65 Ways to Make Money in Your Pajamas

65 Ways to Make Money in Your Pajamas

Making money online is easy…making a lot of money, though? Ehh…that gets a bit tricky. This is why you see so many entrepreneurs, such as myself, running multiple income streams. Personally, I have my e-courses on marketing, I offer 1:1 consultant work as a blog mentor, I sell digital products, and I obviously run a blog (this one!)

That said, back before a cat convinced me to quit my job to become a professional blogger, I was all about the “side hustle” – eager to supplement my income and pay down debt any way I could.

I’ve written about my favorite ways to make money online before, but here are 65 more options I’ve considered when it comes to making money from home. Some require more “leg work” than others, but all are potential income sources!

Note: Some of the links below are of course affiliate links but that in no way impacts my recommendation of the products/services.

Ideas on How to Make Money Online

Work as a Proofreader

Do you mentally correct the newspaper as you read it? Consider becoming an online proofreader.

Become a Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants (VAs) do the same clerical work as their real-life counterparts, but their efforts are entirely online. Experienced VAs can pull in big bucks, so don’t be shy about tossing your resume in the ring, especially if you’re well-versed in social media marketing! VAs can make anywhere from $20-$50/hr. Join my Facebook Group to start making connections today!

Sell Your Old Media

Check out Amazon and see what your old DVDs, CDs, or even VHS might be going for!

Review Videos + Music

This is a fun one! Slice The Pie will pay you to review short videos and music; it’s a great way to earn some extra cash while on your computer.

Use Your Phone to Make Money

Some companies will pay you to test their apps. It’s not a bad way to make a little extra cash and I average about $5/month with SlideJoy – and I literally do nothing for it! Check out this post on other ways you can earn money using just your cellphone!

Data Entry

Telecommuting is the new normal in the world of data entry. Take advantage of this cultural shift and start working from home via FreelancerBONUS $20 when you sign up! The best part about Freelancer is that it’s not just data entry anymore, but opportunities to ghost write, assistant in real life, and so much more!

Earn with Survey Sites

There’s a lot of survey sites that aren’t worth your time (like Swagbucks!) but there are a few that genuinely pay out in a consistent manner. Check out how make your first $50 with InboxDollars or how I’ve made over $700 with SurveySavvy!

Social Media Managing

Create, edit, update, design and stimulate activity for the social media accounts of companies, corporations, or even online bloggers like me! Similar to being a VA, managing someone’s social media for them can pay anywhere from $20-$100/hr.

Consultant Work

Again this is one that I still do as a blogging mentor and digital marketing strategist. People are willing to pay for expert knowledge in a variety of fields. Best of all, these exchanges can be done entirely online, so you can even work in your pajamas if you’d like.

Make Money Using Your Computer

Testing Websites

Do the links work? Do the images load? Become a guinea pig for web developers and test websites via UserTesting. This one is great because you can do it both on your desktop or on your mobile!

Become a Copywriter

Freelance copying can pull in big bucks for the dedicated. All you need are writing skills and a willingness to seek your own opportunities (or you can work through a “middle-man” using a site like Textbroker!)

make money from home online

Tutor

If you really excelled in school you help someone improve themselves by virtually tutoring them in your favorite subject. Find a great opportunity on sites like Tutor Hub or Wyzant!

Make Money with Rakuten

Not only does Rakuten (what used to be Ebates) save you tons of money (now on in-store purchases as well!!) but you can refer your friends to join and make money, too. I’ve earned back over $700, there’s literally NO reason not to use Rakuten when you shop!! And if you’re still hesitant, read my guide on how exactly Ebates works!

YouTube Videos

Do you have a bubbly personality? Do you love making up stories? Perhaps your children are great at playing pretend? There’s definitely money to be made on YouTube, provided you provide consistent and quality work.

Source Property

There’s great money to be found in property investments, but it’s hard to break into if you don’t yet have the cash to do so! If you can find properties selling at BMV (below market value), you can then recruit investors to help you buy the property for a percentage of the final sale after. This is a great book on how to get started flipping properties!

