Let’s say you need fast cash to pay off a debt, cover rent or pay for an emergency repair. Of course, taking stock of your assets, creating an emergency fund and padding your income are ideal steps to plan such situations in the future. Fortunately, in the interim, there are legitimate ways to generate income quickly if you’re in a pinch.
Here are some reasonably smart ways to find fast cash:
— Sell unwanted items.
— Sell gift cards.
— Sell concert tickets.
— Ask for a raise.
— Borrow money.
— Reduce expenses.
— Take a survey.
— Get a side gig.
— Sell your plasma.
— Participate in a medical study.
— Recycle for cash.
— Find unclaimed money.
— Rent out a room.
— Advertise on your car.
— Flip stuff.
— Hold a yard sale or garage sale.
— Look in the couch.
Sell Unwanted Items
If you have unused items that are collecting dust, that’s money left on the table. You may want to check out a reputable online platform like Facebook Marketplace, suggests Kristin Stones, who runs the personal finance blog CentsandPurpose.com.
“Listing your unused or unwanted items on Facebook Marketplace can be very quick,” Stones says. Users in the area can post photos of things they want to sell or even give away on the site, such as cars, clothes and musical instruments. “Often, I have people message me within just minutes or hours of listing items,” she says.
If someone is willing to meet up that day, just make sure you do it in a public place. Stones adds that it doesn’t always work out — a buyer might not show up or may initially seem interested and then lose interest. But Stones finds that it’s usually a faster process than, say, holding a yard sale.
Another website to sell your clutter for cash is Gazelle.com, which buys and sells used cellphones and other devices. Decluttr.com also enables users to easily sell cellphones, electronics, CDs, DVDs, video games and books, among other items.
Sell Gift Cards
There are a number of websites that buy unwanted gift cards, such as Cardpool, CardCash and ClipKard. The amount you can receive per gift card varies. For example, for a $25 gift card to a popular store like Target, you can expect to receive an offer for around $20, while a $25 gift card to a less-popular store may pay less.
Sell Concert Tickets
COVID-19 has really done a number on the concert industry, but hopefully things will start to slowly shift back to normalcy later this year. If you have concert tickets that you can’t use or would rather sell for money, check out a website where people will buy them from you, such as StubHub, SeatGeek and Ticketmaster. The amount you can receive for your tickets depends on the popularity of the show or event, and typically you can receive your money through PayPal or a direct deposit to your bank account.
Ask for a Raise
Requesting a raise can help you quickly generate additional income. Of course, if the raise is approved, you may have to wait to get that money for a pay cycle or two, but in the meantime, you could ask for a payroll cash advance. A bonus: Asking for a raise now may help you avoid having to look for fast cash in the future.
Borrow Money From a Friend or Family Member
If you’re short on cash, you could ask for a loan from family or friends. Alternatively, your bank may offer low-interest loans, and failing that, your church or a local community center may have ideas on where you can get reasonable loans. However, it’s important to stay away from payday loans and auto title lending stores, which have high interest rates (typically a 400% annual percentage rate) and a short two- or four-week payment window.
Reduce Your Expenses
Scaling back overall costs, such as signing up for a less expensive insurance plan or reviewing your current plan and comparing options to identify available discounts is a simple way to find extra room in your budget. For instance, you may be able to get your cellphone plan or your cable bill lowered by calling customer service and saying you’re thinking of going to a competitor and would like to see if any deals or discounts are available. You may want to look into refinancing your house or car or consolidating debt to curb costs.
Take a Survey
One of the quickest and easiest ways to make money fast is to take an online survey, says Sam Shepler, a Boston-based filmmaker-turned-entrepreneur and CEO of TestimonialHero.com, which produces testimonial videos for companies.
Shepler recommends websites like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks and InboxDollars.
“They will pay you for your opinion, and you can easily earn up to $45 an hour if you work hard enough. Better yet, most surveys don’t last longer than five minutes,” he says.
It’s worth trying, though take note that if you’re working hard to earn up to $45 an hour, it really isn’t easy.
Get a Side Gig
Sure, you could deliver pizzas or drive an Uber. But you may be able to earn money in your neighborhood without putting a lot of wear and tear on your car, according to Nick Loper, founder of SideHustleNation.com, a blog and podcast about finding side jobs and side hustles.
“Your best bets for making money quickly are to provide a service or resell a product,” Loper says. “On the service side, start with the skills you have or the problems you’ve overcome in your own life. What pains have you paid to make go away? This could be something as simple as pet waste removal or gutter cleaning, or as complex as software development.”
And with spring cleaning season upon us, there may be an opportunity in pressure washing people’s driveways or decluttering their garages, Loper says.
“The other way to quickly bring in some extra cash is to do some decluttering of your own. Name-brand merchandise, tools, refinished furniture and sports equipment are hot sellers. If you don’t have much inventory, you could even set up a little consignment service to help your neighbors get rid of their unwanted items and take a percentage,” Loper says.
