When the unpredictable happens, such as sudden job loss, it’s easy to feel panicked and unsure about next steps. You might be at a loss about what to do you’re laid off, and this can be overwhelming. In times like these, it’s important to know you are not alone.
Unemployment has risen dramatically in the past few months, and people all across the country are struggling with similar worries of how they’re going to make ends meet. In the past four weeks alone, more than 22 million U.S. adults have filed unemployment claims, and many Americans are struggling financially.
If you’re looking for help with your rent, we’ve got you covered. Here are 11 legitimate ways to access some extra cash to cover your costs.
Knowing that you’re unable to make rent can induce feelings of stress and fear, and that’s completely normal. It’s OK to be scared, but take a step back and consider your options.
As you go through our list of ways to get help with rent, keep an open mind. The idea is to show you that your hands aren’t necessarily tied and that with a little creativity and an open mind, you’ll see there are numerous options left to exhaust.
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1. Apply for unemployment
The very first thing to do if you’re laid off is file for unemployment insurance. Many states allow you to file a claim online or by phone, and the process isn’t complicated. However, since it may take some time for the government to process your claim, the sooner you file, the better.
Under the recent CARES Act signed into law on March 27, 2020, unemployment insurance benefits have been expanded to include self-employed individuals and gig workers. If you fall under either of these categories, unemployment benefits may now be available to you. Remember, time is of the essence, so don’t delay filing your claim for unemployment.
Find and apply for unemployment benefits in your state.
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2. Talk with your landlord
Given the power dynamic, you may feel as if your landlord is the last person you want to involve when you’re going through financial issues. However, informing your landlord of your situation as soon as possible is probably the better decision.
If you keep your landlord in the loop on what you’re facing, they might be able to work with you on a solution. Plus, your landlord will likely appreciate your transparency and candidness.
Review your lease contract and find any clauses mentioning late payments or missed rent. Some landlords will give you up to a few days after rent is due to make a payment. A few days can make a big difference when you’re trying to come up with enough money to make rent.
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3. Tap into your emergency fund
One of the best ways to prepare for financial uncertainty is to build up an emergency fund. Having a cash reserve available in case of an emergency can buy you some time until you can get back on steady ground. If you’ve established an emergency fund, now might be the time to smash the glass and use it.
Ideally, you’ve saved up enough money to cover a few months’ worth of necessary expenses. This will allow you to continue living without too much of a change. It also gives you a few months to find and secure new employment. Of course, this is a generalized recommendation, as situations can vary. In any case, having some sort of reserve to fall back on is better than nothing.
Consider moving your emergency fund into a high-yield savings account to earn more interest on your money. These savings accounts have much higher rates than traditional savings accounts, which makes them ideal for earning the highest return on your deposits.
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4. Save hundreds by switching car insurance providers
When you’re strapped for cash and are unable to bring in any money, cutting expenses is your next best option. Halting unnecessary spending is vital, and finding ways to cut existing bills is important. Costly recurring bills such as car insurance can be a big monthly expense, but it’s something you might be able to save money on.
If you’re suddenly in a position in which you aren’t driving as often, you should be able to reduce your car insurance premium. Your mileage is taken into consideration when your insurer calculates your premium, and if you aren’t on the road much, it’s possible to save some money.
You may be able to further reduce the cost of your car insurance by shopping around for the most affordable policy. A platform like Provide Insurance can help you find and compare car insurance quotes all in one place. This allows you to save time because you won’t need to fill out the same information multiple times to compare quotes with each individual car insurance company.
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5. Earn extra money as an Instacart shopper
If you’re recently unemployed or another situation has left you short on money, start thinking of ways to bring in extra cash. No matter what’s going on in the world, people still need groceries. With Instacart, you can put money in your pocket shopping for and delivering those groceries.
It takes just moments to sign up as an Instacart shopper, and you can work as little or as often as you want. You receive orders right through your smartphone, shop for the groceries, make your delivery to the customer’s door, and get paid. It’s that easy.
