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. 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 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.

Fiona 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. Cancel Your Car Insurance

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.

If you really want to get the best price on car insurance, experts say you should be shopping twice a year. OK, we can hear you laughing from here. Who has time to do all that?But seriously, insurance companies take a lot of factors into consideration, and they change all the time. Ipso facto — you’re paying too much. Thankfully, a free website called The Zebra will do the shopping for you — in just two minutes.

All you have to do is enter basic information about your car and driving history, then The Zebra compares prices from more than 100 companies to find you the best price.

The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year. If you find a policy you like, you can sign up online instantly.

Who’s laughing now?

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Get Free Checks in The Mail When You Stock Up Online

Do you do some of your grocery shopping online? It’s convenient, right? You can order all your pantry items and paper goods and have them delivered to your door — skip all those middle aisles when you’re actually at the store.And what’s better? If you do your grocery shopping online, you could get free checks in the mail, thanks to a website called Rakuten. Nope, not blank checks. We’re talkin’ actual checks you can cash. In fact, Denver resident Colleen Rice shops for everything through Rakuten and has earned more than $526.44.Here’s how it works: Before you stock up online, create a Rakuten account. Once you’re in (it takes less than 60 seconds), you’ll find thousands of stores Rakuten has partnered with to get you cash — or checks — back.When we checked, we found deals at Amazon, Safeway, Sam’s Club, Boxed and Walmart. (These stores pay Rakuten a referral fee, and Rakuten passes some of that along to you.)Plus, if you use Rakuten within the first 90 days of signing up, it’ll give you an extra $10.

8. Get Paid to Lose Weight

Bottom line: A company called HealthyWage will literally pay you for losing weight.

Not only are you getting more healthy, you’re also making some money. How’s that for motivation?

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for HealthyWage.
  2. Define a goal weight and the amount of time you’ll give yourself to achieve it.
  3. Place a bet on yourself ranging from $20 to $500 a month.

Depending on how much you have to lose, how long you give yourself to do it and how much money you put on the table, you could win up to $10,000!

Wondering if it can really work? We talked to one woman, Teresa Suarez, who lost 68 pounds — and made over $2,400.

9. 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 $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?