How to Make Money When You’re Broke: 11 Strategies That Actually Work

Are you going through a time where you’re income isn’t quite enough to meet all your needs? If so, don’t despair! First, know that you’re not alone – many people are in the same boat. Second, know that there are things you can do to make extra money when you’re broke. With some effort and creativity, you’ll be bringing in extra cash before you know it.

Here are 11 strategies that you can try today:

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links or referral links. I may earn a commission or credit if you make a purchase or sign up.

A broke man showing that he has no money in his pocket.

1. Donate plasma

If you’re looking for a way to make some quick cash and you are in good health, consider donating plasma. While you can’t technically be paid for the plasma itself, you can be compensated for your time – and many locations do pay for this.

Plasma is the liquid part of of your blood that contains important proteins, antibodies, and other factors. It can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions, and so there is always a demand for it.

To donate plasma, you’ll visit a location that specializes in this. They’ll place a needle in your arm to draw blood, and the blood will go into a machine. The machine will separate out the plasma, and the other components (like your red and white blood cells) are returned to your body.

The first appointment may take a while for medical screenings and instructions, but after that, donating plasma will typically only take about an hour.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, donating plasma typically doesn’t cause any side effects. Occasionally, people may experience fatigue, bruising, or dehydration.

Most facilities offer some bonus incentives for donating a certain number of times, and then the payment goes down a bit from there. For example, BioLife Plasma Services was recently offering a payment of $900 for donating plasma eight times. Not a bad payout when you consider the relatively minimal time commitment.

Plus, it’s great to be able to help others while you’re making extra cash.

2. Sell your stuff

Not everyone who is struggling with cash flow will have extra things on hand to sell, so take this one with a grain of salt. We realize it’s not always an option.

However, if you were in a been in a better financial situation earlier and are stressed about finances now, you may find yourself in a place where you can get some quick cash by selling off items you own.

This can be anything from clothes and furniture to electronics and toys. Heck, it could even mean selling your car and either downgrading to a cheaper car, or utilizing public transportation and biking/walking more.

A garage sale is a great way to get rid of unwanted items and make a little money at the same time. This is a good option when you want to get rid of a lot of random, lower-value stuff, and want to do so quickly.

For higher quality items, try selling them online through platforms like eBay, Facebook marketplace, or Craigslist.

When it comes to nicer clothing items, you can try an app like Poshmark. They specialize in higher-end secondhand clothing. You just post pictures of your used gear, add prices, and sell! They’ll provide a pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping label when someone makes a purchase. (If you join Poshmark, feel free to use code CHRISSYTHERD to get $10 off your first order).

Whatever method you choose, selling your stuff is a great way to raise some extra cash when you need it.

3. Do odd jobs

This could involve anything from dog walking to yard work to helping someone move. Odd jobs are a great way to make some quick cash, and they can often be found through social media platforms (like local Facebook groups), online platforms (like Craigslist or task-based apps), or by simply asking around.

While some odd jobs may only pay a few dollars, others can be much more lucrative. For example, you might make a good hourly rate helping someone move, or painting rooms in someone’s house.

In addition to those, here are some examples of other odd jobs that people will pay for you to do:

  • Dog walking / pet sitting
  • Yard work (mowing lawns, trimming hedges, raking leaves, etc.)
  • Shoveling snow
  • Cleaning houses
  • Running errands (i.e. dropping off packages at the post office, bringing items to a store to return)
  • Tutoring
  • Babysitting
  • House sitting
  • Helping grocery shop, cook, and/or wait tables for a private party at someone’s house

Odd jobs can be a great way to make some extra money, but it’s important to be careful before accepting any job. Make sure you understand the scope of the work and the pay involved before agreeing to anything. Also be sure that the job posting is real and that you are not being set up for a scam or crime.

A person walking a dog outside on a fall day.

4. Flip freebies

You’d be surprised how much stuff people are willing to give away for free! All you need to do is look around – whether it’s online in local Facebook groups, posted on Facebook marketplace, or in your local community on the curbside – there are always people who are willing to give away their unwanted items.

Once you’ve got your hands on some free stuff, it’s time to start flipping it for a profit. For example, you could buy clothes from garage sales or thrift stores and sell them online on an app like like Poshmark.

