What to Do When You’re Short On Money

When You’re Short On Money

At some point, many of us get into a bind where we need cash fast. It could be a bill that's due, a medical expense, or a car repair. No matter what the reason, you have to get cash — and get it fast. While quick cash is not a long-term solution, there are quick cash options. Check out some ways that you can acquire cash and make your payment.

Using Your Emergency Fund

If you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start one. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, it reminded many Americans how important having an emergency fund is, especially when you lose your job. If you are short on cash, this is where having an emergency fund is crucial. If you are stuck, dip into the emergency fund, as that's why it's there.

Creating a Budget

If you are consistently low on cash, or you are constantly turning to your emergency fund, you may need to reevaluate your finances and spending. Create a budget to curb the borrowing and cash issues.

  • Write down both your income and your spending. If you are spending more than you take in, you need to make some changes. Writing down your expenses will also create accountability. You likely do not know how much you spend until you write it all out and see it all together.
  • Cut out unnecessary spending. If you see coffee and breakfast purchases multiple times after writing down your income and expenses, perhaps you can consider making coffee and breakfast at home. Do you see various purchases of items you purchased because you wanted them, not because you needed them? Limit yourself to those types of purchases only once a month.
  • Call and try to negotiate payments. It never hurts to ask. Call your utilities, including phone, gas, and electric and ask to lower your expenses. If that is unsuccessful, ask to delay payments or pay in installments.

Making Fast Cash

However, while the budget is a long-term solution, it is not a quick fix. If you need fast cash, you could try to:

  • Get a temporary job. Now that businesses are reopening, many places are hiring, even temporary help. If you live in certain areas, you may be able to get a seasonal position that would allow you to earn extra cash for just a short time. Additionally, sign up with a temp agency that may be able to place you quickly and with a position that pays sooner rather than later.
  • Sell items. As long as the buyer shows up, this could be a quick and easy way to get cash. See what you can part with and post it on social media marketplaces or selling apps. If you have a lot of items, consider having a yard sale. Don't forget: one person's trash is another person's treasure.
  • Babysit or Tutor. If you are good with kids, try babysitting or tutoring. Both are always needed and offer payments on a day-by-day basis. Contact local moms groups or sign-up through a website or agency to get started.
  • Be a delivery driver. COVID has spoiled us into having everything delivered right to our door. Consumers now consistently use delivery services to have food, groceries, and general supplies brought to their door. Check out a delivery service to make quick cash. You may receive a delayed paycheck, but you can get home tips for each delivery.
  • Rent space. If you have an extra room in your home, try renting it out. By doing that, you can collect a deposit and the first month's rent upfront. Additionally, if you live in an area popular with events and tourism, you can rent your space/yard/parking for the event.
  • Become a dog walker/caretaker. People often look for someone to walk their dog or take care of animals when they go on vacation. Advertise your services and ask to be paid after each walk to gain some quick cash.
  • Be a ride-share driver. There are multiple car driving apps and services. While they may not pay immediately, you can often get paid weekly, depending on how much you drive, as well as tips from your passengers. Also, look for an occasional sign-up bonus.
  • Pawn items.If you have an item worth money and you’re not too attached to it, try pawning it or selling it. If you pawn it, you can purchase it back at a later date (plus fees and interest). But be careful; if you miss your deadline, you will not get the item back.
  • Borrow money. While it may be uncomfortable, ask friends or family to borrow money. You can offer to pay it back at a specific time or a higher rate. In this case, you may be able to get the money in the quickest way possible.


While there are certainly ways to get cash reasonably quickly, it does not solve the underlying issue of not having the extra money in the first place. If you need cash in an emergency, perhaps you need to consider starting an emergency fund or adding more to one. You will be grateful when you do need it. In the meantime, there are plenty of options to get cash quickly, but none of them will likely provide a significant amount of money immediately.