I Need Money Desperately: 40 Ideas For Fast Cash

Woman counting cash thinking I need money desperately

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If you need money desperately, you have options

Many people are just one emergency away from a financial crisis. If you don’t have an emergency fund or multiple income streams, you might be one of them. Getting an unexpected medical bill, having your car break down, or losing your job can create havoc on your money situation and leave you feeling stressed and anxious.

If you’re ever in a situation where you need money desperately to cover your bills, believe me when I say that you have many options. Being in this position can be discouraging and stressful. But if you know what choices are available to you to make some fast cash, then you can act quickly and decisively to prevent a financial disaster.

Whether you feel like you’re drowning now or anticipate difficulties ahead, I’m going to give you several ideas to stay afloat. It’s important to keep your mindset positive and productive, and be open to trying something new!

Maybe your finances are running smoothly right now, but heed this warning: an emergency expense is probably just around the corner. It’s inevitable that an unexpected expense will arise, and you want to be ready!

From making extra money to saving more money to even borrowing some money, there are many creative solutions to handling a financial emergency. If you’re thinking “I need money desperately!”, keep reading to learn some creative solutions to help you make ends meet until you get back on solid ground.

The first list offers ideas to get money within seven days. The second list has suggestions for longer time frames, if you have more time to wait. Together, there are over 40 solutions to making money fast. Later, I’ll also tell you some smart steps you can take to avoid falling into a financial crisis.

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22 easy ways to get some fast cash (within 1 to 7 days)

If you’re in a serious bind and need to take desperate measures, there are a few ways you can get some cash into your bank account quickly.

Some of these suggestions will create some debt for you, so weigh the options carefully. If you’re at risk of getting evicted, or you must fix your vehicle so you don’t lose your job, then it’s probably worth it to go into some short-term debt.

Ask family or friends for some financial help

If you’re in good standing with your family and/or friends, reach out and ask for help. I know, it doesn’t feel good and it might even be embarrassing, but you may need to swallow your pride and do it. The important people in your life love you, and more than likely they want to help if they know you’re in trouble.

Borrowing money from friends or family is probably the fastest, and possibly the cheapest way to get some cash quickly. You may be offered very lenient terms, such as no interest and “pay back when you can”.

The biggest thing on the line is your relationship. Don’t ask if you don’t intend to pay back the money. And don’t make them ask you for payment.

Be very up front about your plan to pay it back, and then be sure to follow through. You can even go the extra mile and sign a formal agreement.

Don’t abuse their trust. Nobody likes to feel like they’ve been taken advantage of!

Get a salary advance

If you’re fortunate to still have your job, you can inquire about an advance on your paycheck. Ask the HR department if your employer offers this financial assistance.

Be sure fully understand the terms before you fill out the paperwork. Many employers will not charge interest, but will deduct a set amount over a period of time until the advance is paid back in full.

If your employer does not offer this benefit, consider other options in this list.

Have a garage sale for fast, extra money

If you’re strapped for cash, organize a yard sale to sell as much as you can. Go through every room and your garage to discover items you haven’t used in years. Stick a price tag on each one, then set up some tables and put up some signs. Don’t forget to post on local online marketplaces like Craigslist and NextDoor to reach more people.

My mom used to have huge garage sales once every few years. She cleared her house of a lot of clutter, while pocketing a few hundred bucks.

Sell household items online for quick cash

For some quick cash, look around the house for items you can sell online. Use Craigslist, NextDoor or Facebook Marketplace for a quick and local sale, or post to Ebay to auction something within a week.

Check your drawers and closets for stuff you no longer use but think other people would want. You’d be surprised what people will pay for!

Remember – an online marketplace can reach hundreds if not thousands of potential buyers. So don’t dismiss any possible option to make a few bucks.

You may even want to consider things that are still valuable to you, but can be replaced later. If you need the money more than the stuff, you can always buy it again when your finances are more stable.

Also, selling through an online marketplace will usually get you a higher profit than a local yard sale, since you fix the price and can reach a wider area.

Pawn your valuables

If you don’t want to completely let go of valuable items, you could take them to a pawn shop and use them as collateral for a short-term loan.

Pawn shops will typically offer smaller loans – usually $200 or less – and the terms will require you to pay back the principal with interest.

If you don’t pay back the loan within a specified time, the pawn shop keeps the item to sell to someone else.

Popular items that pawn shops will take include musical instruments, jewelry, electronics, and sporting goods.

