Pulling Together Pennies in a Pinch

Every once in a while, we all need to pull together some cash or other spendable assets quickly.  Here are five quick and relatively painless ways to find money fast:

  1. Gather up your change.  Check everywhere:  in the car, near the dryer, on your dresser.  Search for a bank that won’t charge you a fee.  Many banks have free coin counting for their customers, but some banks offer the service to non-customers as well.  In the Washington, DC, area, Chevy Chase bank has certain locations with coin machines that are free, even to non-customers.  Use this link to locate a location near you that offers the Change Express service.)   Special advanced Coinstar machines don’t charge a fee if you turn the money into gift cards, which you could then use to buy something you need.  (Unfortunately, they don’t have any choices that would fulfill true "needs," like a grocery store or pharmacy.)  I’ve heard rumor that some Commerce bank locations also offer free coin counting even if you don’t have an account with them, though I couldn’t confirm this.
  2. Take the time to make returns.  Many of us have unwanted items sitting in our car, or in our closet, waiting to be returned.  Do it today, clear out your house, and make a little cash (or credit) at the same time.
  3. If you have a rewards credit card, check your statement.  I recently redeemed the accumulated points on my Navy Federal card for two $75 Navy Exchange gift cards.  That will buy several tanks of gas.  I was so excited!
  4. Consider selling your unwanted items on Craigslist or eBay.  This probably won’t get you cash today, but it will work within a week or two.  If you don’t know how to use these, ask a friend to show you how.
  5. Cash in your excess books, CDs and video games.  There are hundreds of online resources, including half.com, Amazon, and SecondSpin.  Textbooks can bring big money; look at Textbooks.com or Bookbyte.  If you don’t want to sell online, or you can’t wait, check the telephone directory for local resale shop locations.
  6. Submit any refunds or claims that you’ve pushed to the side of your desk.  Just yesterday, I found a $10 grocery rebate on my dresser, unmailed.  Plus, I have a receipt to submit to a volunteer group for reimbursement.  And, somewhere, I have the receipt for my kids’ eye exams last month.  Better get that into Tricare, huh?

With a little effort, you should be able to pull together a little extra cash to tide you over.  Happy hunting!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
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