Making ends meet is more difficult with the cost of inflation. And even though consumers have seen some recent relief in certain sectors, such as gas and clothing, financial experts are predicting overall costs will remain high well into next year.
Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day, and with work and family responsibilities, trying to earn more cash by trading hours for dollars often isn’t feasible.
If you’re financially struggling and short on time, here are 20+ ways to get free money to help pay bills:
Free money and more
Check out these posts on free and low-cost resources for low-income individuals and families:
Free money from the government
These are a few of the government programs that help low-income individuals and families:
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program provides grant funds to states to help needy families with expenses, such as child care assistance. To apply, you have to meet the following qualifications:
- Resident of the state where you apply
- Unemployed or underemployed
- Low or very low income
- U.S. citizen, legal alien or qualified alien
- Have a child 18 or younger, currently pregnant, or at least 18 and the head of your household
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps families with their utility bills. Depending on your location, you could get help with the following:
- Bills for electricity, natural gas, propane, wood, or fuel oil
- Priority assistance for households in danger of losing heating or cooling
- Heating and cooling equipment repair and replacement
- Natural disaster assistance
To get help, call 1-866-674-6327. Representatives are available Monday-Friday from 9 A.M. to 7 P.M. EST.
Learn more ways to get help with utilities.
If you’re struggling to pay your rent or utility bills, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides funding. Although you don’t need a signed lease to qualify for assistance, you do need to have an agreement to pay rent for your house, apartment, mobile home, or other dwelling. Other requirements include:
- At least one household member has:
- qualified (or should qualify) for unemployment
- lost income
- owed large expenses or had other financial hardships
- a household income below a certain threshold (varies by location)
- At least one household member is at risk of becoming homeless or would face challenges if seeking out a stable place to live
You can find rental assistance programs in your area through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Free money from charities
Your local Salvation Army can help you apply for the following types of emergency assistance:
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Electric bills
- Gas bills
- Water bills
Even if you aren’t Catholic (or religious at all), one of Catholic Charities USA’s 167 local agencies may be able to help you with household expenses. Qualifications vary by location. For example, the Pittsburgh Catholic Charities branch offers rent and utilities assistance for residents living within 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Modest Needs provides financial assistance to individuals or families who are working but struggling to make ends meet. It receives its funding from crowdsource fundraising efforts. These are the qualifications for assistance:
- 18 years or older
- Legal U.S. or Canadian resident
- Application for assistance is for you or another household member
- Household has at least one bank account or has filed a federal tax return within the past two years
- You have regular access to the internet to check email and the Modest Needs website each day while your application is processing
- A signed lease agreement if you rent your home
- Ability to pass Modest Need’s income and employment tests
Rent for Moms, founded by Black women and other marginalized genders, helps Black moms pay rent and utilities during the holiday season. The grassroots nonprofit started in December 2020 and has helped more than 70 single Black moms across the U.S.
If you are a single Black mom who needs help paying rent or utilities this holiday season, applications are open until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on December 25, 2023. If you are accepted, a coordinator will contact you. All payments are made directly to your landlord or utility provider.
Also, check out our post on charities that help single mothers.
Free money from selling stuff
If you have things around your house you no longer need, you can make money (and increase space in your home) by selling them. Pawn shops and consignment stores — including online consigners like Poshmark and Mercari — are good places to sell.
You can also sell items for free locally on these apps:
Facebook Marketplace allows Facebook users to post items for sale for free, which saves you from losing profits to fees other platforms charge. Prohibited items include health care-related items and animals, including those for adoption.
Nextdoor is another free platform where you can list and sell personal items and handmade goods. Nextdoor does not allow the sale of gift cards or items that are part of an incentive program, such as Scentsy or Mary Kay.
OfferUp, a website and app for local buyers and sellers similar to Craigslist, is also free to use. Through its app, you can take a picture of the item you want to sell and list it. Then, potential buyers can message you through the app. You’ll also be able to view each potential buyer’s profile, including their transaction history and ratings.
