How can I safely and legally find 800$ in a week?
June 23, 2014 4:55 PM   Subscribe

Ok, so...long story short, I am really having a hard time making rent for reasons outside of my control. It's due in a week, and despite exhausting every venue I can think of I can't come up with that money.

My parents don't have it, my friends don't have it. Several paychecks from one of my jobs have not come through in the past 3 weeks and unfortunately, I really needed that money to pay for rent. I'm preparing to take this matter to small claims court, but in the mean time, I have to find a way to get my landlord that money. If these paychecks were to come in, I would be fine...but as it stands, I can't see them coming in until next month...if ever.

So, does anyone have any ideas about how I might be able to get 800$ safely and legally in like...a week? I'm going to send an email to my landlord and see what he suggests, but I can't imagine he's going to be happy about this. I live in Manhattan at the moment, and I'm not sure what the laws are about this specific issue as far as housing goes, but from what I can tell, they favor the landlord. All I know is that I really, really don't want to be evicted.
posted by Rosengeist to Work & Money (27 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Some ideas that you may have already considered: do 10 of your friends have $80 you could borrow (or 20, $40, etc., etc.)? Can you sell anything? Can your parents sell anything? Can you pay your landlord electronically and use a credit card?
posted by c'mon sea legs at 5:00 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Previously, previously, previously, if you haven't seen those already. (I apologize if you have.)

Sell stuff? Walk dogs? Got anything you can return to a store?

Good luck!
posted by wintersweet at 5:01 PM on June 23, 2014

Have you considered sex work?

If you're attractive, you could strip. You can do Dominatrix stuff (you kind of have to know things, but it's worth knowing, IMHO)

You could sell or pawn stuff.

Try to pick up catering gigs at $100 per night. Ditto babysitting, or temping, or something like that.

You can take a cash advance on a credit card. Or pay rent via Popmoney or PayPal.

If you have a car, drive for Uber.

Cash out your savings bonds from your bar/bat mitvah.

Task Rabbit.

But, if I knew then, what I know now, I'd have stripped.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:03 PM on June 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: c-mon sea legs, I have maybe 1 thing I can sell, but part of the problem is that I moved up here to take the job that isn't paying me, so I don't have a lot. My friends and family are giving me everything they can...but I think I've taken as much as I can from them all.

The card might be an idea...I don't have a lot of money on any card I own, but it's a thought.
posted by Rosengeist at 5:03 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Task Rabbit,

I'm kind of chubby...not sure I'm the type of person anyone would pay to see naked, and I'm not keen on the idea of being in sex work. Nothing against those who do it, it's just not something i know much about and believe it would probably not be the best idea for me.

Currently working nights, and no car.

Can you pay via paypal if you don't have money in your account?
posted by Rosengeist at 5:05 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take whatever you've got to a pawn shop, then go get your shit back when the check comes in. This situation is the reason pawn shops exist.
posted by bradbane at 5:06 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pay via PalPal with a credit card.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:09 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Task Rabbit is a site where you can get paid for doing errands for people.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:10 PM on June 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Given that you are employed, is there anything keeping you from taking out a personal loan or line of credit at a local credit union? It took about ten minutes to apply when I needed cash, and it doesn't cost you anything.
posted by halogen at 5:10 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Before you do anything too drastic, wait to hear from your landlord.

Of course he's not going to be happy, but evictions take time- you won't be out on the street overnight. It's also a huge pain for landlords. So his most likely reply, assuming you've been a good tenant up until now, will be "Ok. When can you get me the money?"
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:10 PM on June 23, 2014 [12 favorites]

As for working at night, why? If they're not paying you, don't let them tie up your time.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:12 PM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Assuming you're working a "legit" job, you're a lot more likely to get your paychecks by bringing up the spectre of the Department of Labor (or whatever NY's version is called) than small claims court. Regardless, start looking for a new job immediately.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:14 PM on June 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds to me like you are somewhat over concerned about the repercussions of being late on rent. Landlord-tenant law in NYC is friendly towards tenants in these situations. If the money is coming fairly soon, it is unlikely that your landlord will begin eviction proceedings before the money comes in, let alone succeed in evicting you. By all means, do what you can to rustle up the money, but do it with the confidence that you are unlikely to be pushed out of your home soon.

On the other hand, unless you think that this delay in pay is some kind of aberration, you should immediately be seeking real paying work. If I were you, my priorities would be: 1) talking to the landlord 2) finding out what is delaying my pay 3) looking for new work 4) starting an emergency savings pool so I wouldn't be caught in this situation again. If you think the company you are working for is a sinking ship, you should stop working there immediately. Instead, invest your time in finding a new job and getting short-term gigs to raise money.
posted by reren at 5:27 PM on June 23, 2014 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: A bit of clarification on my situation. I came to NYC for a job that hasn't worked out in the way I had believed it would. I took a night job to cover my losses, when this wasn't enough, I also took on another day job. However, the checks I needed come from the job I originally came here for. Technically, I have 3 jobs (and do freelance as well) the non-paying checks come from that first job. My current day and night job don't cause me problems, but that first one has been problematic.

Thanks for the advice rare! That helps a lot! I didn't know much about the legality of eviction in NYC. :)
posted by Rosengeist at 5:33 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

reren is absolutely right; NYC is probably the most tenant-friendly city in the country when it comes to stuff like this. You will absolutely not get evicted for missing the deadline on one month's rent; I would estimate it'd have to be about six months before the eviction process would start, and even then, you get to stay in your home until the marshal puts the notice on your door.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:51 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

How soon eviction starts depends on the landlord/management company. Usually there is a grace period from a few days to the end of the month. Ask a neighbor. Then they have to give you a 3 day notice, THEN they have to file in housing court. You can do some things to delay it another month. So it's very unlikely the Marshall will be tossing you out before September. IMHO thnking it would be taking six months is being too optimistic.
posted by Sophont at 8:00 PM on June 23, 2014

1. I'm guessing you're not a member of a credit union if you're asking this question, but if you are go to your credit union and explain your situation. The people at a credit union are there to help you (unlike the people at my former bank, who were there to not-help you) and give you things like loans for a small amount of money with reasonable interest rates.

