When Money is Tight, These 9 Resources Will Help You

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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 nine 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. It’s there for people like you.

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. If you’ve never asked for help before, that means you don’t know what kind of help is out there.

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

2. Turn Those Crumpled Receipts Into Free Gift Cards

What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper, and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.

But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn them into gift cards. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Chipotle and dozens of other retailers.  

And it’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into this. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.

When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn 2,000 points when you scan your first receipt — you’ll be well on your way to your first gift card.

Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?

3. Get Paid to Watch Cooking Videos

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 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 your full-time job, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 a month.

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.

4. Get Free Lottery Tickets

The last thing you want to do when money is tight is to waste the little you have on gambling. Instead, try scratching 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 $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 Amazon Gift Cards For Playing Words With Friends

Get paid to play games on your phone? Yeah, right. We’ve all heard that before. 

Here’s what that usually means: Logging dozens of hours on games you’ve never heard of, just for a few cents.

Gee, thanks. 

But a free Android app called Mistplay actually pays you for playing popular games like Words With Friends 2, Yahtzee, Clash Royale, Star Wars and more. 

As you play, Mistplay rewards you in points, which you can exchange for gift cards for brands like Visa, Amazon and more. 

It takes just a few minutes to sign up and start getting paid to play games.

6. Get Paid up to $600 to Drop off Starbucks

Your city is filled with two things: Starbucks, and people who want Starbucks.

An app called Doordash will pay you to pick up and deliver an extra latte when you’re already out and getting your caffeine fix. And it’s not just coffee. You can deliver from Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Five Guys and hundreds of other restaurants in your area.

With Doordash, you set your own hours and work as much or little as you want, meaning how much you make is up to you. 

You’ll earn money for each delivery, plus tips. Jose Neri, from California, reports earning $500 to $600 a week working just lunches and dinners.

The best part? No passengers — that grande, no-whip macchiato will be the only thing to hear your beautiful singing voice.

If you sign up for Doordash now, it’s possible to get your first paycheck this week.

7. Cut Your Cell Phone Bill by More than Half

You’ve probably had the same cell phone company for a while. And you’re probably paying way too much for your service. 

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.

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.

8. Get Paid $1,200/Year for Your Screen Time

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

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

Yep. Swagbucks will pay you in free gift cards for taking surveys and other activities right on your phone. 

We know what you’re thinking: You’ll probably just earn a few pennies for your troubles. But we talked to one Swagbucks user in Pennsylvania, 52-year-old Carolinda Hendrickson, who earned $1,200 in a year.

And it’s no huge time commitment. Hendrickson takes her surveys in the morning before her full-time job.

Even better? You’ll even earn a $5 bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 points within your first 60 days.

9. Sell Someone Else’s Trash

Selling Craigslist freebies is a great way to make a profit quickly, because you get the items for free.

You could even have cash in hand today.

Go to the free section on Craigslist and look for things that are close to you and easy to sell immediately. They could be scraps from a job site or metal items you can sell, for example.

Pro Tip

For a quick turnaround on Craigslist, avoid items like furniture or electronics. These can be good to sell, but they’ll take longer.

Cash in your treasures by reselling on Craigslist, including them in a rummage sale or selling to specialty buyers, like a pawn shop or a local business.