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When Money is Tight, These 9 Resources Will Help You

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

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 bonusto get you started.

4. 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.

5. See if Your Cell Phone Company Owes You $80

When’s the last time you negotiated your cell phone bill? Your provider could be overcharging you…

In fact, there are secret discounts it doesn’t want you to know about.

But a tool called Truebill knows how get them for you. William Ellis, a savvy saver from Indiana, was able to get $80 a year back in his pocket when he used a negotiation tool to convince Sprint to lower his bill — for the same plan. He didn’t even have to pick up the phone.

You can find out how much you’re overpaying by signing up for Truebill. Then, Truebill handles the rest.

Truebill takes an upfront commission on any money it recovers for you, but there’s no charge if it’s not successful.

6. 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.

7. Earn up to $22/Hour Picking up Milk For Your Neighbors

The grocery store is a surprisingly zen place. Somewhere between the soothing elevator music, the free samples and the wafting aroma of rotisserie chicken, you settle into a peaceful groove.

None of the stress of work or home — it’s just you and the aisles.

Some people, for some reason, don’t feel the same. They’d rather avoid it altogether. And with an app called Postmates, you could get paid to pick up a few extra groceries for them.

Even better than getting paid to grocery shop? If you need the money, like, now, you can cash out instantly after each delivery.

Holly Gaston, of San Francisco, California, has tried plenty of side gigs. With Postmates, she makes an average of $15 an hour. Plus, she says it’s been much more enjoyable than any of her previous side gigs.

Signing up shouldn’t take you more than about three minutes. The hardest part will be choosing which selfie you want to use as a profile pic.

8. 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.

9. Get Cell Service for $20/Month

Here’s Mint Mobile’s deal: It’s online only, meaning it cuts out the retail stores and expensive overhead and passes those savings directly to you. Plus, it offers deeply discounted rates when you pay for several months in advance.

Mint runs on T-Mobile’s network, so you can expect similar coverage. It lets you keep your same phone number, whether you bring your own unlocked phone or buy a new one through Mint.

Let’s say for the next year, you’ll want 8GB of 4G LTE data per month. That costs $20 a month — you’ll pay $240 for the year up front — all 12 months at a time — and forget about your phone bill for a year..

To make sure you’re a fit before going all-in with the 12-month plan, you could try a three-month plan with a seven-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t like it, you can get a full refund online.

All plans offer unlimited talk, text and data (data speeds slow down after you use the listed 4G LTE allotment). Right now, Mint Mobile has an introductory offer cutting the price of its three-month plan when you sign up.