When I was a broke college student, I really lived up to the definition of broke.
I had $5 in my checking account, payday wasn’t for another three days, and I desperately needed groceries. With no savings and an almost maxed-out credit card, I had to figure out something – quick.
The closest grocery store to my apartment had a Coinstar, so I rounded up all my loose change and cashed it in for a whopping $20. It was enough to buy some food that lasted me until I got paid again.
If you find yourself in a similar situation and you need to make money now, there are a number of options you can choose from.
How to Get Cash When You Need Money Now
Sometimes paychecks don’t stretch far enough, or an emergency happens and we need money immediately. Fortunately, there are ways to get cash today.
1. Redeem your credit card points
If you regularly use a cash-back credit card for your purchase, now’s a good time to see how many points you’ve accumulated. You might have more than you think, and those points can be a good way to get some cash now.
You might only be able to redeem your points for a statement credit or gift cards, but even those can make room in your budget for the money you need now.
2. Use a pawn shop
While the thought of taking your cherished items to a pawn shop isn’t ideal, it’s a quick way to solve your problem if you find yourself in a financial bind. If you’re good at negotiating, you might even be able to secure a higher price than their initial offer.
You do have the ability to buy your item back — even if it’s at a higher price, plus interest — but you don’t have to part with it forever.
If using a pawn shop makes you nervous, consider selling old jewelry that’s just sitting in a drawer or jewelry box. You can take it to a local jewelry store, a pop-up cash-for-gold store, or a place like We Buy Gold.
The price of gold fluctuates, and you’ll be paid per ounce of gold you’re selling. You may not get as much as the item is appraised for, but it’s a quick way to get cash today.
3. Redeem your recycling
Remembering to separate your cans and bottles from the rest of your recycling isn’t always easy, but it’s a good way to get quick cash when you need it. Take them to a redemption center near you and trade them for money. You’ll receive five to ten cents per can or bottle, depending on where you live, but if you have a lot of them, it can add up.
Another option is trading in scrap metal for cash. You can earn money for recycling aluminum cans, copper, or steel, and once you’ve collected your metal, you need to determine if it’s ferrous or non-ferrous.
Non-ferrous metals will net you more cash, but ferrous ones are more common. You can find a scrap metal recycling center by performing a quick search for “scrap yards near me.”
4. Check your pockets for coins or cash
Most of us have loose coins lying around. Whether they’re in your wallet, pockets, floorboards of your car, or neatly stored in a piggy bank, it’s a safe bet that you can find some coins.
If you need money now, check everywhere you think you might find coins. Don’t forget about pants or coat pockets, even if you haven’t worn them in a long time. How many times have you stuck a $1 or $5 bill in your jeans and forgotten about it? Every little bit helps when you’re strapped for cash.
5. Redeem your coins for cash
One quick way to get cash now is to take those coins you found and convert them into cash at a nearby Coinstar.
Coinstar charges an 11.9% fee for your transaction, which will impact the total amount you get. You can cash in your coins for free if you select an e-gift card like Amazon.
If you live near a credit union, you might be able to avoid Coinstar’s transaction fee by using their services to cash in your coins. Just check to make sure you don’t need to be a member.
6. Take out a personal loan
Although taking out a loan or going into additional debt isn’t optimal, if you need money now, you may have no other choice. If that’s the case, consider taking out a personal loan rather than using a payday lender.
With a personal loan, you’ll be able to borrow a lump sum at a fixed interest rate to pay back over a specific time period. The interest rate won’t fluctuate, and the repayment term is reasonable, usually two to five years, making it more manageable than a payday loan.
You apply for a personal loan like you would a car or home loan, and the approval process is similar. You’ll also want to shop for a personal loan like you would any other loan. Our tool can help you figure out how much you can qualify for from a variety of lenders.
Other Ways to Get Cash Today
There are other ways to make money fast, but they require a little bit of work, planning, and patience.
7. Have a yard sale
Having a yard sale is a relatively easy way to make money fast today. All you need to do is gather the items you want to sell, price them fairly, and pick a date to hold your sale.
If you live in a heavily trafficked area, you might not need to do much advertising, but if you live in a remote or secluded neighborhood, let your community know through Facebook posts or hanging flyers around town.
What’s great about a yard sale is that you can put one together in just a few days. However, if you can wait a little bit, consider using Decluttr.
Decluttr will buy and sell your old technology, books, games, Lego and other items. You download the app, scan your item’s barcode, and receive a price immediately. If you accept their offer, you print out a shipping label to mail them your stuff. You receive payment the day after your items arrive.
Related: DollarSprout’s Decluttr Review
8. Ask for a raise/overtime
It’s not the most comfortable conversation you’ll ever have, but if you need money fast, talk with your boss or supervisor about getting a raise. If you can make a convincing case for a raise, you might be able to get extra money as soon as you receive your next paycheck.
Working overtime is another option to earn extra money at your current job, especially if you work at a retail store that needs more staff during the holidays or during inventory.
Side hustles and part-time jobs are but a few of the many ways to make make money fast. While you won’t see the money as quickly as you would with a raise or working overtime, you can get consistent additional income.
9. Run errands for neighbors
Another way to make money fast is by offering to run errands for your neighbors. You can do anything from picking up their groceries to mailing packages. You can even do things like wait for service repairmen or sign for packages they’re having delivered. Anything that they might need to do but don’t have the time for, you can offer to do for them.