Making Money as a Creative

Design Websites

If you have a great eye for design and a decent grasp on website building, you could absolutely make a livable income by creating websites for other people! Personally I create my sites myself, but I’ve had clients pay upwards of $5,000 for someone to do their site for them – imagine the money you could make doing just one site every six weeks!

Design Landing Pages

This is similar to above, except far less time intensive. A landing page is what one uses to either A) sell a product/service or B) generate leads through e-mail sign-up. You can view an example of my landing page here: Blog Mentor Services

Work as a Graphic Designer

If you have an eye for design, consider becoming a web-based graphic designer. All you need to get started is Photoshop and you can start work through sites like Fiverr!

Create and Sell Video Series

If you have a talent to teach, create a short video series breaking down the different lessons and sell it online! Even if you put one together and only list it for $10, it can quickly add up and (depending on the niche) take little time to market on a regular basis.

Start a Blog

This is an obvious one, yeah? Domain names can be purchased for less than the price of a cup of coffee, so this is an investment that can be made quickly and painlessly for future gains. Blogging is what gave me MY freedom from my former career to then work from home full-time. Check out this article on how to make money blogging.

Ecommerce

Your homemade scarves could turn a nice profit on a crafting site. If you can create it, there’s a market for it, so get online and start selling your wares via a site like Etsy! Even if you only make $100/month, that’s a good start, no?

QMee

This site requires you to download a browser extension, but that’s it! They then track what it is you search for via sites like Google or Amazon and you’re rewarded for it. Join QMee now for free!

Write an Ebook

Do you have a genius idea you want to share? Or maybe a unique take on a subject? Or perhaps you want to share a fiction novel you’ve been working on? Regardless of the topic, you can easily create your e-book using a free site like Canva and off you go!

Affiliate Marketing

If you have a website or a decent online presence, you can make money by recommending products and services you love! Start with a platform like Share-A-Sale and check out this post on how to get started with affiliate marketing.

Sell Your Photos for Cash

You don’t need to be a professional photographer. There’s money to be made by staging and selling “stock” photos for websites that collect and re-sell them. Check out Shutterstock to get started!

Reselling

You can always sell things you no longer need and if you’re a parent, you can be constantly reselling the clothes your children outgrow. Check out my article on how to get kids clothes for free!

Customer Service

There are ample opportunities for call center representatives who want to work from home. These jobs are typically by phone or through virtual “live chats.” Thousands of opportunities are typically available on UpWork!

Win money for losing weight
Save AND Earn

As I said above, Rakuten is always a great option to save AND make money, but there are so many more, like:

Review Products and Services

Some companies will pay you to review their goods and services online. Many provide free products, but often times they’ll pay, too! One company I absolutely love is Blogging For Books, though they don’t pay, they do provide free books and hey, if you were going to spend money on ’em anyway…

Ibotta

This is another great way to earn cash on money you’re spending anyway; hook your grocery reward cards up and it’s a ZERO EFFORT money maker. Sign up for Ibotta and you’ll earn an automatic $5 bonus!!

Get Paid to Translate

You can find a lot of translation work on the web. Since it doesn’t require face-to-face interaction to get it done, it’s becoming a brisk online business. Check out sites like Gengo to get started!

Troubleshooting

Lend your tech support skills to companies who are looking for people to fix their websites, databases and cloud networks. It’s a job that can be done just as easily online as in the real world.


Focus Groups

Online focus groups will ask your opinion on everything from products to politics. If you’re willing to share them, you can make this a steady side gig. Sites like SurveySavvy often have great opportunities for this!

Software Reviewer

Do you use any sort of software on a regular basis? Of course you do! Mailchimp, WordPress, Adobe, and hundreds of more options for you to review! Check out sites like G2Crowd to get paid for your feedback.

