Here’s How to Create a $1,000 Emergency Fund

organized stacks piles of dollar bills cash money
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
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When you’re broke, it feels like you’re always going to be broke. It’s a never-ending cycle. You don’t have money, so you miss a bill and rack up a late charge — that you can’t pay. Because you’re broke.

The first step toward getting yourself out of this cycle is to build up a little financial cushion. Let’s call it your emergency fund. How’s $1,000 sound?

Even if you feel like you’re stuck, we’ve got eight tips to help you out. And if you follow them all, you could have an extra $1,000 (or more!) in two months’ time. It’ll be worth it — and it doesn’t have to be hard.

We’ll break it down for you week by week:

Week 1: See if You Can Get Money From This Company

Here’s the deal: If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on extra cash. And who doesn’t want extra cash?

Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to a 5% back every time you swipe.

Need to buy groceries? Extra cash.

Need to fill up the tank? Bam. Even more extra cash.

You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get this extra money in the process?

Enter your email address here, and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with your free Aspiration account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

Week 2: Withdraw $5 to Own a Piece of Amazon, Google or Other Companies

Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own another company.

But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.

That’s why we like the app Stash. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — buying pieces of other companies for as little as $1.
That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google or Apple, for as little as $1.

The best part? When these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.

It takes two minutes to sign up, plus Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your investment account.

Week 3: This Research Company Will Pay You up to $225/Month to Watch Videos

This week, you’re going add a little extra cash to your savings stash. But guess what? You don’t even have to leave your couch.

Swagbucks will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward.

No, Swagbucks  won’t replace your full-time job, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 per month watching these videos.

It’s already paid its users more than $200 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately get a $5 bonus to get you started.

Week 4: Get up to $500 in Free Stock

Imagine if you had bought one share of Amazon for $18 when the stock first went public. Today, it would be worth more than $20,000 — despite all the ups and downs in the stock market.

Here’s the thing about millionaires: They know the sooner you start investing, the better. And we found a company that will give you free stock to get started.

An investing app called Robinhood will give you up to $500 worth of free stock in companies like Visa, Microsoft and GE, just for downloading its app and opening a free account.

Robinhood is free and easy to navigate, which is why more than 10 million people use it — including both news junkies looking to outsmart the market and people who want to carefully put a few bucks away in a long-term investment.

It takes just a couple of minutes to sign up and get your free stock — you may even just get a share of the “next Amazon.”

Week 5: Let This Website Pay Off Your Credit Cards

A woman lays on the grass with credit cards surrounding her.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

No, like… the whole bill. All of it. All that debt could be paid by the end of the week.

Your credit card company is ripping you off with insane rates, and it’s getting rich off of you. But there are other, nicer companies that’ll help you out. A website called Credible knows the best ones and could pair you up as soon as tomorrow.

Here’s how it works: Credible will match you with a loan that’ll cover your credit card tab. Use that loan to pay off your debt, then make monthly payments to repay the loan. It could lower your monthly payments and help you pay off that debt a lot faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.

Credible won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.

Week 6: Cancel Your Current Car Insurance

Two young women driving a convertible car
Image Source/Getty Images

People love to tell you to shop around. “You should be getting three different quotes to get the best price on car insurance,” they say.

Sure, this sounds like good advice. Here’s why it’s wrong: Comparing only three companies isn’t nearly enough. We suggest comparing 40. But who has time for that?

A company called Gabi will do it for you for free. It gets people an average of $961 back in their bank accounts a year — and you’ll get the same coverage you already have.

It doesn’t matter when you last renewed; you can get a check from your old company for the time left on your previous policy. (Read: They probably owe you money.)

You don’t have to make any calls or fill out any forms. It takes two minutes to see how much Gabi can put back in your pocket. And the best part? Because we’re driving less, some insurers are slashing prices this month.

Week 7: Earn Cash While Watching the Latest Celebrity Gossip

If we told you that you could get paid to watch videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh.

It’s too good to be true, right?

But we’re serious. A website called MyPoints will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and sit back and relax.

No, MyPoints won’t replace your full-time job, but it’s something easy you can do while you’re already on the couch tonight. Plus, it takes less than a minute to sign up.

Week 8: Let This App Pay You up to $83 When You Win Solitaire Games

Lots of us already play Solitaire on our phones for fun or just to pass the time. Want to see if you can win money at it?

There’s a free iPhone app called Solitaire Cash that lets you play for real money. You could get paid up to $83 per win.

You might be thinking: There’s got to be a catch. This is definitely one of those spammy apps, right?

Wrong. There really isn’t a catch. Sure, you can pay to play in some higher-stakes tournaments, but there’s no pressure. And, in fact, there aren’t even any annoying ads.

With each game, you’ll battle it out against at least five other players. Everyone gets the same deck, so winning is totally a matter of skill. The top three players who solve the deck fastest can win real money — anywhere from $1 to $83.

Over on the App Store, it has over a million downloads and more than 15,000 ratings, averaging 4.7 stars (out of 5).

To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.