Sell your video games, books, and records

Video games are always in demand, and easy to sell at local shops like GameStop or websites such as DeCluttr. If you don’t mind letting go of these items, you can get quick cash this way.

Another place to sell video games, as well as books and record albums, is 2nd & Charles. This store is not in every state, so go to their website and find their locations. If you have one close, you can trade in these items for fast cash.

Sell your old cell phone

If you’re like most, you probably have an old cell phone in a junk drawer somewhere. Did you know you can sell it easily for quick money?

Websites like Swappa and Gazelle will buy your old cell phones for cash. While Swappa is a user-to-user platform where you sell directly to someone else, Gazelle will buy directly from you. You can also sell laptops and tablets.

Keep in mind you’ll get a fraction of what you originally paid. But if you desperately need money, this is one way to raise some fast cash.

Sell your car

Okay, so this one might sting a little. But, it’s a practical way to potentially raise some serious cash quickly.

This option works best if you have another vehicle to use, or you won’t be too inconvenienced by using public transportation or riding a scooter. Of course, if it’s your only way to get to work, you shouldn’t sell it.

But, if you can make it work, you won’t only generate some much-needed cash, you’ll also lower your monthly expenses. Your insurance and gas bill will drop considerably, giving you more opportunities to save.

Another idea, if you have a vehicle that’s fairly new with low miles, is to sell it and grab an older model that’s cheaper. 

Look around your house

When you’re desperate for money, start with what you have.

That includes the coins in the cushions, the forgotten bills in your jacket pockets, old purses and wallets, and even your kids’ piggy banks. Yes, when times are tight, everyone should pitch in! (You can pay them back later – with interest.)

Rent out your car

Yes, you can actually rent out your car for money!

Check out Turo and GetAround to read up on the details and start renting out your vehicle for easy money.

If your car is paid off, in good shape, and you can go without it a few days a month, this could be a great way for you to make extra money fast. 

Rent out a room

If you have an extra bedroom in your house that’s not being used, you could rent it out and make some extra monthly income. You could post an ad, take some applications, and get first month’s rent with security deposit within a week.

Although you could make fast cash when you’re desperate for money, keep in mind that this is a long-term commitment. You’ll want your tenant to sign a lease, preferably 6 months or a year. Make sure you interview thoroughly, run credit checks, and check references so you minimize problems later.

If you don’t want a permanent roommate, you can always rent out a space in your home on a nightly basis. It helps to live in a city where people like to travel to, so you’ll get plenty of business.

You can use Airbnb to post your ad and provide details such as price, amenities, location, etc. You may not make money as fast as getting a permanent tenant, but you can make more in the long run!

Rent out your garage

Yes, you can make some fast money with that extra space in your garage. Storage units can be pricey and inconvenient, and offering an enclosed, secure space for someone’s extra stuff can be profitable.

A simple ad on an online classifieds website like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace can let people know you’re willing to rent out your space. It can be a quick and easy way to create a passive income stream.

Offer to babysit

Babysitting is one of those side gigs that can make you easy cash fast. Let your friends, neighbors, co-workers and church family know you’re available to babysit for them.

If you’re going to be home streaming your favorite shows anyway, might as well make some money.

Make sure you set a firm hourly fee, depending on the number of kids. If you have a day job, you could possibly bring in extra cash every night of the week.

Get a cash advance 

If you are in desperate need of some fast cash, you can get an advance on your credit card. The amount you request is added to your current balance and you can receive the money immediately.

The major downside to this option is that it’s quite costly. The interest you’ll pay is typically much higher than normal charges, and you may have to pay a cash advance fee as well.

In addition, your credit score could be negatively impacted if the credit card company reports to the credit bureaus before you pay back the loan.

Because of the high cost of this type of loan, only pursue a credit card cash advance if you’ve exhausted most other options to get cash quickly. It’s a better option than a payday loan, because the interest you’re charged will be considerably lower.

Cash out reward points

Most credit cards have a rewards program. You don’t have to use these rewards for purchases, you can cash them out instead.

You can check your rewards balance through the credit card’s website. If you’ve built up some significant points, put in a request to cash them out and receive a check.

This is a fast, easy, and no-cost option to getting some extra cash .

Exchange gift cards for cash 

Gift cards are a common present for birthdays and holidays. You might even have a few that you haven’t gotten around to spending.  If so, you can sell them for cash.