ClickWorker

On ClickWorker, businesses advertise services they need completed quickly – easy tasks you can complete from your couch! You’re able to choose which jobs you wish to complete and you’ll be paid via PayPal – sign up today!

Investment Ideas

You don’t need to physically travel to Wall Street to try your luck on the stock market. Email a financial adviser and get started with stocks, bonds, franchises and natural commodities whenever you’d like.

Writing

The world of self-publishing is growing by the day. If you have a story idea, put it online and see if you can become the next E.L. James.

Web Browsing

If you don’t mind new and experimental search engines, you can pull in some money by testing them for their developers instead of automatically directing your queries to Google.

Search Engine Testing

Speaking of Google, they’re willing to pay people to test their algorithms and judge their search engine results pages (SERPs) for accuracy and relevancy. Turn it into a full-job time for maximum cash.

Design and Sell Your Own T-Shirts

If you’ve got an eye for design or a flair for fashion, perhaps you could create and sell t-shirts via a site like Hanes Ink!

Transcribing

Do you have an ear for dialogue? Become a transcriber and lend your services to blogs, businesses and closed-captioning companies. Personally, I’ve paid for one myself a time or two when I wanted to convert video to text and I loved it – such a time saver! Check out Rev for transcription and closed-captioning work!

Teach an online course

Are you an expert in something? Do you enjoy sharing that knowledge with others? With sites like Udemy, you can easily set up your own course and make money (it’s how I made enough money to quit my 9-5!)

Do laundry

Did you know you can get paid to do someone else’s laundry? Check out Laundry Care for more info!

Coupon Collecting

Are you tired of the piles of flyers, circulars and coupons that wind up in your mailbox? Start gathering and selling them on Ebay for extra cash.

Tweet

Yep, you read that right – tweet! You need to have a decent following, but yes, it’s totally possible to get paid to tweet.

Get Paid to Lose Weight

Check out this man’s story on how he lost 50lbs and was paid nearly $700 to do so!

Watching Television

While it won’t buy you a house in the Bahamas, there are certain sites, like Viggle, that will give you cash, prizes, and gift cards for watching and reviewing their TV programs.

Direct Sales

In the 21st century, Avon ladies are digital. Direct sales might be a good fit for you if you enjoy challenges and self-made opportunities. There are so many options, from Norwex to BeachBody to the aforementioned Avon!

More Ways to Earn Cash

Inventing

Companies are always looking for the next big thing. Sell your ideas to others for a portion of the proceeds.

Renting

Your spare bedroom can be used as a landing pad for travelers all around the world. Advertise the space online; book people’s appointments online; open your doors in the real world.

Catering

Take a step up from selling your cookies on a personal blog. Become a caterer and arrange full-scale meals for parties, weddings, conferences and sports events.

Mystery Shopping

This is another job that will require you to leave your house, but since you’ll book these engagements entirely online, it’s still considered a virtual career. Check out Best Mark for some amazing opportunities (including ones you can do with just your phone!)

Odd Jobs

If you like creativity and spontaneity, consider becoming an “odd jobs” specialist who builds a reputation for completing any digital task no matter how small or unusual it is (err on second thought, maybe set SOME limits…maybe…) Did you know Craigslist even has an “odd jobs” category? Easy peasy to get yourself on there!

Babysitting

It’s not just for teens! If you’re planning to spend your Friday/Saturday night at home with the kids anyway, why not offer up your services to watch someone else’s kid, too, and get paid for it? BONUS: Maybe all of the kids will place nicely together and you can actually enjoy an evening watching something other than Octonauts. A gal can dream, right…?

Apps

Create, design, sell, manage and flip apps for interested parties. It only takes one great idea to become a sensation.

Web Designing

Do you have knowledge of programming languages like C++ and SQL? Use them to become an online web designer.