2. I used to live in Boston and a bunch of the universities used to do walk in psych studies that were paid. Like you would show up and do a little 10 minute computer task or be asked to remember a string of numbers then they'd give you ten dollars and leave. Except some of them paid a lot more. The Harvard Business School used to do studies on game theory or something and some of them would give you like $25 per right answer or each time you correctly guessed what your partner would do. And then for the studies that required you go be hooked up to an MRI or anything vaguely invasive they'd pay a few hundred dollars. If you live in NYC check Columbia or NYU or one of the many universities for studies.
posted by mermily at 8:02 PM on June 23, 2014

A bit of clarification on my situation. I came to NYC for a job that hasn't worked out in the way I had believed it would. I took a night job to cover my losses, when this wasn't enough, I also took on another day job. However, the checks I needed come from the job I originally came here for. Technically, I have 3 jobs (and do freelance as well) the non-paying checks come from that first job. My current day and night job don't cause me problems, but that first one has been problematic.

If you expect to have the money next month, I'd just tell your landlord exactly what you said here. "I won't be able to pay the rent this month because of this issue, but I expect to have the money going forward. What can I do?" Landlords don't generally want to evict their tenants if they can avoid it, and they take security deposits because shit like this happens sometimes. Maybe he'll let you spread out payments for this month over the next few months or something.
posted by empath at 8:33 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

just FYI, Taskrabbit applications take weeks to months to process, and they don't pick everyone who applies, so that's not really an option given the time constraints.
posted by FlyByDay at 9:13 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

The option of last resort is a payday loan. They charge hefty interest rates but you'll get the money immediately.
posted by zug at 9:31 PM on June 23, 2014

Sell Plasma. It' won't get you $800.00 in a week. But you'll get a huge chunk of it.

I don't have ovaries...but i'd look into selling my eggs.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 9:51 PM on June 23, 2014

Do you have a checking account? You can date a check for a future date (like a week) to buy a littel more time to get teh money in your account. Cash advance on a credit card? Panhandle? Do you have any friends in the city that work at bars and can they get you a "guest bartender" night? Spaghetti dinner fundraiser? Medical studies (look in weekly classifieds)?
posted by WeekendJen at 6:38 AM on June 24, 2014

Tangential, but are the non checks because they aren't paying you, or because it's commission work or something where the thing that generates the money hasn't happened?

Because in many states, if they just aren't bothering to pay you, they could well be looking at 3x damages.

In the short term, if you're *really* certain the money's coming, Ruthless Bunny's cash advance suggestion is risky because of high interest rates, but not unreasonable.
posted by colin_l at 6:45 AM on June 24, 2014

There are actually nonprofit and church programs that have grants for exactly this kind of situation - where a one time help with rent payment (sometimes for more than one month's worth of rent) will allow someone who otherwise will have the means to stay in their own home to stay there. I wish I could remember more details but I'm pretty sure I heard of it this kind of thing through a legal nonprofit. I'm not sure of the requirements but I'd start by looking into that.

Also yes in general NYC has decent protections agains hasty evictions. But at $800 for Manhattan you might be in a sublet where even if you are protected ultimately a sloppy lessor could make your life difficult, so it may be worth contacting a landlord/tenant legal help org just to cover your bases. is not a bad place to start.

(Ovaries or not, anyone who thinks egg donation is a way to fast money should educate themselves about human reproduction).
posted by Salamandrous at 7:48 AM on June 24, 2014

How are you eating? If you have money in the bank to eat, can you hit up a food pantry to help you eat for free/cheap to help free up some of those funds towards rent?

Collect recyclables. There was a recent fpp about poor people in New York collecting recyclables. You have to dig for the info (I can give you a link to my write up, if you want) but the grandma they profile is making $20 an hour from recycling cans and bottles in New York. If I could make $20 an hour from recycling (or at anything), I would be paying off debts and partying my ass off. I assume she is dumpster diving but if you can figure out where to go to get a big haul, New York might be one of the few places you can get a big pile of recyclables and make a good chunk of that money relatively quickly.

You likely won't make $20/hour. That likely takes knowledge you don't have. But that doesn't mean it can't help at all.

If you can explain your situation and give your landlord even partial payment, they may be more sympathetic to your situation and give you some time to work things out.
posted by Michele in California at 11:03 AM on June 24, 2014

Regarding post-dated checks, I've been told by a bank employee that they rarely even notice the date on a check, let alone use it as a guide to whether it's negotiable yet. If it's valid, it's accepted and posted immediately.
posted by Flexagon at 1:20 PM on June 24, 2014

Response by poster: Talked to the landlord, he's going to let me do half and half. I'll give him what I have on payday, and then when my checks come in, I'll give him the rest.

The case with my paychecks is...odd...I work at a reputable firm, and I'm trying to get a hold of human relations. They are good for the money, but I've yet to receive paychecks I should have received since the 6th of's piling up.

I've attempted the medical studies thing, and have a night job. Plasma is a maybe...but around here, they don't offer a whole lot. I'll see if I can find someone paying more than 20$.

Thanks for the advice everyone! A lot of it is really helpful!
posted by Rosengeist at 12:39 PM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

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