We’ve all been there—it’s time to pay your bills at the end of the month, and you’re scrambling to make ends meet. Existing as a human being in the twenty-first century is expensive, and no matter how successful you are, the chances are that at some point, you’ve found yourself wishing for a way to earn some extra cash in a pinch.
Luckily, there are plenty of legitimate (and legal) methods of earning a few extra bucks. Whether you’re stuck between jobs, dealing with an expensive medical setback, or just have fallen on hard times, check out our tips to get free money.
What Is Free Money?
When we say “free money,” we mean cash or rewards you gain from signing up for and using a service. Since you’re not producing anything or otherwise laboring for a company, the money is essentially free. However, you will need to provide something in return, even if it’s just an email address.
It’s important to note that the ideas we provide here aren’t enough to form a full-time income; they’re just some easy ways to earn a little extra cash, whether you need it to pay bills, to line your savings account, or to purchase a fun gift for yourself.
Hundreds of businesses and companies make their everyday decisions based on public opinion, so your voice is valuable. Many of these businesses are willing to pay good money for regular people to share their opinion.
There are plenty of sites to choose from, such as Survey Junkie and Swagbucks, that will add money to your account for every easy survey you take. It’s a fun and straightforward way to earn a little extra cash.
Similarly, you can search out research and focus groups in your area. Both corporate and academic institutions are continually performing studies that need participants, and many will gladly and generously compensate you for your time and opinion.
Note that the rewards for taking surveys won’t always be cold hard cash—some companies may compensate you with a gift card or store credit. But as long as you use them wisely, you’ll still reap the benefits.
Businesses are always on the lookout for new customers, and one increasingly common method of attracting new clients is to offer some signup incentive.
The next time you purchase something from a company online for the first time, be sure to make an account and check for any special offers available for first-time clients. Often merely by signing up for a company’s email list, you’ll be eligible for special offers.
Beyond just discounts, some companies will give you cash or vouchers as a reward for signing up with them. Sometimes you may need to make an initial purchase from these companies before being eligible for a bonus, but we think it’s worth it if you need to make the purchase anyway.
Another tried and true method for businesses to expand their customer base is to offer an incentive for referrals. Particularly common in the service industry and banks and utility providers, many companies will reward you in the form of a direct payment or credit if you refer someone else to their company.
Even better is that most referral systems give the friend you refer to a discount or reward as well. It’s a win for both of you.
When we suggest entering contests to win free money, we don’t mean playing the lottery—since you have to buy a lottery ticket, that’s not exactly free. However, there are hundreds of opportunities to enter online contests for no cost at all that will put you in the running to win all kinds of prizes, whether cash or products.
You can find many such contests by following your favorite brands on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. These companies will often allow you to enter your name into competitions several times simply by tagging a friend or sharing a post.
Of course, to make any profit off such free contests, you’ll need to enter many of them a day. Some people enter up to 100 contests per day, but if you enter around 30 a day, your chances of eventually winning one will be pretty good.
If you want to make a little extra cash while doing something to benefit others, consider donating Plasma. Patients worldwide need plasma donations to treat rare diseases, and you can earn up to $70 a week by providing these donations. Check out Donating Plasma to find the donation location closest to you.
There are other biological donations you can make to earn money as well—for instance, women can make a surprisingly large amount of money by selling their eggs, and men can profit off their sperm. You can also earn money by selling bone marrow, although it is a painful and sometimes difficult process.
Refinance Student Loans
It well may be that part of the reason you need extra money in the first place is that you’re paying off your student loans. But refinancing these loans can earn you money in addition to reducing your monthly payments.
When you refinance a loan through a private company, the company pays off your existing loans and gives you a new loan with a lower interest rate. If you have multiple student loans, you can consolidate them in this way so that you’ll only need to make one monthly payment.
As an added perk: Remember when we discussed businesses that offer sign-on bonuses? Many student loan refinancers will pay you a cash bonus for using their services.
Open A Bank Account
Somewhat ironically, many banks will pay you to open an account with them. Major financial players like Chase and Huntington offer cash bonuses for specific checking and savings accounts. Usually, you’ll need to deposit a certain amount in the account, but the bonuses can add up over time.
Find Unclaimed Money
Imagine that somewhere you have a few hundred dollars with your name on it, just waiting for you to claim. It might sound far-fetched, but it’s possible—and more common than you would think.
The National Association of State Treasurers has a website that allows you to search for funds that various establishments may owe you. These could be in the form of insurance repayments, security deposits, or uncashed paychecks.
Another group of companies that offer sign-on bonuses is investing platforms. Several of these platforms and apps, such as Stash Invest and Acorn, will give you free money just for signing up. And, of course, you’ll make money off your investment as time goes on.
There are several apps nowadays that give you access to a variety of coupons while you shop. But some apps can save you money on purchases even after you buy them. One such app, Paribus, tracks your online purchases and scans continuously for price changes. If an item you bought goes down in price, Paribus will let you know and will help you secure a refund from the company.
Health Insurance Tax Credits
Rising medical care costs literally add insult to injury, but if you have health insurance through the government marketplace, you can qualify for credits that go to your insurance premiums. You can secure your savings in a few ways, either by sending the credit straight to your provider, by decreasing your regular payments or by receiving a tax credit at the end of the year.
Also, note that when you file your taxes, you have the option to write off medical expenses. You’ll need to forego taking the standard deduction to do this, so it will probably only save you money if you’ve had a very high amount of medical bills. Still, this can help people with chronic health conditions save thousands of dollars come tax season.
Down Payment Assistance
One reason you could have for wanting to save some money is that you want to buy a home. In that case, you’re likely concerned about affording a down payment. Fortunately, many different government programs can help you purchase a house. Many of these programs target low-income families but, depending on your state; you’ll likely be able to find assistance no matter how much you make.
To check out the programs available in your state, take a look at the FHA’s down payment grant site.
No one wants to lie awake at night worrying that they won’t be able to pay their electric or gas bill. If you’re having trouble making your regular utility payments, take a look at the LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) options available in your state. This government program assists individuals and families who struggle to pay for cooling and heating in their homes.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can save or earn some extra money. Whether it’s through retail rewards, government assistance, or financial reinvestment, you can find a solution for your needs.