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

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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. Play the Lotto (for Free)

scratch-off tickets
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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. 

3. Watch 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!

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Share Your Opinions for Extra Cash

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

Online surveys won’t make you rich, but if you’re just vegging out on the couch, why not click a couple buttons and earn a few bucks?

Swagbucks is definitely a reader favorite, because they have an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Take it from Jessica Maloy, who earned $1,200 in a year from taking Swagbucks surveys daily. The key? Persistence.

You’ll get SBs for each survey you qualify for and complete that you can redeem for cash via Paypal or gift cards to a number of popular retailers, including Amazon. Pro tip: Earn a 500 SB (or $5) bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 SB within your first 60 days.

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. Earn up to $1,000 Hanging out With Dogs

A dog sits on his heels and stares into the camera, smiling
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

If you’re looking for a flexible, independent way to earn money — and you love hanging out with dogs — pet sitting through Rover might be your perfect gig.

The online network connects dog walkers and sitters to local dog owners through its 4.9-star-rated app, so you don’t have to staple flyers on every utility pole across town.

Rover says sitters can earn as much as $1,000 a month.

Rover dog-sitter requirements vary by location. In general, you must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Have access to the Rover app (iOS or Android).

Here’s how it works: You’ll create an online sitter profile where you’ll answer questions about your experience with puppers and your schedule availability.

You can choose to offer a variety of services, including dog walking, overnight boarding at your home or theirs, and daycare. Boarding is the app’s most popular service, so offering it can get you more gigs. You set your own rates. (Rover keeps a small percentage as a service fee.)

Dog owners will reach out to you. Accept which gigs you want, then start snugglin’ pups. As soon as you complete a service, you’ll be paid within two days.

9. Stay at Your Friend’s House This Weekend

Do you have a friend or a parent you can stay with this weekend? If you’re willing to couch surf for a weekend, try to earn an extra $100 or more by listing your apartment on Airbnb!

Airbnb needs more inventory all over the country, especially during high-demand times. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events.
And there’s no reason you can’t be creative. We found a guy who earns $1,380 a month listing a backyard tent on Airbnb!

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