It’s a tale as old as money: Someone discovers that they don’t have enough money to do X, Y, or Z and then decides that they need money fast. It may be a person approaching retirement with not enough saved, or someone who struggles to keep their head above water with daily expenses. Whatever the reason, the desperate quest for more money can make people turn to sketchy ideas and risky investments. If it goes wrong (and it probably will), this desperation can ruin you.
There is no such thing as, “Get rich quick.” If it were a widespread thing, everyone would be rich. Sure there’s the odd lottery winner or content creator who hits it big on YouTube, but those are rare. Rarer than most people want to believe. It just isn’t that simple to get more money, particularly in a short period of time.
I understand. Desperate is a scary place to be. It’s scary to realize you’re being forced into retirement and you aren’t prepared. It’s scary to struggle to buy food, or gas for the car. But here’s the thing: There are really only three ways out of this problem. One: Find a way to increase your income. Two: Find ways to decrease your expenses. (Most likely a combination of one and two are required.) Or, three, find a legitimate way to get a loan to bridge the gap, fully understanding that you’ll need to do numbers one and two (and likely hardcore) in order to pay it back.
Instead, too many people let desperation drive them to the get rich quick schemes. They get drawn into scams, sketchy investments, and pyramid schemes that not only don’t make money, they take your money, leaving you worse off than you were. Worse, some get sucked into the payday loan cycle. The extremely high interest rates make it impossible to dig out once you’re in that hole. These things can ruin you. You thought you were behind before? Get sucked in to some of these things and you’ll realize that you were comparatively wealthy before.
When you’re desperate (or even if you’re not) you must exercise caution. Just googling terms like “money hacks,” “extra income,” “work from home,” “double your money with investing,” or “make money fast” is likely to get you in trouble. So many of the things that come up are scams (at best) or illegal (at worst). Going to jail isn’t going to help you with your money problems.
And here’s the real kicker: Scams and the like are bad enough. It stinks to lose money to something like that, even if you can afford it. But when you’re desperate, you cannot afford to screw up. You have no margin for error. If you’re closing in on retirement and a sketchy investment or scam causes you to lose whatever you have saved, you have no time to make it up. If you’re already living on the edge, you can’t afford to make the hole deeper. And that’s what too many of these things that promise quick riches do. They dig the hole deeper, and put you even farther behind.
It stinks to hear it, but the only thing to do when you’re desperate is to settle in for the long haul and start digging. You’ll have to increase your income, but beware of side gigs, work from home, and any other job listing. Make sure you’re taking a job with a known company and not a scammer. Anything that requires you to pay money up front for anything, or has you shipping stuff, or promises lots of money fast is likely a scam. Stick with part time jobs like retail or food service, or gig jobs like working for Amazon or DoorDash. Or try moving to another company in your industry, or asking for a raise.
If you have in-demand skills, create a side gig that you control selling things you make or services you deliver. Set up an Etsy store, tutor, or do home maintenance. If you control it, you’re much safer (as long as your clients aren’t scamming their way out of paying you.) You’re also in control if you sell some of your stuff. If you have things you no longer need, sell ’em. Not only does control keep you safer from scams, it also puts you in control of how much you can make. Instead of working a set number of hours, you can work more if you need to.
If you have any expenses left to cut, get aggressive about that. Yes, it stinks to live without little pleasures, but sometimes it’s just what has to happen. See if you can find ways to cut your necessary expenses, too. Can you lower some bills or alter your lifestyle a bit to save money (like driving less, or taking in a roommate)? Every little bit will help.
If worst comes to worst, you may have to bridge the gap with a loan of some sort (although this won’t work for retirement). Just make sure it’s a favorable loan from a legitimate bank (or from family or friends). Don’t use a payday loan service or “cash advance” place. Those loans will destroy you. And don’t rack up credit cards. Their interest rates aren’t generally as bad as a payday loan, but they’re not great. You can easily drown yourself in credit card debt if you’re not careful.
Don’t let desperation ruin you. Don’t check your critical thinking skills at the door when you’re facing hardship, and don’t rush into anything. Remember, you cannot afford to make a mistake that costs you what little you do have. Evaluate everything and remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s doubly true when it comes to getting rich quick. There is no secret code, no secret group that can help you, and no one who can promise you riches for little effort. If it were so easy to get money, we’d all have money. Do your due diligence and be careful out there.
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