If you had to come up with an extra $2,000 in 30 days, would you be able to do it?
The unfortunate reality is that it’s tough to make that much money in such a short period of time. Lots of people have a salary as their primary source of income, and salaries aren’t conducive for pulling in a little extra when needed.
The best way to increase your income is to focus on the long term. You invest time and energy now to set up higher earnings in the future. You can stash some excess cash in an emergency fund so you never find yourself needing to make $2,000 quickly.
But what if you do find yourself needing to make $2,000 fast?
Usually when you look online for suggestions of how to make money fast, you get terrible suggestions like doing online surveys or using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. These approaches are a waste of time and the blogs that suggest them make me mad enough to tear my hair out (if I had any).
These suggestions might actually work. Some of them might come up short by themselves, but if you’re in real trouble, you’ll have to hustle your face off and use multiple approaches to hit such an ambitious goal.
Ask People For Money
I’m not kidding.
It’s embarrassing, but people can be generous.
Plus, chances are if you really need the money right now, there’s a good reason that someone will understand. You could even have someone create a kickstarter for you or campaign on your behalf.
When I was in college, my church was comprised of 95% broke as a joke college kids. We didn’t have much to give, but there were several times when someone organized a fundraiser for one of our members. We bought one guy a laptop he desperately needed. One of the worship leaders had her guitar stolen and we bought her a new one. There was a girl who we joked was our churches unofficial photographer and we bought her a nice camera.
In every case, it took about a day of asking people for donations to hit our goals.
In any case, if they can’t donate any money, there are still potential favors you can cash in. We’ll get to those below.
Sell Your Stuff Online
If you’re like everyone else, you have tons of stuff lying around. Much of it you rarely or never use. Some of it would actually be worth something to someone else.
Here are some items in particular that you might want to look out for:
- Box sets of books (e.g. Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter)
- Sports jerseys or memorabilia
- Baseball cards
- Vintage video games (and consoles)
- Vintage toys
- Power tools
- Nice clothes
- DVD/Blue Ray boxed sets
- Board games
- Old smartphones
- Kitchen gadgets (e.g. panini press, electric griddle)
- Sports/fitness equipment
- Furniture you don’t use
There are a variety of places you can look to sell these items, from Craig’s List to eBay to Facebook Marketplace.
There are a couple of downsides to selling your stuff. The first is that you can only sell each item once, and you only have so much stuff.
The second is that there’s no guarantee that your items will sell right away. And you’ll need to learn some of the intricacies of your platform to give your items the best chance of selling.
That said, you have lots of junk sitting around not making your life better and you need money. Go out and make some sales.
The money you make here can be the seed money for the next strategy:
You only have so much your own stuff to sell, but you’ll never run out of things to buy and flip.
Arbitrage—buying low and selling high—has been a valid business model for as long as there’s been business.
To make money flipping, you need a place to source items and a platform on which to sell them.
So you could buy something on Craig’s list and sell it on eBay. Or buy it at a garage sale and sell it on Facebook Marketplace.
You can even source items for free. One way would be to search Crag’s List for items that people are giving away that still have resale value.
But another method would be as a follow up to the friends and family that weren’t able to give you money. You can ask them if they have any items that they want to get rid of that they’d let you sell for them. You can even offer them a percentage of the sale.
Learning how to flip well takes time, but you can start making money right away. The downside is that it’s a “spend money to make money” operation, which carries a certain amount of risk. That’s why it’s bet if you start by selling your own stuff.
Sell Your Services
Another thing you can ask those who don’t give is if there’s anything they would be willing to hire you to do.
You can also go door-to-door soliciting buyers for your services.
Here are some of the things you might consider offering:
- Mowing lawns/lawn service
- House sitting
- Pet sitting
- Helping people move
- House cleaning
- Pool cleaning
- Hanydyman services
- Computer repair
The tough part about this strategy is that finding clients can be brutal. The nice thing is that landing business has the potential to lead to repeat business.
You just have to hustle like crazy to find customers.
Sell Your Knowledge
You don’t have to be a world-class expert in something to be a coach or a tutor. You just need to know something that someone else needs to learn.
Chances are, you have knowledge, skills, and abilities that others value. Figure out what you bring to the table, and find people who are willing to pay for it.
Examples of the kind of coaching or tutoring you might offer include:
- Teaching languages (including English!)
- Technical skills
- Cooking lessons
Again, the downside of this approach is that you’ll have to hustle like crazy to find clients. You can use the regular online channels such as Facebook and Craig’s List, you can also lean on your network and ask around for anyone who is looking for these kind of services.
Get a Part Time Job
This is the traditional path and the obvious one, but it’s still worth mentioning.
It’s worth noting that at the time I’m writing this (July 2021), there’s never been a better time to find part time work. I’ve heard numerous stories of employers of low-wage workers being so desperate that they are offering signing bonuses to new hires. Some are even paying people just to show up for an interview.
The other day I drove by a Wendy’s—the kind of place you’d expect to pay $7 or $8 an hour—and there was a banner advertising they were hiring at over $10 an hour.
