These are the best ways to earn quick cash
Read: 5 minutes
No matter how well you plan your finances and keep track of your money, it's almost impossible to prepare for every situation. And chances are, there will come a time when you'll want to come up with some extra cash quickly.
When you find yourself looking for some quick money, the first thing to do is ask yourself what's behind the urgency. “Do a gut check, especially if this is for a purchase that isn't necessary or could be delayed," says Mark Byelich, a certified financial planner.
Justine Nelson, founder of Debt Free Millennials
Afterward, if you're still in a hurry to raise funds, here are a few smart ways to quickly put some money in your pocket.
1. Get a side hustle
Moonlighting to earn extra money isn't a new phenomenon, but a host of websites, tools and apps have made it more viable—and popular. According to a recent survey, nearly 37 percent of Americans have a side job, where they earn an average of $686 per month.
Regardless of your skills, chances are that you'll find a market for them. From dog walking to copywriting, running errands to graphic design, a host of jobs are now available in the gig economy. Like constructing furniture? There's a market for that. Enjoy braiding hair? There are people who will pay you for a new 'do.
“In this day and age, there is a unique opportunity for you to earn money using your skillsets or providing services," says Justine Nelson, founder of Debt Free Millennials.
We recommend reviewing your schedule and planning out how much time you are willing to spend on your side hustle. Overcommitting can lead to burnout or compromise your ability to meet your primary work, family and other obligations.
2. Join the sharing economy
Another way to raise quick cash is to rent your property when you're not using it. Short-term house and apartment rentals have been around for years, but new digital platforms make it possible for you to share everything from your couch to your power tools. Many of these sites connect owners and borrowers, vet would-be users and collect payments seamlessly.
Keep in mind that there are some potential pitfalls to sharing your space and possessions. For example, some landlords and condo associations prohibit short-term rentals; alternately, you may find the idea of sharing your personal property with strangers a little uncomfortable. “It wouldn't work for me," Byelich says. "I'm that guy who doesn't even let my kids snack in the car."
3. Clean out your closets
When it comes to making money on the side, Byelich prefers decluttering. “My wife and I are going through a stage of purging and selling things," he says. To streamline the process, they hired a helper to sift through goods and prepare them for sale. In their case, this was a family friend, who agreed to be paid a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of goods; however, there are many professional organizers and de-cluttering services that work hourly or for a flat fee.
While selling unwanted goods isn't a new strategy, digital resale platforms make it easier than ever by bringing interested buyers directly to you. They can also make it more lucrative: making side-by-side comparisons of your goods can give you a better idea of their market value, which can be higher than you'd expect.
4. Clean up your budget
While you weigh the pros and cons of working a side job and sharing or selling your possessions, don't overlook one of the best ways to come up with cash: spend less.
While you probably don’t have much wiggle room with your fixed costs like housing or loans, most people have a fair bit of slack in their discretionary budgets. “Cancel subscriptions, rethink your gym memberships, color your own hair, eat out less,” says Nelson. “There are so many places you can cut back.”
Even if slimming your spending doesn't offer an instant bump, it can add up to serious savings as the months tick by—and that's money you can use to build a rainy day fund. As with any financial adjustment, start slow. Shaving too much off your budget can make you feel restricted, and less committed to keeping up with your plan.
5. Borrow judiciously
There are times when borrowing money may be your only option for covering an unexpected expense. If you go that route, look for a low-interest loan with minimal upfront fees. For homeowners, a home equity line of credit is often one of the least expensive options, says Byelich, noting that tapping into home equity especially makes sense if it's for a necessary home-related expense, like an emergency roof replacement.
If you go for a short-term loan, have a plan in place for paying it back. “This shouldn't be a permanent solution, but it can be a bridge," Byelich says.
In addition to getting you out of a financial scrape, your search for short-term cash can lead the way to good long-term habits. Clearing out the waste in your budget can help keep your costs down, while having a handy side gig can help you get extra spending money whenever you need it. Even a short-term loan, while hardly an ideal option for quick cash, can help improve your credit rating, as long as you make payments consistently and on time. Who knows? With a little ingenuity, your short-term money fix could be the first step to long-term financial stability!
Sarah Max is a Chase News & Stories contributor. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Time Magazine, Bloomberg News, and other outlets.