If you’ve got a crafty side to you, try refurbishing furniture and selling it.

Or if you’re a handyman/handywoman, you can snatch up free “broken” appliances and electronics, fix ’em, and re-sell for a pretty penny.

There are all sorts of things you can flip for a profit – just keep your eyes peeled and get creative.

5. Do freelance work

In today’s economy, more and more people are turning to freelance work in order to make ends meet. Freelancing is essentially running your own business, which can stay small or can grow as large as you’d like.

While the traditional 9-5 job is still the most common way to earn a living, freelancing offers a unique set of benefits that can be appealing to many workers.

Freelancers have the ability to set their own hours and work from home, which can be a great perk for parents or people with disabilities. Additionally, freelancers are often able to charge higher rates for their services since they are not beholden to a single employer. And finally, freelancing can provide a sense of freedom and flexibility that many workers crave.

Freelancing can encompass many different types of work – choose what you have expertise in or what you feel you can excel at:

  • Freelance writing for newspapers, magazines, digital publications, small businesses, and bloggers
  • Graphic design for businesses
  • Website development
  • Social media marketing
  • Event planning
  • Photography – this could be family photography, product photography, branding headshots…you name it!

If you’re interested in freelancing, start by defining your service(s) and ideal customer. Then, begin reaching out to businesses or individuals who may need your help. Word of mouth is often how freelance work begins, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask around.

If no one is biting at first, you can always try offering a discounted rate in exchange for permission to use a testimonial about their experience. This is great for getting “social proof” that will help other customers purchase from you!

You can also try posting your services on sites like Fiverr or Upwork.

With a little effort, you could be earning extra cash through freelancing in no time.

A photographer doing freelance work with families.

6. Try MTurk.

If you are really struggling, skip over this option and focus on better ways to create more income (like side hustle jobs or freelancing). But if you’re just looking for a little extra fun money, you can try MTurk (otherwise known as Amazon Mechanical Turk).

This website houses small, very simple work tasks. Called HITS – human intelligence tasks – these are simple tasks that can be tough for computers to execute but easy for humans.

Examples of these HITS include things like:

  • Taking a survey
  • Finding a company’s address on their website
  • Categorizing a news story
  • Identifying or describing and image
  • Typing out the text that is overlaid on an image
  • Answering market research questions

As a heads up, the pay on these tasks is typically quite low – around $0.01-$1.50 per task (yes, you read that right – they start at one cent). You’re probably only going to make a few bucks for an hour of “work”.

However, the tasks are super simple and can be done anytime of day that you’ve got a computer in front of you. There’s no minimum or maximum that you have to complete. I find it to be easy money for something that I can do while binging Netflix at night.

Once you join MTurk, you just click on “All HITs” to see what tasks are available and their corresponding pay.

7. Get a side hustle job.

If you’re broke and need some steady extra money, a side hustle job is a great option. Side hustles are essentially any type of job or gig that you do in addition to your primary source of income.

While some side hustles can turn into full-time jobs, others are meant to be more temporary – like picking up an extra bartending shift on the weekends or driving for a rideshare company for a few hours after work.

Whatever your situation, there’s likely a side hustle out there for you. Here are some popular options:

  • Driving for Uber or Lyft
  • Walking dogs with Rover
  • Working as a brand ambassador for local demonstrations or events (for example, I used to have a side hustle job doing tea demos at grocery stores)
  • Delivering food with DoorDash or UberEats
  • Picking up random shifts on Instawork (This is an on-demand staffing platform where you can pick up individual shifts in hospitality, manufacturing, warehousing & logistics, retail & customer service, and more. BONUS: Sign up for Instawork with this link, and you’ll earn a $50 bonus after you complete four shifts.)
  • Becoming an Amazon flex driver (In this situation, you’re an independent contractor and work with Amazon to pick up random delivery shifts. They say most drivers make around $18-25/hour).
  • Grocery shopping for Instacart
A man working as a delivery driver for a side hustle to earn money.

8. Teach English online

Are you a native English speaker looking for a way to make some extra money? If so, teaching English online could be the perfect solution.

