When Money is Tight, These 8 Resources Will Help You

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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 eight 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. 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.

2. Take Photos of Your Receipt

At this point, tons of grocery-savings apps have hit the market — and we don’t hate it. But having so many options can become overwhelming, especially for the lazy saver.

If that’s you — the one 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.)

3. Earn up to $225 Watching Movie Previews

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 $5 bonus 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. Save on Your Cell Phone Bill With a Discount Carrier

Your phone buzzes. It’s your cell phone provider, which might text you more often than some of your friends.

“90% of your data plan has been used,” it kindly informs you. “We’ll add 1GB of shared data to your plan for $15.”

How nice. Just go ahead and add that to my already-enormous cell phone bill.

If you’re sick of of paying your cell phone carrier hundreds of dollars each month, look beyond the so-called Big Four and into the discount carrier Twigby.

Twigby offers cell-phone plans starting at $9 per month, and new customers get 25% off the first six months of service.

That’s what Zak Wilson did. He’d been paying Verizon Wireless about $180 a month for two lines. So he tried Twigby. For both phones, he’s now paying $60 a month.

5. Get Free Lottery Tickets

The last thing you want to do when money is tight is to waste the little you have on gambling. Instead, 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.You can also earn tokens that you can exchange for free gift cards to retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Kohl’s, Sephora and more. The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free.

6. Earn up to $20/Hour Delivering Groceries This Weekend

Thanks to apps and online marketplaces, side gigs aren’t difficult to find. But you’ll likely face fees. Sure, you think you just earned $30 an hour — but nope. You’ve got service fees, booking fees, transaction fees — all the fees.

Postmates is different: You’ll take home 100% of your earnings when you deliver groceries, takeout and even retail purchases through the app.

It’s just like other side-gig apps — you’ll pick and choose how much or how little you want to work — but you won’t get hit with fees.

You can deliver through Postmates delivery 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 up to the Postmates Fleet app, and you’re off to earning extra money.

7. Sell Someone Else’s Trash

Selling Craigslist freebies is a great way to make a profit quickly, because you get the items for free.

You could even have cash in hand today.

Go to the free section on Craigslist and look for things that are close to you and easy to sell immediately. They could be scraps from a job site or metal items you can sell, for example.

Pro Tip

For a quick turnaround on Craigslist, avoid items like furniture or electronics. These can be good to sell, but they’ll take longer.

Cash in your treasures by reselling on Craigslist, including them in a rummage sale or selling to specialty buyers, like a pawn shop or a local business.

8. Get Your Paycheck up to 2 Days Earlier

Wouldn’t it be nice to get your paycheck early? Chime is an online bank account used by more than one million people because it gives you access to your paycheck early.

As soon as Chime receives notification of a direct deposit from your employer, it immediately posts those funds to your account — up to two days early.

But, even better — the bank charges no hidden fees. No overdraft fees, no monthly service fees, and no foreign transaction fees. Nothing.

That should take a little pressure off your budget.