How to Come Up With $1,000 in the Next 30 Days


A few years ago, I needed to come up with about $1,000 quickly. I moved into a new house that had a perfect spot for a flat screen TV — but I didn’t have a flat screen TV. I made a deal with myself that I could to go ahead and buy a TV, even though it was certainly a luxury item. But I would need to come up with the cash first without breaking my budget.

Football season was starting, so I wanted to get the money together as quickly as possible and get the new TV installed. The challenge was on!

The Game Plan: $1,000 in 30 Days

I needed a way to keep track of my progress so I would know when I had come up with enough money to buy a TV. I went with a very simple approach: I kept the TV money in an envelope and wrote the total on the outside of the envelope as I added more. (See also: A Comprehensive Guide to the Envelope System)

Get Motivated

I also made a chart to keep on the refrigerator so the whole family could track the progress. As we added more money to the TV fund, I increased the length of the bar on the chart, moving it closer to the goal on the right side of the page.

Keeping a visible reminder of progress toward the savings goal was a great motivation and communication tool. This encouraged everyone to think of ways to save more money so we could get a TV faster. Plus, I never had to answer questions about whether we could buy the TV yet. The answer was on the chart.

The next issue was to figure out how to get extra money to put in my empty envelope. There are two basic approaches to getting money together: either make extra money somehow, or cut expenses and apply the savings toward your goal. If you want to come up with $1,000 in 30 days to pay off a big bill or save up some cash for the holidays, you will likely need to both make extra money and cut expenses.

How to Get Extra Money

A simple approach to coming up with extra money quickly is to sell some stuff that you no longer need or use. You may also be able to turn some of your extra time into money, as well.

Sell, Sell, Sell

It is easier than ever to sell things to get cash quickly — just what you need to help meet your goal of $1,000 in 30 days. I made some extra money for my TV fund by having a garage sale and selling items on Craigslist and eBay.

I made a few hundred dollars at my garage sale selling a variety of things, including some patio furniture and a bunk bed that my kids outgrew. I sold some collectibles on eBay, and on Craigslist I found buyers for my old rototiller, a ladder, and some tools I no longer needed. It was amazing that people wanted to buy almost anything I wanted to sell! Altogether, I made about $800 by selling unneeded items.

One of the benefits of selling at a garage sale, or on Craigslist or eBay, is that you get the money quickly. Consignment stores are a convenient place to sell extra items, but your stuff may take longer than 30 days to sell. If you need money quickly, selling at a consignment shop may not be fast enough.

Return, Return, Return

Another way I made quick money was to return some unopened items to the store. For a variety of reasons, I had accumulated some fixtures and other items for home improvement projects that I never got around to using. Much to my delight, I was able to return many of the items to the store and get my money back. I also had some new clothes that still had the tags and decided to return these too, and put the money into the TV fund.

Dig Deep

A natural place to round up some money was from the change jar. I also found some spare change in my car. I rounded up all of the change I could find and took it to my credit union to get about $75 in bills to put in my envelope.

Some other ideas to get some quick money:

  • If you rent your house, offer to take care of some maintenance in exchange for reduced rent that month. I once cleaned out the gutters and repaired some screen windows and got $100 off my rent.
  • Take on a temporary part-time job. I started blogging to make extra money, but it took more than 30 days for the money to start coming in. You might be able take on an odd job such as working at a retail store or delivering newspapers to get some extra cash.

How to Cut Spending Fast

The second approach to getting extra money quickly is to do some good old fashioned cost-cutting. Even if you have your expenses on a short leash, it seems like there is always room to cut back a bit more, especially for a short time like 30 days.

Mind the Weekend

A good way to jump-start spending reduction is to limit your spending to paying bills, buying food, and putting gas in your car. Eliminate other spending as much as possible during the next 30 days. Put any optional spending on hold, such as buying clothes or going to the movies. I find that weekends are especially difficult when it comes to controlling expenses — sometimes it seems like my weekends are spent driving around and spending money! Avoid weekend money traps by staying away from situations that are likely to empty your wallet.

Defer Big — and Small — Purchases

Defer as many purchases as possible such as electronics, furniture, or sporting goods. Deferring purchases not only saves you money in the short term, but you may be able to avoid the expense altogether. For about a year, I was really interested in recumbent bikes. I read about recumbent bikes, looked at recumbent bikes in bike shops, and looked at ads for them on Craigslist almost every day. It would have been easy to spend $500 or more to get a recumbent bike, but I kept putting it off until I had the money saved up. Eventually, I realized that a recumbent bike would take up a lot of room in my garage and be too wide to ride easily on the local trails. By deferring the expense long enough, I avoided it.

Cut Subscriptions

You may be able to cut some of your bills to save money right away. Consider cutting or pausing your cable TV or satellite TV service. Depending on your package, you may be able to save $50 to $100 with one phone call. You may also be able to cut or pause your gym membership and newspaper subscription to save some money right away.

If you run out of something during the next 30 days, try to use a substitute that you already have on hand, rather than paying to replace items. For example, if you run out of one type of cleaning product, try to use a different one that you already have. If you run out of paper towels, try to use a cloth instead. If you run out of body wash, try to use a bar of soap you have in the closet instead of buying more body wash.

Re-Negotiate Insurance and Other Bills

You might be able to reduce your insurance bill and save money this month. Call a couple competing insurance companies to get quotes on car insurance and home insurance for the same coverage. Some insurance companies offer discounts if you have multiple policies, such as home and vehicle.

Refinancing your mortgage can be another opportunity to get some quick savings. Since most lenders charge origination fees, refinancing can make sense if you are planning to be in your house for a few years. If interest rates have dropped since you financed your home, you can reduce your mortgage payment every month.

Cut Food and Transport Costs

Food and transportation expenses are mandatory for practically everyone, but even these essential expenses can be reduced in most cases. Making your meals and coffee at home is a huge money saver — eating at a restaurant of fast food place costs about three times as much as eating at home, and avoiding the coffee shop can save you dollars per day. You should also pack a lunch to bring to the office and avoid temptation at the vending machine. If you think you’ll be hungry later, pack a snack.

You can save money on gas by simply driving less and making trips out for essentials only. Maybe you can even join a carpool to significantly reduce your transportation expenses.

You may find that some of the special things you do to cut expenses during the next 30 days are things that you want to continue doing so you can have “extra” money all the time.

How Much Can You Cut?

How much can you cut your expenses in 30 days? Your potential savings depends on your specific expenses and what can be reduced. I saved about $200 mainly by packing my lunch every day and cutting back on dining out throughout the month.


It was a great feeling to walk into the electronics store and pay for my new TV with cash that I saved up by making extra money and cutting expenses!

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