10 Creative Ways to Pay Rent When You Don’t Have Any More Plasma to Sell
Cue anxious scrambling.
You riffle through old birthday cards; maybe there’s a stray $10 bill in one?
You offer to pet-sit any and every critter in your neighborhood (even the squirrels). You see what you can do for $5 on Craigslist. You stare into your closet and wonder what your local consignment store will give you for that pilly sweater. You contemplate calling Mom or Dad… anything but that.
You even Google “sell plasma.” You know, just to see what that’s all about.
It’s a sad reality; many of us struggle to make rent.
Creative Ways to Make Your Rent Payment on Time
For a quick fix, we’ve got a few ways to make extra money this month — so your landlord doesn’t come a-knockin’.
1. Get Your Paycheck 2 Days Earlier
Want to get a jump on payday? Let Chime be your secret weapon.
Unlike most financial institutions, this online bank account doesn’t wait until your pay date to give you access to your money. As soon as it receives notification of a direct deposit from your employer, it immediately posts those funds to your account.
That means you’ll get your paycheck early — like Samuel Demeny, who recently switched to Chime. He uses direct deposit. His company technically pays everyone on Fridays, but Chime gets him access to that cash two days earlier than his co-workers.
“The fact that I’m paid on Wednesday versus Friday… helps me budget before the weekend even starts,” Demeny told The Penny Hoarder.
Not everyone is guaranteed the two-day head start Demeny has. That depends on your employer and its financial institution. We talked to another Chime account holder, Lee Best, who gets his paycheck one day ahead of his co-workers — on Wednesday instead of Thursday.
Who doesn’t want to get paid early?
Opening an account with Chime is free and only takes about five minutes.
2. Share Your Opinions for Extra Cash
Taking surveys won’t make you rich fast, but they can help you pad your bank account in your spare time. Great way to cash in on commercial breaks! Here are a few we like:
- Ipsos i-Say: You might recognize the Ipsos Panel name because it’s the same company that does most of the political polling during elections. Some of the top-end surveys can pay up to $95, but those are rare and can take awhile to complete. Most surveys pay a buck or two and only take 10 to 15 minutes.
- InboxDollars offers several short, daily surveys you can take. If you take all of them each day, you could earn an extra $730 a year — not too bad.
- VIP Voice surveys are relatively quick to complete and reward you with points you can redeem for cash or gift cards. Plan to login a few times each week. You’ll have no trouble earning an extra $30 this month with almost no work.
3. Start Investing (This Doesn’t Cost Much)
Acorns is a simple savings and investment app that rounds your credit or debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the digital change.
You can connect the app to your credit or debit card and let it automatically round up all your transactions, or manually round up only the ones you choose.
Contributor CJ Reid does the latter, accepting roundups of less than $0.50, such as her $3.60 cup of coffee.
“Rounding up 40 cents here and 25 cents there moves me swiftly enough to $5 so that I can begin investing without putting myself into the red,” she says.
Once your round ups reach $5, that amount will be transferred from your bank to your Acorns account, and invested into your chosen portfolio.
“Acorns makes it easy to invest by removing the responsibility of choosing individual investments or worrying about trades,” Reid explains. “You don’t need any previous investment knowledge or history.”
And once you get the process automated, Acorns investments make your digital change work for you.
“With a conservative portfolio,” Reid says, “I turned $15 into $19 within a few weeks.”
You can sign up and download the app here.
4. Get Ahead of It: Set up an Emergency Fund
Nothing is more motivating than a nice dose of panic, right?
While you’re fretting, put your nervous energy to good use and start an emergency fund to help prevent this rent panic from happening again.
An app called Digit makes this process painless nowadays. It saves only money you can afford to spare.
Simply link it to your checking account, and the app’s algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate FDIC-insured savings account.
Using the set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one of our editors was able to save more than $4,300 in just over two years. He was able to use the funds when he needed — like when he picked up and moved from Tampa to New York City, where rent is, well, expensive.
Digit is free for the first 100 days (three and half months), then $2.99 per month thereafter — less than Netflix.
