9 Urgent Ways to Hoard Cash and Lower Bills During the Pandemic

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The pandemic has us feeling uneasy in more ways than one.

The future feels uncertain, and we’re all waiting to see how things will pan out.

But, instead of feeling completely powerless, there are a few simple, unexpected ways you can be proactive — to take steps to invest your spare cash, pay off your debt, lower your bills and secure your future.

1. Cancel Your Car Insurance

If you need to free up some extra room in your budget, one of the easiest places to start is to cut back on your monthly bills — like your current car insurance.

In most places, it’s straight up illegal not to have it, so you’ve probably accepted that you’re going to pay through the nose for it. But you don’t have to.

A free website called Savvy will help you find the best rates — in just 30 seconds. In fact, it saves people an average of $826/year.

All you have to do is connect your current insurance, then Savvy will search hundreds of insurers for a better price on the same coverage. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. Best yet: This is totally free.

If you find a better deal, you can switch right away and don’t have to wait for your next renewal or even your next payment.

2. Take Money Out of Your Savings Account

You’ve probably heard the best way to grow your money is to stick it in a savings account and leave it there for, well, ever. That’s bad advice — especially now. 

But maybe you’re just looking for a place to safely stash it away — but still earn money. Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account won’t do you much better. (Ahem, .09% is nothing these days.)

But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 11 times the average interest on the money in your account. 

Not too shabby!

Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. 

3. Stop Wasting Money on Homeowner’s Insurance

You’re probably wasting money right now. And it’s probably on something you’d never expect — your homeowners insurance policy.

This isn’t something you actively think about — you just know you’re required to have it.

The problem is, you’re paying too much. Luckily, an insurance company called Policygenius makes it easy to find out how much you’re overpaying.

Policygenius has policies starting at just $25/month. And just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you’re skimping on coverage. Policygenius will make sure you have what you need.

Just answer a few questions about your home to get started.

4. Make up to $15/Hour to Pick up Milk for Your Neighbors

Not everyone can get to the grocery store these days, but that’s where you can help — and get paid.

With an app called Postmates, you could get paid to pick up a few extra groceries for them. 

Even better than getting paid to grocery shop? If you need the money, like, now, you can cash out instantly after each delivery.

Holly Gaston, of San Francisco, California, has tried plenty of side gigs. With Postmates, she made an average of $15 an hour. Plus, she said it was much more enjoyable than any of her previous side gigs.

Signing up shouldn’t take you more than about three minutes.

5. Buy an Apartment Complex (Even If You’re Not Rich)

Maybe you’ve thought about investing a little right now, but are afraid because this year has been a rollercoaster. Historically, though, real-estate investing offers the best long-term returns. (Does the name Rockefeller ring a bell?)

That’s why we like investing with pros like DiversyFund. They’ll help you make long-term investments in apartments and office buildings all over the country  — and you don’t have to be a millionaire. You can get started with only $500. 

You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a 200-unit apartment complex in Killeen, Texas or a 59-unit building in San Diego. And you don’t have to be the landlord — DiversyFund does all the heavy lifting.

Because they know how to ride out the market’s ups and downs, they’ve historically seen annual returns of 17% to 18%, though they can’t make any promises.

As a partial owner, you make money on rent payments and when property values go up. It takes just a few minutes to sign up and own your first apartment building.

So you don’t need a fortune to invest in real estate. All you need to get started is $500.

6. Ask This Company to Pay Your Credit Cards

No, like… the whole bill. All of it.

While you’re stressing out over your debt, your credit card company is getting rich off those insane interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.

Here’s how it works: AmOne can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.

AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call your bank, either. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could help you pay off your debt years faster.

7. Add $225 to Your Bank Account During Quarantine

A woman's legs are shown dangling off a green suede couch. Her legs are crossed, and she holds an Apply laptop on her lap.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

What if we told you a research company would pay you to watch cooking videos on your computer?It’s too good to be true, right? But we’re serious.

InboxDollars 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, InboxDollars won’t replace a full-time job, but it’s something easy you can do while you’re already on the couch tonight wasting time on your phone. It’s possible to earn up to $225 per month watching these videos.It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

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

8. Cut Your Cell Phone Bill to as Little as $5

When you’re trying to come up with rent, every dollar counts. If you’re looking for bills to cut back on, we suggest looking at your cell phone provider.

How long have you been with your cell phone company? Probably a while, right? Which means you’re probably paying way too much.

But we found a discount wireless company called Tello that offers plans starting at just $5 a month. How much are you paying now? Exactly. Imagine cutting that to just $5.

Tello operates on Sprint’s nationwide network, offering 4G LTE data everywhere Sprint does. It lets you choose a wireless plan based on how many minutes and how much data you want, and you can even use Tello’s coverage tool to see how strong its network is where you live.

You can bring your own phone (Tello works with any Sprint-compatible phone), or buy a new one through them. Even better — there are no early termination or activation fees, no contracts or phone-exclusive plans, no tricks of any kind.

If you decide you don’t like it, you can always just change your mind. See how much you could save here.

9. Get up to $500 in Free Stocks

Yes, the stock market certainly is scary right now. Stock prices shoot up and down like a roller coaster ride, and it’s all just so unpredictable. But, what if you could get stock for free? 

A company called Robinhood is doing just that by giving free shares of companies like Microsoft and Facebook.

Yeah, you’ve probably heard of Robinhood. Both investing beginners and pros love it because you can start investing with just $1. Plus, they don’t charge commission fees, and you can buy and sell stocks for free — no limits.

To get your free stock, download the app and fund your account with at least a few bucks (it takes no more than a few minutes), Robinhood drops a share of free stock into your account. It’s random, though, so that stock could be worth anywhere from $5 to $500 — a nice boost to help you build your investments.