Do you need money today? Times like these — when you’ve suddenly been hit with an emergency or an unexpected expense — can be stressful and overwhelming. But there are options.
Just remember: the cure for stress is action. The quicker you commit to taking concrete steps to solve the challenges you’re facing, the better you and your wallet will feel.
The good news is that with a little bit of creativity and hustle, you can get yourself out of the situation you’re in and prevent this kind of financial crunch from ever happening again.
Read through this list of viable, safe ways to get money fast. They’ll work today, but they can also serve as a solid foundation for building a better financial future.
Ideas to Make Extra Money in Less Than a Week
When it comes to needing money urgently, there are three strategies to pursue. You can borrow money, make money, or save money in a way that frees up cash flow today.
These strategies are not mutually exclusive. Depending on your situation, it may make sense to pursue all three today.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s best to avoid borrowing money if at all possible. Often, people in emergency financial situations take out expensive loans with bad terms. These loans may help them meet their immediate needs, but will only cause more problems down the road.
That said, the ideas below are broken down into three different categories:
- Ideas to make extra money in less than a week.
- How to save big money in a cash crunch.
- The best (and worst) ways to borrow short-term money.
Without further ado, let’s find you some cash fast.
Leverage the Gig Economy
For most gig economy jobs, it may take a day or two to get approved and start making money. Once you do get approved though, having the option to earn money on-demand is quite nice.
Here are 10 popular gig economy jobs that allow you to make money on demand. If you have any interest at all, apply now; by taking action, you’ll avoid the “I need money today” desperation in the future. You can also check out our list of the highest-paying gig economy jobs for more options.
Postmates is one of the fastest ways to get started making money in the gig economy. As a Postmates courier, you’ll deliver groceries, food from restaurants, and other miscellaneous items.
With Postmates, you can work literally whenever you want (as little or as much as you want), and you can cash out instantly after earning money. That means you can work for a few hours one afternoon and have that cash in your bank account the same day.
One of the unique things about Postmates is that it’s one of the few freelance delivery services that allows you to deliver by foot. This is really only a viable option in very dense urban areas, such as New York City and San Francisco. But if you live near such a location, it can be a decent way to make some quick money without a vehicle.
You can earn money fast renting out your place on Airbnb. Stay with friends or your folks while your place is booked. (Your mom thinks you don’t visit enough anyway…)
Payments for Airbnb sellers are released 24 hours after your guests check in.
Think your place isn’t nice enough? Think again. You can offer everything from full homes to basement couches. You might not earn top dollar for the latter, but rates for shared rooms still tend to be around $30 per night, even in remote areas.
Instacart is an online grocery shopping and delivery company. There are two types of work available on the platform.
In-store shopper: A part-time job as an employee of Instacart. You’ll work inside grocery stores, hand picking and packing customers’ online grocery orders and handing them off for delivery.
Because this is a part-time position, you’ll earn a consistent wage, but it will be on the lower end of the spectrum. Since you’re working in-store, you don’t need a vehicle.
Full-service shopper: An independent contractor (i.e., a freelancer). As a full-service shopper, Instacart will send customer orders to your smartphone. You’ll then go to the assigned store, pick and pack the items on their shopping list, and deliver the order directly to their door.
You’ll earn per-order commissions based on the time it takes you to complete the delivery (as well as the driving distance from the store), plus customer tips. That means you have the potential to make more money than in-store shoppers. However, since the work is dependent upon demand, it can be less consistent.
In general, full-service shoppers make around $10 to $20 per hour. Unfortunately, unlike with Postmates, you’ll be paid weekly and there’s currently no option for instant withdrawal.
TaskRabbit is a gig economy platform that helps connect people looking for help with odd jobs and those looking for short-term, on-demand work.
Taskers — as TaskRabbit freelancers are called — perform every kind of work under the sun. You’ll find typical day labor tasks like running errands, picking up and delivering items, and doing yard work. But you’ll also find less common things, like assembling IKEA furniture and even just standing in line.
Here’s an example: whenever Nike releases new limited-edition sneakers, resellers will pay Taskers to show up at stores hours early and hold a spot in line.
No matter what your experience or skillset is, chances are you can find a way to make money on the site.
Like Postmates, DoorDash is a food delivery service that allows freelancers to work (almost) on-demand, picking up and delivering customers’ orders from local establishments. I say “almost” because DoorDash does have a scheduling system; you have to sign up for shifts (which you can choose), and failing to consistently go online during your shifts can get you kicked off the platform.
However, one perk about DoorDash is that if you live in an area where it has a consistent stream of orders, the payout tends to be a bit better than Postmates. Also, each time you’re offered a delivery (via a notice on your smartphone), you’ll see a minimum guaranteed payout amount, and you can choose to accept or decline the job.
