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

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

Not everyone can get to the grocery store these days, but that’s where you can help — and get paid.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 made an average of $15 an hour. Plus, she said it was much more enjoyable than any of her previous side gigs.

Signing up shouldn’t take you more than about three minutes.

4. Ask This Website to Help You 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 AmOne.

Here’s how it works: AmOne will loan you up to $50,000 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.

AmOne 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.

5. Cancel Your Car Insurance

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valentinrussanov/Getty Images

When you’re trying to pay rent, cutting expenses is one of the most impactful things you can do. It might feel like you’ve already cut every enjoyable thing out of your budget, but the truth is, one of the simplest expenses you can cut is car insurance.

A free website called Savvy will help you find the best rates — in just 30 seconds. In fact, it saves people an average of $826/year.

All you have to do is connect your current insurance, then Savvy will search hundreds of insurers for a better price on the same coverage. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. Best yet: This is totally free.

If you find a better deal, you can switch right away and don’t have to wait for your next renewal or even your next payment.

6. Get Free Scratch-off Tickets

scratch-off tickets
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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 $2,500 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?

7. Get Paid to Take a Poll

What did you think of the new Spiderman movie? Is a hot dog a sandwich? Who’s your favorite Real Housewife?

The research company, MyPoints, has paid people over $236 million to answer poll questions like that over the past 23 years.

And they’re currently recruiting new panelists. You can do it right on your phone, and you’ll even earn a $5 bonus when you sign up and complete your first five polls.

8. Cut Your Cell Phone Bill to as Little as $5 

When you’re trying to come up with rent, every dollar counts. If you’re looking for bills to cut back on, we suggest looking at your cell phone provider.

How long have you been with your cell phone company? Probably a while, right? Which means you’re probably paying way too much. 

But we found a discount wireless company called Tello that offers plans starting at just $5 a month. How much are you paying now? Exactly. Imagine cutting that to just $5. 

Tello operates on Sprint’s nationwide network, offering 4G LTE data everywhere Sprint does. It lets you choose a wireless plan based on how many minutes and how much data you want, and you can even use Tello’s coverage tool to see how strong its network is where you live.

You can bring your own phone (Tello works with any Sprint-compatible phone), or buy a new one through them. Even better — there are no early termination or activation fees, no contracts or phone-exclusive plans, no tricks of any kind. 

If you decide you don’t like it, you can always just change your mind. See how much you could save here.

9. 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.