What To Do When You Need Cash Now

By Heidi Unrau | Published on 26 Jul 2023

Women reaching for money in her purse.

Do you need money, like, right now? Maybe some idiot rear-ended your car. Or maybe your dentist doesn’t offer direct billing and you just can’t ignore that toothache any longer. Whatever the case, don’t feel embarrassed, we’ve all been there. And we’ve learned a thing or two about accessing quick cash to cover unexpected expenses. So if your savings account is tapped out and you need money asap, you have a ton of options.

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Borrow Money

This probably isn’t the best option for your overall financial health, but when time is of the essence it certainly is the quickest. So if it’s a super expensive emergency or it just can’t wait until payday, here are a few ways to get cash fast. Try to avoid taking on debt to finance an emergency and leave this as a last resort.

Bank Loan 

Whenever possible, go through your own bank. Not only will you get a reasonable interest rate, but you’ll also get better service from someone you can trust. You’ve already built a relationship with them and they have access to almost all the necessary information to process your application. Better yet, you don’t even have to visit the branch. Almost every bank and credit union in Canada allows you to apply remotely through your online banking profile.

But before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you’re getting the right personal loan for you. Depending on what you need the money for, your bank may offer you an installment loan, a personal line of credit, or something as simple as overdraft protection on your checking account.

Payday Loan

If your credit score has seen better days, a traditional bank loan might not be in the cards for you. But don’t despair, you still have options. Private lenders fill the gap when the banks say no. Of course, they’ll hit you right where it hurts with crazy high interest rates so make sure you proceed with caution. If you’ve exhausted all other options, then a payday loan is probably the way to go. There are lots of options out there, so make sure you compare offers

Just don’t sign anything without reading the fine print and ask questions. These types of loans aren’t only high interest, they charge it daily between payments. If you’re late by even one day, you’re paying almost pure interest instead of principal. And the longer you have the loan, the more interest you pay. It’s not uncommon for these types of loans to cost you 2 to 3 times your original principle. Ouch!

Cash Advance

If you’ve got room on your credit card, you might want to use it. Don’t worry if you can’t swipe your card for this kind of emergency. Almost all credit cards offer cash advances through ATMs or bank tellers. Some even provide checks you can write that draw from the available credit on your card, although that is becoming less common. While most credit cards offer some sort of interest-free grace period on point of sale purchases, that does not apply to cash advances. You start getting charged interest from the minute you withdraw. 

On top of that, the interest rate on a cash advance is often higher than the standard card rate. It’s also compounding interest, so the longer you take to pay down your balance, you could end up paying interest on interest. This means your cash advance runs the risk of costing you more money than a high-interest private lender who likely charges simple daily interest rather than compounding interest.

Sell ​​Your Stuff For Cash

Facebook Marketplace

Hands down the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to sell your stuff online is through Facebook Marketplace. It’s also a great way to support your local community and reduce waste. Best of all? It’s free. Facebook allows you to sell to people you already know, and others in your community, through your social media network.

Buyers and sellers can also rate each other. This helps you build a good reputation for listing future items. It can also give you some insight into interested buyers. Since Facebook Marketplace is peer-to-peer you’ll need to arrange for pick up or drop off. Make sure you take the time to creep the buyer’s Facebook profile before meeting up and always practice safe sales.


Like Facebook, you can connect with your buyers personally. However, you’re likely to get inquiries from outside your local community, city, or even your province. Since you communicate directly with the buyer the two of you can arrange how to exchange the item on your own terms, and it’s completely free. 

The downside is that you won’t have access to more personal information about the buyer like you do with Facebook profiles. So make sure you proceed with extra caution and that the arrangement makes sense for the type of item you’re selling. Kijiji is a great option for those larger, more awkward items like furniture, appliances, or even used cars and campers. 

Garage Sale

If you have a lot of stuff to sell but not a lot of time, consider a garage sale. As long as it’s not broken or seriously soiled, nothing’s off-limits. Sell ​​it all. Promote your garage sale on your social media, be organized, group like items together, avoid price tags, and be open to offers. Easy peasy. 

If you want to turn clutter into cash, the price will make or break the deal. It doesn’t matter if it’s brand new with tags or never been opened, it’s still second-hand. If you price it too close to retail value, kiss that money goodbye. Better yet, don’t even put a price tag on it. Let interested buyers make you an offer. Often times they’re willing to pay more than you would have expected.

