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If you’re at the point where you just want to scream “I need money desperately” and don’t know what to do then don’t worry – you have options, I promise.

Whether a one-off emergency has put you in the position of being desperate for cash or it’s been building up for some time, we’ve got answers for what to do when you need money urgently.

They won’t necessarily be easy and, in some cases, they may only offer a short term solution. But if you’re in desperate need of money fast, at least these options will get you a bit of extra cash to help you make it to your next pay day.

This includes who can help you with money urgently, whether you’re looking to borrow, save or earn that extra cash you need.

At the same time, we’ll also share some tips on how you can avoid getting into this situation again. Whatever the cause of it, chances are that there could be some financial decisions you’ve made in the past that have probably contributed to you being where you are now.

This means that taking the time to find your financial blind spots and working on how you can address these going forward could make all the difference when it comes to your future financial security.

What should I do if I need money desperately?

These tips will show you a bunch of ways that you can get money now.

Some of them will help you get paid more urgently than others. But all of them will go a long way to help you if you desperately need money and aren’t sure what you can do.

1. Sign up for free apps that give you free money

There are plenty of apps out there that claim to help you earn money, but you only end up earning a couple of dollars, at best.

But then there are those that we recommend that can help you earn serious cash.


Free sign-up bonus: $10

A great app for making extra money, including with cash back from online shopping, watching videos, playing games and more.

And given it’s paid out over $400 million through Amazon, Paypal and other gift cards, it’s 100% legit.

We prefer the apps that pay you legit amounts of money to do things like shop online or play games.

While these can be legit ways to make money, if you need money desperately, those kinds of activities probably aren’t going to be fast enough for you.

So one thing you can do is simply sign up for these free apps and take advantage of some amazing welcome bonuses to get free PayPal money instantly.

For example:

  • Get $5 for free just for signing up with Swagbucks here and verifying your email
  • Get a free $20 bonus for signing up with Ibotta and redeeming your first offer (which simply involves getting money back on the grocery shopping you would be doing anyway – keep reading to find out how)
  • Get another $5 for free simply by signing up with InboxDollars (it’s an app that’s pretty similar to Swagbucks in that you can make money by playing games, watching videos and more)
  • Get a free $10 welcome bonus for signing up with Rakuten and earning $25 in cash back. Basically, a weekly supermarket visit will cover this. And if you get your friends to sign up, you’ll earn $25 per friend referral!

This is genuine no-strings-attached cash, so if you need money desperately for free, this could be your answer.

Related: Is Swagbucks Worth It? The Ultimate Review

2. Stop spending money on “wants”

No matter what got you into the position that made you desperately need money, chances are high that some of your earlier financial decisions haven’t helped.

For most of us, this is totally unintentional. But with a few too many swipes of the credit card and a couple of missed repayment dates, suddenly you can find yourself stuck in a financial black hole that you have no idea how to escape from.

Which means that, while you’re looking for desperate things to do for money, it’s time to take some drastic action to cut your spending on any “wants”.

The best way to do this is to start a budget. Simply by listing all of your expenses from the last month, you’ll almost certainly start to see just where you’re spending more money than you thought.

It will also help you see which expenses are “needs” and which ones you can survive without. And it’s the latter group that you have to immediately cut.

As completely un-fun as that sounds, desperate times call for desperate measures.

So to help you get started, take a look at our free budget template for you to download.

budget sheets


Our free budget planner will help you to quickly and easily take control of your money – instead of it controlling you.

Get it free for a limited time!


You’ll also join our mailing list to get updates on how to manage your money – unsubscribe at any time at the end of each email.

3. Get cash back on anything you have to buy

Even if you’re in desperate need of money fast, you’re still going to have to buy some necessities, like food and perhaps medicine.

But even with those purchases, you can still get some money back.

We mentioned Ibotta above – it’s the app with the free $20 sign-up bonus.

Ibotta app cash back example from shopping


Free sign-up bonus: $20

Ibotta is a completely free app that gives you cash back on what you’re buying already – groceries, medicine, clothes and more.

In fact, users make $150 per year on average – not including your free $20 welcome bonus – with over $682 million having been paid out, so you know Ibotta is definitely legit.

And you can also use it to get cash back at over 500,000 retailers on almost anything you have to buy. As you can see, they’ve paid out over $682 million to users, so you know it’s legit.

This makes it one of the best ways to make money from doing something that you’re already doing: going to the supermarket!

Sign up for Ibotta for free here to find out more or take a look at our Ibotta review.

4. Cut your bills

If you need money desperately because you find yourself struggling to make it to the end of the month – and this isn’t the first time it happened – it’s a good idea to focus on cutting your recurring expenses.

This is because lightening the load each month can result in you saving a ton of money in the long term.