Websites such as Raise and CardCash make it easy to make some fast money from your unused gift cards. Of course, buyers use these services to get a deal, so you won’t get 100% of the value. But, if you’re in a bind and need money fast, it’s an easy way to get some cash quickly.

Donate plasma

Many people may consider this an extreme strategy to make some quick money. But, actually, donating plasma is a legitimate way to get some quick cash while helping others in desperate need of a plasma transfusion.

Many plasma centers offer between $25 and $50 per donation, and you get paid at each visit. You can donate up to twice a week, which could earn you a few hundred extra dollars a month.

Look online for local centers, and keep an eye out for “specials”. Often, plasma centers will offer extra incentives to bring in more donors.

Find unclaimed money

Most people don’t realize that they might have money just waiting to be claimed by them!  

This money could be from past bank accounts that were never closed, old investment accounts, distributions from a trust, the contents of a safe deposit box, previous tax refunds, life insurance payouts, etc.

It’s quick and easy to find out if you have unclaimed money in your name. Just go to MissingMoney.com and enter the required information. This is free! You should *never* have to pay someone to help you find unclaimed funds.

Ask your bank or credit union for cash

With a good credit score and steady job, you could quickly get an infuse of cash by taking out a personal loan from your bank. The better your score, the lower the interest you’ll pay, and the rates are much lower than payday loans or cash advances on your credit card. This is a good option if you are desperate for greater amounts of money.

If you’ve been with your bank for some time and are in good standing, this could be a fast and painless way to get some money in your account. Some banks could get the cash to you within 24 hours; others may take a few business days.

Belonging to a credit union could get you even better terms than a regular bank.

Be sure to carefully review the terms before you sign on the dotted line. You don’t want to get yourself into worse money issues than you’re already in.

If your credit isn’t that great, you’ll probably want to skip this option. The cost of borrowing is probably not worth it in the long run.

Use your car as collateral

Having a vehicle that’s paid off could help you get some money fast.  A title loan uses your car as collateral to borrow money. These lenders normally won’t check your credit history, because they reserve the right to take possession of your vehicle if you don’t pay back on time.

This sounds risky, and it is! It also comes with a high-interest price tag.

But, if you know beyond a reasonable doubt that your financial woes will be short-lived, then consider this option for quick money. Otherwise … move on.

Get a personal line of credit

This is similar to getting a personal loan, but the terms are different.

With a personal loan, you get a fixed, approved amount which you pay back in installments. The interest rate and repayment schedule are fixed.

In contrast, lines of credit are more like credit cards.  You can continue to borrow money on a revolving credit line, up to an approved amount. You only pay interest on the amount you borrow.

As you borrow and pay back money, your minimum payment will fluctuate every month. 

If you’re in a financial bind and aren’t sure of how much you need to get by, a line of credit might be worth pursuing. 

Get a payday loan – *last resort*

When you’ve exhausted all other options, and you desperately need money fast, you could apply for a payday loan. These loans are offered through direct lenders with low barriers to entry.

*However* – make sure this is your last resort.

Payday loans charge an exorbitant price for borrowing money. Aside from the high fees you’ll pay, most payday loans have an APR of 400%!

These loans are short-term – usually until your next paycheck – and states give a legal maximum for how much you can borrow (often up to $500). You can probably find one near you, or you can use an online lender.

If you are in desperate need of fast cash and simply have no other viable options, then a payday loan from a direct lender could tie you over for a short time. Just remember, they will cost you more than any other loan available.

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18 Ways to make some extra cash (within 30 days)

If you’re feeling desperate for money, but you don’t need it immediately, consider some of the options below.

Advertise on your car

One way to make some extra money in a few short weeks is to use your car to advertise for businesses. If you don’t mind turning your vehicle into a billboard on wheels, consider getting a car wrap for some easy money.

It’s as simple as letting a local business “wrap” your vehicle in the ad of their design. You will need to own a car that’s reasonably new and in good shape. You’ll also need a clean driving record.

Simply check out websites like Wrapify or Carvertise to get more details.

You’ll probably get paid once or twice a month by check or direct deposit.

Sell gently used clothing online

If you have some gently used, name-brand clothing that is currently in style, try online marketplaces such as PoshMark or ThredUp. Just make sure every item is in excellent condition, take good pictures, and write a thorough description.

You can also sell shoes, hats and accessories on these sites. So, go through your closet and pull out everything you haven’t worn in over a year. You could probably sell it for some easy cash.

