How to Quit Living Paycheck to Paycheck and Quickly Save $1,000

Wouldn’t life be a little easier if you had a $1,000 cushion in your emergency fund?

The paycheck-to-paycheck cycle is an easy one to fall into — and a hard one to break.

But trust us: There are ways out — and we want to help.

One of the best ways to tackle this cycle to the cold, hard ground is to take it step by step. No, you won’t get ahead overnight. This is going to take a little time. But in the end, it’ll be worth it — and it doesn’t have to be hard.

Here are the 9 steps you need to take right now…

1. Make $225 By Watching These You-Tube Like Videos

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! That’s money that can go right into your savings account.

2. Save $720 on Car Insurance

backseat view of man driving
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You’re probably overpaying for car insurance. And how would you know, really?

Have you shopped around lately? Have you compared rates from the 20 largest auto insurers that do business in your area? That sounds kind of difficult and time-consuming, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, a service called Gabi will do it for you, and you don’t even have to fill out any forms. Simply link your insurance account and provide your driver’s license number, and Gabi will go to work.

Once you link your insurance account to Gabi, it will:

  • Scan your existing insurance plan.
  • Analyze what coverage you have.
  • Compare the major insurers’ rates for that same coverage.
  • Help you switch on the spot if it finds you a better rate.

Gabi says it finds an average savings of $720 per year for its customers.

It is a true apples-to-apples comparison at the same coverage levels and deductibles you currently have. Once you sign up, you never have to shop again. Gabi’s software has your policy on file and keeps on monitoring for savings as your life changes.

3. Grab a Free Lottery Ticket (or Two)

A young couple buying lottery tickets at a kiosk.
urbancow/Getty Images

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. 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. For more info, check out our full review.

4. Don’t Delete Another Email — They Could Be Worth Money 

How to make money as a stay at home mom
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It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you money. Intrigued?

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — 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 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 when there’s a price drop.

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

5. Put Those Savings to Work — and Invest in Real Estate

By now you’ve saved your first $500. Want to get into real-estate investing without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars or playing landlord? We found a company that helps you do just that.

Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. With a minimum investment of just $500, Fundrise will invest in its Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that offer expected returns of 8% to 11% per year.

This isn’t an obscure investment. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolio — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fundrise does the heavy lifting of buying million dollar properties and pays you dividends quarterly plus extra periodic distributions if properties are sold.

You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.

Remember investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since at least Q2 2016, your payment is never guaranteed.

6. Get a Side Job That Pays up to $60/Hour

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Can you open an excel spreadsheet? Does earning $60 an hour sound appealing? How about the freedom to work remotely while helping others succeed?

Those are the perks of working as a bookkeeper, says Ben Robinson, a certified public accountant and business owner who teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers.

You don’t have to be an accountant or even really good at math to be successful in this business. In fact, all you need are decent computer skills and a passion for helping business owners tackle real-world problems.

The ability to stay moderately organized is helpful too.

Median pay is around $19 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — and you have no commute. It’s a great opportunity for parents who want a part time job, recent college grads and anyone who wants to bring in real money working from home.

Robinson shares what it takes to be a virtual bookkeeper, plus tips for making this career work for you in his free class at Bookkeeper Business Launch.

7. Get Your Paycheck a Little Early 

Hands counting change into a piggy bank.
kwanchaichaiudom/Getty Images

Still having a hard time making it to payday? Let Chime give you your check a couple of ays early. 

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.

Plus, Chime offers some other unique features other banks haven’t caught on to yet, such as:

  • It doesn’t charge overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees or minimum balance fees.
  • You can open an easy-to-access, connected savings account. It allows you to automate your savings with features like the round-up tool, which will round up your transactions to the nearest dollar and dump the change into savings.
  • It has a “Pay Friends” feature, so you don’t have to mess with cash, math or other apps to split the bill.
  • Chime customers have access to thousands of fee-free MoneyPass ATMs around the country and mobile check deposit.

Who doesn’t want to get paid early?

Opening an account with Chime is free and only takes about five minutes.

8. Top Your Saving Account Off With Another $100 or More

Online surveys aren’t our favorite way to make money, but if you’re just vegging out on the couch — or shielding your eyes while being forced to watch “Final Fantasy 113” — why not click a couple buttons and earn a few bucks?

We’ve tried a lot of the survey sites, but the one we continually recommend is Swagbucks (rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau).

One of our readers, Jessica Maloy, made over $600 over the course of a few months!

9. Take a Picture of Your Receipts

Ibotta review
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

You’re almost done. We know it sounds strange, but Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your receipts.

Here’s how it works:

Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.

Bam. Cash back.

Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

Some cash-back opportunities we’ve seen include:

  • 25 cents back for any item.
  • 25 cents back on strawberries.
  • 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks.
  • $1 back on a box of tea.
  • $5 back on a case of Shiner Bock beer.

Notice a lot of those aren’t tied to a brand — just shop for the staples on your list and earn cash back!

Add this money to your savings account each month and you’ll rack up more than $1,000 in no time!

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