Sell Your Plasma
Donating plasma is one of those go-to strategies for anyone who needs extra money. Plasma is the liquid part of the blood that carries the red and white cells, and it’s used for a variety of medicines, medical treatments and medical research.
The amount you can receive for donating varies, but plasma centers often pay around $30 to $50 when you donate it, if you do it regularly. You can generally donate plasma twice a week, so it’s possible to make at least a few hundred bucks a month.
On average, it can take two hours to donate plasma, and of course, you’re doing a good deed.
Participate in a Medical Study
You can do more than sell plasma. You could participate in a medical study, says Swati Chalumuri, who is based in Bellevue, Washington, and has a blog called HearMeFolks.com that’s focused on ways to earn passive income.
“Though it may seem a bit unconventional, taking part in a medical study gets you paid fast,” Chalumuri says. “The best part is that you may not even have to take shots but rather participate in noninvasive fitness studies.”
On the other hand, yes, you might have to take shots. Chalumuri says you could earn around $300 to $500 per study, which is “paid out in phases as the study progresses.”
She suggests checking the websites for teaching hospitals or medical science learning institutions in your area.
Recycle for Cash
Let’s face it: You probably won’t make a ton of money this way. But if you have a lot of soda cans or scrap metal in your garage, you could gather them up and take them to a recycling center to get paid on the spot. You’d also declutter your home.
Keep in mind you can get paid for recycling other things like ink cartridges. For example, if you buy ink cartridges at Staples, you can return them and get $2 in store rewards. It’s not exactly a blueprint for an early retirement, but recycling can sometimes bring in quick cash. If you have old electronics, including phones, Flipsy.com might buy your old iPod, tablets, Samsung watches and more.
Find Unclaimed Money
You’ve probably heard of websites like Unclaimed.org and MissingMoney.com, which may turn up money owed to you that was never collected. It may not be cash that winds up in your pocket fast; the process could take several weeks since you’ll have to request documentation, and then prove your identity before money comes your way. But it can’t hurt to investigate and see if anything turns up.
Mary Pitman, author of “The Little Book of Missing Money” is a big fan of these websites.
When you go to a website like Unclaimed.org, she suggests that you not only look up your name but try typing things like your last name and first initial.
If you’re looking for a retirement plan you left behind at a previous employer, Pitman suggests checking unclaimedretirementbenefits.com or pbgc.gov. She says that if you or a family member were in the military, you could check for unclaimed life insurance money — premiums, refunds or death benefits — by going to insurance.va.gov/unclaimedfunds.
Rent Out a Room
This may not be practical for some people, and it usually takes time to find the right tenant when renting out a room. But if you’re looking for ideas on how to earn quick cash, it belongs on your list for at least a few seconds.
On one hand, you can collect the first month’s rent right away once you find a renter, and if it turns into a long-term arrangement, you’ll have an influx of cash coming every month.
On the downside, you’ve now got a tenant living in your home who you’ve hopefully done a thorough background check on. Unless you get along famously, the extra money may not be worth the hassle.
Advertise on Your Car
If you haven’t seen cars with advertising on them, maybe you don’t get out much, which means you probably aren’t a great fit for this idea. But if you do drive a lot, including commuting to and from work, you could work with a company like Carvertise.com, which pays people to put an advertising wrap around their car. How much can you make? It depends on the brand and what they’re paying. Carvertise suggests that people who are selected will probably make at least $100 a month and possibly up to $300 a month for driving their car around normally.
We’re not talking houses. But Forrest McCall, based out of Louisville, Kentucky, and owner of the personal finance and entrepreneurship blog Don’t Work Another Day, suggests flipping merchandise you purchase from garage sales and flea markets, which seems kind of fun and a lot safer.
“Usually, you can pick up items at a garage sale for pennies on the dollar and sell them online through sites like Amazon or eBay for a profit,” McCall says.
He adds that this can take a little time — and obviously, you want to pick out unique or practical items people will be interested in buying.
Hold a Yard Sale or Garage Sale
Garage sales and yard sales aren’t the quickest way to earn cash. You’ve got to price everything and put up signage and advertise on social media, so there’s bit of of time and effort involved. But if you dive into this project, it could be a way to generate a tidy sum in a week or two — or however quickly you’re able to pull this off.
Search Your Couch (and Everywhere Else)
We’ll end on an obvious oldie but goodie: Earn fast cash by finding money you’ve dropped throughout your house. Especially if you haven’t done this in a long time, you may find quite the treasure trove. Check the couch, under the seats of your car, the laundry room where items often fall out of pockets, under your bed and in the junk drawer. Do a fairly thorough search of your home, and you just may find that you’ve left quite a bit of cash lying around.
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Update 04/26/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.