Payment is pretty fast — it’ll take a day or two after Decluttr receives your goods — and shipping is free.

    Right now, when you send in your trades, Decluttr grants you a $5 bonus if you enter FREE5 at checkout.

*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.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She enjoys making a quick buck.

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