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. Let This App Pay You up to $83 For Playing Solitaire Games

Lots of us already play Solitaire on our phones for fun or just to pass the time. Want to see if you can win money at it?

There’s a free iPhone app called Solitaire Cash that lets you play for real money. You could get paid up to $83 per win.

You might be thinking: There’s got to be a catch. This is definitely one of those spammy apps, right?

Wrong. There really isn’t a catch. Sure, you can pay to play in some higher-stakes tournaments, but there’s no pressure. And, in fact, there aren’t even any annoying ads.

With each game, you’ll battle it out against at least five other players. Everyone gets the same deck, so winning is totally a matter of skill. The top three players who solve the deck fastest can win real money — anywhere from $1 to $83.

Over on the App Store, it has over a million downloads and more than 15,000 ratings, averaging 4.7 stars (out of 5).

To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.

3. Get Paid up to $80/Month — Just for Answering These Questions

Taking surveys might not sound like the best way to make money, but if you’re just vegging out on the couch — or shielding your eyes while being forced to watch “Final Fantasy 113” — why not click a couple buttons and earn a few bucks?
There are a bunch of paid survey sites out there, but one of the best we’ve found is Survey Junkie.

They’ll ask you questions like what kind of laundry detergent do you use? Do you prefer Pepsi or Coke? You get points for answering those questions and many people accumulate enough points to request a check within a few hours.

It’s used by more than 10 million people and rated 4.5/5 stars on TrustPilot.

Give it a try by visiting Survey Junkie and clicking the “Join Now” button. It’s free.

4. See If You Can Get Free Money From This Company

a woman logs into her bank account on her cell phone.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Here’s the deal: If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on free money. And who doesn’t want free money?

Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to a 10% kickback every time you swipe.

Need to buy groceries? Free money.

Need to fill up the tank? Bam. Free money again.

You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get free money in the process?

Enter your email address here and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with a free Aspiration account. Don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s just nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

5. Get Paid to Watch Cooking Videos

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.

6. Cancel Your Car Insurance

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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 website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $489 a year.

Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.

7. Ask This Website to Help Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month

If you have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape…

And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.99% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

8. Get Paid Every Time You Buy Toilet Paper

Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Grocery shopping was never exactly pleasant. But these days, it’s a downright struggle. Fighting crowds; keeping six feet of space — just buying toilet paper is a feat. Shouldn’t you have something to show for it?

A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for sharing your grocery receipts. Yep, that includes toilet paper brands like Cottonelle and Scott, too.

Just upload the photos of your receipts to the app and Fetch will reward you with gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Chipotle and dozens of other retailers.

And it’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into this. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.

When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn 2,000 points when you scan your first receipt. Then start snapping photos of your recent receipts to see how many points you can earn without a single trip to the store!

Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?

9. Get a Free $80 for Playing This Cell Phone Game

We all have our favorite ways to kill time. A good book, a good conversation, a hockey game.

Here’s another good time-killer: Playing games on your iPhone. And what if you could play for money? Real money?There’s a free iPhone and iPad app called Bubble Cash that pays you to play. You can get paid up to $80 per win!

You might be wondering if there’s a catch. But there’s really not. Bubble Cash is free to download and is completely skill-based. And it’s quite popular. It has more than a million downloads and averages a rating of 4.5 out of 5 on the App Store.

Players have won hundreds of thousands in prize money so far.

To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.