As with Postmates, “Dashers” can get paid daily, although there is a $1.99 instant cash-out fee.
Love dogs and need a quick way to make money? Rover might be the perfect option. Think of Rover like Uber for dogs; you’ll visit customers’ homes at designated times and take their dog for a walk.
Average pay is about $15 per hour, although you’ll do slightly better if you live in an urban area, or a place where there’s enough demand that you can take two or three dogs out for a stroll at the same time.
Good tutors are always in demand, and there are many online education companies that connect freelance tutors with kids all over the world who are striving to learn English.
As a tutor, you’ll have clients assigned to you and all the necessary teaching materials will be provided. Base pay starts as high as $20 per hour.
In general, you do need a bachelor’s degree (in any field) to get started — though in most cases no teaching experience or certification is required.
You can learn more about some of the different opportunities in the field in our guide to the best online tutoring jobs.
Turo is like Airbnb for car owners. When you sign up, you can list your car and rent it on a daily basis for cash. This can be surprisingly lucrative, and is one of the few options on the list that often works out better for people who live in rural areas (where there’s a lower supply of available rental cars).
Also, the type of car you own can really boost your earnings. Obviously, people are willing to pay a premium to rent a convertible. But other types of vehicles can also bring in above-average rates. One prime example is minivans, which are highly-sought by families on vacation but are often sold out at commercial car rental locations.
Uber is one of the most popular gig economy jobs. As an Uber driver, you’ll make money by picking up passengers and driving them to their desired destination. The rates vary by location and demand; for example, prices are usually higher when it’s raining. You’ll usually earn better rates in cities, but you can also do well in rural areas where rides tend to be longer.
Uber also has a service called Uber Eats, which allows you to pick up food orders from local restaurants and bring them directly to customers at their home or workplace. If you’re in an area with strong demand, you can often make slightly better per-hour rates with Uber Eats as compared to traditional Uber. And if you don’t have a car, Uber Eats allows you to deliver via bicycle or scooter.
One of the best perks about Uber is that once you’re approved, the company will send you a special debit card issued by GoBank. Having this card allows you to cash out your earnings and get paid instantly — that means you can drive for a few hours and immediately access your funds, with no waiting or clearance periods.
Another perk is that you can work whenever you want, with no restrictions or limitations. There are no schedules on minimum/maximum hours — it can be either a full-time or part-time job on the weekends, depending upon your needs.
Fiverr is a marketplace where you can sell services — which are called “gigs” — for as little as $5 (and for as much as you want). Some popular gigs on Fiverr are services such as proofreading, website design, data entry, and miscellaneous virtual assistant jobs.
But it’s a great forum for creatives of all types, as you can monetize almost any skill or talent. Keep in mind, however, that it takes three weeks from the time the client accepts your work for your earnings to clear and become available for transfer to your bank account or PayPal.
Bonus: How To Find Local Gig Economy Jobs On Demand
If you’re not sure which gig economy job is right for you, download the free Steady app. Steady curates local gig opportunities near you and lists them inside of one easy to use app. You can then sort by category (delivery, freelancing, personal shopping, etc…), distance from your house, and hours of work you’re looking full (full-time, part-time, and 30+ hours per week).
Sell Something on Craigslist, Facebook, eBay or other Marketplaces
Aside from the options above, your best bet for fast cash is to sell an asset you own.
To do that, you’ll want to:
- Sell something that has a lot of demand
- List your item on a marketplace with many active buyers
Some of the best marketplaces to list on are:
Here are some of the best options for selling specific types of items.
Books: Have extra books lying around? Head to a used book store to cash them in. Make sure to call ahead to ask if they’re buying books right now. For those that live in a state with a Half-Priced Books (120+ locations across the U.S.), they’ll give you cash on the spot.
Clothes: Plato’s Closet gives you cash on the spot for used clothes. The one catch here is that the store is aimed at teens and young adults, and only buys new and lightly-worn threads from in-style name brands.
If you’re a bit older and have designer items that might not be a fit for Plato’s, check out The Real Real. You might hate to part with something like a designer handbag or shoes, but just one such item can fetch a pretty penny if it’s still in great condition.
DVDs and other random stuff: Many people are surprised to hear this, but Amazon allows private sellers to list items like used DVDs, books, games, LEGOs and tech on its site. You can even opt-in to the company’s Fulfillment by Amazon program (FBA), which means you’ll send the items to an Amazon warehouse and they’ll take care of shipping them to the customer.
Electronics: If you have old electronics lying around (especially cell phones), a good marketplace to sell them on is Gazelle. What’s nice is that you’ll know the price ahead of time; as soon as you enter your device’s details, you’ll see a flat-rate offer.