My Favorite Ways to Earn Money Online

Of the 50 listed above, my top earners (and favorite to use!) are most definitely:
ShareASale for affiliate marketing
Rakuten – you get an automatic $10 when you sign up!
Ibotta – $5/referral + a $10 bonus to those who sign-up; I average $50 earned back each month!
Discover Card – The only credit card I recommend – $50 bonus for anyone who signs up through the link plus double your cash back at the end of your first year!

What’s YOUR favorite way to make money from home?

Comment below and let me know!

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DIY Carpet Deodorizer

DIY Carpet Deodorizer

Stinky carpet got you down?

Most carpet deodorizers you buy from the store are this formula listed below (with potentially a few extra, not so-healthy, ingredients). But guess what? Those store bought ones are going to cost you 10x as much and there’s no guarantee you’ll even like the scent you’re left with!!

So check out this DIY carpet deodorizer that you can make for less than .50!!

DIY Carpet Deodorizer

Note: The essential oil linked below is exactly what I bought from Amazon. Clicking through to make a purchase may earn me a small commission, but this in no way impacts my recommendation of these products or the cost to you.

baking soda carpet deodorizer

What You Need:

  • 1 Box (16oz) Baking Soda (we get ours from Aldi for only 44 cents!)
  • Essential Oil of your choice
  • Tupperware or mason jar

For the warmer months, I love to use a lilac essential oil (lilacs are most definitely my favorite scent!) This lilac EO is the only one I’ve found that actually smells like REAL lilacs! During the cooler months, I switch it up to a nice fall harvest mix.

Not sure which essential oils to use? Check out this amazing (and affordable!) floral set from P&J Trading!

You can use any sort of tupperware to mix the carpet deodorizer. Honestly one box of baking soda covers one carpet, so it’s rare I have any leftover to be stored.

Mix 2 cups (typically one box) of baking soda with 25-30 drops of your essential oil.

If you’ve vacuumed recently, you can just apply the carpet deodorizer to your carpet. Otherwise I like to do a quick vacuum first and then apply the carpet deodorizer. Wait 1-2 hours (or overnight, if you prefer!) and then vacuum.

Your carpets will now be refreshed and smelling great!

Personally I like to do this about once a month, but it’s also great to do if we’re expecting company (like for our annual Halloween party!)

What mix of essential oils will you use for this DIY?

I’d love to know in the comments below!

And don’t forget to pin this for later!

DIY Carpet Deodorizer with essential oil, trick to help your rugs be refreshed and eliminate odor!

The #1 Way to Save Hundreds Every Christmas

The #1 Way to Save Hundreds Every Christmas

Saving money during the holidays isn’t always easy, but with this little “trick” you can save your family hundreds of dollars (and no, it doesn’t involve buying gifts ahead of time or doing a savings plan all year long!)

My Top Tip for Saving Money at Christmas

Save money on Christmas by implementing this one smart trick that can literally save you hundreds of dollars, even after the holiday season!

This is actually something you can implement all year long, but goodness knows saving money around the holidays is exceptionally important.

First, make sure you’ve signed up for Ebates. If you don’t yet have an account, sign up via my referral link and you’ll earn an automatic $10. That’s right, step one of this post and you’re already $10 ahead!!

Not sure what Ebates is? Check out this Ebates review post!

Next, sign up for an account with Raise. Raise is a website through which you can buy and sell gift cards. Meaning not only can you pick up gift cards at a discounted price, but if Aunt Helen sends you a gift card you’ll never use, you can sell it and use the money toward something else!

Raise is also great in that if you know you’ll shop somewhere on a regular basis (like a specific gas station) you can buy a higher priced gift card and save even more! When you sign up through my Raise referral, you’ll also get $5 off your first purchase. Yep,. that’s right – we’re now $15 ahead!

So now we’re going to use both of these platforms together and really make some magic.

For this purchase, let’s assume your kid has been buggin’ you all year long for a bear from Build-A-Bear – what a perfect gift for Christmas Eve cuddles!

