If you find yourself in a position where you need cash now, you have options. Your best bet is usually to free up funds by cutting back where you can, taking on additional work or selling things. But there are also other options, such as taking out an emergency loan. Here are eight effective ways to free up more money immediately.
1. Find a Fast Side Hustle
Starting a side hustle can help you bring in more cash quickly. There's a lot of fast, profitable work that you can pick up in today's gig economy.
Consider odd jobs or work that's easy to get into, such as driving for a rideshare company, caring for animals or delivering food and groceries. You can also look for freelance work in a field you already have skills in, such as in web design or marketing. The benefit of these types of gigs is that the work is flexible, so you can make extra money around your current schedule.
You can also consider asking your employer if you can pick up extra shifts or work overtime. If you have the availability, you could pick up an extra part-time job and work evenings or weekends to bring in a reliable source of income.
2. Cut Spending to the Bone
Whether you need extra cash to cover an expense, to save for a big goal such as a vacation or wedding, or to pay off high-interest debt, one of the most effective ways to free up funds is to cut out all non-essential spending.
A bare-bones budget is a spending plan that only includes expenses related to basic survival—things like food, housing, utility bills, child and pet care, basic communication (your phone) and the basic transportation you need to go to work.
Going bare-bones isn't an exciting way to manage your money because it's super strict. But it's a great way to have access to more money without going into debt. It's also a great way to become more mindful of your routine spending going forward, which can help you save more money and build up the cash stores to avoid having to go this route next time.
3. Sell Unwanted Items
If you have electronics you don't use anymore or old clothes and furniture you don't want, try listing them for sale on the internet. Also consider any collectibles that no longer spark joy, such as figurines.
The clutter in your home may be worth more than you think. And, even if you end up selling unwanted possessions at a discount-bin price, that's still more cash in your pocket. Compare your listing price and the bids you get to other listings and sales online to aim for a fair deal.
Platforms like Nextdoor, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace are all easy options for selling a range of possessions. You can also try Etsy for selling antiques, crafts and art supplies, or Poshmark and Depop for selling old clothes for cash.
4. Redeem Credit Card Rewards
Redeeming credit card points or cash back through a statement credit can help you free up funds by reducing what you owe. Check your rewards balance through your credit card issuer's mobile app to see if you've been accumulating rewards as you spend.
If you aren't currently using a rewards credit card, consider signing up for one that works for the spending you already do. By using the card for purchases and then paying off your balance in full, you can potentially earn cashback, points or miles without paying any interest.
Of course, rewards cards have different redemption options, and redeeming for cash doesn't always get you the best deal. Sometimes, options such as buying select merchandise or travel and accommodations purchases have the best redemption value.
5. Negotiate Your Bills
Try negotiating your bills with Experian BillFixer™ to reduce your monthly expenses. The necessary spending you do every month can be a fertile area to look for savings. Experian BillFixer negotiates for you, so you don't have to make calls or deal with any of the awkwardness you may associate with negotiating what you need to pay.
6. Check for Unclaimed Money
You could be sitting on a decent chunk of cash without even knowing it. Unclaimed property is assets that you've forgotten or lost. That could be an old uncashed paycheck, a forgotten checking or savings account or some other asset.
To find out if you have unclaimed money waiting for you, do a search through your state's unclaimed property database. It's also a good idea to check other states where you've lived or been employed.
One big word of caution: Avoid any online site that offers to reunite you with unclaimed cash for a fee. Unclaimed property scams are on the rise, and there's never any reason to pay when you can search the registry on your own.
7. Consider a Personal Loan
While not ideal, limited options can sometimes mean borrowing in an emergency. This is an area where being cautious is essential. Taking on debt when you're in a pinch is a risky move which could be an entry point into a debt spiral, where interest accumulates on your debts faster than you're realistically able to pay it off, leading to more debt and financial stress.
All that said, if you need an emergency loan, start by researching the best options for you. To qualify for a personal loan with good interest and terms, you'll typically need good to excellent credit. But there are even some emergency loans for bad credit that offer comparatively low interest too.
8. Borrow From a Loved One
As an alternative to applying for a personal loan, consider whether you have a family member or close friend who may be able to lend to you. You'll need to be prepared to be transparent about why you need the money and to understand your loved one's response either way.
Borrowing from friends and family members has its own unique risks, so it's important that you take your unique relationship, the other person's financial situation and your ability to repay on time into account. Before you consider this option, take some time to learn more about how to broach the subject and how to set up a loan contract with your loved one.
Build an Emergency Fund
There are lots of ways to free up funds when you need cash right away, but there's no better way to prepare for urgent expenses than to save for them well before they occur. Avoid being caught off guard and build financial stability by setting up an emergency fund.
To get your emergency savings rolling, set up an automatic transfer of a portion of each paycheck on each payday. You should keep the funds someplace liquid and safe, such as in a high-yield savings account, where you'll earn interest on your savings. Those small transfers are a big step toward feeling financially secure and having a buffer of cash whenever life happens.