Your credit cards are maxed out, your checking account empty, and payday is two weeks away. But you still have expenses, right? What can you do when you need cash today?
Check out the list below. Each suggestion has the potential to put money into your hands not weeks from now, but before the sun sets tonight.
And that’s not just theoretical — I’ve used more than half of these strategies myself to raise some quick cash. They fall into these basic categories:
- Gathering up what you already have
- Working for a fast buck
- Selling things
- Borrowing money
- Doing something different
Be sure to read to the end — the last section will have some interesting (and sometimes fun) ideas that you probably haven’t considered.
Gather What You Have
You might have more money available than you know, if you look in the right places. And you can start your treasure hunt at home…
1. Search Those Couch Cushions
We start with an obvious suggestion, and one that probably won’t net you much. On the other hand, if you expand your search beyond digging for coins in the couch, who knows? My wife recently discovered $60 in the bottom of a coat pocket.
Search dressers, kitchen drawers, under mattresses, on high shelves, in clothing, and anywhere else you may have stashed some cash or dropped some coins. And then…
2. Don’t Forget the Car
Last week I discovered a $20 bill tucked under the driver’s eat in our car. I had put it there for emergencies and forgotten about it. I’m pretty sure there is a stash of parking-meter-change somewhere in the car too.
The glovebox is the obvious place to start your search, but coins fall out of pockets in cars, so check under the seats too. And look in that trunk or storage area for any money you may have hidden there and forgotten about.
3. Close Out Old Accounts
If you have any old credit union or bank accounts that you haven’t been using, this might be the time to withdraw that last $10. Monthly fees can really add up.
4. Call People Who Owe You
If you have ever lent money to friends or family members, it’s time to call in those loans. If your debtors hesitate, offer a discount to motivate them. It may be better to get $40 now than to wait for the $50 you are owed.
5. Tap Into Your Retirement Account
It’s probably not wise to take money out of your retirement account. You’ll pay taxes and a big penalty. But if the situation demands it, and you have an IRA at a local bank or investment company, you might be able to get the cash today.
Look over the rules for IRA distributions. Depending on what you need the money for, you could qualify for a penalty-free withdrawal.
Work and Get Paid Today
Okay, so you already have a job, but payday is a week or more away. What work can you do that will put cash in your hands in a few hours?
6. Work as a Day Laborer
When I lived in Florida I briefly worked for Labor Finders. The deal was simple: you show up in the morning and (if there is work) you get paid at the end of the day. Companies like this are not the typical job-placement or temporary employment firms. Google “day labor companies” (along with the name of your locality) to find the ones that pay daily.
7. Work for Family or Friends
Call up your friends and family members to look for work. Maybe someone you know needs some cleaning or other work done and can pay you cash today. When I was younger I made money that way often.
8. Try TaskRabbit
TaskRabbit hooks you up with local people who need help. You might walk a dog, do some yard work, paint a shed, or drive a retiree to the store for a fee. Payment is processed through TaskRabbit, so you may not get paid today, but cash tips are a more-immediate possibility.
9. Go Door-to-Door
Sell your services door-to-door. This works well when there is a snowstorm and you offer to shovel driveways and sidewalks (my brothers and I did this as kids), but if you have the right attitude you can offer other services and make some fast cash.
If you really look around you might be surprised by how many things you have that can be turned into cash today. And you don’t have to stop at selling your own stuff, as you’ll see…
10. Sell Household Gold and Silver
I can tell you from experience and research that the places which heavily advertise “We Buy Gold” pay the worst. Most of time they are mail-in operations too, so you won’t get your money today. Local coin shops usually offer a better price, and cash right now.
Check your home for old silver platters, pre-1969 quarters and dimes, and any jewelry that might have gold or silver in it. The jewelry can be tested at a coin shop.
11. Have a Rummage Sale
You might think you have to plan ahead and advertise a rummage sale, but that depends on where you are and what day of the week it is. If there is anyone else in the neighborhood having a Saturday garage or yard sale, just make a sign and put some stuff out to catch the drive-by traffic. My wife and I have done this with some success.