And one way to do that is to cut your bills. This means canceling any subscriptions that you don’t absolutely need and working to reduce those that you do need to keep.

You can certainly try to do this yourself. But another option is to use Trim, an app that works to automatically cancel your subscriptions.

It can also negotiate your bills on your behalf, so you can save money on things like your cable and internet.

You won’t pay a cent for either of these services although, if the app is successful, it will take a small percentage of any money it saves you.

Find out more here about how to save money immediately with Trim.

5. Exchange any unused gift cards for cash

If you have any unused gift cards that you’ve collected as gifts or as rewards over the years, you can actually convert gift cards for cash.

Alternatively, you could find a Coinstar Gift Card Exchange near you.

And if you need money urgently, this is going to be a much better use of the gift card compared to waiting to spend it on some random products at the retailer that issued it.

6. Tutor

Tutoring, whether it’s online or in person, is a really easy option for almost anyone to make some extra money.

Perhaps you speak a second language or have a topic that you’re particularly specialized in? Whatever it is, there’s more than likely someone on the internet who’ll pay you to teach them about this topic.

As you’ll see from this list of the best online tutoring jobs, fees vary and the platform hosting your tutoring service will probably take a small commission.

But this can be a great way to earn some extra income and it’s also flexible enough to work around any existing job commitments you have.

Some of them do have certain requirements – for example, most of the sites through which you can teach English will require you to be from the US and have a college degree.

And to see how much you should be earning, take a look at How Much Should I Charge For Tutoring?

Looking for some other ways to make extra money? Check out:

7. Do odd jobs

Instead of wondering from where you can borrow $100, why not do something to make $100 in a day?

Chances are that someone in your neighborhood needs some odd jobs done for them – especially for things that they hate doing so much themselves, they’ll happily pay someone else to do them.

Whether it’s yard work, cleaning, painting, hanging pictures or even more administrative things like filing a bunch of overdue paperwork, you can definitely take advantage of people’s needs here. Keep an eye in particular on any under the table jobs that may be on offer.

You can letter drop around your area to make people know that you’re available or advertise your services on local community message boards or Facebook groups. Alternatively, why not check out one of these odd jobs apps to take a more 21st century route to finding work?

8. Find a part time job

If you already have a job, the thought of getting another part time job is not ideal, to put it mildly. You’re probably already exhausted so balancing an extra job may seem impossible at this point.

At the same time, you’re here because you need money desperately. Meaning that anything you can do to get out of that position, you should be doing.

It doesn’t have to be your dream job and it’s not forever, as you can simply resign or even just drop back your hours once you’re more financially comfortable.

But for now, you should seriously consider any part time immediate hire work from home jobs with hours that are different from your main job, to make it as easy as possible to balance the two. This list of the highest paying online jobs could be just what you need for this, as they often offer the flexibility you’ll need to work around your main job.

Related: 66 Legit Ways for Teens to Make Money

9. Sell clothes you don’t need

You almost definitely have clothes in your wardrobe that someone will pay you for. So now’s the time to severely cut your closet back to only those things you definitely need to try to make money off the rest of it.

Not all thrift stores pay for second hand clothes, although you can ask any in your area if they’re willing to do so.

You can also look online, with sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or eBay being popular for this. Alternatively, you could focus on sites that are solely for helping you to sell clothes, like looking at where your specific clothes will sell best on either Poshmark, Mercari or eBay.

Just make sure your photos are well lit and give a good but realistic view of the clothes (including their quality).

It’s also important to ensure that the product description has all the information a potential buyer may want, like size, any defects, the brand (if it’s a well known one) and anything else that may catch their interest.


10. Sell your car

Owning a car is convenient, there’s no doubt about it.

But if you need money desperately, you’re going to have to find less convenient ways to get around.

For many of us, it can actually be your car that leads to your financial problems. Whether it’s a loan that you simply can’t service or your car’s maintenance bills adding up, your vehicle can be an absolute money sponge.

And in those cases, it’s extra important that your car has to go.

When should you not sell your car to pay for money issues?

The only times you may want to think twice about doing this is if you definitely need your car for work or if you live in an area where public transport isn’t good and using a bike isn’t a viable alternative.

Even in those examples where keeping your car may be better overall, you need to seriously consider whether you can downgrade your car to a cheaper model.

For everyone else, public transport, riding a bike or walking are your new options. They can often actually be faster than a car, especially over relatively short distances where you can avoid lines of cars in traffic jams.

(And did you know that you can actually get paid to walk?)

And while it may not be ideal, getting the money for selling your car may go a long way to helping solve your money issues.

11. Get paid to talk to people

One of the less conventional ways to make money that’s appeared in the last few years is getting paid to be someone’s virtual friend.

Don’t worry, it’s purely platonic. It simply involves you creating a profile on one of the sites that offer this and then you’ll be paid up to $50 per hour just to chat with someone.

