Sooner or later it happens to the best of us: Your car breaks down. You get hit with a medical crisis. Your kid declares that he simply can't live without an electric guitar for his birthday. At some point you are likely to be faced with a need to come up with extra funds, and fast. If that feels like a tall order, try these smart strategies to quickly put money in your hand-without landing you in hot water.
Strategy #1: Sell Your Stuff
Big items, like furniture or bikes, are easiest to peddle at an old-fashioned yard sale. For gadgets, clothes and books, you often can get the most online.
• Electronics: Try Usell.com. It aggregates offers from dozens of other websites, and it charges no fees to buyers or sellers. For a used iPhone 4, recent offers ranged from $100 to $140.
• Books/DVDs: Try Sellercentral.amazon.com. Yes, it takes a larger cut than other sites (99 cents per product plus 15 percent of the sale price), but its heavy traffic can help you find a buyer quickly.
• Gift cards: Try Cardpool.com. Which pays up to 92 percent of the value on cards from most major stores. Send in your card electronically and the site will mail you a check within one day.
• Kids clothes: Try Thredup.com. It will pay you up to 40 percent of the resale value of the item you're selling. The site also covers the cost of shipping and sends you the mailing bag.
Strategy #2: Rent Your Stuff
Got a spare room in your house, extra space in your garage or valuable equipment such as a lawn mower? There's a good chance someone will pay to borrow it.
• Your home: Try Airbnb.com and homeaway.com. What you can make: About $60 per night for a private room in a house (minus a small commission or service fee for the site). You don't have to live in a vacation hot spot; popular properties include those in small towns. Be aware: You might need to charge less than Airbnb's suggested rate until you build up a base of positive reviews.
• Your car: Try relayrides.com. What you can make: Up to $1,000 a month. Cities and college towns where not everyone owns a car are popular. Be aware: Consult your insurance policy first; some policies prohibit renting and might not cover you in an accident.
• Anything else: Try Zilok.com, snapgoods.com and rentabilities.com. What you can make: $15 to $25 per day for most items. Keep the season in mind (snowblower in winter, for example). Be aware: The sites deduct a 5 percent to 7 percent commission on your profits.
Strategy #3: Get a Loan
Personal loans from banks used to be commonplace, but these days they're not easy to nab. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives. Use our breakdown of options to figure out which source works best for your situation.
• Learn more about loans from family, strangers, 401(k)/IRA, and your home on AllYou.com.
Strategy #4: Hire Yourself Out
These days, many websites quickly match temporary workers to odd jobs. Below are some of the highest-paying positions that require little or no experience.
• Baby sitter; payoff: $10 to $25 an hour. Get hired: Fill out a profile on sittercity.com or care.com.
• Virtual assistant; payoff: $10 to $25 per hour, depending on the task. Get hired: Taskrabbit.com.
• Dog walker/pet sitter; payoff: Walking: $10 to $15 an hour; sitting: $25 to $50 per day. Get hired: Rover.com.
• Research-study participant; payoff: $25 to $100 or more per study. Get hired: Check the websites of universities near you.
Strategy #5: Tap Your Assets
It might be difficult or costly to liquidate certain investments, but other sources can be surprisingly easy to crack without adverse consequences.
• Liquidate your life insurance policy.
• Cash in a CD early.
• Return items you aren't using.
By Cybele Weisser
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