Raising Quick Cash for Unexpected Bills
by Gary Foreman
Most of us have faced a cash crunch at one time or another. Here are a few things you can do when you need a quick cash infusion.
Help! We’ve been hit by a couple of big unexpected bills. They’ve wiped out our savings and maxed our credit cards. We need to raise some quick cash. Do you have any ideas that could help us bring some cash into the house quickly?
You’re not alone. Most of us have faced a cash crunch at one time or another. So let’s discuss some ways that you can solve your cash crisis and raise some quick cash for those unexpected bills.
Sell some stuff
An obvious answer is to sell some stuff. With Craigslist and eBay, it’s easier than ever to get some real cash for items of value. We’re not talking garage sale stuff here, although that can sell well, too, if packaged in groups. Things like dolls from your collection or that old 50s style lamp could bring in more than you think.
Look around your home with an eye to finding saleable items. Pay special attention in the corners of closets and in the garage and attic. After all, that’s where you tend to stick things that you don’t use anymore.
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Pawn some stuff
If your cash problem is just temporary, you might consider a pawnshop. The modern shop has changed dramatically in the last few years. Yes, they still loan money on “hocked” items, but you’ll find that most are very well run businesses. They know what your item is worth and what they can lend on it. They’ll also clearly tell you what the loan will cost you in interest and charges.
Keep in mind that your item secures the loan. Don’t pawn items that you can’t afford to lose if you’re unsure about repaying your loan.
Jewelry and electronics are often your best items. But it can’t hurt to ask about anything that you’re not using regularly.
Search for unclaimed property
Another place to look for quick cash is in deposits you have made and unclaimed funds. Often when you move into a new house or apartment, you’ll be asked for a deposit to get your utilities connected. Although they don’t publicize it, many will return your deposit after a year or two of regular on-time payments. A couple of quick phone calls to your utility companies could be productive.
A bit more of a long shot is finding some unclaimed funds. In our fast paced world, it’s not uncommon for people to forget utility deposits, abandon small retirement accounts, or have inheritances that they don’t even know about.
States generally require those monies be turned over to them for safekeeping for a specified time. They also have a listing that you can search to see if any of that money belongs to you.
You can do a search for unclaimed property for all states. Check any state that you’ve lived in or any rich relative has lived in!
Find additional work
You’ve probably already thought of this one, but it might be time to get a temporary second job. Even in a tough job market, a determined job seeker can find work that pays. It may not pay as much as you’d like, but any dollar that you can apply to your debt will lower the balance.
Borrow from your 401k
You may also want to consider borrowing from your 401k plan. A loan would provide a quick inflow of cash, but it does come with a cost. You’ll still be paying interest on the money you borrow, probably at a rate lower than you’re being charged now. And, the whole balance could come due if you leave your employer or are laid off.
Reduce your tax withholdings
If you think that you can dig out by next spring, you may want to increase the number of dependents that you claim at work. That will reduce the amount that’s withheld from your paycheck. You’ll still owe the same in taxes, so be prepared to write a bigger check next April. But, you will have created a short-term cash flow. Your HR representative will be able to provide you with details.
Start a side gig
Another opportunity would be to create your own source of self-employed income. If you’re good with home repairs, perhaps you could earn some extra cash by helping less adept neighbors with their to-do list. Think of any skill that you have (baking, sewing, lawn care, carpentry, etc.) and consider how you could use it to make money. If it’s something you like, you’ll even enjoy the work.
A last resort
Finally, as a last resort, consider borrowing from friends or relatives. Make sure you make the effort to write out a loan agreement. Include how much was borrowed, what the interest rate will be, how often payments are to be made, and what happens if the payments aren’t on time.
Hopefully your cash crunch will be short-lived and you’ll have your finances in better shape soon.
Reviewed October 2022
About the Author
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com.
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