Q: Yikes! I’ve got a rent payment due in a couple of days. Payday will come too late and I’m a few bucks short! What can I do?
A: Everyone can relate to this experience or one that’s similar. An unexpected bill or a short paycheck puts you behind, and you spend the rest of the month playing catch up. Finally, a big, important bill comes up and you’re out of backup plans. That grim feeling of panic creeps up your spine. Your heart races.
This is a financial crisis!
The first step is to silence that panic. Take two or three deep breaths. Although it is a problem, it’s one you need to solve, not one to give up on. A practical plan is needed to come up with the money.
Rather than going through a list of things you can do, it might be easier to talk about places to look. Let’s go through a few ideas you can try to find those few extra dollars. This task is going to be equal parts creativity and hard work, so roll up your sleeves and get your thinking cap on!
Much of this is going to depend upon the kind of employer you have, but some of these suggestions may be of some help.
Begin by asking for a few more hours in the next week. Explain your situation briefly to your employer to see if there are special projects coming up in the future that you could get a jump start on now. Most employers are carrying around long lists of projects to be done and they’re waiting for someone to have the free time to tackle them. This could be the opportunity you need to prove yourself for a promotion while helping to bail you out of your tough spot.
Sell Stuff or Do Odd Jobs
Now might be a good time to take stock of your furnishings and appliances. Are there any you’ve been planning to upgrade in the near future? If you can do without them in the interim, you could move up your plans a little bit and put them up for sale. If you do, be sure to do as much maintenance as you can beforehand. If it’s a piece of furniture, give it a quick rub with furniture polish to cover any scratches or dings before you photograph it. If you have the time and energy, sanding and re-staining furniture can make an old piece of wood look new and beautiful. This little upgrade can mean the difference between selling for $20 and $100!
If it’s appliances you’re considering upgrading, the smaller it is, the easier it’ll sell. If you can use an old phone for a few months until your contract upgrade comes up, putting a smartphone up for sale can net you a few hundred dollars. The same advice applies to electronics. Dust them, polish any dings in the case, and round up the original box if you can. Make it look as new as possible.
For items that don’t sell well, like CRT televisions, you’ll really need to flex your creative muscle. It won’t sell as a television, but the front might work as a mirror frame! Taking the guts out and converting it into a planter or terrarium can also turn something worthless into something that might net you a few dollars.
While you’re testing the market for your used goods, you might also keep an eye out for day labor positions. Is your neighbor planning on doing some serious landscaping this weekend? Offer your skill with a rake for a few hours. The new parents next door might want a night out; could you sit for them while they grab dinner and a show? Maybe a bachelor neighbor can’t cook toast. He might enjoy a home-cooked casserole that just needs to be thrown in the oven! These likely aren’t enough to make you rich, but they could get you out of a jam. Sites like Nextdoor and Fiverr can help get you connected to locals in need of your services.
Your credit union is here to help you through thick and thin. Before you give up or turn to a title loan or payday loan service, give us a call. You can get better terms, better interest rates and more personal service at a credit union than you can at any place you’ve seen advertising on TV.
A FlexLine of Credit is perfect for covering emergency situations when you need them. Often tied to checking accounts as overdraft protection, the FlexLine is there when you need it and you only make payments when you use it, similar to a credit card.
This is often overlooked by those in trouble. If you have a good history with your landlord/landlady, be honest with them about what’s going on. Negotiate an extension or smaller payments throughout the month. It can’t hurt to ask.
IF you’re really in trouble, you should also look into government programs. Your state’s Department of Social Services, Housing and Urban Development, or USDA Rural Development Program (if you live in a zoned rural area) can all provide assistance.