9 Creative Ways to Pay Rent When You Think You’re out of Money

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.

Have you ever had to move back in with your parents as a (mostly) fully functioning human adult?

Yeah, we’re telling you from experience: You’re not going to want to.

Even if you consider your parents life’s built-in best friends, it’s not the most pleasant experience. They barge into your room while you’re changing. Nope, no knocking — just want to see what’s up.

They hint at curfews and frown upon hangovers. They let you know when you’ve disappointed them… All that high school angst bubbles up and — sometimes, in an ugly way — over.

Sound like fun? Didn’t think so. Most adult children don’t move back home by choice. It’s usually because money’s tight.

Creative Ways to Make Your Rent Payment on Time

Here are some of our most creative tricks to help you make rent on time — so you never have to experience that teenage angst again.

1. Trade Your Skills for Reduced Rent

If you can paint or fix things or are willing to learn, you might talk your landlord into giving you cheaper rent in exchange for working on their place.

Offer to maintain the yard and landscaping, or to keep up with painting the property. When other residents move out, roll up your sleeves and help clean the apartment so it’s ready for the next person.

These odd jobs take just a couple of hours each week and may save you a decent percentage on your monthly rent.

Why should the landlord outsource this work to other businesses when you live right there? Trading your skills or time for reduced rent could help make that monthly payment just a little less painful.

2. Pay Rent by Watching Movie Previews

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Most of you already know about InboxDollars, but did you know that it will pay you to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news and dozens of other videos? Plus, you’ll get a bonus $5 just for signing up.

You need to watch all of the shows in a specific playlist to earn your bucks, so be prepared. InboxDollars lets you know how long the playlist runs before you start watching, and playlists range from a few minutes to about a half hour.

The availability is subject to change, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 a month watching these videos!

3. Pay for Your Rent By Leaving For a Few Days

Look. We get it. Your home is your sanctuary. Your place to be alone. Some days, you don’t even want to have your own family over — let alone people you don’t know.

So, the idea of listing your place on Airbnb is daunting for a lot of folks.

Use Airbnb’s price calculator to see how much money you could make in your area.

Tonya Peters’ husband, Miles Rugh, was one of of those skeptics.

She wanted to list their Virginia Village basement apartment in Denver, Colorado, on Airbnb, but he wasn’t keen on welcoming strangers into their place.

Finally, though, he agreed to give it a try. Now, three years later, the couple has hosted too many guests to count. And the extra income has been a great for them. They plan to use it for some home renovations they’ve been wanting.

“He’s definitely changed his tune,” says Peters, now an Airbnb Superhost. “And he loves having the extra income.”

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

4. Play the Lotto (for Free)

scratch-off tickets
LeoPatrizi/Getty Images

There’s something so satisfying about those gas station scratch-off tickets, but it’s better to avoid them because, well, that’s not Penny Hoarding.

Instead, try scratching for free using an app called Lucktastic (Lucktastic is called Lucktastic Match on iOS). Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $10,000. You can also earn tokens, enter contests and play games.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free. 

5. Earn Extra Cash Delivering Groceries This Weekend

Need a reliable side gig? Try delivering groceries, takeout and even retail purchases with Postmates.

The amount you can earn varies, but the median earnings per hour during peak times is $19*, CEO Bastian Lehmann said at a 2015 TechCrunch event.

Unlike other apps, you’ll take home 100% of your earnings when you make a delivery — no service fees, booking fees or transaction fees.

You can deliver through Postmates by car, bicycle or foot. Just create an account, then you’ll receive a welcome kit in the mail within a week (a free delivery bag and a prepaid card to make your purchases). Link the card to the Postmates Fleet app, and you’re off to earning extra money.

*Actual amount earned will vary, depending on a number of factors. You’ll see how much you earned after each delivery and exactly how your earnings were calculated.

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

For starters, 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.

You can also look into applying for a grant. Take, for example, Modest Needs grants, which are designed for workers just about the poverty line who are ineligible for most other forms of social assistance.

7. Trade Your Grocery Store Receipts for Cash

If you’re someone who just wants to get in and out of the store and save money without doing much thinking — there’s an app we recommend. It’s called Fetch Rewards, and all you have to do to earn rewards is take a photo of your receipt.

No scanning barcodes; no searching for offers; no store limitations.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Download the Fetch Rewards app. (Pst: Enter the code PENNY to earn 2,000 free points!)
  2. Create an account with your email address or through Facebook.
  3. Take a photo of your grocery receipt (must be from the past 14 days).

Fetch Rewards finds opportunities for you to earn rewards for your everyday purchases.

Every time you scan a receipt that includes one of more than 250 participating brands, you’ll earn points — without worrying about matching specific product offers.

If the app does find a match, you’ll earn even more. For example, we recently saw an offer of 2,000 points when you purchase a Suave female hair product. And another for 2,000 points for a 12-pack of Blue Moon.

Once you collect enough points, cash out for a gift card to any of a number of retailers. For example, 10,000 points will get you a $10 Sephora gift card. Or 3,000 points will get you a $3 Panera Bread card.

Go ahead, and start fetching points toward gift cards by downloading Fetch Rewards.

(And, yeah, we somehow resisted the obvious “Mean Girls” reference. You’re welcome.)

8. Trade Your Screen Time for Rent Money

Young woman lying down on a hammock, using her smartphone and relaxing.
SolStock/Getty Images

We’ve all been there. Netflix drones in the background as you scroll Instagram. What are you even doing?

But there’s a company that will pay you for all that screen time.

Yep. Swagbucks is a reader favorite, because it pays you in free gift cards for taking surveys and other activities right on your phone. You’ll even earn a $5 bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 points within your first 60 days.

9. Let This Company Pay You for Your Emails Archives

DGLimages/Getty Images

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.