Need Money for Bills? Here Are All The Ways to Find Money in the Budget

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It's an inevitable occurrence; at some point you will need money for bills: a new car, health insurance, or expenses for a new home. During these times, it often won't be enough to simply cut back and cross your fingers. This is where the art of “budget hacking” comes in handy.

I've successfully done budget hacking twice before. Once when I was twenty-seven and needed to find room in my budget for a car payment (my parental hand-me-down had died and I was in need of something reliable to get to and from work) and a second time over a year and a half later and wanted to become my own boss, but needed to shell out for health insurance.

I call it “budget hacking” because you're trying to find fresh and clever ways to reduce your monthly expenses to accommodate for something new. It's super unenjoyable to have to increase the amount you're paying each month for the “must haves” while cutting back on the fun stuff and maintaining your financial goals, which is why it is important to save on the mandatory things where we can.

There are two different ways to find room in your budget for new expenses: cutting back each month and hustling for extra cash.

How to Find Money for Bills in Your Existing Budget Every Month

Method #1 – Study Your Expenses and Reduce in the Biggest Areas

At the time (2014) I needed to purchase a new car I was stealthily plugging away 40% of my income. I was pretty proud of that number and didn't want to reduce my savings rate to accommodate something that didn't retain its value like a car.

  • So I took a good, hard look at my budget and found the averages of what I spend each month in most categories.
  • By looking at my expenses I realized I was investing a large portion of my monthly corporate paycheck into running and maintaining this blog. I considered that money an investment in myself and my future business, but I figured I needed a working vehicle more than I needed great Pinterest images for my website, so I cut this number way down to about $50 each month, and made the switch to saving for big business expenses instead of trying to cash flow every item in the month it occurred (for example, my Awkward Money Chat videos.) Total Monthly Savings: $250
  • I also cut down my bi-weekly sessions with my therapist from twice a month to just once, which is something my therapist and I discussed doing anyway. Savings: $50 

Adding the two together gave me a total savings of $300 each month, which was $25 over what I needed to afford the $275 car payment on a sweet 2013 Nissan Rogue. Success!

Related: 37 Ways to Save More Money


Method #2 – How to Find Money in Your Budget: Haggle Discounts on Fixed Expenses

I recommend doing a quarterly or bi-annual audit of your utility bills and other “fixed” expenses to identify areas of savings. I hadn't tried to lower my bills like this in over a year, so when I left my full-time job in April, I started taking every Tuesday morning for a month to call up these companies and talk to them about lowering my bills.

Here's where I was able to nab additional savings:

  • Mortgage: From 904.00 each month to 853.00/ saving 51.00 per month. I had finally become 20% vested in the property and as such asked them to take the Private Mortgage Insurance premium off my monthly tab.
  • Cable: I finally cut cable and my internet bill went from 117.00 to 84.00/ saving 33.00 per month
  • Security System: I negotiated a “customer loyalty” discount – from 48.00 per month to 38.00/ saving 10.00 per month
  • Car Insurance: I previously had both home and car insurance with one company, thinking they were giving me the best deal…and that it's, well, you know, easier. After lots of homework, I found out that I did have the best price homeowners insurance with the company, but could get a much better deal on car insurance going with another provider. The switch lowered my car insurance from 163.00 each month to 116.00/ saving 47.00 per month. Try using a car insurance comparison engine like to quickly and easily compare rates across the various carriers in order to find the most competitive rate.

At the end of the day, budget hacking will only cost you a few hours of time and a little bit of your sanity. If you don't feel like doing the work yourself, services like BillCutterz offer a fantastic alternative and they'll negotiate your bills for you.

Related: This Free Budget Template will Kick Start Your Financial Future.

Need Money for Bills ASAP? Try These 7 Sources

There are many reasons you might need a biiiiit more money thatn what you make on a monthly basis. Paying down debt or saving up for a big purchase are some of the most common reasons for wanting to make extra money. But with rising healthcare payments and cost of living, sometimes just finding enough cash to pay a bill can be difficult. Instead of pulling out your hair, and frantically searching your couch for spare change, try your hand at a side hustle, which is important when it comes time to find money for that next bill payment.