Assuming you’re new to both, here’s how your first purchase could break down:

  1. First, go through Ebates to Raise so you’ll earn 1%+ back on your purchase.
  2. Search for “Build-A-Bear” and you’ll see gift cards selling at a 24% discount.
  3. Snag a $25 gift card for $19.
  4. Already, you’ve saved $6, but remember you also earned $15 by signing up for Ebates and Raise.
  5. Oooh but it doesn’t stop there! You’ll earn earn 1% back from your Raise purchase and around 3% back should you make your Build-A-Bear purchase through Ebates online (only .94 cents, but hey those pennies add up quick!)

So your final total?

$19 spent, $21.94 earned.

Yes, you’re reading that right – you just made money while buying your daughter’s Build-A-Bear!!

black friday saving money tip

Now obviously after that first purchase, you won’t have that extra $15 to count on, but even without it, you’d still only be out $18.06 instead of the $25 you would’ve spent without this trick. So on just one present, you’ve saved nearly $7! And while this process might seem just a bit tedious at first, once you see those savings stacking up, you’ll be happy to spend the extra minute earning back money from your holiday shopping!

Be sure to leave me a comment below to let me know what YOU’LL be saving money on this year!

 

 

12 Must Know Thanksgiving Prep Tips

12 Must Know Thanksgiving Prep Tips

On the hunt for some Thanksgiving Day hacks? You’ve come to the right place!

You can save time on Thanksgiving Day preparations (and any holiday) by implementing a few of these quick tips that I myself use every year. After all, the holidays should be about spending time with your family, not your oven.

Thanksgiving Day Time Savers

Cook sweet potatoes quickly

Microwave your sweet potatoes to save time and stove top space. Just poke with a fork a few times, wrap in a wet (not soaked) paper towel, and microwave 5-7 minutes. For a quick and delicious dessert option, you can then slice open, top with marshmallows, and stick in your broiler for 30 seconds.

Make mashed potatoes faster

Use Yukon Gold potatoes and leave the skin on. Then turn the potato vertical and use your apple slicer to cut them beforehand so they cook faster! Just like with apples, you’ll want to make sure you cut an end off so it sits flat on your board.

If your children (or significant other) insist on skinless mashed potatoes, boil them whole and the skin will rub off. Just stick them in an ice bath and let them cool down first! Second-degree burns do not make for a fun Thanksgiving.

mashed potatoes

And with potatoes, comes the gravy!

Okay to be honest – I really hate gravy. Lookin’ at me, you can tell there’s not much I won’t eat, but gravy? Mmm nope! That said, I know most folks love it, so if your family feels gravy is a must, put it in a thermos so it’s off your stove and out of the way but still stays warm.  Then you can pour into a gravy boat just before serving.

Make room in the fridge

Clear out the dressings and condiments and store them in an ice-filled cooler in the garage. This will also help ensure they don’t get lost in the crowded fridge when it’s finally time to eat!

Pre-Cut Veggies VS Cutting Them Yourself

Weigh the cost of prep time versus the cost of buying pre-cut and cleaned ingredients from your grocery store’s salad bar. Sometimes the cost of letting someone else do it is worth it! This can go for a lot of different parts of your meal, not just veggies.

Like Niki from Toots Mom is Tired says: “I always bring something store bought to the family Thanksgiving dinners. Someone has to bring the Hawaiian rolls. That person is me. I’ve also been known to pick up pies, cookies, and veggie trays. I like homemade food, but I’m aware of my own limits (skill-wise and time-wise) when it comes to cooking.”

Print out your recipes

Don’t risk destroying your tablet as you swipe through various recipes. Print out what you need and use painter’s tape to secure to cabinet at eye-level. Better yet, tape them up in the order you plan to cook and use post-it notes in between if there’s something that needs to be done prior to starting a recipe (like preheating the oven or boiling water).

