If You’re Strapped For Cash, Here Are 7 Steps That Experts Say You Should Take

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

1. 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 Fiona knows the best ones and could pair you up as soon as tomorrow. 

Here’s how it works: Fiona 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. 

Fiona 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.

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

2. This Bank Will Let You Borrow $100 for Free

It’s halfway through the month, but your paycheck doesn’t come until next week. You’ve still got the electric bill to pay, and the pantry’s empty. What do you do?

A bank called Chime will lend you the cash — for free.

Chime will spot you up to $100 at any time. And unlike a payday loan — it’s free.

For this to work, take two minutes to sign up for a free account today. You’ll join four million others Americans that have already switched their bank account to Chime. You also need to set up direct deposit, but Chime makes it easy for you. 

Now you don’t have to live on ramen until your paycheck comes.

3. Turn Those Crumpled Receipts Into Free Gift Cards

Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

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 a free reward 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?

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Cancel Your Car Insurance

If you need to free up some extra room in your budget, one of the easiest places to start is to cut back on your monthly bills — like your current car insurance.

In most places, it’s straight up illegal not to have it, so you’ve probably accepted that you’re going to pay through the nose for it. But you don’t have to.

A free website called The Zebra will find the best deal for you — in just two minutes. 

All you have to do is enter basic information about your car and driving history, then The Zebra compares prices from more than 100 companies to find you the best price.

The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year.

If you find a policy you like, you can sign up online instantly.

7. Get Free Lottery 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 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, in cash or gift cards to popular retailers.

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.

Take single dad Oneil Campbell, from Boston. He was shocked when he won a $5,000 Lucktastic prize.

“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.”

This story was originally published at The Penny Hoarder

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