12. Sell a Craigslist Freebie
On Craigslist look under the “for sale” section, click on “free,” and see what’s available near you. You want things you can sell today. That may include furniture or the next item on our list…
13. Sell Scrap Metals
This is a tough way to make much money, but it can be quick. Last year I rounded up a pile of aluminum and other metals from patio furniture and plumbing projects, added beer and soda cans I had saved for months, and for all that I got less than $20 from the local scrap metal buyer. But in any case it was junk I had to get rid of and I received cash on the spot.
Old aluminum car rims and the copper from air conditioner coils are some of the better items for raising cash, but look around your house (and your friends’ if they’ll let you) for other metal items you can sell. Google “sell scrap metal” to find buyers near you, and check an online scrap metal price guide to be sure you’re getting a decent price.
14. Sell Your Clothing
If there are second hand clothing stores near you, it may be possible to sell clothing you aren’t using. Plato’s Closet is one of the best-known places to sell “gently used” clothes. Brand names bring the best prices.
15. Sell Furniture
Local used furniture stores may buy your unneeded items. Call ahead for big items, or put a few easy-to-carry things (lamps, end tables) in the car and try several places in person. You might also try selling your furniture to friends using Facebook — just make it clear you need to get paid today.
16. Sell Unused Gift Cards
You can sell unused gift cards on websites like Raise, but you’ll be waiting to get paid. To cash in on those store gift cards today make an announcement on Facebook and sell them for a steep discount to a friend.
17. Sell Your Concert Tickets
If you have tickets for an upcoming concert or other event, you can sell them to raise money. Online platforms like StubHub will leave you waiting for payment, so try your friends for faster cash.
18. Sell Your Books
Although many used bookstores will pay for your used books with store credit, a few still offer cash. The last time I did this (at a Hasting’s bookstore, a chain that sadly just went bankrupt) I got only half of what I would have received as a store-credit, but they took most of my books and paid me right then and there.
Amazon also has a great trade-in service that allows you to sell your books and other used electronic items. Receive gift card credit in exchange and use it to buy what you need. Keep in mind that this won’t happen until Amazon receives your item, with shipping on them of course.
19. Sell Your Videos and CDs
Pawn shops typically buy DVDs, CDs, and video games. Don’t expect much, and don’t assume they’ll want what you have. When I recently sold some movies my local pawn shop took just three of my dozen DVDs and paid just $1 each.
20. Sell Family and Friends’ Stuff
Ask friends and family if they have anything to sell, and then sell the items using any of the strategies already listed. Keep a percentage for your service, of course. If you put their things in your rummage sale ask for half of each sale.
Borrow Some Cash Today
Going into debt may not be the ideal way to solve your temporary cash-flow problems, but sometimes you really do need money now. And you may be able to borrow a lot more than you can quickly raise by other means. Try the following at your own risk.
21. Borrow From Mom and Dad
Yes, it can be tricky to borrow from family, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve borrowed money from my parents and have also lent money to them without a problem. They keys are to pay interest, be clear on how you’ll repay the loan, and put it in writing.
22. Get a Cash Advance
The median interest rate on a credit card cash advance is about 24%, and you might pay as much as a 5% fee up front. Still, sometimes it may be necessary to use this resource. If you happen to get those credit card checks in the mail like I do, you might do better. My latest offer was for 0% interest for a year, and only a 2% fee.
23. Use Your Checking Overdraft Service
This is another expensive way to borrow, but if you have an overdraft service on your checking account you can write and cash a check today. Expect to pay 18% interest, and also hefty overdraft fees.
24. Get a Pawn Shop Loan
Pawn shop interest rates can be as high as 240% annually, making these loans even worse than the ways to borrow already covered. But if you have something valuable that you don’t want to sell, you can use it as collateral to raise cash today.
25. Consider a Payday Loan – Or Don’t
Payday loans, especially for small amounts, can have an effective interest rate as high as 391% according to the FTC. That means they may be the worst way on this list to raise cash fast.