You’ll likely get more money than at a yard sale, but keep in mind you may not make a sale immediately. It could take several days, or even weeks, for someone to buy your items over the hundreds of other choices. Use these sites when you can wait a little longer to make a bigger profit.

Be a furniture flipper

Are you handy with a sander and a paint brush? You can make money by repairing old furniture that most people would throw away, then reselling it.

Look on Craigslist or NextDoor under the “free” section to find furniture that people just want to get rid of. Look for all-wood pieces without major damage that you can sand down and repaint.

As you can tell, this is a labor-intensive strategy to raise some extra cash. But, if you enjoy this type of work, and you have a garage or storage shed to keep your projects, you can make a very nice profit from each item you sell.

Start a pet-sitting side gig

If you’re not crazy about the idea of babysitting little kiddos, how about watching someone else’s pet? Owners often need someone to come feed Spot and let him out a few times a day when they’re out of town. Because you don’t have to be onsite for the entire time, you can set up multiple pet sitting jobs simultaneously.

You could also just offer dog walking services. Finding 4 to 5 people that want their dog walked once a day could bring in some significant money for you.

You’ll make cash on the spot and there aren’t any upfront costs, but your jobs may be fewer and farther between than babysitting – at least until you get the word out and build up a clientele. Find clients faster with sites like Rover.com.

Be a grocery delivery driver

I don’t really like to go to the grocery store, so this would not be a good fit for me. But, if you enjoy walking up and down the aisles putting food and household items in your cart, being a delivery driver could be a great way to make extra cash.

Sites like Instacart and Shipt make it super easy for you to connect with shoppers who just want someone else to do the shopping (with their money) and deliver their purchases. 

When you sign up, you get an hourly wage and will be paid your first earnings within 2 weeks. So, it’s not immediate, but once you start working you’ll enjoy a consistent side income.

Both Instacart and Shipt operate nationwide, so check out their websites to read up on their requirements and see if they’re in your local area.

Participate in medical research

Taking part in paid clinical trials from time to time could be a possible way to make extra cash if you’re desperate for money.

Although many people consider it risky, any new drug that is still being tested has already gone through several trials before getting to humans.

However, not all clinical studies are for new medications. You could also take part in studies that evaluate effects of diet changes or medical devices over a long period of time.

Compensation varies widely, depending on the trial – from hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, you can expect to get paid shortly after each visit you make as part of the trial period.

Check out Clinicaltrials.gov to learn more about this opportunity.

Participate in paid focus groups

Focus groups are a form of market research, which businesses use to gather consumer opinions and statistics. This information is used to improve current products and create new ones.

As a member of a paid focus group, you would get paid to answer questions and express your opinions. All you have to do is show up to the required location, or log in to a specific website. What could be easier?

Check out User Interviews and FocusGroups.org to learn more about this money-making opportunity. 

Make money with your skills

Do you like to bake? Knit? Teach? Paint?

If you’re reasonably proficient at any of these – as well as just about any other skill you might have – you can make extra money and increase your cash flow.

Because, for every person that has a talent, there are 100 more willing to pay for it.

So, think about something you enjoy doing, and how you can help someone else by doing it.

Bake cupcakes for birthdays. Teach adults a foreign language. Draw portraits of people’s pets. Teach teenagers how to play the piano.

Whatever you’re good at, you can start making money from it. And, if you’re highly motivated (because you’re desperate for money), it doesn’t need to take long to generate some income.

You can let friends know on social media or just spread the word in your neighborhood. Once others know about your skills, the cash will start rolling in.

Offer tutoring services

Being a whiz in subjects like math or science can reap major financial rewards. Those who tutor in these challenging topics can ask $50 an hour or more.

You can choose to tutor in-person or online. Word-of-mouth advertising is best, as parents prefer someone that comes recommended.

You get to set your rates and you get paid at each session.This may take time to generate income, as you advertise your services and wait for that first student.

But, once you have a couple of steady tutees, word will spread and your client base will grow. 

Be a rideshare driver

Being a rideshare driver is an easy and flexible way to make some extra cash. As a driver for these companies, you’ll get paid by the company on certain days. So, it’s not immediate cash, and you might need to wait longer than a week to get your first check.

Therefore, if you need money immediately, try one of the suggestions in the first list above. But, if you’re desperate to make more money every month, this is a great way to achieve that goal. 

Visit Uber and Lyft for more info.