Sarah from IHeartFrugal.com knows what I mean – “When I’m cooking, I always make a detailed meal planning list. This saves me from having to run back to the store where I will waste time and spend more by throwing unnecessary items in my cart. I also have some make-ahead recipes I whip up the day before so I can concentrate on cooking the turkey the day of. Cooking can be a lot of work, but if you are prepared you will save time and money!”

pretend recipe card for thanksgiving day time saver

Fix overcooked turkey

Did your bird cook just a little too long? Moisten your turkey meat slices by drizzling a bit of warm chicken broth over them prior to serving.

Have a houseful of guests coming that love to “help”?

Have tasks planned ahead of time for those that just insist on assisting. Child-wrangling, table setting, hors d’oeuvres serving, and wine glass filling are all great options to keep people busy and out of your way. While it might a bit more prep work, having a fun but easy craft ready is also a nice way to keep everyone occupied while you finish up the prep work.

Put your slow cookers to use (borrow if you need to)!

Figure out how much space you’ll need for prep work and then use whatever you have left to lay out those crockpots. There’s countless delicious dishes you can make and it’s so nice to just set it and forget it. Check out this Black Friday hack to see how I score slow cookers every year for FREE!

Skip the Mixer

This one comes from Tony of Fit2Father.com – “Wear latex gloves to mix by hand without getting yourself and your sink covered in food (plus bare hands in food is pretty gross!)” This is especially great for easily creaming together butter and sugar if you’re making cookies.

Soften butter easily

Forget to take your butter out prior to sitting down to dinner? Heat up a drinking glass by running warm water over it or by putting it in the microwave for a few seconds then place it upside-down, over the butter. The butter soften quickly and will now be the right consistency to easily cut and spread.

Don’t forget dessert!

If you plan to bake cookies, bake them ahead of time and keep them moist with apples! Store them in Tupperware along with an apple wedge and the cookies will draw in moisture from the apple, ensuring they taste fresh from the oven once your guests arrive. If you are storing them for more than 24 hours, replace the wedge daily.

Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t be a time of chaos, so hopefully with these quick tips you’re able to enjoy the day and spend time with the ones you love. 

If you want even more time savers, check out my post on Holiday Hacks!

And if you have any of your own time saver hacks, please be sure to comment with ’em below!

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Candy Free Trick-or-Treat Idea

Candy Free Trick-or-Treat Idea

Many children have food allergies so trick-or-treating can be…well, tricky.

So this year why not skip the candy altogether and make something super fun for the kiddos? This is also a great project if you have children in school who need to bring in goodies for their class.

Skip the candy this year and give away monster kits instead! DIY idea for trick-or-treaters that doesn't include food, great for The Teal Pumpkin Project! Candy-free trick-or-treat idea for Halloween, great for class or party favors. Fun Halloween project to do with your kids.

Last year we made these for my son’s preschool class and on the note at the top, I included a link to this website. Some may see this as shameless promotion but hey! There’s quality stuff here and why not use this as an opportunity to not just share a fun craft, but share more parenting and frugal living ideas.

So without further ado, I present to you…

The Candy-Free Trick-or-Treat Monster Kit

monster kit halloween trick or treat

What You’ll Need for the Monster Kit:

Note: Most of the components are linked to the exact products I bought for mine from Amazon. Clicking through to make a purchase may earn me a small commission, but this in no way impacts my recommendation of these products or the cost to you.

Total cost per kit: $.59

In each baggie, put a can of Play-Doh, 2-4 puff balls, a few googly eyes, and a pipecleaner (you can either fold and put in a whole one, or cut one in half to fit).

Staple the bag shut and then put the label over the staples – this helps people understand what exactly this goodie bag is while also keeping fingers safe from potentially pointy staples.

I then used packing tape to seal the label so that they wouldn’t tear when put in a bag with other trick-or-treat Halloween goodies.

Candy free trick or treat idea

You can even enlist the help your little ones as you assemble these, though I can’t promise they won’t get distracted and start making monsters themselves.

halloween monster making kit

While this may cost a bit more than your usual giant bag of candy, it’s a lot more and the leftovers won’t cause you to put on 5lbs!

