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

Charles Maraia/Getty
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.

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. Get Free Food

Sign up for Pillsbury.com emails to receive up to $250 in yearly coupons, access to free product samples (quantities limited, one per member) and the easiest recipes sent right to your inbox.

Because of the high value of these coupons, they’ve limited it to one set of coupons per person, so if you need more, get someone else in your household to sign up, too.

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

We know taking on another job can be a lot of work. But have you thought about getting a flexible side gig? Even just for a few months? 

An app called Doordash will pay you to pick up and deliver food on your own time, using a car or bike. You’ll deliver things like coffee from Starbucks or food from Chipotle, Chik-fil-A or Five Guys. 

With Doordash, 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

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 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, in cash or gift cards to popular retailers.

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.

Take single dad Oneil Campbell, from Boston. He was shocked when he won a $5,000 Lucktastic prize.

“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. Earn up to $22/Hour Delivering Groceries This Weekend

We’ve all got a few spare hours here and there, so why not make an extra grocery run? No, not for you. For other people. 

An app called Shipt will pay you up to $22 an hour for going to the store to pick up and deliver someone else’s groceries this week.

We talked to one shopper, Destiny Frith, from Nashville, who says the flexible gig earns her close to $600 a week — working completely on her own schedule.

Just sign up online (the application is pretty simple). Once you’re approved, pick which jobs you want to take, and Shipt will send you a prepaid card to buy the groceries and deliver them to customers.

These extra runs could even cover the cost of your own groceries this week.

7. Use This App to Get Free Prepaid Visa and MasterCards

What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.

An app called Fetch Rewards will turn your receipts into free gift cards. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for prepaid cards for Visa and MasterCard.

All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.

When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn a free bonus when you scan your first receipt — you’ll be well on your way to your first gift card.

When your budget is at its limit, these cards can go a long way on your next grocery run.

8. Cut Your Car Insurance

It’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but here’s something that could put $670 in your pocket.

If you’re willing to take five minutes to switch car insurance companies, it’s possible to get the same level of coverage at a huge discount. Use a free website called The Zebra to quickly see what your options are.

The Zebra will compare rates for up to two hundred different car insurance companies — in just two minutes. Just enter basic information about your car and driving history and they’ll get to work.

The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year.

If you find a policy you like, you can sign up online instantly.

9. Get a Free $5 Walmart Gift Card

Want a free Walmart gift card? The folks over at Pointclub want you to give your opinions in online surveys, and they’ll shower you with free gift cards for your time.  

You’ll get points for each survey you qualify for and complete. Once you accrue enough points, they can be redeemed for cash via Paypal or gift cards to a number of popular retailers, including Walmart.

Each survey pays 200 to 10,000 points, which equates to 20 cents to $10 per survey. To cash out, you’ll need a minimum of 25,000 points, which equates to $25.

The newly redesigned website is sleek and easy to use. Pro tip: You’ll get a free $5 bonus when you sign up.