9 Creative Ways to Pay Rent When the Bank Account Is Near Zero

ways to pay rent woman
FatCamera/iStock
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

When you think you’re out of money, you generally assume you can’t spend anymore. Your instinct is to turn super frugal — cut every non-necessity — and maybe even skip a bill or two. 

When you think you can’t even make rent, the situation can seem pretty dire.

But it doesn’t have to be. Instead of figuring out what you have to forgo this month when money is tight, find ways to make the money you need.

That doesn’t have to mean a second job or going into debt. There are tons of small, simple ways to put extra cash in your bank account so you don’t feel that panic at the first of the month.

Not all of these tactics will put money in your pocket right away, but we’ll note the ones that will!

1. Let This Organization Pay It for You

If you can’t pay your rent because of unforeseen circumstances, look into applying for a grant. Take, for example, Modest Needs grants, which are designed for workers just above the poverty line who are ineligible for most other forms of social assistance.

It provides small grants to deserving, self-sufficient individuals who are usually capable of paying rent and other expenses, but can’t cover expenses for the month because of surprise costs, such as medical emergencies, a death in the family, loss of a job or a large utility bill.

Modest Needs accepts applications from anyone in need, with a priority for people living alone, public school teachers and first responders.

2. Earn up to $225 to Watch Cooking Videos Online

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

If we told you that you could get paid to watch videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh. 

It’s too good to be true, right? 

But we’re serious. A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.  

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.

InboxDollars won’t cover your full rent, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 per month watching these videos.

Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards — so you can put the money directly toward rent. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus to get you started.

3. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month

If you’re struggling to pay rent, we bet your credit card balance isn’t looking so hot, either. So we found a company that’ll help you take care of it. No, like… the whole bill could be paid by the end of this month.

Your credit card company is ripping you off with insane rates, and it’s getting rich off of you. But there are other, nicer companies that’ll help you out, including a website like Fiona.

Here’s how it works: Fiona will loan you up to $100,000 so that you can cover your credit card tab. Use that loan to pay off your debt, then make monthly payments to repay the loan. It could lower your monthly payments and help you pay off that debt a lot faster. 

Plus, no credit card payment this month means money freed up for rent.

Upstart won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.

4. Get Paid $600 to Drop off Starbucks This Week

This side gig is a way to get cash in hand this week. So if rent is nearly due, this could be a smart move.

An app called Doordash will pay you to pick up and deliver an extra latte when you’re already out and getting your caffeine fix. And it’s not just coffee. You can deliver from Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Five Guys and hundreds of other restaurants in your area.

With Doordash, you set your own hours and work as much or little as you want, meaning how much you make is up to you. 

You’ll earn money for each delivery, plus tips. Jose Neri, from California, reports earning $500 to $600 a week working just lunches and dinners. 

If you sign up for Doordash now, it’s possible to get your first paycheck this week, so you could make a huge dent in your rent payment.

5. Get Free Prepaid Visa and MasterCards to Help With Groceries

peepo/Getty Images

When the beginning of the month starts creeping up and you realize you don’t have enough money in your bank account for rent, you start cutting every single nonessential. For many of us, groceries are the first to go.

But before you start reaching for those crusty old cans of who-knows-what in the back of your pantry, try this trick instead: Use a free app called Fetch Rewards to earn gift cards for groceries.

Fetch partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt (from any store!) you share. All you have to do is snap a photo of your receipt through the app, then Fetch does the rest for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers.

You can then exchange those points for gift cards, which you can use for whatever you want. We prefer saving them up for “real” food, so we can avoid eating an old can of baked beans for dinner.

When you download the app, use code PENNY to earn an extra 2,000 points after you scan your first receipt. You’ll be well on your way to your first gift card!

6. Make Up to $15/Hour to Pick Up Milk for Your Neighbors

The grocery store is a surprisingly zen place. Somewhere between the soothing elevator music, the free samples and the wafting aroma of rotisserie chicken, you settle into a peaceful groove. 

None of the stress of work or home — it’s just you and the aisles.

Some people, for some reason, don’t feel the same. They’d rather avoid it altogether. And with an app called Postmates, you could get paid to pick up a few extra groceries for them. 

Even better than getting paid to grocery shop? If you need the money, like, now, you can cash out instantly after each delivery.

Holly Gaston, of San Francisco, California, has tried plenty of side gigs. With Postmates, she makes an average of $15 an hour. Plus, she says it’s been much more enjoyable than any of her previous side gigs.

Signing up shouldn’t take you more than about three minutes. The hardest part will be choosing which selfie you want to use as a profile pic.

7. Hunt Through Your Emails For Extra Cash

It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you money. Intrigued?

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

8. Ask for Help

The arms of two people are shown extending toward one another beneath a shining sun and palm trees.
Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

If you’ve really exhausted all your options, try calling a local resource line for help. Seriously, there’s no shame in it.

Start with 2-1-1, a confidential service offered through United Way that’ll help you find the resources you need to find affordable housing, make rent or pay utilities. It’s there for people like you.

To use the service, head to 211.org, and enter your location. It’ll show you services in your community and give you a number to call. It’s a clearinghouse for help with food, housing, utilities and employment. If you’ve never asked for help before, that means you don’t know what kind of help is out there.

9. Get Free Scratch-off Tickets

scratch-off tickets
LeoPatrizi/Getty Images

The odds don’t usually make playing the lottery worth your limited funds. But what if you could get the tickets for free?

Instead of a convenience-store stop, try scratching for free using an app called Lucktastic. Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $10,000, in cash or gift cards to popular retailers.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free. For more info, check out Lucktastic here.

Wouldn’t you like to make your friends jealous by telling them the lottery paid your rent?