The bad news is that without overtime, it’s tough to crack $2,000 in a month making $10 an hour. There’s also the fact that when you get a side job, you usually don’t get paid until 2-3 weeks after your first day on the job.
Find a Freelance Gig
As a writer, I’ve found freelance gigs on the problogger job board. You can also try Fiverr, Upwork, Craig’s List, etc. Or just google “freelance jobs.”
The downside to this one is that finding real profit in freelancing takes time. Like most of the other options mentioned, it’s hard to land clients initially.
In her book All The Money In The World, Laura Vanderkam points out that one of the big benefits of building up a freelancing client base is that in the future, you have an easy way of coming up with a quick $2,000: Just pitch your freelance clients on some ideas or ask them if they have any work for you.
I’m including freelancing here because there is a chance you could land something quickly, but chances are you’ll need to put in a lot of unpaid hours just to find paid work.
Drive For Uber and Lyft
You’ll need a car that’s in good enough shape for a vehicle inspection and you’ll have to pass a background check for this one.
But the appeal of Uber and Lyft is that you can keep making money as long as you’re able to keep working. That’s not a great recipe for your long-term well-being, but it’s exactly perfect for needing to make $2,000 fast.
The pay is weekly and you get to keep all of your tips, which really helps with putting money in your pocket quickly. In certain locations with Uber, you can actually cash out every day.
One major downside to this kind of side hustle is increased wear and tear on your car, which is one of your biggest expenses. Needing to replace your car earlier than you planned would be a huge financial blow. Unexpected repair and maintenance needs also aren’t fun.
Lyft’s website says they are expanding options to help drivers lower the costs of servicing their car, but I have no idea how widespread these options currently are, or how well they work.
If you go this route, you’ll want to make sure you figure out how to maximize your time. Not every Uber and Lyft driver is equally effective, and the ones with the best strategies make more than everyone else.
Be sure to also consider Uber Eats or any other opportunity you have to deliver food. More and more, people are paying for convenience.
Ask For Extra Hours at Work
This only works if you already have a job where you are an hourly worker.
The nice thing is that if you are already working full-time, and extra hours that you put in are paid at time-and-a-half. So a $15 an hour wage becomes $22.50.
The downside is that if you are already working full time, it’s hard to put in enough extra hours to make $2,000 in a month, even with the increased rate. At $22.50 an hour you’d need a little over 22 hours a week to hit $2,000. Realistically, you’d need 44 hours a week in the first two weeks to make sure you got paid in time. There aren’t many employers who want to give out 22 hours a week of overtime, much less 44.
That’s not to discourage you from trying this method, just to temper your expectations.
Cut Your Regular Bills
They say a dollar saved is a dollar earned right?
Well, this strategy focuses on cuttings costs instead of earning more. The best way to do this is to make a list of all your recurring bills such as phone, internet, insurance, streaming services etc. and ask the following questions:
- Can I cancel it altogether?
- Can I get a similar service from a cheaper competitor?
- Can I downgrade my service to save money?
- Can I bundle with another service to save money?
- Can I change my payment schedule to save money?
- Can I negotiate this down?
I go into more detail on this approach in this post:
The downside is that you will probably only be able to save $50-$200 this month with this approach. But the savings will continue into the future and this is a way of cutting your spending without relying on continual willpower.
Sell Your Car
Again, I’m not joking.
This obviously doesn’t work for everyone, but if it applies to you, it might be a good time to consider becoming a one-car family. Or finding a way to use public transportation.
The bottom line is that if your car runs, there’s a really good chance you’ll get $2,000+ for it.
If you have a decently expensive car, you don’t even need to get rid of your car. Just sell it and buy a car that’s at least $2,000 cheaper.
Like any version of selling your stuff, the downside to this approach is that it only works once.
A Lemonade Stand For Adults
Well, not exactly a lemonade stand, although you’re welcome to sell lemonade if you want to.
Instead think of it as a pop up kitchen. You might need permission or a permit, but if you can make delicious food, you can probably find people willing to buy it.
The downsides to this approach are that it requires the costs of ingredients to get started and takes a lot of creativity to pull off, but it could work.
Remember, a huge number of people spend money every single day on food. And other than the intermittent fasting enthusiasts, pretty much everyone on Earth eats every day. You just need a very small percentage of them to eat food that you made.
So if you’re good at making pizza, or cookies, or your family’s tabouli recipe (my specialty), spread the joy and sell your delectable creations to customers who want something tasty.
The Bottom Line
Making money is hard. In general, you need to take a long-term view and patiently plant seeds in anticipation of eventually reaping a harvest.
But sometimes you need money fast. There’s no easy way to do it. You’ll have to hustle your face off.
I know blog posts like this are supposed to sell easy solutions. Effortlessly make money from your couch in your underwear by using this app you’ve never heard of that I get paid to promote. Believe me, I wish it wasn’t all BS, but it is.
Once the short-term panic is over, cut your costs, and invest your time into thinking through long-term approaches for increasing your income.