I read an article the other day that said that 60% of Americans can’t come up with $1,000 in an emergency. While the real answer to this problem is to practice better savings habits over the long term and to avoid debt and overspending, there are ways to come up with money fairly quickly in the event of an emergency. The one thing you don’t want to do is revert to short term loans or to use credit cards. While these might solve your short term problem, they will create much bigger problems down the road when the exorbitant interest rates cripple you. (As an aside, I saw a TV ad the other day advertising some short term loan place and, when I squinted to read the fine print, I saw that the interest rate was 124%. The ad says, “Yes, the money is expensive…” That’s an understatement. That’s the kind of interest rate you can never dig out from under.)
Note that many of these tactics won’t result in money in your pocket today. It’s almost impossible to get money in one day without resorting to loan sharks or illegal activities. Also, few of these will generate large sums of money all at once. You’ll have to implement several if you want to see results. However, most of these tips can have more money in your pocket within a month.
Sell Your Stuff
Yard sales, Cragislist, websites/stores that sell secondhand merchandise (like SecondSpin.com for CD’s and DVD’s or GameStop for video games) and eBay can be great ways to unload your excess stuff for cash. You can also go the route of consignment sales or pawn shops.
If you have any purchases that you haven’t opened or used yet, take them back immediately. The cash or credit on your credit card will help.
Sell A Car
If you can get by with one car (or none), sell it and pocket the cash.
If you have old electronics that won’t sell, try trading them in. There are several stores/websites that offer trade-ins or take backs for cash or gift cards.
Cancel Any Planned Vacations
If you’ve paid deposits, cancel your vacation and get your deposits back. You can rebook later.
Ask For Help
If things are really bad, ask for help from your church, family, friends, food banks, or government assistance programs. Don’t abuse the generosity, but such programs are there for a reason. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get you through.
Collect Any Money Owed
Send in any rebates that you have lying around, cash in any points at rewards and survey sites, and call in any debts owed by family, friends, or people you’ve done work for.
Cash Out Credit Card Points
If you have accumulated credit card reward points, turn them in for cash, statement credits, or gift cards that you can use on essential expenses.
Get Lost Cash
Check to see if you have any unclaimed money you have forgotten about at your state’s unclaimed property office, from old pensions or from forgotten US Saving bonds to see if you have any outstanding money owed to you.
Sign up with Mechanical Turk
Mturk.com from Amazon.com lets you take on simple tasks for small amounts of money. Take on tasks that interest you.
Get A Part-Time Job
Take on any part-time job that you can. Look for special events or other dates that require businesses to hire a large number of people for a short period of time.
Do online survey/reward sites
You can earn some money in your spare time by doing surveys and other tasks.
Sell Any Grown-Up Toys
No, nothing disgusting like that. If you have anything like a camper, jet-ski, vacation home or boat, sell it. If it’s paid for and the emergency is dire, don’t quibble about the price, just take what you can get.
Sell Other People’s Stuff
If you see usable stuff sitting on the curb for the trash man, pick it up and sell it yourself. You can also try dumpster diving at places like colleges and apartment complexes. Frequently people toss good stuff rather than move it.
You can get paid for recycling your cans and other metal. Pick up cans you find and add to your savings. Return cans and bottles for the deposit if your state offers this perk.
Sell Your Gold
Jewelry you no longer wear or mismatched pieces can be turned into cash.
Send Kids To Work
If the kids are old enough to hold a part-time job, send them to work. They can at least pay for their own “fun” that way.
Look For Spare Change
There are a lot of places to find lost money. If you find pennies in the parking lot, pick them up. Check your car, sofa, clothes pockets, old purses, and desk drawers for forgotten money, too.
If you have a skill or talent that others will pay for, do some side work for extra money.
Do Odd Jobs
Ask your neighbors if they need cars washed, house sitting, dog walking, cleaning services, yard work, manual labor, or basic handyman services. Hire yourself out for any odd job that will pay.
Look For Sign-Up Bonuses
Banks sometimes offer bonuses for moving your assets to them. It can be a bit of a hassle, but not a bad way to make a quick $50 or more.
Go To A Temp Agency
Many offer jobs for night and weekend work. Take whatever they have that you can do after your regular job ends.
Sell Your Body
Your plasma, hair, eggs/sperm, and other body parts can be worth money.
Cash In Savings Bonds
If you have saving bonds lying around, you can cash them in. You’d be surprised at how many people have these tucked into drawers gathering dust, thanks to gifts from Grandma.
Sell Gift Cards
If you have any gift cards that you can’t use, sell or trade them for ones that will help with your essential expenses.
Make FSA or HSA Claims
Don’t wait until the end of the year, go ahead and get your money back now.
Check Health Insurance Plan
Check your health insurance plan for any rebates that you’re entitled to. Some reimburse wellness materials like gym memberships or weight loss programs. If you’re paying out of pocket, check and see if you can get the money back.
Ask For A Raise
It might happen and it never hurts to ask. Even in this economy you might get it if you’re a valuable employee.
Get Back Anything You’re Entitled To
If you replace your car battery yourself, be sure to take the old one back and get the core charge refunded. Get price adjustments on items that go on sale within the store’s specified time frame. Get your security and utility deposits back when you move. Don’t leave any money on the table.
Do Medical Testing
If you are healthy, drug companies need you to test their new drugs to make sure that they don’t have any adverse side effects. Some people make a full time income participating in drug tests and medical trials
There are plenty of ways to find some extra money in a hurry. You may not be able to find all you need in one day, but you should be able to find some extra money without resorting to loan sharks.
(Photo courtesy of epSos.de)