7 Brilliant Ways to Make Money in a Day

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When we discuss personal finance topics on brilliant ways to make money, we often go over things like how much to save, retirement planning, career planning, and investing your money properly. While all of these concepts are essential parts of money management, we seldom address one major topic that’s a real issue for a lot of people: Brilliant ways to make money in a financial emergency.

Of course, we’re supposed to have an emergency fund to cover us during times like these, but hindsight is 20/20, and a large portion of people (28% according to a Bankrate survey) report having no emergency savings. So, how do you fatten your wallet if you’re completely tapped out?

7 Brilliant Ways to Make Money in a Day

Brilliant Ways to Make Money in a Day

A side job, or second job, is the solution for most Americans. The Census Bureau reports that around 5% of the workforce has a second job and oftentimes, these moonlighters work a full-time “day job” and then have a part-time side job that helps them bring in extra cash. But finding and obtaining a side job takes time. You have to job search, apply, interview, and fill out all of the required paperwork (an I-9 form, etc.). Let’s not forget to mention any training periods the job may require. It could be over a month before you see your first paycheck, and you probably need money before that if you’re in a pinch.

We’ve created a list of ways to make money when you’re in a real bind. Of course, some of these methods of money-making are not the most ideal, but they will serve as plausible means by which to get your hands on quick cash.

1. Babysit or Pet-sit


Brilliant Ways to Make Money in a Day

Baby sitting | Thinkstock

Babysitting or pet-sitting for someone you know is a quick way to make cash. According to PayScale, the nationwide average hourly wage for a babysitter is $9.85. As a pet-sitter, you can earn around $16 per visit.

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2. Sell services door-to-door (mow lawns or wash cars)


 Brilliant Ways to Make Money

Door salesman | Thinkstock

  • Upfront investment required: varies between $0 and $30
  • How much you can realistically expect to make in one day: According to Angie’s list, the average yard costs between $35 and $50, which includes the works — mowing, trimming, edging, etc. Therefore, if you find three customers, you may be able to pull in $150.

Selling inexpensive services (like mowing lawns, washing cars, or other chores) to your community is a great way to earn some same-day cash, but only if you already have most of the tools needed to do the job around your house. Unless you plan on starting a landscaping business (which may require other investment costs like those related to any licensing and advertising), it’s probably not the best idea to go out and purchase a lawnmower, or other large equipment.

3. Sell water bottles, flowers, or fruit


 Brilliant Ways to Make Money

Sell water to make extra money | Thinkstock

  • Upfront investment required: $10
  • How much you can realistically expect to make in one day: $60

A case of 24 bottles of store-brand water cost around $3, according to Food Lion. If you buy three cases, place them in a cooler on ice, and then sell each bottle for $1 a piece on the side of the road or at a local event or festival, you can earn some quick and easy cash in one day. Of course, there is no guarantee that you’ll sell all (or any) of the water, but the potential profit margin is huge and the risk is low. The same idea applies with flowers or fruit from the farmer’s market.

4. Go scrapping


Brilliant Ways to Make Money

Scrap metal | Thinkstock

  • Upfront investment required: none
  • How much you can realistically expect to make in one day: varies, but you probably won’t make more than $20
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If your garage looks like a metal yard, you can rummage through all of your junk and find valuable metal and sell it for cash. But, keep in mind that you probably won’t earn a whole lot of cash for your metal.PBS’s Newshour analyzed scrapping, finding out how much metal you’d have to collect to earn a day’s minimum wage. According to the news site, here’s how much metal you’d have to collect to earn $58:

  • one catalytic converter
  • 20 pounds of copper wire
  • 95 pounds of aluminum cans
  • 103 pounds of aluminum siding -or-
  • 111 pounds of steel

But, if you have old appliances, like an old washer, dryer, or refrigerator, those can be worth between $8 and $28 in scrap metal alone. So, it’s worth a try, especially if you’re in a bind.

5. Have a yard sale

Brilliant Ways to Make Money


Load up the car | Thinkstock

  • Upfront investment required: $5 for posters and signs
  • How much you can realistically expect to make in one day: varies

According to the Statistic Brain Research Center, there are 165,000 yard sales in the U.S. each week. The best time to hold a yard sale is Saturday morning at 7 a.m., but you can really hold one anytime. The statistics research site also found the following average prices of yard sale items:

  • Clothing and apparel: 59 cents
  • Accessories: 70 cents
  • Crafting items: 45 cents
  • Decorative items: 83 cents
  • Entertainment (like movies and books): 47 cents
  • Household goods (like dishes and office supplies): 57 cents
  • Yard items (like garden tools and plants): $2.37
  • Average price all of yard sale items: 85 cents

Considering these prices, you’re probably not going to make hundreds of dollars in one day by having a yard sale, but you can certainly make $25, $50, or maybe even $100, if your sale is successful.

6. Sell or return merchandise

Brilliant Ways to Make Money


Cashier | Thinkstock

  • Upfront investment required: n/a
  • How much you can realistically expect to make in one day: varies
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If you have old clothing, electronics, textbooks, or other items of value lying around, making a visit to the local pawn shop can get you a few bucks in an emergency. Pawnbroking is one of the oldest forms of credit. According to a Boston University publication, interest rates at pawnbrokers vary by state, but they’re often in the 25% range. So, if you want to pawn instead of selling, getting your stuff back comes at a cost, but it’s certainly doable. Don’t forget to check out yard sale websites, like Bookoo, where you can post your items online for a local member of your community to buy in person.

If you recently purchased an item from a retailer that you haven’t gotten around to opening, why not return it? Of course, it’s a good idea to review the store’s return policy before you waste the trip to ensure you have everything you need (e.g. the receipt), you are within the return window, and that the item you purchased is eligible for return. But, even if you lost your receipt, some stores will still issue store credit, which can also help you in a pinch.

7. Collect change

Brilliant Ways to Make Money


Loose change | Thinkstock

  • Upfront investment required: n/a
  • How much you can realistically expect to make in one day: varies, but probably no more than $10

Found in seat cushions, drawers, car floors, pockets, and other random places, change may be something you forget about until you’re broke. And, when you’re in a financial emergency situation, it may just be exactly what you need to get through until payday. You can even go exchange it for bills at one of those Coinstar machines. But, if you want cash, you have to pay a 10.9% fee. “Free coin counting is available at most locations in the United States if you convert your coins to a nationally-branded gift card or eCertificate,” reports Coinstar.

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