Do odd jobs

Even if you feel like you don’t have a skill you can monetize, you can still make money by offering to do odd jobs for people.

Anything from yardwork to holiday decorating to running errands can be services you can charge for. This is especially helpful for the elderly or working parents, who simply don’t have the time or the energy for these simple tasks.

Let others know you’re willing to complete that dreaded painting job, or organize their messy file cabinet, or hang pictures on their staircase. You can pick up prescriptions, groceries, and even the kids from school.

These jobs will usually pay you cash upon completion of the service.

Have free business cards made at Vistaprint, then leave them on bulletin boards or counters at libraries, churches, restaurants, etc. You can also list your services on Angie’s List.

Be sure to have a firm hourly rate for each service you offer before your first call. It may take a few weeks to drum up your first job, but word-of-mouth could potentially grow your business quickly.

Get a part-time job

If you need money desperately, but can wait a few weeks for more cash, then getting a second job could be an attainable solution to your money issues.

I know having a full-time job might seem like all you have energy for, but keep in mind that this is temporary. You can give up some evenings and weekends for a little while until you get back on your feet. You can even work remotely with jobs such as data entry and customer service.

The extra paychecks would be consistent and reliable, so you’d be able to create a timetable for generating the amount of money you need. Once you’ve reached your goal, quit the job if you like.

The good news is, you can pick any side job that interests you. So, find something you think you’d enjoy. Preferably one that’s close to your home, with coworkers that you like.

Be an online freelancer

Being an online freelancer typically means offering services that can be delivered digitally. Many freelancers offer web development, graphic design, or written articles. You can also offer services as a virtual assistant or social media manager.

Sites like Upwork and Fiverr are great places to market your services and get customers. The big advantage is that your clients could literally be all over the world since you’re connecting through the internet.

Another big plus is that you can do all of your freelancing with a laptop – from the comfort of your couch! This gives you great flexibility to only take as many jobs as you can handle, and complete them during your free time.

Many freelancers start offering services as a side hustle, but then it turns into a full-time gig – paying better than their previous job! 

It might take a few weeks to get your first client and make your first earnings, so don’t rely on freelancing to meet any immediate financial needs.

Take online surveys

Answering a few questions while you’re streaming Netflix in your spare time or waiting in the doctor’s office is a fun and easy way to make a few extra bucks.

The payout is minimal, but every dollar counts when you’re desperate for money. Some sites will even give you a sign up bonus! Apply your earnings toward groceries and gas and start saving more money.

There are many online survey sites to choose from, but the best is probably Swagbucks. With Swagbucks, you get paid for more than just surveys. You can also make a little extra money with online shopping and watching videos.

You can register for multiple sites to maximize your survey income.

Here are a few trusted survey sites you could try:

Make cash playing online games

Surveys sound too boring? Try playing games online to make some fast cash.

Not all games offer a payout, so make sure you only pick those that will earn you some money. Playing slot machines and poker through certain phone apps will usually make you some extra cash.

Use Ibotta to get cash back on purchases

If you don’t have Ibotta on your phone, you’re losing money.  This free phone app helps you earn cash back on hundreds of items that you’re already purchasing. You can also use a browser extension on your computer.

From grocery shopping to electronics to restaurants, you could be using this cash back rewards app to make a little money.

Simply use the app to find items that Ibotta offers a rebate on. Then, go shopping, upload your receipt, and cash out once your Ibotta balance is greater than $20.

You won’t pay your mortgage with your earnings, but you’ll make some easy pocket change!

Look for sign up bonuses

There are many websites that will *pay you* to sign up with their service.

Swagbucks, Ibotta, and Rakuten are just a few that offer sign up bonuses. From $5 to $20, making this cash is as easy as entering your name and email in an online form.

Also, many credit cards will offer a bonus of up to $500 for getting their credit card. You just have to charge a minimum amount within a certain time frame, and then they’ll issue you the bonus. Of course, you’ll need a good credit score. I did this recently, because I knew I was going to make a large purchase. I easily charged the required minimum and made $200. Easy money!

Of course, you want to be careful to pay off the card quickly so you don’t give back your bonus in interest charges.

There are also some bank accounts that will give you a bonus for opening an account and depositing a minimum amount. For example, if you deposit $1,500, you could make a $200 cash bonus.  A simple Google search will give you some current offers.

Move to a cheaper area

This option to make some extra cash when you’re desperate for money is obviously not for emergency situations. Selling your home and buying another one in a different neighborhood can take several months.