5. Earn $150 for Opening a Credit Card (Plus Cash Back When You Use It)
You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)
Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
6. Start a Flexible Side Gig
Need a fun, flexible way to earn money while also meeting lots of new people?
Try driving with Lyft.
Demand for ridesharing has been growing like crazy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.
We talked to Paul Pruce, who’s been driving full-time with Lyft for over a year. He earns $750 a week as a driver.
Best of all, he does it on his own time. You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!
Because it’s simple to switch between apps, many Lyft drivers also sign up as a driver partner with Uber.
As a driver partner with Uber, you are an independent contractor. You create your own schedule and work as much or as little as you want.
If you want to give it a try here are a few of the things to keep in mind: You must be at least 21 years old, have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. (three years if you are under 23 years old), have a valid US driver’s license and pass a background check.
Also, your car must be a four-door, seat at least four passengers (excluding the driver), be registered in-state and be covered by in-state insurance.
Want more options? Look for work-from-home jobs in your area through ZipRecruiter.
7. Chip Away at Your Everyday Expenses
Pssstt… We’ve got a secret. You can actually earn cash back when you spend money. Making money for shopping has to be the easiest way to stretch a tight budget we’ve ever heard of.
Here are some of our favorite cash-back sites:
- Paribus is 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 archives 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 anytime there’s a price drop.Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get money back for what you paid for shipping.
- Drop is a financial tech company that rewards you for your purchases.All you have to do is link your credit and debit cards to the app. When you make a Drop-qualified purchase, you’ll automatically earn points, whether you’re grocery shopping, hailing an Uber or ordering a pizza.The points will add up, and you can exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon and Starbucks.It’s the ultimate loyalty card — without the card.
- For your online purchases, sign up with the cash-back app Ibotta.Ibotta is an easy-to-use cash-back app that’s partnered with more than 50 retailers — just about anywhere you’d do any kind of shopping (like, say, for clothes).Do your shopping through the Ibotta app to earn cash back. Once you choose an offer, you’ll be taken to that retailer’s site within the Ibotta app (or moved over to the retailer’s app if you have it downloaded on your device)Ibotta is free to download — plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus.
8. List Your Expensive Space on Airbnb
Have a spare room? Might as well try to earn some money by listing it on Airbnb.
If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.
And there’s no reason you can’t be creative. We found a guy who earns $1,380 a month renting out a backyard tent on Airbnb!
A few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.
Here are some tips:
- Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events.
- Be a good host, and stock your place with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
- Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.
(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)
9. Declutter Your Space
Living that #Minimalist lifestyle is all the rage right now, so why not use this mentality to your advantage when you need a couple of extra bucks?
Start taking a good hard look at your belongings. What do you actually need?
- Clothes: If you have clothes you haven’t worn in the last year, why do you hang onto them? Try selling them to folks in your area through an online marketplace like letgo. It takes about five minute to list an item.
- Technology: Begin with your overcrowded entertainment center, likely full of outdated music and movies. Consider selling these items to Decluttr. It’ll buy your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games and even cell phones and tablets. Shipping is free, and Decluttr pays you within 24 hours of retrieval.
- Books: Bookshelf collecting dust? We love books as much as the next person, but see if your treasures are worth anything by simply searching for the book’s title on Amazon Trade-In. The site lets you exchange used books and electronics for Amazon gift cards.
- Gift cards: While you’re digging out those stiff winter coats, check the pockets. You might come across a gift card or two in there. If you do, sell it for rent money through a gift-card exchange site like Raise.
10. Ask for Help
If you feel as though you’ve exhausted all your options, call a local resource line for help.
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.
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.
You can also look into applying for a grant. Take, for example, Modest Needs grants.
This nonprofit organization supports low-income workers, mainly through its Self-Sufficiency Grants. These are designed for workers just above the poverty line, who are ineligible for most conventional methods of social assistance but are still at risk for the types of financial disasters that result in homelessness.
If you’re working and in need, reach out and see if Modest Needs can help you.
(And maybe next month, finally start a budget?)
*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.