When Money is Tight, These 9 Resources Will Help Nearly Everyone

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When money is tight, you can feel like you’re drowning.

You finally make that late payment on one bill, and the next one shows up in the mail. You turn to credit cards to stay afloat, but those bills pile up, too. And just when you think you’re in the clear and a nice paycheck comes rolling in… the rent is due.

Here are nine resources that can give you some relief when you feel like your wallet is stretched as far as it can go.

1. Ask for Some Help — You Deserve It

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’re really in a bind, 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. It’s a clearinghouse for help with food, housing, utilities and employment.

You can also 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.

We know asking for help is hard, but when you’re really in need, these resources are here to help you get back on stable ground.

2. This Research Company Will Pay You up to $225/Month to Watch Videos

You probably don’t have time for a second — or even third — job, but we found a more effortless way to earn some extra cash this month.

A research company called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. 

It’s possible to earn up to $225 a month without having to get another job.

Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately get a $5 bonus to get you started.

3. Use This App to Hold You Over

The first of the month is about to rear its ugly head again. You know your landlord is going to come knocking, and you’re a little short. What can you do? Hide in your bedroom until they go away? Skip the electric bill this month?

Neither are great options.

But there’s an app called Brigit that will lend you $250 to hold you over until your next paycheck clears. And no — it’s not a payday loan with 7,000% interest.

In fact, there are no interest charges or late fees at all. You just need a job that pays at least $1,500 a month in direct deposits and your account can’t be overdrawn at the time of signup. 

To avoid charging you insane interest rates, Brigit costs $9.99 a month. But when you consider the average American forks over $250 in overdraft fees each year, this can save you a ton of money. More than 300,000 people are already using the app.

Just download Brigit, and pay for your first month to get your $250. You could get the money in just 20 minutes. Hey, your landlord might still be at the door in that time.

4. Make an Extra $600 This Week to Put Toward Rent

If you’re broke, one solution is to make more money. Well, duh. Easier said than done, you’re thinking. Who has time for that?

An app called Doordash will pay you to pick up and deliver food on your own schedule. All you need to get started is your preferred mode of transportation and your smartphone.

You’ll deliver things like coffee from Starbucks or food from Chipotle, Chik-fil-A or Five Guys. You set your own hours and work as much or little as you want, meaning how much you make is up to you. 

You’ll earn money for each delivery, plus tips. Jose Neri, from California, reports earning $500 to $600 a week working just lunches and dinners.

If you sign up for Doordash now, it’s possible to get your first paycheck this week.

5. Get Free Scratch-off Tickets For a Chance to Hit The Jackpot

Man scratching lottery ticket.
StevieS/ Getty Images

Hitting a big jackpot could solve a lot of your problems right now. It’s tempting to buy those scratch-off tickets from the gas station. But that’s not the best use of your money when you’re in a bind. 

Instead, try playing 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.

We talked to single dad Oneil Campbell, from Boston, who was shocked when he won a $5,000 Lucktastic prize.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free. It’s not guaranteed money, but at least Lucktastic is free to play. And hey, somebody’s gotta win.

“I didn’t see that one coming,” Campbell says with a laugh. “I really didn’t. This is something good that happened to me at the right time — when I can really use it.”

6. Get Paid for Taking Polls

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

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.

Any extra money you can put toward your credit cards is good in our book — but in this editor’s opinion, no, a hot dog is not a sandwich.

7. Search Your Wallet and Cash in on Your Dollar Bills

A crisp dollar bill being held out over a pair of blurred out sneakers.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Specifically, dollar bills with strange serial numbers — ones that aren’t easy to come by. The collectors at CoolSerialNumbers.com will pay you big bucks if you have a bill with a rare sequence in your wallet.

Turns out antique coins aren’t the only currency worth cash to collectors.

Check out their website for a full list to see if you’ve got any of these rare bills, but here’s a rundown of the sort of serial numbers these collectors are looking for:

  • 7 repeating digits in a row on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 09999999, 77777776)
  • 7 of a kind on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 00010000, 99999099)
  • Super repeaters on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 67676767)
  • Double quads on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 00009999)
  • and more!

8. Cut One of Your Most Annoying Unavoidable Expenses

When your budget is tight, you might feel like you have to cut every enjoyable thing out of your life. Pumpkin lattes? Gone. Night out with friends? Cut. 

But, one of the simplest things to cut is actually your car insurance. 

We don’t want you to get rid of it completely, but it takes two minutes to see if you’re overpaying with a free website called The Zebra.

Auto insurers offer different rates for different types of drivers, and The Zebra will scan more than 100 companies to see if yours is overcharging you. Just enter some basic information about your car and driving history here to get started.

Pro tip: You don’t have to wait for your policy to end before switching. You can cancel at any time, and if you’ve already paid your premium, your current provider probably owes you a check. 

The Zebra says it can find you up to $670 a year in savings. That’s money you can use to catch up on your other bills.

9. Share What’s in Your Fridge 

Remember the Nielsen company? The one that’s always tracked TV ratings? Well, now it wants to know what’s in your fridge.

Once you sign up to be on the Nielsen Consumer Panel, you can either use your smartphone, or the company will send you a free barcode scanner. Every time you go shopping, you simply scan the UPC codes on the back of each product and send your data to Nielsen.

Nielsen will reward you with gift points, which you can redeem for free electronics, jewelry, household items or even toys for the kids.

The longer you stay on the panel, the more opportunity you have to earn points toward prizes. You’ll also receive entries for the panel’s many sweepstakes. Prizes include vacations and brand new vehicles.