When Money is Tight, These 9 Resources Will Help Nearly Everyone

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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

The arms of two people are shown extending toward one another beneath a shining sun and palm trees.
Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

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. 

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.

You can also look into applying for a grant. Take, for example, Modest Needs grants, which are designed for workers just above the poverty line who are ineligible for most other forms of social assistance.

We know asking for help is hard, but when you’re really in need, these resources are here to help you get back on stable ground.

2. This Research Company Will Pay You up to $225/Month to Watch Videos

You probably don’t have time for a second — or even third — job, but we found a more effortless way to earn some extra cash this month.

A research company called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. 

It’s possible to earn up to $225 a month without having to get another job.

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.


3. Make an Extra $600 This Week to Put Toward Rent

If you’re broke, one solution is to make more money. Well, duh. Easier said than done, you’re thinking. Who has time for that?

An app called Doordash will pay you to pick up and deliver food on your own schedule. All you need to get started is your preferred mode of transportation and your smartphone.

You’ll deliver things like coffee from Starbucks or food from Chipotle, Chik-fil-A or Five Guys. You set your own hours and work as much or little as you want, meaning how much you make is up to you. 

You’ll earn money for each delivery, plus tips. Jose Neri, from California, reports earning $500 to $600 a week working just lunches and dinners.

If you sign up for Doordash now, it’s possible to get your first paycheck this week.

4. Get Free Scratch-off Tickets For a Chance to Hit The Jackpot

Man scratching lottery ticket.
StevieS/ Getty Images

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 $10,000, 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.”

5. Get $250 Worth of Coupons for Groceries

When money is tight, spending your hard earned cash at the grocery store is painful. Groceries are so expensive — especially if you’re shopping for a family. Within a week, the fridge is empty, and you’re back at the store.

Here’s one of our favorite ways to cut grocery costs: Sign up for Pillsbury.com emails. You’ll get up to $250 in yearly coupons, access to free product samples (quantities limited, one per member) and the easiest recipes sent right to your inbox.

And if you need more coupons? Get someone else in your house to sign up. That’s $500 worth of savings.

6. Earn up to $22/Hour Delivering Groceries This Weekend

If you’re looking for an easy, flexible side gig, delivering groceries is one of the best options for making some quick extra cash. And it’s not like you have to do this forever. Even just a few runs could help you catch up on your monthly bills.

An app called Shipt will pay you up to $22 an hour for going to the store to pick up and deliver someone else’s groceries this week.

We talked to one shopper, Destiny Frith, from Nashville, who says the flexible gig earns her close to $600 a week — while working completely on her own schedule.

Just sign up online (the application is pretty simple). Once you’re approved, pick which jobs you want to take, and Shipt will send you a prepaid card to buy the groceries and deliver them to customers.

These extra runs could even cover the cost of your own groceries this week.

7. Good Driver? Here’s How to Get Rewarded for Following the Rules

You’re a safe driver. You stop at red lights. You obey the speed limit. You’re not on your phone. Shouldn’t you be rewarded for your diligence? 

We found a car insurance company that thinks so. In fact, the better you drive, the less it will charge you for coverage. Root Insurance will cut your insurance rate by up to 52% just for being a good driver. 

To see how much you could save, download the Root app to your phone, and drive like you normally would for two to three weeks. The app runs in the background, tracking things like your speed, acceleration and braking, then offers you a quote for insurance coverage based on that.

Sound scary? Think of it this way: You’re getting a chance to prove what a good driver you are. And you’ve got nothing to lose. If you don’t like the quote, just stick with your current insurance. 

Amanda Collins, 27, and her husband both had good driving records — until one mishap. He was in an accident that wasn’t his fault, and their monthly premiums more than doubled. 

“Root doesn’t only go by past experience. They go by how you drive,” Collins said. “We saved $2,352 a year and $196 a month! Enough said!”

Take two minutes and download the Root Insurance app to get started.

Root Insurance is available in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.

8. Get a $5 Amazon Gift Card For Playing Games Like Words With Friends and Rise of Kingdoms

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

When your budget is stretched to its limit, playing video games probably doesn’t sound like the best use of your time. But a free Android app called Mistplay actually pays you for playing popular games like Words With Friends 2, Rise of Kingdoms, Yahtzee, Clash Royale, Star Wars and more. 

As you play, it rewards you in points, which you can exchange for gift cards for brands like Visa, Amazon and more. You’ll even get bonus points when you sign up and enter the code penny50.

The more you play, the more you’ll earn. Plus, Mistplay offers some bigger in-game rewards — up to $20.  

It takes just a few minutes to sign up, and those free Visa and Amazon gift cards will help you stretch your budget a bit further.

Playing video games finally pays off!

9. Have a Degree? Earn up to $20/Hour With This Flexible Online Teaching Gig

Sometimes (or most times) we all need (or want) extra money, but if you already work a full-time job, mustering up the energy to drive people around or walk dogs as a side gig can be near impossible. That’s why we like flexible work-from-home side gigs — like tutoring kids online.

Right now, Education First, an international tutoring program, is looking for tutors who’ll teach English online to kids ages 5 to 10. You can work from home, pick your schedule and make up to $20 an hour. Not bad, right?

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree to qualify and, if you’re hired, a 40-hour TEFL certificate. (You can take these courses online; we recommend finding one through Groupon to score a deal!)

You’ll also get plenty of opportunities to earn more money. For example, you’ll earn a surge bonus if you teach classes between 6 and 8 a.m. on weekdays or 9 and 10:30 p.m. on weekends. Plus, once you teach 200 classes, you’ll get a $100 bonus.

Applying online is simple; just fill out some basic information (it takes less than a minute) to start the process. You’ll then receive an email requesting a copy of your resume. The Education First crew will review it and get back to you with next steps. Good luck!