If you’re handy, ask around to see if anyone needs decks repaired, fences mended, furniture moved, or gutters cleaned. Mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and raking leaves are other handyman services you can provide, depending on where you live.
You can easily get started earning money by making some calls, sending a few texts, or posting on social media. TaskRabbit is another option to find clients for your errand-running and handyman services. It might take a little longer to find clients this way, so it’s best if you don’t need cash immediately.
Earning money babysitting isn’t just for teenagers. You can make good money providing reliable, affordable, and quality babysitting services to parents in your area. There’s a high demand for before- and after-school care and evening hours for parents who work demanding schedules.
You can let people know you’re available to babysit by sharing in local Facebook groups, on community bulletin boards, or by registering with a service like Care.com.
11. Pet sit
If you’re looking to make money fast, consider offering pet sitting services. You can do anything from walking or boarding dogs, feeding cats, cleaning rodent cages, or even changing papers in bird cages.
Like babysitting, you can let people know you’re available for pet sitting through word of mouth, social media, or by registering with a site like Rover.
Rover will connect you with dog owners in your area. You get to set the criteria for the types of dogs you want to work with, including breed, size, and age. You’ll manage your schedule, communicate with clients, and get paid straight through the app. You can cash out your earnings as soon as Rover verifies your job, which is typically two days after you’ve completed the services for your client.
Rover pet sitters report earning $20-$30 per walk.
12. Sell plasma
If you’re not afraid of needles and can spare a few hours, consider selling your plasma to get cash now. While each plasma donation center has its own fee structure, you can expect to make anywhere between $20 to $50 per visit as long as you meet the center’s criteria for donation.
Some centers offer a bonus for new donors. if you’re able to find a center offering one, you’ll be able to easily increase the amount you make.
Try to Avoid These Sources of Immediate Cash
Sometimes what seems like the simplest or easiest solution comes with the most risk. Before using crowdfunding or opening up a new credit card, make sure you carefully weigh those against the benefits.
Using a payday lender seems like the most effective way to get cash when you need it. The process is simple, locations are easy to find and accessible, and you’ll walk out with money in hand.
However, the interest rates can be 400% APR or more, and the repayment term is short, making it difficult to pay back the money you borrowed without having to take out another loan.
It’s easy to find yourself perpetually indebted to the loan company. If you truly have no other option besides a payday loan, do whatever you can to pay back the initial loan by the due date to avoid getting trapped in the payday loan cycle.
Borrowing against your retirement
While you can borrow against your 401(k) for a tax-free loan, it’s generally not a good idea. This comes with a large opportunity cost.
When you take out money from your retirement account, you lose any compounding interest and your contributions decrease, along with any possible company matches. If you do borrow against your 401(k), make sure you fully understand the repayment options and consequences.
Taking out a second mortgage
Taking out a second mortgage or home equity loan or line of credit isn’t the worst option for getting money now, but it is something to consider carefully.
By borrowing against your house, you’re using the equity in your home as collateral, impacting your home’s resale value. Second mortgages can be expensive thanks to things like appraisals and fees, and if you don’t pay your loan, you risk losing your home to foreclosure.
Although interest rates are generally lower than credit cards, make sure to carefully weigh if this is the best option for getting quick cash. Proceed with caution if you go this route.
Opening up new credit card accounts
Like payday loans, opening up a new credit card gets you access to funds instantly. It’s a simple process that you can usually complete online, and you’ll immediately know your credit limit.
It can be a practical option, especially if you have a plan to repay the money, but it can also be a dangerous one if you rack up a huge balance. You don’t want to end up in a more precarious financial situation than when you started.
Make sure you read all the fine print, especially if your new card comes with a 0% introductory APR. If you don’t repay the balance before the offer expires, you may be charged extra back interest. If the card comes with a cash-back bonus, find out if it applies as a statement credit or a deposit into your bank account.
Borrowing from family and friends
Asking friends or family for money can be a humbling experience. It’s difficult to admit being in a financially vulnerable position, and it’s even harder to ask for help. If you have generous friends or family members, they might be willing to provide you with an interest-free short-term loan.
If that happens, both parties need to understand the repayment terms and other conditions. You need to make sure you’re fulfilling your obligations to them and not engaging in frivolous spending. Be sure that borrowing money from them won’t negatively impact your relationship. If you have any doubts, don’t ask.
GoFundMe or other crowdfunding platforms may seem like a good idea for getting money when you need it, and it prevents the embarrassment from asking friends and family directly. However, it comes with many of the same risks.
You may open yourself up to criticism, comments, and insults about your financial situation and you as a person. If you have a strong community and support system and are aware of the possible backlash, then crowdfunding may be an okay option.
Start an Emergency Fund Before Your Next Financial Crisis Happens
Hindsight is 20/20, so if you’re facing a financial crisis now, don’t beat yourself up. It’s essential that you address the situation before it gets worse, and following some of these tips can help. To prevent this situation in the future, it’s important that you start an emergency fund.
Even a small emergency fund of $500 will cover most incidents like an emergency room copay, new tires, or an unplanned heater repair. To get started establishing an emergency fund, you can use any of the methods above or use a service like Trim to find room in your budget to add to your savings.