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6. Ask loved ones for help
If you’re in a financial crunch, you may consider asking friends or family for assistance. They care about you, and they may be in a position to help you financially.
If you’re not careful, though, borrowing money from family or friends can sometimes turn relationships sour. For this reason, you may want to consider treating any money they lend you as a loan. You can offer to pay 1 to 2% interest on the loan when you regain your financial footing, which is what they would earn with most high-yield savings accounts. This gives them a little something in return for helping you.
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7. Save on your internet and phone bills without changing your service
Bills can add up, but they can be less expensive with Truebill in your corner. Truebill is a service that automatically negotiates your internet and phone bills to ensure you’re getting the best price available. It also finds and cancels those unwanted subscriptions you forgot about and have since lost track of.
Truebill works with many of the nation’s largest providers, including AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and DirecTV. Once you’re signed up, you simply connect your accounts and let Truebill take it from there. If they successfully lower your bill, they take a portion for doing the work and you keep the rest. If they don’t find you any savings, you don’t pay a penny.
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8. Avoid costly interest with the right credit card
If you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month, you’re paying interest on it. Depending on how many credit cards you have and the balance on each, this can really add up. This is money you could otherwise put toward rent if you were able to free it up.
For example, say you have a credit card with a $5,000 balance that charges an 18% interest rate. Over a period of 12 months, you will end up paying roughly $463 dollars in interest alone as you work toward paying it off. Transferring this balance to a credit card like the Citi Double Cash Card with a 0% introductory APR offer on balance transfers could help you save that money instead of spending it on interest charges.
You may also consider charging your rent to a credit card that offers a 0% introductory APR on new purchases. Some cards, like the Citi Diamond Preferred Card, offer this benefit for a year or more, which will allow you to make your rent payment and not have to worry about interest charges adding up. Although this can be a risky move during an economic downturn, it may help buy you some time while you wait for unemployment compensation.
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9. Get paid to deliver food
When you’re looking for ways to bring in extra cash quickly, you want a gig that lets you work wherever you want and as often as you need to. DoorDash lets you set your own work schedule making food deliveries to customers. All you need to become a DoorDash Dasher is a reliable mode of transportation and a smartphone.
With DoorDash, customers place their orders at a restaurant and the app notifies nearby Dashers. If you accept the order, you simply pick up the food, drop it off, and get paid. You earn a base pay as a dasher and keep 100% of the tips.
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10. Get paid to rent your car with Getaround
There are a ton of great ways to bring in extra money, one of which is renting your car out using Getaround. If you find yourself not using your car as much, you can turn your car into a paycheck machine instead of letting it sit idle in your driveway.
Getaround makes it possible to rent your car to those who need a car, whether it’s for a few hours or for the day. Once you’re onboarded and ready to share your car, you can list your vehicle and start earning rent money.
Getaround provides its own proprietary Getaround Connect device, which enables your vehicle with keyless entry. This allows you to rent your car out without having to be there to hand over the keys in person every time. You set your car’s availability and then watch your earnings roll in.
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11. Consider cashing out some of your retirement savings
If you absolutely must, you might consider cashing out some of your retirement savings to pay for your rent. This should be treated as the last resort and should be considered only if financial circumstances are dire. Your retirement savings are meant to secure your financial future, and tapping into your savings ahead of retirement can be costly.
An early withdrawal can result in an early withdrawal fee in addition to being subject to income tax, so take this into consideration before you decide to reach into your retirement savings. The IRS does, however, allow for safe harbor distributions, which include payments necessary to prevent eviction from a primary residence.
Currently, with the passing of the CARES Act, the 10% early withdrawal penalty is waived for distributions up to $100,000. This includes withdrawals from a 401(k), in addition to an IRA. And if you repay the amount you borrow within three years, you can avoid paying income tax on the withdrawal.
Speak to your plan administrator to see what options are available to you.
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The final word on getting help with rent
If you find yourself in a situation in which you can’t pay your rent, try to remain calm. It may take a little creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to cover your costs. However, there are several options available to make money quickly to help you in this situation.
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