Everything else: Try a pawn shop, which will usually buy almost anything of value. Of course, you’re not going to get maximum value for selling items at a pawn shop, but you will indeed get cash on the spot. Items that sell well are:
- Precious metals and jewelry
- Popular tech (phones, tablets, cameras, and e-readers)
Do your research beforehand to understand the value of what you’re wanting to sell. This allows you to negotiate better. Also, if you have the time, visit more than one pawn shop for a quote — and don’t fall for the “this offer is only good right now” speech; pawn shops need to buy items to make money… if they made you an offer once, they’ll more than likely make the same offer later.
Don’t forget about yard sales, the OG method for selling things quickly. If you don’t get any good offers from the options listed above, garage sales or yard sales are still an effective way to generate cash quickly. Plan your sale for a Friday and Saturday to maximize revenue. You’ll be surprised how many people still attend these sales.
Related reading: The Best Craigslist Alternatives for Buying and Selling.
Do a Bonus Round of Survey Companies
There are dozens of legit websites that pay you to share your opinion. You can’t make a lot of money this way, but you can definitely earn some extra cash relatively quickly — especially if you use a strategy called “the bonus round.”
With the bonus round, you sign up for sites that offer a new-member bonus and complete just the minimum amount of work necessary to cash out. For example, Swagbucks offers you a $10 sign-up bonus with a minimum withdrawal of $25.
Here are two survey sites with bonus offers that pay cash, along with the minimum amount to withdraw.
- $10 sign-up bonus
- $3 minimum withdrawal through PayPal
- $5 sign-up bonus (after completing five surveys)
- $25 minimum withdrawal through PayPal
Find Day Labor on Craigslist
Craigslist has a section called Labor Gigs that focuses on short-term jobs. Many jobs need help today. For example, scanning the local Labor Gigs section in my area, I found this gig:
“I need a few guys with moving experience only to help me unload my truck today around 3 p.m.”
Likewise, there’s a section for local creative gigs, where people are often hiring musicians, artists, and graphic designers for limited-scope or one-off projects.
Check out your local Craigslist to see what’s available.
Cash in Your Credit Card Points
If you shop with a credit card, check to see if you’ve built up enough points to cash out. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards allows you to get an instant digital PayPal gift card for cashing in your points.
Get Paid for Taking a Picture of Your Receipt
Ibotta is an app that pays you for taking pictures of your receipts (read our Ibotta review). It even allows you to use a receipt that’s up to a week old. So, round up past receipts, download the app, and then scan a receipt.
You’ll need $20 to withdraw directly to PayPal. As you’ll get a $20 bonus for singing up, this can be a quick way to make quick cash.
Need cash now? Do a Google Search for “plasma centers near me” and call to see if there are any openings to come in. Most plasma centers will pay you $20+ (and up to $50) for a donation (and you’re providing a much-needed service that helps save lives).
How to Save Big Money in a Cash Crunch
When you reduce your expenses, money that’s set aside to pay a particular bill can instead be used to cover other (perhaps more immediate) needs. For example, say your phone bill is $60, and it’s due next week. If you can lower that bill to $40, you can move the remaining $20 somewhere else in your budget (and use it today, if necessary).
You can make a big dent in your budget with these seven ideas:
#1. Start a To-Buy List
This strategy only works when you’re trying to find money today to buy a want as opposed to a need (such as food and shelter). But I put it first because it’s a powerful personal finance habit.
The idea is to put everything you want to purchase on a “to-buy” list. Then, commit yourself to waiting at least 30 days before buying anything on that list.
What’s interesting here is that when you add something to the list, you’ll find that doing so reduces the urge to buy that item.
As leading willpower researcher Roy Baumeister of Florida State University explains:
“Telling yourself ‘I can have this later’ operates in the mind a bit like having it now. It satisfies the craving to some degree.”
#2. Negotiate Your Bills
There’s very little you can’t negotiate. But with bills, you’re likely to have the most success with cable/satellite TV, cell phone, internet access, and home security.
If you’re short on time or don’t trust your negotiating skills, services like Truebill can negotiate your bills for you.
After signing up, just link your bills by logging in through the app or uploading a photo. Then, the company’s experts will get to work negotiating on your behalf. Truebill keeps 40% of the savings, which you can pay in a lump sum or split over a number of months.
#3. Negotiate Your Debt
While Truebill focuses on reducing your monthly bills, don’t forget that you can also negotiate your debt. If you’re carrying credit card debt, start by calling your credit card company to negotiate a lower APR. Long-term, this has the potential to save you a lot of money in interest payments.
One service that can negotiate on your behalf is Trim.
Trim recently debuted a financial coach. This financial coaching service runs $10 per month, and comes with a 90-day money back guarantee. All you need to do is sign up, then Trim will negotiate your credit card APRs on your behalf.
For more information, see our complete review of Trim.