Make Money With A Side Hustle 

Food delivery

Everyone needs to eat, but not everyone loves to cook. Food delivery services are always in demand. And now with third-party apps connecting more restaurants with more customers, you don’t need to wait for that “help wanted” sign in the window. Food delivery services like Skip The Dishes, Doordash and Deliver Eats are almost always hiring. So as long as you have a smartphone, car, and a good work ethic you’re a shoo-in.

Just make sure you do your research first. Some of these delivery services involve upfront costs like insulated bags or signage for your car. You’ll also need to consider the insurance implications of using your car for business, mileage, and wear and tear. Don’t rule out applying directly to local restaurants for in-house delivery positions either. You’re far less likely to encounter start-up costs. 

Ride Share

Just like food delivery, rideshare services are trending up as more people are ditching their cars for cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives. This is an especially great option for anyone with a car living in a dense metropolitan area, but really, you can rideshare anywhere that the bylaws allow.

Uber, Lyft, and Tapp Car are the three most popular rideshares in Canada. Do your research to see who services your area, or if rideshare is even permitted. Be aware of any start-up costs and the insurance implications of transporting passengers for pay. You’ll also need to consider the wear and tear on your vehicle too. 

Freelance Work

If you’re a creative person, have some marketable skills, or both then the gig economy is waiting for you. Freelance websites like Fiverr and Upwork are a great place to turn your talents and hobbies into cash. Are you great with words? Perfect! You don’t need any professional training or degrees. Just your brain, a computer and a knack for good grammar. 

There are millions of businesses looking for content creators, writers, voice-over actors, graphic designers, and the list goes on and on. You can create a free account within minutes. Once your profile is set up, you’re off to the races. There’s a ton of free YouTube Videos showing you tips and hacks to get your gig ranking high even when you’re brand new. Happy customers are repeat customers, so there’s a bevy of opportunities to turn this side hustle into a full-time gig.

Slash Your Expenses

Negotiate bills

Are you paying top dollar for your phone, internet, cable? Have you shopped around for a better deal lately? If you have some utilities coming due like your phone and television, call up your provider and see if you can work out a better deal. If you’ve been a long-time customer with your account in good standing, they’ll likely work out a discount with you to keep your business. 

While reducing your monthly bill won’t put cash in your pocket right now, it could allow you to pull from other parts of your budget knowing your next bill won’t be as high. At the very least, you can save the difference going forward by putting it in a savings account for emergencies like this. 

Cash in reward points

So you’ve been using your credit card like a champ, paying off the balance each month and racking up points. Even if you’re carrying a bit of a balance, consider cashing in your points before going into further debt or taking a high-interest cash advance. 

Check your statement for any points or cashback rewards. Then, call your issuer to see how you can redeem them. Some cards will let you cash in your points for a credit on your account. Now you have more room to use your card for an emergency without increasing your existing debit.

Cancel or Downgrade Services

With a buffet of streaming services available, who even watches cable anymore? Cut back where you can by reducing your cable package or cancelling it altogether. Do you have Netflix, Crave, Disney and Prime? Do you really need all four? Cancel the ones you watch the least. What about other services like Audible, Spotify, Playstation, and novelty subscription boxes? Maybe you can live without those until you get back on your feet. The fee per service may be quite small individually, but if you have several subscriptions they add up fast.

Pro Tip: If you own your mobile phone outright and the contract is expired, you’re paying WAY TO MUCH FOR IT! Consider downgrading to a cheaper plan through a 3rd tier company. Free wifi is available almost everywhere and who even calls anymore? Switch to texting for now.

Public, Chatr, Lucky Mobile, and Koodoo offer plans as low as $13 a month with talk, text, and data add on’s. You can customize your plan to your needs while saving a ton of money.

Heidi Unrau is a senior finance journalist at Hardbacon. She studied Economics at the University of Winnipeg, where she fell in love with all-things-finance. At 25, she kicked-off her financial career in retail banking as a teller. She quickly progressed to become a Credit Analyst and then Private Lender. This hands-on industry experience uniquely positions her to provide expert insight on loans, credit scores, credit cards, debt, and banking services. She has been featured in publications such as WealthRocket, Scary Mommy, Credello, and Plooto. When she's not chasing after her two little boys, you'll find her hiding in the car listening to the Freakonomics podcast, or binge-watching financial crime documentaries with a bowl of ice cream. Fun Fact: Heidi has lived in five different provinces across Canada and her blood type is coffee.