How to Handle a Financial Emergency
One of the reasons it’s so important to always be mindful of your finances is that life has a tendency to throw a wrench in our plans. And whether it’s a leaky roof, car accident or a trip to the hospital, the unexpected usually costs money. So when an unforeseen expense comes up, what are your options for covering the cost?
Use your emergency fund
There’s no question that the best way to cover your expenses is with cash. Bills are expensive enough as it is and if you pay cash, you’ll avoid having to pay interest on top of the original expense. In addition, some places (think auto repair shops, hospitals, contractors, etc.) may offer you a better price if you pay with cash rather than credit because it means they don’t have to pay a credit card fee on the transaction, saving you even more money. Having an emergency fund will give you great peace of mind in these types of situations. Just remember to replenish your emergency fund with more cash once you’ve had to tap it.
Borrow from family or friends
Though it’s not an ideal situation to have to borrow money from family or friends and many people advise against it, if you are confident you can pay them back and you know you won’t set them back financially by borrowing money, you may be able to get more favorable loan terms from people you know than you would be able to get from a traditional bank. You may also be able to access the money more quickly since you won’t have to apply. Just make sure you think long and hard about whether this is a good decision for your relationship before going this route.
Apply for a personal loan
Many lenders offer unsecured loans with loan amounts and interest rates that depend on your credit profile and state-by-state rules. Many online lending platforms, for example, offer loans in amounts from $1,000 to $35,000 with a simple online application process to assess creditworthiness. With a personal loan, you’ll agree to the terms of the loan at the start and receive the money you need upfront. Then you will be required to repay the loan in fixed installment payments each month.
Use short-term credit
Another option is to use a credit card to cover your expense. When used properly credit cards are useful tools, but if you are unable to pay them back quickly or on time, the fees and interest can add up fast. Access to a line of credit on a credit card can be another way to handle an emergency. If you already have the credit card open you have access to the funds immediately, however it is important to make sure it is a priority to repay this bill as soon as possible.