When a life crisis hits and finances are already tight, you need money and you need it fast. Whether your family is dealing with sudden job loss, a medical issue, a death in the family, or another surprise crisis, these tips for making money fast can be the difference in feeding your family this week.
These tips are not a long-term solution, but they will help you stay afloat while putting a better plan in place.
When I first became a single Mom, there were many times that just buying enough groceries for the week was impossible- never mind all the other bills and needs. With an empty bank account and no credit, I had to find cash fast.
Today I’m sharing ways you can find quick cash while working on long-term solutions to crisis financial situations.
Sell your stuff
Selling everything I could as quickly as possible was the quickest and easiest way to get cash quick.
Choose what you can sell.
This is the time to look around and decide what you absolutely need to live.
The first place to look is your jewelry box.
For my situation, I knew I would not be buying any of my jewelry back, being financially stable was a very long way off- too long to consider pawning my jewelry. I needed to sell it outright and make the most money I could for immediate needs.
Don’t be afraid to shop around for buyers. Many local jewelry stores buy silver and gold. They often buy jewelry by weight, and will tell you the current rate if you call ahead.
There are also online options for selling jewelry, but the fastest way is a local shop where you can walk in with jewelry and out with cash. If you aren’t sure if your jewelry is real, take it to the jewelry store, they are happy to check it for you before offering a price to buy it.
Even if you are emotionally attached to your jewelry and aren’t selling all of it, consider selling broken pieces, earrings missing their partner, and anything you no longer love. A handful of mismatched earrings can buy several days of groceries.
- Tip – Ask your friends to consider donating their mismatched earrings and old broken jewelry to you. Most people will never take the time to sell old, unwanted or broken jewelry, and are happy to hand it over to a friend who can use it.
Next, check the rest of your house and yard.
Take a notepad and walk your entire house (don’t forget the closets, attic, garage and any outdoor storage). Anything that can be sold, write down on the pad of paper.
Prioritize what you will sell.
Look at your list, and decide what to sell first. Ask yourself the following questions about the items on the list:
Which items will bring the biggest price in one sale?
Think about old collections of items that are popular again- lunch boxes, old toys, collectibles, etc.
Equipment and appliances- do you have a garage fridge, exercise equipment, a fancy blender?
Furniture is often in this category. Can you consolidate clothing into fewer dressers? Do you have both a kitchen table and dining room set? What about placing mattresses on the floor and selling headboards? Can you sell part of your living room seating and still have enough seats for your family to be comfortable?
Which items do you need the least, or are least attached to?
Think hard about what you really need. What items would make you lose sleep at night if you sold them?
Outgrown clothing? A roomful of toys? A guest room furniture or dining room set? Look at the things you have multiples of (shoes, coats, toys) and think about cutting those things down to just the very favorites or the essentials.
Which items are the easiest to sell?
Working with one platform for selling makes selling easier.
Since I was filling out multiple Craigslist ads, it was easy to just keep filling the ads out.
Consider selling some items in lots, rather than individually. I found that decor went faster that way- groups of pretty pots, frames, knickknacks, etc.
If you have a used bookstore in your area, selling books can be very quick and easy. While they may bring a dollar or less each, a box of books adds up, especially if you can take a big load all at once!
Which items will sell the quickest?
Clothing is difficult to sell online, though great for a yard sale or consignment shop.
In my area, furniture, electronics, and exercise equipment went fast on Craigslist.
- Tip – Items that hold special emotional attachment and any item you will have to buy back for more than you can sell it for- save those things for last. Maybe you won’t need to go that far. You don’t want to regret selling a family heirloom while the exercise machine that’s collecting dust is still sitting in the spare bedroom.
Figure out where you can sell the items you have.
Since I lived in a city, Craigslist was my best resource for listing and selling my items.
Also check local consignment shops and sales, look for local ‘yard sale’ Facebook groups. You can even try posting your items directly to your own Facebook wall, one of your friends might need or want something you are selling.
Joining a large neighborhood yard sale can be an option, or hosting your own yard sale.
I found it easier to get a decent price on large items, like furniture, on Craigslist and local Facebook groups, than the rock bottom prices people expect from yard sales. However, for small items like clothing and toys, a yard sale can still bring in a hefty chunk of cash.
Also think about local newspapers and publications ‘For Sale’ sections.
How about the bulletin boards in public places like the library, apartment complexes, or local universities?
- Tip- If you are selling online take good photos! Make the descriptions very descriptive. Items should sound appealing, but also be truthful so that every person who comes to buy will know what they are going to get, and will follow through with the sale.
If you bought anything before crisis hit, that still has tags, return it to the store for cash! Think about Christmas/birthday presents you bought ahead, new school clothes, etc.
Sell homemade items or services
What can you make that others will buy? Can you bake cakes? Do you sew or craft? Are you a budding photographer?
Think about services you can provide locally. Offer house-sitting, pet-sitting, and babysitting. What about house cleaning or personal shopping for an elderly neighbor?
Look for gift cards.
If you hoard gift cards for vacations or special treats like I do, you might have a pile of money in your purse. There are online places to sell gift cards, but they don’t pay face value.
I found selling my gift cards to friends and family members (maybe post to your Facebook wall) the easiest way to turn gift cards into cash.
If my loved ones were going to spend money at a certain store anyway, they were happy to give me face value (or very near face value) for my gift cards, and then I had the cash for essentials.
Sell plasma or hair
It isn’t easy to find a location that buys plasma or hair. But, if you find a local location they do pay pretty well.
Check coat pockets, pants pockets, couch cushions, and the bottoms of bags.
You probably won’t find a fortune, but every little bit helps! How often do you find a couple of dollars in last season’s coat or purse?
Liquidate or borrow against long-term savings.
These ideas are absolutely the last resort, but when you run out of things to sell, they could be the only option.
Breaking savings bonds early will cost you a penalty, plus cause you to earn less for your money than expected. But in crisis, cash is often more important.
Some retirement accounts will allow you to borrow money, essentially from yourself, by taking money from your retirement account. You will have to pay this back, and you will lose all of the interest you would have gained by leaving the money in retirement accounts.
Often whole life insurance policies can be cashed out for the policy’s current cash value. Call your life insurance company to find out the details, and discuss the options with a financial advisor that you trust.
Ask for help
At this point, the time to be noble is over. Who can you ask for short-term financial help?
Call your home church. They may have a benevolence committee with funds specifically for those in crisis situations. They will also likely know other local resources for getting help, whether financially, with food, or other services that might help you during hard times.
I know how hard it is to ask for help, or even accept offered help. It is perfectly acceptable to allow others to help you for a time. One day you can pay it forward by helping another woman who finds herself in a similar situation.
If your friends or family offer financial help, take that help gracefully and with thanks. That’s what friends and family are for!
I know how awful it is in the middle of a crisis, when you have no idea how you will feed your family tomorrow, much less pay the bills and meet other needs.
Allow yourself a minute to cry, and then get busy doing what needs to be done. I know you can, and I know you will… because that’s what Mommas do! One step at the time, and before you know it you will be dancing in the rain.