26. Get an Advance on Your Paycheck
Not many employers will advance you part of your paycheck these days, but if you work for a small company it may be a possibility – it doesn’t hurt to ask. If it works, at least you won’t be in financial debt, since it is your labor that you’ll owe.
Try Something New and Different
Okay, so you’ve run through all the other suggestions and you’re still coming up short. Here are some more unusual ideas. Don’t dismiss them too quickly — I’ve personally made money from most of these strategies.
27. Get Cash Back on Alcohol
If you still have any receipts lying around, check to see if there’s any alcoholic beverages on them. The bevRAGE app pays you to scan your receipt when you buy wine, liquor and beer at grocery stores, bars and other retailers.
Earn anywhere from $1 – $5 per item, and get a bonus of $1 when you use the promo code FRUGAL and scan your first receipt. Keep in mind that you want to take a picture of your entire receipt in order to get credited.
While it may take up to 48 hours for money to go into your PayPal account, most of the time it’s done within a day. Not only that, but you only need $1 to cash out.
Interested in other apps that pay you to scan receipts? Here’s our list of top 10 apps that pay you to scan receipts. The reason we listed bevRAGE is because it usually pays within 24 hours.
28. Go Junk-Picking
Really, this can work. I’ve taken a table from the neighbor’s junk and sold it for $50. I retrieved a few boxes of floor tiles from a dumpster and sold them for $10 to a flooring contractor.
Forty unopened bags of golf tees dug from the garbage at a house I was painting netted me $50 at a flea market golf store. To speed up the process you can even list things for sale on Craigslist as you find them. Just use your phone. You might get paid today.
29. Play Chess or Pool
If you know how to consistently win at something, let your inner hustler out. My former co-worker routinely made money playing pool (he even “threw” the first game to win the second bigger second bet). I made hundreds of dollars playing chess at one point in my life (but I never purposely lost just to hustle someone).
30. Sell Your Future Labor
As kids we used to make certificates for house work as gifts for our parents. As an adult you can do the same and sell them to raise money today from friends and family. For example, you might presell 10 hours of yard work for $100.
31. Rent a Room in Your House
Renting out bedrooms is a strategy for long-term profits, and it paid off my first home twice over. But if you know someone who is looking for a place to stay, you might get paid for the first month today.
32. Return Things You Bought
If you haven’t gotten around to using that new exercise machine or pair of jeans, take them back to the store. Retailer’s return policies vary quite a bit, but at Walmart, for example, you have 90 days to return most items, and even electronics can be returned for up to 15 days.
Of course to get cash today requires that you paid cash. If you paid by credit card, your account will be credited.
33. Return Beverage Cans for the Deposit
I used to make $100 per month collecting soda cans. That was in Michigan, where cans had a deposit of 10-cents each — one of the highest rates nationally. But in any case, if yours is one of the ten states with bottle-return laws, start gathering up those empties!
Don’t limit yourself to your own returnables. I once emptied a friend’s garage of about $60 in cans (yes that’s 600 of them!), keeping half of that amount in exchange for bagging them up and returning them.
34. Be a Street Performer
If you can sing or juggle or do magic, you can probably make some cash out in the street. Even if you don’t have many skills, you can put on a crazy costume and collect tips from people who want a photo with you. My wife and I gave a giant robot in San Francisco a couple bucks for a photo, and we weren’t the first or the last to do so.
I’ve made money from casino promotions, but you have to really know what you’re doing to make that work. A better plan, if you’re a card player, is to invite some of your friends and colleagues over for a friendly game of poker.
“Some” I say, because this isn’t about having fun. If you want to make some cash today, you should specifically invite only the worst players. I used to consistently make money playing poker by making it a point to not play against better players.
36. Donate Your Blood and Plasma
What do you need all that blood for anyway? CSL Plasma says I can make $300 per month donating here in Tucson, Arizona. I may have to check that out. But if you need the cash today be sure that the place where you donate blood or plasma pays immediately.
If you can add to this list of ways to raise some cash today, please do so in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!