Everyone knows how important it is to save for retirement. However, actually setting aside money for your future can be challenging. When you’re short on cash and have other demands on your budget, there might be little to nothing left to put toward your nest egg. How are you supposed to save for your future when you’re completely strapped in the present?
If you don’t make enough money right now to set aside, there are still ways to grow your retirement savings. You just have to think outside the box.
1. Use your tax refund
Many people daydream about how they want to spend their tax refund, which is often the biggest windfall they’ll see all year. In fact, last year the average tax refund was $2,763, according to the IRS.
If you’re getting a tax refund this year, put it to work. Rather than spending your refund on electronics or a vacation, consider depositing that money straight into your retirement fund. With the power of compound interest, that refund could grow by the thousands by the time you retire.
2. Deposit your credit card rewards
If you have a credit card that offers cash back, that cash can be a regular source of extra money for your retirement fund. If you already use your credit card for routine purchases like utilities, gas, and groceries, this is easy money. Just make sure you are paying off your credit card balance in full every month.
3. Use cash back apps
If you don’t have a cash back credit card, you can still earn money for doing the shopping you were going to do anyway. Apps like Ibotta or SavingStar let you earn cash back on grocery purchases, while sites like eBates offer a percentage back on many online purchases. You’ll earn a percentage of your purchase as cash, and a check will be mailed to you — which you can toss straight into your retirement account. It’s a low-effort way to earn extra money going about your normal routine. (See also: 7 Apps That Actually Pay You to Shop)
4. Launch a side hustle
If you have some extra time, you can earn money in the evenings or on weekends by launching a side hustle for fast cash. From walking dogs to making deliveries, there are hundreds of side gigs you can do in just a few hours a week. That extra income can go a long way to funding your retirement.
5. Sell your clutter
Take a look around at all of the electronics, textbooks, toys, and more that you never use. You may have as much as a few thousand dollars’ worth of items collecting dust in your home. That clutter can be eliminated while netting you some money for your retirement. Sell items on sites like eBay, LetGo, and Bookscouter to get cash for your stuff. (See also: 5 Things in Your Garage That Have Serious Re-Sale Value)
6. Rent out extra space
If you have an extra bedroom, you can rent it out on sites like Airbnb or VRBO. Depending on your location and the size of your space, you could charge hundreds per night. However, you don’t even need an extra room to make money. You can rent out a spare closet or storage space in the garage on Spacer, or rent out your parking spot on SpotHero. (See also: 5 Easy Ways to Make Good Money From Airbnb)
7. Sell photos online
If you like photography, you can earn passive income to put toward your retirement savings by selling your photos. You can try your hand at selling stock photography on sites like iStock or Shutterstock, or you could sell your artwork in an online portfolio or on arts and craft sites like Etsy. You could also try selling smartphone photos on Foap, which is an app that connects brands with photographers looking to sell their images. (See also: Earn Extra Income With Your Smartphone Camera)
8. Let strangers drive your car
If you don’t drive your car every day, your vehicle can become a lucrative source of income. You can rent it out to tourists or business travelers on Turo and set your own daily rate. According to the company, you can make nearly $5,800 a year if your car’s market value is $20,000 and you rent it out for 12 days per month. That alone could get you to the contribution limit on an IRA.
9. Trade in clothes for cash
If you have clothes, handbags, or shoes that you don’t wear anymore, stop letting them take up precious closet space. You can sell those items on sites like Poshmark, Tradesy, and even in-person at consignment stores like Plato’s Closet or Clothes Mentor. A single bag of clothes could net you enough to send a couple hundred dollars toward your retirement account.