You’ll be helping someone who may not be able to make friends in the “real world” at the moment due to personal circumstances, who are stuck inside due to mental or physical health issues or who simply wants to talk to someone. In this way, it can actually be similar to the different ways to get paid to chat.

And the fact that it helps you make some much needed money is pretty good too, clearly.

woman working a side hustle on a laptop as she needs money desperately

12. Sell your old cell phone

Most of us have old cell phones gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

Chances are you’ll never need this again, so why not consider selling it?

Gazelle is a site dedicated to buying old cell phones and can actually pay good money depending on the model and the condition of your phone.

For example, they’ll pay $152 for an iPhone 8 with 128GB of memory that’s in good condition.

And you can also sell old iPads and MacBooks on the same site.

So take a look at Gazelle, including to get an offer for your device – in fact, you can find out their price in around 30 seconds.

13. Sell your clutter

If you’re wondering how you can make $1000 fast, it’s time to look around your home as the answer may be right in front of you.

That is, it’s time to seriously think what you already own that you can sell.

Furniture and appliances are always welcomed by second hand enthusiasts, and jewelry and decorative items for your home can also be very popular.

Basically, at this point, if you’re desperate for money, you need to sell as much as you can.

You could have a yard sale to get rid of it all in one day. Or you could advertise it online, which could be slower but may also attract a wide audience.

It will largely depend on how long you have to come up with this cash.

stuff being sold by someone who needs money desperately

14. Get paid for donating plasma

If you’re looking for desperate things to do for money, then selling something from your money may qualify.

To clarify, this isn’t like selling your organs on the black market or something. In fact, it’s completely legitimate with the added bonus of helping someone who needs a plasma transfusion.

Most donation centers pay between $20 and $50 per donation. And given that you can donate twice every seven days, this means you could earn up to $400 per month.

Make sure you also keep an eye out for coupons before donating, as these can earn you extra cash. For example, at the time of writing this article, this coupon got you a free extra $10.

15. Advertise on Airbnb

If you have spare space in your home, advertising on Airbnb can be a great way to make some extra money to help pay your rent or mortgage.

You’ll of course have to wait until your first guest stays with you before you get paid, so this may not work if you need money urgently.

But if your debt isn’t due immediately, this can be a good, steady way to increase your cash flow.

Related: 11 Legit Ways to Get Paid to Advertise For Companies

16. Move somewhere cheaper

The high cost of living in the area where they live is the main source of many people’s money issues, as they realize that they simply can’t afford to stay where they’ve chosen to live.

(It’s why, for example, a family earning $117,400 is now considered ‘low income’ in San Francisco.)

But even if you live in an area with a reasonable cost of living, there’s guaranteed to be somewhere cheaper.

And if you’re wondering what to do when you have absolutely no money, this should definitely be a serious consideration for you.

It’s true that it’s easier said than done, especially if you own your home rather than rent.

But when moving further away could save you literally thousands of dollars in living costs each year, you’ll probably find that the slightly reduced convenience of not living, say, as close to work will be more than worth it for the greater financial security (and reduced stress) it brings you.

17. Get a housemate

If you have the space, getting a housemate should be first on your list for things to do to avoid your money troubles.

In fact, if you’re trying to figure out how you can make $1,000 fast, getting your new housemate’s rent and contribution to the security deposit is one way to do it.

And if the space in your home you’re thinking of renting out is already furnished, you may even be able to ask for more rent than other, unfurnished rooms in your city.

keys in door

18. Ask a friend or family member for help

Asking a friend or family member to lend you money can sometimes feel like the worst thing you can do.

After all, it admits to them that you’re in trouble. It can be embarrassing and opens up a conversation topic people generally don’t like to have with their loved ones: their finances.

But if you’re in a position to ask them for a loan – and you think they’re in a position to give it to you – it’s time to put aside the potential embarrassment, swallow your pride and simply ask for help.

They probably hate to see you in the difficulties you’re in and may be more than willing to help you get out of that situation, especially if they can do without the money for a while.

Just make sure that you don’t abuse their trust. Money issues can cause serious disputes between family members and within friendship groups. 

So be realistic with them on when you should be able to pay them back – and keep them updated. If, for example, you can only pay some back when you said you would, do that, but stick to your original promise to pay it all in full eventually.

People are often more than willing to help their loved ones but, at the same time, no one likes to feel like they’re being taken advantage of. 

Meaning that the best way to manage this is simply by treating them how you’d like to be treated if the roles were reversed.

19. Negotiate with your bill providers

If you need money desperately because your bills are piling up, one way to get a short term fix for the problem is to call up your bill providers and see how they can help.

Their main interest is, of course, being paid. But if there’s no chance of that realistically happening this month, especially if you’ve been a good customer in the past, you’ll often find that they’re willing to work with you to find a solution.