However, if you’re currently living in a hot real estate market, this could be a great way to solve your money issues long-term.

This works exceptionally well if most of your kids have moved out and your house is bigger than you need.  You can buy a smaller home, in a city with a lower cost of living, and possibly slash your mortgage in half.

You could also choose to rent out your home instead, bringing in an additional source of income every month. Just be sure the rental fee you charge covers your mortgage payment with a generous profit left over.

This is a good idea in a buyer’s market, when house prices are down. You’ll benefit when buying a home, but lose if you sell your current house too low. Rent it out instead and wait for the market to recover.

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Here’s a plan if you are completely broke and need money

If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out because you have absolutely no money, first take a deep breath. Do some mindset adjustments so your thoughts are helping you and not making things worse than they really are.

Then, start writing down a plan. Writing things down will give you something to look at when fear of the future becomes strong. When this happens, look at your written plan to remind yourself that things are going to be okay. You just have to follow your plan.

If you need help getting started, here are some ideas:

  1. Pick 5 options from the first list above so you can start generating some income within the next 7 days. If you need money immediately, ask a family member or friend for a small loan, or sell something. If you must, get a loan from your credit card – but avoid this if you can.
  2. Go out and get a job that’s close to your home (so you can ride a bike or a bus to get there). Put your pride to the side and find anything that will get a paycheck in your hands within the next couple of weeks. Better yet, get two jobs.
  3. Call your bill providers and explain your situation. If you reach out to them (rather than them chasing you down), you will likely find favor and get some of your expenses deferred for a time.
  4. Sell what you can. Your car, jewelry, antiques, electronics, musical instruments, etc. Unless the item has a high sentimental value, sell it to raise some cash.  Things can be replaced.
  5. Cut every unnecessary expense. Cancel all subscriptions, shop around for lower insurance premiums, eat Top Ramen for a month, get a cheaper cell phone plan, etc. Be ruthless about spending less.
  6. Lower your housing costs by moving back in with your parents temporarily, getting a roommate (or two), or moving to a cheaper place. This one step will save you hundreds every month.
  7. Get on a budget. Create a bare bones spending plan that includes only those categories you need to live. Shelter, transportation, food, utilities. Follow your budget and stick to the financial boundaries you set for yourself.
  8. Avoid debt if you can. Use debt if you must to stay afloat, but only after you’ve exhausted all of your debtless options.

Don’t let your money issues keep you from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. You have choices. You *can* overcome whatever you’re going through and reach the other side.

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How to avoid being desperate for money in the future

Nobody *wants* to be thrown into a financial crisis. But, there are things you can do to plan and prepare, so when one arises, you aren’t left feeling desperate.

Here are a few ideas to keep you from falling into a crisis and having your financial situation get out of control.

Follow a budget

The first step to taking control of your money is to know where your money is going.

If you don’t limit and track your spending, you’ll start living beyond your means. This means building debt and neglecting savings – two habits that can ruin your finances quickly.

Start keeping all of your receipts, recording every transaction, and assigning your income to categories. After 30 days, you’ll have a good idea how you’re spending your money, and what expenses can be lowered or cut altogether.

Almost everyone has extra money that they’re not aware of, because they’re not conscious about their spending. When you check in with your finances on a daily or weekly basis, it’s harder for money to fall through the cracks.

Get intentional with a budget, plug your spending leaks, and start building an emergency fund for future financial emergencies.

Cut expenses

Once you can see on paper (or laptop) how much of your money is going where, you can make informed decisions about what can get cut.

Maybe you discover you’re spending $800 a month on eating at restaurants. This is an easy budget category to lower or even eliminate. It just takes a little extra planning on your part to prepare meals at home.

Or perhaps you realize you have full insurance coverage on your 15-year old vehicle. Call your agent and lower your premium to save thousands every year.

A great way to start cutting your expenses is to distinguish between necessary and discretionary purchases.

Your gym membership? Discretionary. You can work out at home. In fact, you should cancel any recurring subscription that you don’t absolutely love and use consistently. (Check out Trim to make this process easier!)

Your mortgage payment? Necessary. So you can’t cut it out, but you can try to lower it by refinancing to a lower rate.

Other ways to easily lower your expenses:

  • get a lower cell phone plan
  • bundle your insurance policies
  • buy used clothing and furniture
  • make your own coffee
  • conserve energy and lower utility bills
  • enjoy free entertainment

Save an emergency fund

Getting on a budget and cutting your expenses can free up a significant amount of cash for you.