And don’t forget to grab your free resources from The Teal Pumpkin Project! The Teal Pumpkin Project is a way for families to let trick-or-treaters know that they have non-food treats available. This is such a kind way to ensure those with food allergies or other conditions are included in the Halloween fun!

What was your favorite thing to get when trick-or-treating?

Comment below and let me know!

 

Emergency Fund – How to Start from Nothing

Emergency Fund – How to Start from Nothing

How much do you have in your emergency fund? $100? $500? Or are you reading this thinking “Emergency fund? Yeah right!” Finding ways to create a savings account shouldn’t be overwhelming. I’ve got some tips and tricks to putting a little bit of cash aside so you can begin developing the emergency savings you need.

Disclosures: The links in this post may contain affiliate links through which I can receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

What is an Emergency Fund?

An emergency savings is just how it sounds – funds that have been set aside to be used only in the event of an emergency. These emergencies can range everywhere from losing your job, crashing your car, or an unexpected illness that leaves you with outrageous medical bills.

It is impossible to be ready for any emergency that comes your way, but one of the best things you can do for yourself and your credit is to create an emergency fund to bail you out of any unforgiving financial situations.

If you’ve seen how I create a budget, you know that we don’t have a lot of wiggle room. Between daycare costs, student loans, mortgage – it’s hard not to live paycheck to paycheck!

When we bought our house in 2014, we obliterated our savings and then some. Despite a thorough inspection and a supposed HUD-regulated appraisal, we ran into a few issues shortly after moving in and had to pay for repairs with a credit card. A year later and $276 in interest later, I’m happy(ish) to say we’ve paid that off and no longer hold any credit card debt. If we’d had an emergency fund, though, we could have used that $276 as an additional payment on our mortgage or car loan, thereby saving us not just the $276, but whatever interest was charged on that payment that was never made.

Why a Credit Card is NOT a Savings

A credit card can be great if you use it properly. Because we do so much of our household shopping through Amazon Prime, we have an Amazon.com Rewards VISA. It’s great because we earn 3% on anything bought through Amazon plus 1-2% on everything else. We even got a $50 gift card when we signed up! The trick is making sure that we only use it on things we already have the cash for. This way we can immediately pay it off once the bill comes but we still earn cash back that we can put towards future purchases. I love going to check out on Amazon and spending next to nothing because of how quickly the rewards stack up!

Notice, though, that I said we only use our credit card when we already have the cash to pay it off. Whether you have the cash tucked away in the bank or you have the freedom to pull it out of a paycheck, the only time a credit card is a reliable option is if you absolutely have a way to pay it off. It is not an option as an emergency fund.If you use your credit card as a way to get yourself out of an emergency, how will you pay it when that bill comes due? For particularly expensive emergencies, that bill could sit on the credit card for months, or even years, before it is paid off and then you’re looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in interest!

The interest on credit cards can be high, and as you continue to go months and months without being able to pay your debt off, the interest will only continue to grow. If you can’t afford the emergency in the first place, you definitely can’t afford to pay more in interest than you expected. Continuously avoiding paying down credit card debt will also negatively impact your credit. If your credit score gets too low, you will have a difficult time should you need a car loan, money for college, or you want to buy a house. Emergencies are unavoidable, but you don’t want to make one worse by giving it the power to ruin the rest of your life financially.

Why Having an Emergency Fund is a Must

If you’re already living thrifty, you may think you don’t have enough cash to set aside for an emergency fund. I know, I’ve been there. When you’ve created your budget and you’ve got every penny accounted for, it’s easy to say “I KNOW I can’t afford to save…” but truthfully, you can’t afford not to.

It’s frustrating, I know. You know your finances and they already feel stretched to their limits. You may want to click away now, angry that I should so presumptuous as to say you have to start an emergency fund. But, please, stick with me for just another minute.

Any money you can save, even if it’s just $5 a week for now, will add up eventually. Hopefully you won’t experience any emergencies any time soon, but even if you do, any actual money you have will help make a difference in what you have to put on credit.

