When Money is Tight, These 8 Resources Will Help Nearly Everyone

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When money is tight, you can feel like you’re drowning.

You finally make that late payment on one bill, and the next one shows up in the mail. You turn to credit cards to stay afloat, but those bills pile up, too. And just when you think you’re in the clear and a nice paycheck comes rolling in… the rent is due.

Here are seven resources that can give you some relief when you feel like your wallet is stretched as far as it can go.

1. Ask for Some Help — You Deserve It

The arms of two people are shown extending toward one another beneath a shining sun and palm trees.
Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

If you’re really in a bind, start with 2-1-1, a confidential service offered through United Way that’ll help you find the resources you need to find affordable housing, make rent or pay utilities. 

To use the service, head to 211.org and enter your location. It’ll show you services in your community and give you a number to call. It’s a clearinghouse for help with food, housing, utilities and employment.

You can also look into applying for a grant. Take, for example, Modest Needs grants, which are designed for workers just above the poverty line who are ineligible for most other forms of social assistance.

We know asking for help is hard, but when you’re really in need, these resources are here to help you get back on stable ground.

2. Ask This Website to Help You Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month

If you’re struggling to pay bills, we bet your credit card balance isn’t looking so hot, either. So we found a company that’ll help you take care of it. No, like… the whole bill could be paid by the end of this month.

Your credit card company is ripping you off with insane rates, and it’s getting rich off of you.  But a website called Fiona wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $100,000 or less, Fiona will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates, you’ll get out of debt that much faster. 

Plus, no credit card payment this month means money is immediately freed up.

Fiona 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 save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.

3. Cancel Your Car Insurance

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When was the last time you shopped around for car insurance? Was it more than six months ago?

If so, you’re probably overpaying — by hundreds of dollars. Yep. Experts say you should compare rates twice a year to get the best deal.

Twice a year? Yeah, we don’t want to do that either. 

A service called Gabi does all the shopping for you to find cheaper insurance — with the same coverage and deductibles you already have. And it saves customers an average of $825 a year.

You don’t have to fill out any forms. Just link your existing insurance account and enter your driver’s licence, and it will start looking for cheaper coverage.

Plus, after you sign up, Gabi will keep looking for savings. No more shopping.

4. This Research Company Will Pay You up to $225/Month to Watch Videos

You probably don’t have time for a second — or even third — job, but we found a more effortless way to earn some extra cash this month.

A research company called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. 

It’s possible to earn up to $225 a month without having to get another job.

Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards. 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.

5. Get Free Scratch-off Tickets

Hitting a big jackpot could solve a lot of your problems right now. It’s tempting to buy those scratch-off tickets from the gas station. But that’s not the best use of your money when you’re in a bind. 

Instead, try playing for free using an app called Lucktastic. Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $2,500 in cash or gift cards to popular retailers.

We talked to single dad Oneil Campbell, from Boston, who was shocked when he won a $5,000 Lucktastic prize.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free. It’s not guaranteed money, but at least Lucktastic is free to play. And hey, somebody’s gotta win.

“I didn’t see that one coming,” Campbell says with a laugh. “I really didn’t. This is something good that happened to me at the right time — when I can really use it.”

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

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

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 makes an average of $15 an hour. Plus, she says it’s been much more enjoyable than any of her previous side gigs.

Signing up shouldn’t take you more than about three minutes. The hardest part will be choosing which selfie you want to use as a profile pic.

6. Search Your Wallet and Cash in on Your Dollar Bills

A crisp dollar bill being held out over a pair of blurred out sneakers.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Specifically, dollar bills with strange serial numbers — ones that aren’t easy to come by. The collectors at CoolSerialNumbers.com will pay you big bucks if you have a bill with a rare sequence in your wallet.

Turns out antique coins aren’t the only currency worth cash to collectors.

Check out their website for a full list to see if you’ve got any of these rare bills, but here’s a rundown of the sort of serial numbers these collectors are looking for:

  • 7 repeating digits in a row on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 09999999, 77777776)
  • 7 of a kind on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 00010000, 99999099)
  • Super repeaters on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 67676767)
  • Double quads on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 00009999)
  • and more!

7. Cell Phone: Cut Your Bill By More Than Half

At this point, your cell phone might be one of your most expensive monthly bills. If you don’t have a pricy unlimited data plan, you might find yourself tangled in overage charges. And have you even looked at the amount of fees these companies tack on your bill?

But with discount carrier Twigby, you could cut your bill by more than 66%. 

It worked for Zak Wilson. He’d been paying Verizon Wireless about $180 a month for two lines. So he tried Twigby. For both phones, he’s now paying $60 a month.

With Twigby, you get to build your plan. Each plan comes with unlimited texts, then you choose how many minutes and how much data you need each month. Plans also include free Wi-Fi calling and texting.

Twigby uses both the Sprint and Verizon networks for its coverage. Plans start at just $9, and you can bring your own phone. Plus, new customers get 25% off the first 6 months of service.