Don't worry – there are plenty of ways you can hustle some quick money. The next time you find yourself in need of some extra cash, check out some of these options and see what works best for you.

My favorite side hustle is blogging and online writing. If you’re thinking about starting a blog of your own, you’ll need to get self-hosting in order to make money.  Click here to get your own self-hosted blog with HostGator for just $2.75 per month using my special link, and then come back here for step-by-step tutorial on installation.

#1 – Writing Articles

Whether we like it or not, our world has gone online and shows no sign of going back. You can use this trend to your advantage and use your internet connection to make a little extra money this month.One of the most potentially lucrative ways to make money online is through freelance writing. There are thousands of companies out there who don't have the time or staff to fill their writing needs, and the online content beast needs to be fed.

If writing for someone else sounds like a drag, then start looking at what it would take to create your own blog. You'll want to pick a niche for your blog to focus on and then look into all of the ways you can start monetizing your spot on the internet. Writing and blogging are not for the faint of heart. It's hard, it takes time, and sometimes you can go a while without having any assignments. But it can also be one of the most lucrative ways of making money, and many bloggers make more from their blog than they could from a full-time job. Try Fiverr, Upwork, or online job boards for writing assignments with a quick turnaround time and fast payment.

Related: How I Made $100,000 with a Blog Side Hustle, How to Start a Blog and Get it Up and Running in Under 90 Days

#2 – Be a Virtual Assistant

With the rise in solopreneurs, there are many business professionals out there who can't handle all of the work necessary to keep their gig going. Sites like the aforementioned UpWork or Fiverr make it easy for you to connect with individuals who are looking for administrative services.

Or you could put together your own professional website and charge more than you'd get through these sites.

#3 – Put Your Graphic Design Skills to Work

There are dozens of ways you can make money off of your more artistic talents. From selling photo or art prints on sites like Redbubble or Society 6 to selling merch with some of your designs on them, this is a great way to make some passive income. Make sure you take some time to market your goods, so other people can discover your talents and pay you for them.

Related: 10 Best Side Hustles for Busy People


#4 – Online Surveys

Are you going to get rich taking online surveys? No way, but if you need between $50-$100 to pay a bill before it goes to collections (and shows up on your credit) online surveys can get the job done. Read our five favorite survey sites here to start with ones you know are legitimate and have a good payout.


Try Offline Hustles to Find Money for Your Next Bill Payment

Working online can be great, but sometimes you need a break from the screens. If you work at an office job where you're in front of the computer all day, maybe you want to look for something you can do offline.

#5 – Babysit or Nanny

No matter where you live, there's no shortage of busy moms who need someone to watch their kids. With some research and good references, you can find some people in need of kid watching services. Some of them are willing to pay you well for your time, too! If you're a mom yourself, you could offer to watch another child or two and set up some play dates for your kids.

#6 – Become a Personal Shopper

Like grocery shopping or going to stores? Sign up through the Instacart app to become a personal grocery shopper. Like Uber, you can control the schedule and how many jobs you take – making it the perfect side hustle when you're looking to make some scratch in your free time.

# 7 – Give Tours of Your City

If you've lived in the same place for years, chances are you know your way around. The tourist business is a booming industry, filled with people who want to get an insiders view of what it's like to live in a certain place. You can start advertising your own tourism gig, or sign up with sites like Vayable, Shiroube, or ToursByLocals

#8 – List a Spare Room

Speaking of the tourism business, travelers are always looking for a place to stay. While many of them choose hotels, services like Airbnb are becoming more popular, as they give people the feeling of staying at home. You can sign up to be a host with Airbnb, or rely on more traditional advertising methods like the newspaper, signs, or word of mouth to spread awareness about your spare room for rent.