Let’s say you have a credit card that sits at a 27% interest rate and you experience a medical emergency that costs you $2,500. With a $100 now owed each month (and that’s $100 you already said you don’t have but are now required to find), that bill will take you over three years to pay off and end up actually costing you $3,800.

If, however, you had even just $750 in savings, that same bill (while still costly) will only cost you $2,300 to be paid off in 23 months. So that $750 in savings is actually saving you more than TWICE that in the long run.

A general rule of thumb on how much to have in savings in around 6 months of living expenses; for us, that would be $19,000. I see that number and I immediately want to laugh and cry at the same time. We are no where near that $19,000 mark. In fact, I see that and I’m right there with you – it seems IMPOSSIBLE!

But then I remind myself -it doesn’t need to happen overnight. I think back to what a difference having only $750 makes and then I can breathe again.

How to Grow Your Emergency Fund

Begin saving by making a small goal, maybe one month of mortgage and utility payments. Then take a good long honest look at your budget. What can you cut out or cut back? I bet you can cut your budget by at least 5%.

Here are just a few ideas on how to cut back:

  1. Your cellphone plan. We were paying $160/month for our two phones until we switched to Republic Wireless. Now our bill averages $38/month. Why? Because with Republic Wireless, you only pay for what you use. For example, if you pay 2GB per month ($30) but only use 1GB, you’ll see a $15 credit on your account the following month. I love it!
  2. Check out my post on how to eliminate kids clothes from your budget (don’t worry, they won’t go naked!)
  3. Get rid of cable. I’ll admit, this one was tough for me. Not because we watch a lot of TV but because the one show we do love to watch isn’t available on Hulu or Netflix until after the season is done. Guh. So many spoilers!! But we did it anyway and I’m glad because it saves us well over $600/year.
  4. Have a little one in diapers? There are many ways to slash costs on those, including switching to a generic brand. Check out my best tips on how to save money on diapers!
  5. See if your gas company has a flat rate budgeting plan. This way you know exactly what you’ll need to pay each month versus having more money in the summer and scrambling to find it in the winter.
  6. Declutter your home and put any extra income you earn into your savings account!
  7. Consolidate your student loans and secure a lower interest rate.
  8. If you have credit cards, call and ask them to lower your interest rate. They might refuse, but they might not. It never hurts to ask!
  9. Eat breakfast. Wait, what? Yep, I said eat breakfast. Start your day off right so you’re less likely to splurge on vending machine treats or fast food for dinner.
  10. Do a majority of your shopping online. Not only will you save on gas, but you can often buy in bulk and save on a lot of your groceries or household goods. For example, I never buy baggies in store. At Target, they’re $4.59 for 38 (or .12 cents each). On Amazon, I got 500 for $28.36 (or .05 cents each!)

Once you decide on ways to trim, you will slowly but most certainly reach the goal you have made for yourself. It is also important for you not to view the money you set aside as a typical savings account. Only take money from this particular bank account in the event of a true emergency, which doesn’t include a new cellphone or a new car.

Begin saving by making a small goal, maybe one month of rent or mortgage payments. Set aside as much of your paycheck as you think you can do without, even if it is only a few dollars. You can also spend a bit of time each week earning some extra cash and automatically put that aside for savings. As you continue to set aside little bits, you will slowly but surely reach the goal you have made for yourself.

For many people without much disposable income, developing an emergency fund seems like something completely out of reach. While restructuring your budget can seem overwhelming or stressful at first, it’ll be well worth it in the long run. Setting aside just a few dollars a week can get you on track to a decent emergency fund and keep you from making a bad emergency even worse!

I also encourage you to check out this additional posts on how to make “extra cash” in your spare time:

How to Earn a Steady Income from Home

Ebates – How to Stop Losing Out on Free Money!!

How to Make $1,000/month with Affiliate Marketing

Earn Money Writing for Textbroker

Get Paid to Lose Weight with HealthyWage