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

If you’re struggling to pay bills, we bet your credit card balance isn’t looking so hot, either. So we found a company that’ll help you take care of it. No, like… the whole bill 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 a website called AmOne wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.99% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. 

Plus, no credit card payment this month means money is immediately freed up.

AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call your bank, either. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Take Advantage of This Free Food

Give Betty Crocker your email address, and it’ll send you up to $250 worth of coupons that can help you get deeply discounted or free canned goods, cereal and yogurt.

In addition to coupons, Betty Crocker’s free email delivers the best of Betty’s 15,000 kitchen-tested recipes, how-tos and more — straight to your inbox! 
If you’re like us, you probably get bored making the same food week after week, so wouldn’t it be nice to occasionally be surprised with simple recipes you can make on a budget?

6. Search Your Wallet and Cash in on Your Dollar Bills

A crisp dollar bill being held out over a pair of blurred out sneakers.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Specifically, dollar bills with strange serial numbers — ones that aren’t easy to come by. The collectors at CoolSerialNumbers.com will pay you big bucks if you have a bill with a rare sequence in your wallet.

Turns out antique coins aren’t the only currency worth cash to collectors.

Check out their website for a full list to see if you’ve got any of these rare bills, but here’s a rundown of the sort of serial numbers these collectors are looking for:

  • 7 repeating digits in a row on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 09999999, 77777776)
  • 7 of a kind on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 00010000, 99999099)
  • Super repeaters on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 67676767)
  • Double quads on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 00009999)
  • and more!

7. Trade Your Old Receipts for Cash

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 cash. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for Visa gift cards.

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. Then start snapping photos of your recent receipts to see how many points you can earn without a single trip to the store!

Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?

8. 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.”

9. Get Paid to Take a Poll

What did you think of the new Spiderman movie? Is a hot dog a sandwich? Who’s your favorite Real Housewife?

The research company, MyPoints, has paid people over $236 million to answer poll questions like that over the past 23 years.

And they’re currently recruiting new panelists. You can do it right on your phone, and you’ll even earn a $5 bonus when you sign up and complete your first five polls.