There are many ways to get emergency money, including taking out a quick personal loan, borrowing from a friend, or getting an advance on your paycheck. Many people also keep a credit card account open just for emergencies. You could use a credit card to make a purchase directly or to get a cash advance.
On the other hand, there are a few ways to go about getting emergency money that you should absolutely avoid. They include getting a loan from a payday lender or auto title lender. Such lenders simply cost too much and provide too little in return.
For the future, the best way to get emergency money is to build an emergency fund by putting some of your pay aside each month. That way, you won’t have to resort to borrowing (or won’t have to borrow as much) when an emergency situation arises. Until you have such a fund built up, try to minimize luxury expenses so you can maximize your savings. Various experts recommend saving from 3 to 12 months’ worth of expenses – the more the better.
If you don’t yet have an emergency fund, though, there are still plenty of ways to get emergency money.
How to Get Emergency Money
Get a quick personal loan: The fastest you can get a personal loan is the same day you apply, with LightStream, though same-day funding is not guaranteed. You’ll also need a credit score of 660+ to qualify, reportedly. Other fast (but not same-day) personal loan options include Avant (600 credit score), LendingPoint (585) and Wells Fargo (660).
Borrow from friends/relatives: If you have a good enough relationship with someone, chances are they’ll try to help you out in an emergency. They might not even charge you much or any interest when you pay them back.
Get an advance on a paycheck: If you explain your emergency situation to your employer, they may be willing to give you money you’ve already earned before payday comes around. Depending on your employer, you might even be able get an advance on pay for hours you haven’t worked yet. You could also try to work extra hours to make additional money.
Charge the expense to your credit card: If the emergency expense is something you can charge to your credit card, that’s an easy way to temporarily take care of it, assuming it costs less than your credit limit. Keep in mind that you only pay interest on credit card purchases if you carry a balance from month to month.
Get a cash advance: If you’re not able to swipe your card to pay for what you need, you can use your credit card to withdraw money at an ATM. Cash advances come with high fees and interest that starts accruing immediately, so only use this as a last resort.
Take money out of a retirement account: If you have money saved for retirement, you can borrow from those savings in an emergency situation. However, you’ll need to replace the money within a few years or you’ll incur an early withdrawal penalty.
Pawn a valuable item: A pawn shop will purchase your items at a fraction of their value and give you immediate cash. And as long as you pay that money back within a set number of months, along with interest, you’ll get your item back. Pay as quickly as possible, as interest can cost around 2% - 25% per month.
Sell items: Offloading items of value that you own but no longer want or need is an easy way to quickly get some extra cash. Plus, there are lots of apps and websites dedicated to helping people do just that.
Make medical donations: You may be able to get a few hundred dollars by donating blood, plasma or sperm, though you’ll need to undergo some tests and make appointments first. You’ll also need to confirm that it’s legal to be paid for donating bodily fluids in your state.
These emergency money options are generally preferable to payday lenders and auto title lenders, which offer short-term loans that are incredibly expensive. Avoid those two types of companies at all costs.
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