#4. Switch Banks
Being short on cash means you’re at risk of getting hit with banking fees. Two banking fees to watch out for are minimum deposit fees and overdraft fees.
There’s nothing I hate more than banking fees, primarily because they’re aimed at customers who often can’t afford to pay them.
That’s why, if you paid a single dollar in banking fees last year, you need to find a new bank now.
A great bank to start with is Chime. Chime has no overdraft fee, no maintenance fee, no minimum service fee, and has over 38,000 fee-free ATMs.
#5. Sell Your Mistake and Buy What You Can Afford
Don’t let a bad decision continue to hurt you indefinitely. For example, if you bought a $1,000 cell phone and find yourself in need of money, sell it and buy something cheaper. There are plenty of serviceable options on the market for under $100.
#6. Let Paribus Scan Your Inbox
The Paribus app is a sneaky way to potentially save a good chunk of money. How it works is that Paribus scans your email receipts for price drops. Once you’re eligible for a refund, Paribus then helps you file a price adjustment claim.
If you’ve done any online shopping, sign up for Paribus to discover if you’re eligible for a refund.
You can also read more about how it works in our Paribus review.
#7. Return an Old Purchase
Have something you bought but haven’t used? Return it. Some stores will take items up to 90 days old, although 30-day policies are more common.
The Best (and Worst) Ways to Borrow Short-Term Money
I’ll say this again: you want to avoid borrowing money by any means necessary. In other words, make sure you’ve exhausted all possibilities before taking on debt.
Next, make sure you’re taking on debt for the right reasons. Borrowing money makes more sense when you need to put food on the table, put a roof over your head, pay off high-interest loans, or to get a way to get to work. (In other words, if you’re borrowing money because you want the newest phone, don’t read past this point.)
Last, there are two parts to getting a loan:
- Finding the right option for your situation
- Having a plan to pay that money back
By taking on a loan, you’re adding an additional financial obligation. This new obligation must be accounted for in your budget going forward. All the while, your past financial habits are responsible for your cash crunch today.
Adding an additional loan only makes it more difficult to climb ahead. Therefore, it’s crucial to know that something has to change going forward. If nothing does, you’ll be worse off than you are today.
If you’re still thinking about taking out a loan after considering that, there are viable alternatives to the insane interest rates (some states average over 700%) and misleading contracts offered by many cash advance/payday loan providers.
Avoid these lenders — they’re the ones you’ll find in strip malls across the country — by any means necessary. And only take the loan amount you actually need; your goal should be to borrow as little as possible.
Here are some better options to consider.
#1. Consider a Personal Loan from a Reputable Company
Banks and credit unions provide personal loans at very reasonable interest rates.
To see if you qualify for such a loan, check out Credible.
Credible allows you to search for personal loans from reputable online loan providers, banks and credit unions. It takes just a few minutes to get pre-approved, and most lenders fund your loan within one business day.
#2. Get Paid Today for the Work You’ve Already Done
A new app that can help you out in a cash crunch is Earnin.
Earnin allows you to get paid today for the work you’ve already done. There are no fees, interest, or hidden costs. Actually, you get to pay what you choose (even if that’s $0), because the company runs on a tip system.
When your paycheck is direct deposited, Earnin will then deduct the amount you cashed out.
The Android version has a 4.5 rating with over 87,000 reviews. In the app store, the Earnin app has a 4.6 rating with over 72,000 reviews.
#3. Borrow From Friends and Family
Another loan option to consider is borrowing through a friend or family member. Just make sure to follow these guidelines when dealing with people who you know personally, as you don’t want this process to harm your relationships.
Tally is a unique new company that can help you get out of credit card debt faster.
In order to sign up for Tally, you’ll need at least 660 credit score, so if you have very bad credit this might not be a viable option. (Find out your credit score for free using Credit Karma.)
Once you sign up, Tally gives you access to a credit line, which is used to minimize the amount of money you pay in interest. Essentially, Tally then manages your payments for you, always trying to optimize on your behalf.
This includes paying the bills two days before the due date and prioritizing which bills should get paid what amount based on how much money you have available.
How to Get Help When You Desperately Need Money
My hope is that the ideas above can land you back on your feet. However, for some, it’s not that easy.
For example, if medical bills or a job loss have you in a situation that seems impossible to escape from, it can be worth seeking professional help from a non-profit credit counseling agency.
Non-profit credit counseling agencies provide support and guidance for those in serious debt. Depending on your needs, the right agency may be able to help you avoid bankruptcy, negotiate down your debts, and come up with a payment plan you can afford.
Of course, there are both above-average and below-average non-profit agencies located throughout the United States. That’s why we partnered with Debt.com, who has a network of accredited provides (so you can trust that you won’t get scammed).
Learn more about your options by filling out the form below:
*Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.