An emergency fund will go a long way in this struggling economy and uncertain job market. It's vital to have, at the very minimum, $1,000 lying around for you to use in case of emergency. Most money experts recommend saving up to three to six months of living expenses, but since we're still recovering from the global recession (which may happen again), it's now advisable to have a bigger financial blanket — up to a year's worth of living costs. After all, unemployment can hit you when you least expect it.
If you don't have an emergency fund and need to earn cash quickly when something goes wrong, here are some fast ways to get the money you need:
- Sell your stuff. Clean up your place and sort through your items to see what you can sell on Craigslist. Perhaps it's clothes, gadgets, or books. Maybe you even have jewelry to pawn. You might even have unused gift cards that you can sell on Gift Card Granny or daily deal vouchers to sell on CoupRecoup.
- Ask friends for leftovers. Ask around to see if your friends have any old items they would like to donate to you. Give them a list of the type of items you're looking for and see if they're comfortable with you selling the items.
- Return your purchases. Take back any recent purchases you have made on nonessential items and put the cash in your savings.
- Be a guinea pig. Participate in clinical trials or research studies at hospitals, research centers, or schools. Find a study that works with your schedule, and remember to read the fine print and educate yourself on the risks.
- Take more from your paycheck. Make your budget tighter this month and set aside more money for whatever emergency you need pay for.
- Fiverr.com. Pick from various tasks on Fiverr.com or brainstorm some and post your offers on the site. Each completed task will gain you $5. I know it might be a small amount, but it's a start!
- Babysit. It's time to make the rounds and ask family and friends to see if any of them need a babysitter. Tap into your networks to see if you know anyone who already babysits for a living. Once you find a fellow babysitter, ask them if they are willing to refer you to customers. Check out Craigslist and Sittercity , but be very careful when you're meeting strangers off the Internet.
- Walk dogs. Look through ads online to see if there are any dog-walking gigs available. Because a lot of the postings require dog walkers with experience, you might want to ask your friends and family members to see if they know of anyone who would be willing to pay you for this service. You can even ask your neighbors if they're interested, too.
- Rent out your place. Consider renting out your room or couch on sites such as Airbnb. If you're going out of town, it's a good idea to rent it out for the length of your trip, then you're pretty much not doing much to earn extra money.
- Sell your body parts. There are places that will pay high prices for your blood plasma, sperm, or eggs. Just to give you an idea of how much you'll be earning, here are some amounts you can expect to see: The Sperm Bank of California pays $100 for every ejaculation that meets a certain sperm count; women get paid about $5,000 for each egg donation, according to Genetics & IVF; and BioLife in Chicago, a purchaser of plasma, pays $15 to $50 for your first donation and $15 to $30 for subsequent donations.
- Tap into your talent. Have a hobby that you dedicate hours to? Start making money off of it online. For example, if you're a writer, be a guide writer for About.com, and if you're into making things, check out Etsy. There are plenty of ways to make your hobby lucrative, so do some serious research online to see how to profit from your passion.