If You Have Less Than $5K in Savings, These 7 Steps Will Get You There

Fake U.S. $5,000 bill
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p>p>When you log into your bank account, how do your savings look? Probably not as good as you’d like. It always seems like an uphill battle to build (and keep) a decent amount in savings.

But what if your car breaks down, or you have a sudden medical bill?

If you have less than $5,000 in savings, you have work to do. We’re not judging — we don’t roll like that. We’re here to help. We just don’t want you to have to sell those Elvis-Presley-signed velvet pants you inherited just to pay some lousy plumbing bill. Those pants are sweet.

Try these seven tips to get the ball rolling, and start building up your savings so you can breathe a little easier.

1. Try to Save $1,000 or More — By Leaving Your House

Look. We get it. Your home is your sanctuary. Your place to be alone. Some days, you don’t even want to have your own family over — let alone people you don’t know.

So, the idea of listing your place on Airbnb is daunting for a lot of folks.

Use Airbnb’s price calculator to see how much money you could make in your area.

Tonya Peters’ husband, Miles Rugh, was one of of those skeptics.

She wanted to list their Virginia Village basement apartment in Denver, Colorado, on Airbnb, but he wasn’t keen on welcoming strangers into their place.

Finally, though, he agreed to give it a try. Now, three years later, the couple has hosted too many guests to count. And the extra income has been a great for them. They plan to use it for some home renovations they’ve been wanting.

“He’s definitely changed his tune,” says Peters, now an Airbnb Superhost. “And he loves having the extra income.”

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

2. Earn up to $25/Hour Delivering Food

Cities around the country are filled with two things: incredible restaurants and busy people.

You can help connect them by delivering food through Doordash.

As a “Dasher,” you’ll work as an independent contractor, setting your own hours and working as much or little as you want, meaning how much you can make is up to you.

You’ll earn a $6 fee for each delivery, plus keep 100% of your tips. Depending on the day, you could earn up to $25 an hour. If you drive full time, that’s $1,000 a week!

For a real-life case, Jose Neri, a former Dasher in California, reports earning $500 to $600 a week working just lunches and dinners. They could take about two-and-a-half deliveries an hour, and users would tip between 10% and 15%.

All you need to get started is an insured vehicle or a bicycle and a smartphone. You should be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license.

If you’re interested in becoming a Dasher, you can learn more here.

3. Watch Movie Previews

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Most of you already know about InboxDollars, but did you know that it will pay you to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news and dozens of other videos? Plus, you’ll get a bonus $5 just for signing up.

You need to watch all of the shows in a specific playlist to earn your bucks, so be prepared. InboxDollars lets you know how long the playlist runs before you start watching, and playlists range from a few minutes to about a half hour.

The availability is subject to change, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 a month watching these videos!

4. Get Free Lottery Tickets

A young couple buying lottery tickets at a kiosk.
urbancow/Getty Images

There’s something so satisfying about those gas station scratch-off tickets, but it’s better to avoid them because, well, that’s not Penny Hoarding.

Instead, try scratching for free using an app called Lucktastic (Lucktastic is called Lucktastic Match on iOS). Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $10,000. You can also earn tokens that you can exchange for free gift cards to retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Kohl’s, Sephora and more.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free.

5. Get Paid to Fill This out

Scared young women hiding in a blanket while watching scary movies at night.
shironosov/Getty Images

We’ve all been there. Netflix drones in the background as you scroll Instagram. What are you even doing?

But there’s a company that will pay you for all that screen time.

Yep. Swagbucks is a reader favorite, because it pays you in free gift cards for taking surveys and other activities right on your phone. You’ll even earn a $5 bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 points within your first 60 days.

Online surveys won’t make you rich, but if you’re just vegging out on the couch, why not click a couple buttons and earn some cash to add to your savings account?

6. Trade Your Receipts for Cash

At this point, tons of grocery-savings apps have hit the market — and we don’t hate it. But having so many options can become overwhelming, especially for the lazy saver.

If that’s you — the one who just wants to get in and out of the store and save money without doing much thinking — there’s an app we recommend. It’s called Fetch Rewards, and all you have to do to earn rewards is take a photo of your grocery receipt.

No scanning barcodes; no searching for offers; no grocery store limitations.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Download the Fetch Rewards app. (Pst: Enter the code PENNY to earn 2,000 free points!)
  2. Create an account with your email address or through Facebook.
  3. Take a photo of your grocery receipt (must be from the past 14 days).

Fetch Rewards finds opportunities for you to earn rewards for your everyday purchases.

Every time you scan a receipt that includes one of more than 250 participating brands, you’ll earn points — without worrying about matching specific product offers.

If the app does find a match, you’ll earn even more. For example, we recently saw an offer of 2,000 points when you purchase a Suave female hair product. And another for 2,000 points for a 12-pack of Blue Moon.

Once you collect enough points, cash out for a gift card to any of a number of retailers. For example, 10,000 points will get you a $10 Sephora gift card. Or 3,000 points will get you a $3 Panera Bread card.

Go ahead, and start fetching points toward gift cards by downloading Fetch Rewards.

(And, yeah, we somehow resisted the obvious “Mean Girls” reference. You’re welcome.)

7. Earn Extra Cash Delivering Groceries This Weekend

Need a reliable side gig? Try delivering groceries, takeout and even retail purchases with Postmates.

The amount you can earn varies, but the median earnings per hour during peak times is $19*, CEO Bastian Lehmann said at a 2015 TechCrunch event.

Unlike other apps, you’ll take home 100% of your earnings when you make a delivery — no service fees, booking fees or transaction fees.

You can deliver through Postmates by car, bicycle or foot. Just create an account, then you’ll receive a welcome kit in the mail within a week (a free delivery bag and a prepaid card to make your purchases). Link the card to the Postmates Fleet app, and you’re off to earning extra money.

*Actual amount earned will vary, depending on a number of factors. You’ll see how much you earned after each delivery and exactly how your earnings were calculated.

Think Small, but Dream Big

It’s tempting to just shrug and say, “I can’t afford to have a savings account.” Sure, you think you’ll plop that $1,500 tax-refund check into savings. But those big windfalls also come with big temptations.

If you can find a way to save just $5 each day, you’ll be $1,825 richer in a year.

Having $5,000 in savings isn’t some magic number, but it’s a great starting point. Use these five tips and you’ll be amazed how fast you can get there. You’ll sleep better knowing you have that cushion.

Then, you’ll start dreaming of $10,000. Am I right?