Don’t use it to go on vacation.

Instead, put it in a separate savings account to prepare for that emergency expense that’s waiting just around the corner to scare you.

Building a fully-funded emergency account – one that can cover 3 to 6 months of necessary expenses – will take some time. Don’t be discouraged by how long it will take. Just keep adding money to your savings and eventually you’ll get there.

Having an emergency fund will set you up to be prepared for most financial crises, like a job loss or surprise medical expenses. You’ll never have to feel desperate for money again.

Make extra income

We are currently living in an age where it’s easier than ever to have a side hustle. Whether you work for a company like Uber or Amazon, or create your own side business, you can create multiple income streams for yourself.

Consider how you can start making more money on the side so you can build up your emergency cash and retirement fund. There are many ways you can bring in hundreds of dollars extra every month with today’s gig economy.

One way to create extra income is with a blog. You can make money with ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts and online products. Amazon is a popular affiliate program that could generate thousands of dollars for you each month. Just keep in mind that building this kind of income stream takes time.  

Another idea is drop shipping, which is selling products that you don’t keep in stock. Instead, you accept orders and then have those products shipped to the buyer directly from the supplier. Once you find a supplier, you can sell products through Amazon or even eBay, where you’ll have access to a huge customer base.

Negotiate your bills

Another way to free up some income and save more is to initiate negotiations with your bill providers.

Call your credit card companies and ask for a lower rate. If you’ve maintained good credit and have an excellent payment record, they may approve your request because they want to keep a reliable customer.

You can negotiate medical bills as well. Many times you can drastically cut your bill if you offer to pay the lowered balance in full.

Refinance your debts and avoid credit cards

Many people who are desperate for money often find themselves in considerable debt. If you want to be able to save more money and achieve financial independence, you *must* work toward being debt-free.

Besides avoiding any more credit card debt, one smart way to get out of debt faster is to consolidate them into one balance with a lower interest rate. I have often used this strategy myself by transferring multiple credit card balances onto one card that has an introductory rate of 0%. This has saved me hundreds in interest charges over the years.

If you have multiple student loans, consider combining them into one. Having one payment will make life easier for you, and you’ll likely benefit from a lower rate for the entire balance.

Consider refinancing your mortgage loan to lower your monthly payment. The last time I refinanced our mortgage, I cut our monthly payment by $400! You’ll need excellent credit for the best rates, and you should plan to stay in your current home for at least 5 more years.

If you feel you’re in way over your head with credit card debt, talk to a debt counselor. The National Federation for Credit Counseling is a non-profit organization that specializes in helping people manage and get out of debt. They can create a personalized debt management plan so you can get some breathing room and get your finances back on track.

Invest your cash

If you avoid investing your money because it just sounds too complicated, I’ve got some news for you.

Investing can be as easy as downloading an app, opening an account, and going shopping. Yes, shopping!

Acorns is a free app that will round up every purchase you make and then invest the difference for you. Download the app and start investing your spare change today. No more excuses! 

Probably the best way to invest your money is to sign up with your employer’s 401(k) program. You can have a certain percentage of your pre-tax income automatically invested in this retirement plan every payday.

Many employers also “match” your contributions, up to a certain amount. For example, my husband’s company will match whatever he adds to his 401(k), up to 3% of his pre-tax income. So, if we contribute 10%, we actually get 13% put in the fund. Free money!

The key to maximize your investments is to start saving early. Compound interest will grow exponentially over time, but it takes decades to save enough for retirement. Don’t put it off any longer. Make your future a priority and start paying yourself first!

Live a frugal lifestyle

Learning how to live simply and spend consciously can turn janitors into a millionaires by the time they retire. It’s not about *how much* you make. It’s about  *how* you use your money.

Having a frugal lifestyle basically means using your money with care and not being wasteful. Frugal people often use coupons, eat home-cooked meals, brew their own coffee, and are always looking for good deals on travel and entertainment.

Living frugally is a mindset just as much as a practice, and can help you avoid lifestyle inflation and overspending.

Take care of your credit score

We’re all graded on how responsible we’ve been with money. If you don’t pay back your creditors in a timely manner, you get a bad grade (and penalized). If you’re reliable with what you borrow, you get a good grade (and rewarded).