This could include a repayment freeze for a few months or stretching out your repayments so you have to pay less each month, but just for longer.

Whatever their proposal is, companies like this prefer to know about any issues you’re having before the payment is due, partly because it makes you seem more trustworthy as you’re being upfront about the problem.

So give them a call, explain the situation and ask how they can help. It may just give you the break you need to get back on your feet financially.

20. Speak with a debt counselor

It can sometimes seem like there’s no way out of the financial hole you’ve dug yourself, especially if it’s because your debt has gotten completely out of control.

In times like that, it can be a good idea to turn to a non profit financial counselling organization to get help with dealing with your debt. 

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a great place to start on this. They have experts on hand to go through your situation with you, suggest solutions to your current problems and propose a debt management plan to help you get to the other side.

You may not even realize how common your situation is but chances are, they’ve seen it before and have just the advice you need to start taking control of your money.

man talking on phone stressed about needing money desperately

21. Refinance your debts

If your debt is what’s causing you to need money desperately, refinancing them could be a workable solution, especially as it will save you literally thousands of dollars per year.

Refinancing your debts involves replacing your debt with a new one that has better terms, like a lower interest rate.

That way, you’ll be able to save money and have easier repayment obligations to manage over the course of paying off your debts.

I always recommend Credible for this. It’s quick, free and shows you information from all the top lenders based on your individual circumstances.

In fact, they’re so confident in their results that, for example, they’ll pay you $200 if you manage to find a better deal on refinancing your student loans elsewhere.

Click here to see which lenders have offers through Credible that may work for you. 

22. Get a personal loan

There’s a reason this is last on the list. It’s because this should absolutely be your last option after having tried all the others.

If you’re looking into how you can get emergency money fast, a personal loan may be tempting. But adding to your debt isn’t the answer.

After all, chances are that your credit score isn’t that great at this point, meaning your interest rate could be higher than average. This means that the interest accruing on your loan could quickly build to the point where the balance is unpayable, making it another problem for your money pile.

If, however, you think it really is the only way, make sure you read all the fine print and fully understand just what you’re getting yourself into. Ask as many questions as you need before signing on the dotted line and then, if you do end up taking it, do everything you can to pay it off as quickly as possible.

Where can I borrow money ASAP?

If you’re asking this question, please remember: do not take out a payday loan.

Providers of these kinds of loans are preying on the fact that you need money urgently. The conditions are terrible with extremely high interest rates and there are many, many stories of people having to pay back double or even more of the amount they originally borrowed.

While you may need money desperately and have bad credit so are finding it hard to get a loan elsewhere, payday loans are there to screw you for the benefit of the lender.

This makes it extra important that you do absolutely anything you can to avoid going down this path, even if you’re trying to get emergency money fast.

Which one should I pick if I need money urgently?

If you’re wondering what to do if you need money urgently, the first step is to figure out exactly how much you need and then you can work out which of these options would be best for you.

For example, if you’re asking yourself “how can I make $500 fast?”, selling your car for a few thousand dollars is probably not really necessary. This means you can focus on some of the other options on this list instead that will likely earn your less money.

At the same time, the exact due date by which you need money desperately is going to be important.

If you know you need money today for free, something like getting a housemate might not be quick enough for you. Instead, you should look at some of the faster ways to make money on this list, like the apps that pay you just to sign up. You can also consider joining food tasting events and getting paid to eat after answering a survey.

What to do when you have absolutely no money

Step 1 for when you need money desperately is to pick as many options from the list in this article as you can manage to find the extra cash you’re looking for.

But the next step is to think long and hard about what got you into this position.

Whether it’s because your spending is out of control or your income is too low for you to cope with your repayment obligations, it’s critically important that you identify the problem and then immediately start planning how to address this.

We mentioned above that starting a budget can be a great way to kick this off. Part of this will involve you listing all your sources of income and every single expenditure you’ve incurred for the last month, giving you a clear snapshot of your financial situation and where the issues are.

By doing this and making sure you’re controlling your money – rather than vice-versa – you’ll put yourself on the path to never having to worry about needing money desperately again.

Final thoughts on what to do if you need money desperately

The feeling of needing money urgently can make you sick to your stomach.

Around 62% of Americans report feeling stressed about money and if you’re one of them, you’ll know too well the feeling of uncertainty about how to fix the problem, shame at the fact you’re here, horror at the fact you got yourself into this mess…

Safe to say, anyone in that situation would do anything they can to get out of it.

So keep in mind that you’re not alone and plenty of people have gotten their financial issues under control in the past. Meaning there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.

It will take some hard work and likely some major changes to your lifestyle. But by combining your problems by getting some cash to cover the current shortfall while also examining what got you here in the first place, you’ll be well positioned to make sure that you never let this happen to yourself again.

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