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When you’re broke, it feels like you’re always going to be broke. It’s a never-ending cycle. You don’t have money, so you miss a bill and rack up a late charge — that you can’t pay. Because you’re broke.
The first step toward getting yourself out of this cycle is to build up a little financial cushion. Let’s call it your emergency fund. How’s $1,000 sound?
Even if you feel like you’re stuck, we’ve got eight tips to help you out. And if you follow them all, you could have an extra $1,000 (or more!) in two months’ time. It’ll be worth it — and it doesn’t have to be hard.
We’ll break it down for you week by week:
Week 1: See if You Can Get Money From This Company
Here’s the deal: If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on extra cash. And who doesn’t want extra cash?
Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to a 5% back every time you swipe.
Need to buy groceries? Extra cash.
Need to fill up the tank? Bam. Even more extra cash.
You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get this extra money in the process?
Enter your email address here, and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with your free Aspiration account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
Week 2: Add $225 to Your Wallet Just for Watching the News
It’s been a historic year in news, and we’re all constantly refreshing for the latest updates. You probably know more than one news-junkie who fancies themselves an expert in respiratory illness or a political mastermind.
And research companies want to pay you to keep watching.
You could add up to $225 a month to your pocket by signing up for a free account with Swagbucks. They’ll present you with short news clips to choose from every day, then ask you a few questions about them.
You just have to answer honestly, and Swagbucks will continue to pay you every month.
This might sound too good to be true, but it’s already paid its users more than $429 million. We talked to one user in Pennsylvania, 52-year-old Carolinda Hendrickson, who earned $1,200 in a year.
It takes about one minute to sign up, and start getting paid to watch the news.
Week 3: Withdraw $5 to Own a Piece of Amazon, Google or Other Companies
Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own another company.
But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.
That’s why we like the app Stash. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — buying pieces of other companies for as little as $1. That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google or Apple, for as little as $1.
The best part? When these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.
It takes two minutes to sign up, plus Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your investment account.
Week 4: Let This Website Pay Off Your Credit Cards
No, like… the whole bill. All of it.
Your credit card is getting rich by ripping you off with insane rates, but a website called Fiona could help you pay them off tomorrow.
Here’s how it works: Fiona will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.
Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online.
It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.
Week 5: Cancel Your Current Car Insurance
People love to tell you to shop around. “You should be getting three different quotes to get the best price on car insurance,” they say.
Sure, this sounds like good advice. Here’s why it’s wrong: Comparing only three companies isn’t nearly enough. We suggest comparing 40. But who has time for that?
A company called Gabi will do it for you for free. It gets people an average of $825 back in their bank accounts a year — and you’ll get the same coverage you already have.
It doesn’t matter when you last renewed; you can get a check from your old company for the time left on your previous policy. (Read: They probably owe you money.)
You don’t have to make any calls or fill out any forms. It takes two minutes to see how much Gabi can put back in your pocket. And the best part? Because we’re driving less, some insurers are slashing prices this month.
Week 6: See if the Government Owes You Money
Let’s start with the most fun option. One you might even have fantasized about: Someone comes along and just hands you the money.
We know it sounds far-fetched, but we’re serious. State treasuries throughout the U.S. have more than $43 billion in unclaimed funds, according to The New York Times. Just sitting around! Waiting for you to come play lost and found.
Wanna check for yourself? Go to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website, and enter your name and state.
Penny Hoarder reader Kelli Howell heeded our advice and found money in her husband’s name. He was entitled to $56 from a matured insurance policy. Sure, it’s $56, but that’s not bad for an unexpected check, right?
When you’re trying to build an emergency fund, you can’t beat free money.
Week 7: Get Paid Every Time You Buy Toilet Paper
Grocery shopping was never exactly pleasant. But these days, it’s a downright struggle. Fighting crowds; keeping six feet of space — just buying toilet paper is a feat.
Shouldn’t you have something to show for it?
A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store.
Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.
You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something…