This grade – called your credit score – can work for you or against you. The lower your score, the more expensive it is for you to borrow money. So, you want to take care of your credit score and increase it as much as possible. This way, you’ll get those lower rates that will save you thousands in interest.

The good news is, you can check your credit score for free. Go directly to one of the 3 credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) and get a free credit report. If your score is lacking, work on improving it.

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What you should completely avoid if you’re desperate for money

This post includes many ideas for you to make some fast cash. However, there are a few things you should avoid at all costs, even if you’re desperate for money.

Gambling

You might think a good run at the casino will solve all of your problems. But, the fact is, now is no time to take chances. You need to pursue opportunities that have a high probability of generating income.

Stay away from the tables, slots, and lottery tickets. 

Vices

Trying to drink or smoke your troubles away won’t help. As soon as you’re sober, they come right back to remind you of reality.

The only thing you’ll accomplish is wasting money you desperately need and waking up with a headache.

Checking out

If you dream about one day achieving financial freedom, you’ll need to face your current situation head on.

Don’t ignore your money troubles by charging up your credit cards and taking a vacation. You’ll need to do the hard work required to turn your financial situation around. It may take weeks, months, or even years, but stay focused on the future life you want to live.

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FAQs

Which option is the best one if I need cash immediately?

This answer will depend on how much you need. If you just have to cover a few small bills, consider selling some things around the house or finding a babysitting gig. You can raise the cash pretty quickly this way.

If you need considerably more (like to cover rent), reach out to a family member or friend if you can. Most likely you can borrow with no interest and a lenient payback schedule. Just be sure you keep your commitment to pay them back.

If you don’t have someone you can turn to, then you may have to get a cash advance on your credit card. You should only do this in the most urgent situations, though.

What if I need a large sum of cash?

If you’re up against a large expense that you need to pay quickly, your best bet is to go to a traditional bank. Explain to them in person the details of your circumstances, and see how much you could get approved for.

Another way to get a large sum of money is to take out a home equity loan. However, you must have considerable equity in your home to get approved.

In either case, you may be waiting a few weeks before you have the cash in hand. Also, you’ll need excellent credit and a solid employment history.

Where can I get a personal loan quickly?

With a formal loan, most banks have a turnaround time of a few business days or less. If you can wait, this is probably your best bet. You’ll pay less interest and fees than if you get a payday loan or cash advance from your credit card.

Avoid payday lenders if you can. However, if you’re in dire straights, it could be an option if you know for sure that you can pay it back by the required due date.

How do I get a cash loan if I have bad credit?

Your credit score will determine your eligibility to acquire new debt, as well as how much it will cost you. If your score has suffered from late and missed payments, you may not even get approved.

Having bad credit is actually the worst time to get a loan. But, if you need some emergency cash, there are a few options besides credit card advances and payday loans:

  • Possible Finance is a lender that serves those with less-than-stellar credit. You can borrow up to $500 and they don’t even check your FICO score.
  • Oportun is a financial institution that offers personal loans from $300 to $10,000 and their max APR is 35.99%. According to their website, they will look at your credit history (if you have one), but consider other factors as well. You may even be approved if you’ve faced bankruptcy.
  • With Upstart, you can have a minimum credit score as low as 300. They claim to fund your loan within one business day of approval, and don’t charge a prepayment fee.
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In conclusion: what to do if you need money desperately

According to a 2021 Bankrate survey, only 25% of Americans say they have enough savings to cover six months of expenses. Only 19% could cover 3 to 5 months of living expenses with their emergency money.

This means over half of the population would be in desperate need of money if they experienced a job loss or large financial emergency expense.

If you’re feeling the heavy burden of difficult financial issues, know that you’re not alone. In fact, there are many people who are in the same boat, taking the necessary action to get back on solid ground.

You will need to make some sacrifices, and possibly even do things out of your comfort zone. But, there is a way out. No matter what your reason is for your money problems, there are options and solutions to help you pull your finances together and start saving money for your future.

Tackle your circumstances head on with some of the opportunities listed above. If you must go into debt, find the lowest rate you can get and apply for the smallest amount you need.

Consider the skills and talents you already have, and how you can monetize them quickly. Sell things you don’t need and scale down your lifestyle. Look for freelancing gigs or side jobs that will bring you some fast cash.

Before you know it, your bank account will start growing and you’ll have more money than you need.

Other posts you may enjoy:

I Need Money Desperately: 35+ Ideas For Fast Cash

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