Note that this does have a few more requirements than most of the other options on this list. Some companies do require that you have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, and most will require a quiet space with good internet access and a webcam.

It’s also helpful if you’re knowledgeable about the country or culture of your students; many online English classes are taught to students from other countries, so it’s helpful to be able to provide some context for the language.

If you’re interested in teaching English online, do some research and find a company that you feel comfortable working with.

A popular option is VIPKid. Each class that you teach is 25 minutes, and you can set the hours you wish to work. There’s no minimum number of hours you need to hit each week, so you can truly make it fit with your schedule. They also provide the lesson plans for you!

They estimate that most teachers make around $14-22/hr.

Note that VIPKid previously did a lot of teaching in China, but this has been halted due to Chinese government regulations that that effectively banned tutoring from foreign teachers. As such, there aren’t as many opportunities on the platform as previous years, but they do hope to build up a bigger global audience from other locations.

9. Be a mystery shopper

While mystery shopping doesn’t pay a ton of money, it is a fun way to earn some extra cash when you’re broke – and occasionally has additional benefits like getting free food.

Mystery shoppers are hired by businesses to pose as customers and provide feedback on their experience. To be a successful mystery shopper, you need to be able to pay attention to detail and carefully follow the directions for the shop. You also need to be able to act like a casual customer.

When you’re doing a shop, you may be asked to evaluate things like the cleanliness of the store, the friendliness of the staff, and how easy it was to find what you were looking for. You’ll may also need to take note of things like how long it took for the staff to acknowledge you, and how they treated you when they did.

To find mystery shopping opportunities in your area, you can check out these companies:

I recently took a peek at some of the opportunities in one of the mystery shopping platforms. Here are some examples of the opportunities and pay:

  • Go to a store and inquire about product recommendations for a teen child. Note which products they recommend and get a business card from the sales person. Pay = $25.
  • Go to a store and take photographs of a particular product, along with the competitor products on the shelf. Pay = $12.
  • Go to a store and make a small purchase, then fill out a survey about whether the employee offered a credit card. Pay = $30.

Be aware that there are mystery shopping scams out there. A legitimate mystery shopping company will never ask you to pay a fee to join, and they will always give you clear instructions on what is expected of you.

A woman mystery shopping in a department store.

10. Take surveys online

Got kids at home and fretting about leaving the house to make extra money? You can bring in a little cash from the comfort of your own home by taking surveys online.

You’ll answer questions that provide valuable feedback to companies and earn rewards in the process.

Some survey companies will pay directly in cash to your PayPal or bank account, while others will allow you to earn points that you can redeem for gift cards (like Amazon or Walmart gift cards, for example).

Three of the most popular survey companies are:

Pay varies widely. Swagbucks says most members make around $1-$5 per day that they use it. When looking at the site, keep in mind 100 points called SBs = $1 in gift card money. So if you see a survey that’s 5 SB, that’s the equivalent of $0.05.

Just like mystery shopping, there are also a lot of survey scams out there – so tread carefully when looking at other survey websites.

11. Try out-of-the-box ideas

Some of these ideas aren’t for everyone, but I’m not here to judge! If you’re really struggling to make money and are willing to try just about anything, then here are two out-of-the-box ideas that might work for you. (These aren’t necessarily the best options – but they could help you make some extra cash in a pinch).

  • Participate in medical research studies – but obviously only if you feel comfortable with the risks. However, there are some that are lower risk – like participating in a single bout of exercise and having the researchers assess bloodwork, heart function, etc. – that you can still be paid for.
  • Consider a risque way. From feet photos to OnlyFans, there are ways to earn money from your sexuality. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and does require you to be very cautious about safety. You’ll also need to be mentally comfortable with this type of work – it is not an option for everyone.

The Bottom Line

These are just a few of the many ways to make extra money when you’re broke.

Keep in mind, the most impactful way to improve your financial situation may be with a new full time job that has a higher income, or slowly starting your own business. Big moves like that can move the needle forward faster.

However, with a little time and effort, the ideas above can help you to start bringing in some extra cash to help make ends meet.

PS – don’t forget to check out our frugal life hacks to find ways to trim your expenses and save money.

Share: Do you have any other ideas for how to make money when you’re broke? Which of these ideas will you try out?

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