Check out our post on 33 things to sell to make money from the stuff around your house and sites like Craigslist (some of which charge selling fees). We also put together a list of selling apps.
Free money for renting stuff
If you have an extra space you’re not using, such as a garage, storage shed, or extra bedroom, you could make money each month renting it through Neighbor.com. Although listings are free, you’ll pay a 4.9% + 30 cents monthly processing fee for renting out your space.
Getaround or HyreCar
Getaround and HyreCar are two services that allow you to rent out your car when you’re not using it. These services work better for people who have spare cars they don’t often use.
You can also try car advertising.
You can make up to $500 per month renting your bike, surfboard, paddleboard, snowboard or skis. The platform allows you to set your own rental rates, but this is the suggested rate for a bicycle:
- Hourly: $7
- Daily: $20
- Weekly: $100
Listings are free on Spinlister, but the company takes 17.5% of your listing fee every time you rent out your ride.
Free money back in your bank when you refi debt
If you have a lot of high-interest credit cards or loans, you can often save money on your monthly bills and in the long term by refinancing.
Refinance your student loans
Whether you have private or federal student loans, refinancing could save you some money — meaning you could have more money in your bank account each month.
If you have loans through private lenders, shop around to see if you can find a better rate and then use a student loan calculator to determine how much you could potentially save. You might be able to put several hundred dollars back in your bank account each month.
Federal student loans currently sit at 0% interest rate. However, as soon as the federal student loan moratorium ends, you may want to refinance your federal student loans. Avoid refinancing federal loans with a private lender, however. Doing so will result in a loss of federal benefits and protections, including income-contingent repayment plans and loan forgiveness.
Refinance your credit card debt
According to the Fed, the average credit card interest rate is 18.43%. If your credit card’s current interest rate is average or above, you could potentially save some money if you refinance your credit card debt. A personal loan could be a good option if the rate and terms are favorable.
You could also consider a balance transfer. The catch with a balance transfer credit card, however, is that you won’t know how much your credit limit will be until after you apply, which means you might not be able to transfer your entire balance.
Use a balance transfer calculator to find out if you really can save by transferring your current debt to another credit card. Factor any balance transfer fees, which typically range between 3%-5%, into your total cost. To save the most money, look for a balance transfer offer with no fees and a 0% introductory rate.
Refinance your auto loan
Another option to put more money back in your bank account is to refinance your auto loan. If interest rates are lower than when you originally financed your vehicle or your credit score has improved, it might be worth it to refinance.
Refinancing at a lower rate may lower your monthly payment, as well as reduce the overall term of the loan.
If your goal is a much lower payment, however, you will likely have to refinance for a longer term, which means that you may end up paying more interest than you would if you kept your original loan.
A surprise bonus of refinancing is that it can postpone payments for 90 days — allowing you to save that much more.
Do the math to make sure refinancing is the best move for your finances. Then, shop around for a refi auto loan >>
Auto Credit Express is A+ rated with the Better Business Bureau:
- Average Saving: $1,700 or $143 per month
- Minimum Credit Score: 525
- APR from 3.99%
- Loan Amounts: $5,000 – $45,000
- Vehicle Criteria: Under 10 Years/150K Miles
Free money from apps
Some apps will pay you money for taking surveys, online shopping, or even playing games:
In your spare time, you could earn money by taking surveys. It won’t be a lot, but it could help make ends meet. For example, Survey Junkie’s website gives an earnings example of completing three surveys per day to make $40 per month. Survey Junkie members can cash out starting at $5, with the option of cash via PayPal or bank transfer or choosing from a variety of gift cards.
Inbox Dollars pays cash to members for tasks such as shopping, completing surveys, using apps, playing games, and exploring new products and services. Earnings will vary according to task, but to give you an idea, the Inbox Dollars website states that most surveys for money pay 50 cents to $5 and take five to 25 minutes to complete.
Branded Surveys is another option to earn cash for sharing your opinion. Once you reach 500 points, you can have your earnings deposited directly into your PayPal account within one to three days.