Money Matters » 8 Weird Things to Do if You’re Barely Scraping By Financially

8 Weird Things to Do if You’re Barely Scraping By Financially

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8 Weird Things to Do if You’re Barely Scraping By Financially

When financial times are tough, creativity can become your best friend. Here are eight unusual ways to stretch your dollars and make the most of what you have.

1. Attend Free Community Events

Local community events often offer free entertainment, food, and activities. From outdoor concerts to craft fairs, you can enjoy a day out without spending a dime.

Check your town’s website or social media pages for upcoming events. For example, many cities host free summer movie nights in parks, which can be a fun way to spend an evening without any cost.

Check your local event listings here.

free community events

2. Participate in Paid Surveys and Focus Groups

Many companies pay for your opinions. Websites like Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, and UserTesting allow you to earn extra cash by taking surveys or participating in focus groups. While it won’t make you rich, it can provide some extra spending money.

How It Works:

  • Swagbucks: Earn points (called SB) by taking surveys, watching videos, and shopping online. These points can be redeemed for gift cards or PayPal cash. Swagbucks also offers daily polls and trivia games that can boost your earnings.
  • Survey Junkie: Create a profile and get matched with surveys that fit your demographics. Earn points for each survey completed, which can be converted to cash via PayPal or e-gift cards. Survey Junkie also offers focus group opportunities that pay higher rates.
  • UserTesting: Get paid to test websites and apps. You’ll complete tasks and provide feedback via video recordings. Each test typically takes about 20 minutes and pays around $10.

paid surveys

Tips for Success:

  • Consistency: Dedicate a specific time each day to take surveys and participate in focus groups. Consistency can lead to a steady stream of small earnings.
  • Profile Accuracy: Fill out your profile accurately on these platforms. The more detailed and accurate your information, the more surveys and tests you’ll qualify for.
  • High-Paying Opportunities: Look out for high-paying survey opportunities or focus groups, which can significantly boost your earnings. Some focus groups pay upwards of $50 for an hour of your time.

One user shared, “I earned enough from taking surveys on Survey Junkie to cover my monthly coffee expenses!”

3. Dumpster Diving for Treasures

Dumpster diving might sound extreme, but it’s a surprisingly effective way to find valuable items that others have discarded.

From furniture and electronics to vintage collectibles, perfectly good items often end up in dumpsters.

Many people have discovered treasures worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars this way.

dumpster diving for treasure

Dumpster Diving Tips-n-Tricks

Before you start, it’s crucial to check the legality and safety of dumpster diving in your area.

  1. Laws vary by location—some places may have strict regulations, while others are more lenient.  Familiarize yourself with local ordinances to avoid any legal trouble.
  2. Safety is equally important; always wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp objects and potentially hazardous materials.
    It’s also wise to bring a flashlight and a sturdy bag to carry your finds.
  3. Location, Location, Location: When choosing where to dive, target areas known for high-quality discards, such as affluent neighborhoods, college campuses during move-out season, or behind retail stores that frequently update inventory.
  4. Timing can also make a big difference—many businesses discard items at the end of the month or week, making these times ideal for diving.

Success stories abound in the dumpster diving community. For instance, one diver found a vintage camera worth over $500, while another uncovered a barely-used designer chair that now adorns their living room.

dumpster diving meme

Online forums and social media groups dedicated to dumpster diving can offer tips, share legal insights, and provide inspiration through shared success stories.

Remember, one man’s trash truly can be another man’s treasure. With a bit of caution and the right approach, dumpster diving can be a rewarding, cost-effective way to acquire valuable items.

4. Sign Up for Product Testing

Companies are constantly looking for consumer feedback to improve and launch new products.

By joining product testing panels, you can receive a variety of free items in exchange for your honest opinions.

This not only helps brands refine their offerings but also allows you to try out the latest products without spending a dime.

Websites like Influenster and BzzAgent are popular platforms that regularly offer these opportunities.

Signing up is straightforward—create a profile, list your interests and preferences, and start receiving products tailored to your tastes.

The process often involves testing the product for a few weeks and then providing detailed feedback through surveys or reviews.

product tester

Not only do you get to keep the products, but you also become an influential voice in shaping future trends.

For example, Influenster often sends out VoxBoxes filled with themed products, ranging from beauty and skincare to snacks and household items.

BzzAgent offers similar campaigns, where participants receive full-size products to test and share their experiences on social media.

☕ Why buy expensive coffee when you can become a survey-taking caffeine machine?

Here’s what one satisfied participant had to say: “I received free beauty products worth over $100 last month just by giving my honest feedback! It felt like Christmas came early, and I loved sharing my thoughts with the community.”

5. Offer Odd Jobs and Gigs Online

Freelancing platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and TaskRabbit allow you to offer your skills and services for pay.

Whether it’s writing, graphic design, or handyman work, you can find gigs that fit your abilities and schedule.


To maximize your chances of getting hired, create a compelling profile highlighting your skills and experience.

One user noted, “I turned my hobby of graphic design into a side hustle on Fiverr and now make extra income every month!”

6. House Sitting and Pet Sitting

Imagine earning money while enjoying a rent-free place to stay—house sitting and pet sitting offer exactly that!

These opportunities are not only great for saving on accommodation costs but also provide a unique way to explore new places and meet interesting people (and pets).

pet sitter

Websites like TrustedHousesitters connect homeowners with reliable sitters who can care for their homes and pets while they are away.

As a house sitter, your responsibilities might include watering plants, collecting mail, and ensuring the home remains secure.

Pet sitters, on the other hand, take on the joyful task of looking after furry friends, which can include feeding, walking, and providing companionship.

Tips for Success:

  • Create a Detailed Profile: Highlight your experience, skills, and love for animals. Include photos and references to build trust with potential clients.
  • Obtain Positive Reviews: Start with short-term or local gigs to build your reputation. Positive reviews from past homeowners are crucial in attracting future opportunities.
  • Stay Professional and Communicative: Maintain regular communication with the homeowners and provide updates on their property or pets to ensure peace of mind.

One seasoned house sitter shared, “I travel the world by house sitting, saving thousands on accommodation costs each year. It’s been an incredible adventure, and I’ve met some wonderful people and pets along the way.”

By leveraging platforms like TrustedHousesitters, you can turn house sitting and pet sitting into a lucrative and exciting venture.

house sitter

7. Barter Your Skills

Bartering is an age-old practice that can help you get what you need without spending money. Trade your skills or services with others in your community.

For example, offer to babysit in exchange for car repairs or trade homemade meals for haircuts. Websites like BarterOnly can help you find barter partners.


One successful barterer mentioned, “I exchanged my web development skills for six months of piano lessons, saving me hundreds of dollars.”

8. Host a Clothing Swap Party

If you need new clothes but can’t afford to buy them, hosting a clothing swap party can be a fun and free way to refresh your wardrobe.

Invite friends to bring gently used clothes they no longer want, and everyone can leave with something new-to-them. Make the event fun with some snacks and music.

A participant shared, “Our clothing swap party was a hit—I got a designer dress and didn’t spend a penny!”

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Barely scraping by financially- here are 8 weird things to do when you're barely scraping by


When money is tight, thinking outside the box can help you get by. These unconventional methods not only help you save money but also encourage community engagement and resourcefulness.

Whether it’s through bartering, attending free events, or diving into dumpsters, there are always ways to make the most of your situation.

Creativity and a willingness to try new things can turn even the toughest financial times into opportunities for growth and adventure.

dog walker

Have any unconventional money-saving tips of your own? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments below and help others discover new ways to thrive financially!

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