Travelers from around the world use the home-sharing site to find unique places to stay— spaces just like yours—and Airbnb does a lot to help hosts feel comfortable and confident welcoming guests. Everyone who travels on Airbnb needs to
submit a profile photo and confirmed phone number and email address. For extra assurance, hosts can also require their guests to submit a government-issued ID. 

Even if you're not a fan of strangers coming and going through your home, if you have a spare room, consider a roommate in order to add more money to your monthly budget. 


The TL: DR


Chances are good that if you can think of an activity, there's a way to make it into a side hustle. Try out some of the methods listed above, or if you can think of other ways to hustle, you'll likely be able to make some extra cash doing it!


Grab our free budgeting spreadsheets. Click here to subscribe for access to the best life vault and nab access to six other worksheets while you’re in there!


Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Financial Best Life on February 24th, 2016. It was updated in July 2018.

  1. great list and tips for extra income:D

    • Mike
    • January 8, 2017

    In my experience, there’s always somewhere to cut from! Great article!

    • Lamont Cranston
    • August 23, 2015

    Is that $35 dental insurance for one person or more? Is there a deductible?
    $420 a year seem like a lot, unless you expect dental problems ahead and know your going beat the insurance company, I don’t get dental insurance, it’s not like you could have a $250,000 dental bill.
    Insurance covers things that would change you financial life, not the usual $120 dentists bill.
    Just my two cents.

    • Hello Pre Nurse
    • August 12, 2015

    Nice job! I need to call around to get some of my bills lowered too, but I’ve already done some of the things you mention here. -Kayla

    1. Feel free to share any additional tips you’ve learned! Would love to know more as I think bill hacking is something many folks skimp on.

    • twinklergirl
    • August 11, 2015

    Great tips! I’m sure you’ve mentioned it previously – but as I’m new to the blog, I have so much catching up to do, I know that when I had credit cards in the past, I was able to call them and request a percentage decrease on the rate and they were almost always accommodating. If you’re weighing your options for health insurance vs. lowering a monthly payment – would you consider that a viable option? I pay my cards off monthly now, but in the tighter times, sacrifices were made… 😉

    1. Yes- when I was unemployed I had a credit card company offer me a flat monthly payment until I got back on my feet. Card companies (especially now that people are more mindful of their money since the recession) are willing to work with customers.

    • Cashville Skyline
    • August 11, 2015

    Yes, such a smart way to plug up money leaks! I’ve reduced my cell phone bill, health insurance (when I was paying for half of premiums at my last gig), car insurance, internet bill, and recently, my monthly gym expense. I haven’t tried hacking utilities, though.

    1. Some utility companies only offered the option to “average” my monthly costs into a flat monthly rate- meaning in the months when it’s lower I’d pay more, and in the months when it is higher pay less. This wasn’t saving money per se, so I opted not to, but the option to know exactly how much you’re paying is nice. I also got the coupon to lower my ADT (home security bill) from the local paper.

    • Melissa
    • August 11, 2015

    I actually had no idea you could hack your mortgage payments. For some reason I just thought that was a fixed amount… awesome! You should cover how you did that 😉 I definitely haven’t hacked my budget as well as you did!

    1. Mine is the mortgage payment plus as escrow account for taxes, waste bill, etc. etc. so I pay just one monthly fee to cover all of those expenses. My yearly escrow costs (taxes + insurance etc.) were actually lower than what they were charging me, so I asked them to lower my rate. Not sure if you can hack, but it is worth doing your homework to see if they may be overcharging you.

    • Ali
    • August 10, 2015

    I’ve never thought of this as budget “hacking” but I like that term and it is definitely something I do. I find that I do it a bit more irregularly and informally, mostly with my “wants” expenses (not the needs). For example, if I splurge a bit shopping one month, I’ll adjust my eating out budget to make up the difference.

    1. That makes sense. I think because we group utilities as “needs” (which they definitely are!) we don’t question if we’re spending appropriately in those categories as much, even though there is money to be saved.

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