When Money is Tight, Here’s 9 Things Experts Say We Should Do

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When you log into your bank account, how do your savings look? Probably not as good as you’d like. It always seems like an uphill battle to build (and keep) a decent amount in savings.

But what if your car breaks down, or you have a sudden medical bill? 

We’re not judging — we don’t roll like that. We’re here to help. We just don’t want you to have to sell those Elvis-Presley-signed velvet pants you inherited just to pay some lousy plumbing bill. Those pants are sweet.

Try these nine tips to get the ball rolling, and start building up your savings so you can breathe a little easier.

1. Ask for Some Help — You Deserve It

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. Get Paid Every Time You Buy Toilet Paper

Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Grocery shopping was never exactly pleasant. But these days, it’s a downright struggle. Fighting crowds; keeping six feet of space — just buying toilet paper is a feat. Shouldn’t you have something to show for it?

A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store.

Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.

You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something…

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 Mypoints 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, Mypoints won’t replace your full-time job, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 a month.

Unlike other sites, Mypoints pays you in cash — no points or gift cards. It’s already paid its users more than $200 million.

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

4. See if You Can Get Money From This Company

a woman logs into her bank account on her cell phone.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Here’s the deal: If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on free money. And who doesn’t want free money? 

Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to a 10% kickback every time you swipe.

Need to buy groceries? Free money.

Need to fill up the tank? Bam. Free money again. 

You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get free money in the process?

Enter your email address here and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with a free Aspiration account. Don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s just nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

5. Cancel Your Car Insurance

How often are you even using your car right now? Regardless, there’s one thing we’re nearly certain of — you’re overpaying on car insurance.

That being said, shopping for car insurance is a pain. But a free website called Insurify will do the comparison for you. It will find you rates as low as $15 a month — in less than two minutes.

Take Lourdes Robles-Velazquez, for example. The single mom lives on a tight budget. She was paying $205 a month to insure two Toyota Priuses — hers and her daughter’s. By comparing prices, she knocked $80 off her monthly car insurance bill. That’s nearly $1,000 in savings per year.

Wondering how much you could save? Head over to Insurify, and start browsing your options. It takes all of two minutes.

6. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month

No, like… the whole bill. All of it. All that debt racked up from the 300 destination weddings your friends made you attend (thanks!) 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 there are other, nicer companies that’ll help you out. A website called AmOne knows the best ones and could pair you up as soon as tomorrow. 

Here’s how it works: AmOne will match you with a loan that’ll cover your credit card tab. Use that loan to pay off your debt, then make monthly payments to repay the loan. It could lower your monthly payments and help you pay off that debt a lot faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month. 

AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. 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. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry they won’t spam you with phone calls.

Now you can finally stop holding a grudge against that friend who thought a Mexico wedding was a good idea.

7. 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.”

8. Get $25 in Cash for Doing Barely Anything

To be honest with you, this is probably the closest thing we’ve found to free cash on the internet. You don’t have to take surveys, you don’t have to sign up for a subscription, and you don’t have to sell your soul to the dark web.

Instead, all you have to do is download the Dosh app. It’ll pay you cash when you make certain purchases.

Sure. You’re thinking this is another one of those cash-back apps that requires you to jump through hoops — taking photos of your mile-long receipts, scanning dozens of barcodes and hunting down specific brands.

But that’s where you’re wrong. Dosh makes this way easier.

All you have to do is link up your debit and/or credit cards. (This is totally safe — we’re talkin’ bank-level safe.) Then Dosh automatically gives you money back when you swipe your card at certain restaurants, shops and grocery stores.

You won’t even notice you’re making money. Our writer Carson Kohler got $40 back within a few months of downloading the app. She collected it by grabbing coffee from the local shop, stocking up on groceries and ordering takeout.

That’s the closest thing we’ve seen to free money! It takes about two minutes to download the app, then you can cash out once you hit $25.

9. Pay Rent When You Can — This Company Will Cover You

Paying rent on the first of the month just isn’t always possible. Which stinks, because you know your landlord is going to stick you with late fees. Enter: More problems.

Other options include a $35 overdraft fee, a credit card fee or a super-expensive payday loan.

But what you might not know is a company called Flex can get you out of this mess. It’ll pay your rent at the first of the month, then you pay them back on your schedule.

Think about it: If you pay $1,000 for rent, Flex will pay your rent on the first of each month. Then you can pay them back $250 each week. Sounds nice, right?

And unlike your other options, Flex doesn’t charge you hidden fees or interest. It’s a flat $19.99 monthly fee — way lower than any late or overdraft fee.

It only takes a few minutes to see if you qualify for Flex. Then you’ll connect your bank account and your online rent portal, and Flex will have your back come the first of next month!

 

This story was originally published at The Penny Hoarder

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