5 Tips to Stop Living Check to Check

It’s no fun to constantly live paycheck to paycheck.

When you’re cash-strapped, you have to sweat being able to pay your mortgage or rent on time; you might be dealing with bill collectors; and maybe you need to borrow money from family members—or even payday lenders—on occasion.

To heck with all that.

It’s time to wise up, get your hustle on, and start earning some much-needed bucks. Regardless of whether you already working or you’re looking for your next steady gig, you can raise extra cash in lots of ways.

Here are five strategies to pull in decent dollars and keep afloat financially.

1. Make Your Side Hustle or Hobby Pay

Are you working a nine-to-five that isn’t your true passion, but secretly yearning to do something different? Maybe it’s time you ventured out and got a little side hustle to bring in a few extra dollars.

The best side hustles are those things that you love, that you could practically do in your sleep, or that you already do as a hobby right now.

The big difference, though, is that you can turn a hobby into a cash-making business.

Maybe you like to make jewelry or clothes, perhaps you’re good at web design, or maybe your friends know you’re the go-to person for styling or cutting hair. Good! Keep doing these things, but just charge for your services.

All these talents are also great because they represent no-cost or low-cost ventures that can be operated exclusively from the privacy of your own home. So you don’t have to spend money to buy tons of products. You also don’t want to have to hire anybody or lease space—letting you keep a bigger chunk of your net profits.

2. Snag a Part-Time Job

If an entrepreneurial hustle isn’t your thing, there’s no shame in getting a second, part-time job (for those already working) or just part-time work for those who want to maintain more flexibility to pursue other interests.

If you’re already working, the idea of getting a second job or part-time work might seem like a major chore. But that additional income can pay huge dividends even if you just do it for three to 12 months.

The extra income you take home from a part-time gig can help you build savings, generate money for personal goals, or just knock out credit card debt and other bills.

3. Stop Being a Hoarder

The best side hustles are those things that you love, that you could practically do in your sleep, or that you already do as a hobby right now. The big difference, though, is that you can turn a hobby into a cash-making business.

Even though many of us like to spend and buy stuff, the truth is that most of us have way too many things lying around our homes and apartments. Too many clothes. Too many electronics. Too many gadgets. Too much furniture and household goods. The list goes on and on.

Instead of hoarding all that stuff, sell it.

Dump it on eBay, have a garage sell, or unload it at a consignment store. Do whatever works for you. Just sell your unwanted or unneeded items and make money off them.

4. Open Up Your House or Apartment

Whether you rent or own, getting a roommate or housemate is another way to generate income. Some people can’t stand to live with others. But if having an extra person around wouldn’t bother you so much, consider renting out that extra bedroom you may have.

In these hard times, some people are even willing to rent out their basements, attics or another livable parts of their residences.

As an added bonus, the roommate option can also let you net extra cash for utility costs—saving you even more money.

5. Get Help From Uncle Sam

About 75% of Americans get a tax refund check from Uncle Sam each year. If you’re one of those folks, stop giving the government an interest-free loan.

Instead, put that cash into your own pocket—starting today.

The IRS says the typical tax refund check exceeds $2,500. So instead of waiting around for that check to arrive during tax-season, get your money now.

It’s simple to do.

Just head to your human resources office at work and adjust your W-4 withholdings so that your employer takes less money out of your paycheck.

Once you do, the government will take fewer taxes out of your check each pay period, and you’ll bring home more money each pay cycle.

Adjusting your paycheck is easy. Check out IRS publications 505 and 919 at www.irs.gov to learn how to properly adjust your withholdings. That way, you’ll do it right and you won’t end up owing taxes.

The goal is to adjust your withholdings so that you don’t get an income check back, because you will have gotten the money upfront. But neither will you have to write a check to Uncle Sam when the April 15 tax deadline rolls around.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a personal finance expert and co-founder of the free financial advice site, AskTheMoneyCoach.com. Follow Lynnette on Twitter @themoneycoach.