You can cross all of your fingers and all of your toes, but it’s a useless financial strategy when disaster strikes.
Life has a way of throwing you curveballs when you least expect it. You get sick, your car breaks down, and bills pile up. Do you know how you’ll be able to cover these extra expenses?
If not, keep scrolling. Here are five different ways to pay for a surprising bill or repair.
An Emergency Fund
A nest egg. A rainy-day fund. An emergency fund.
There’s a lot of different ways to talk about short-term savings, and they all amount to the same thing. It’s money you’ve set aside for emergencies that you can access quickly without penalties.
Tapping into personal savings is the best way to cover a financial emergency. But it’s not something everyone can do. Fifty-eight percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
Most financial advisors suggest you have as much as six months’ worth of expenses sitting in a savings account. Some recommend doubling that to make sure you’re protected against life’s biggest emergencies — like long-term unemployment or a serious illness.
Asking Friends and Family for Help
Borrowing from friends or family is a quick way to cover an unexpected expense, and it comes with less red tape involved with borrowing from a financial institution.
While a family loan probably won’t come with strict rates and terms, it may come at a personal cost. Borrowing from loved ones often complicates your relationship.
This is especially true when you don’t have a clear contract outlining everyone’s expectations and obligations.
In a bind, generous loved ones might help you, but don’t expect them to agree enthusiastically. It’s about a 50-50 chance they’ll say no.
Only 47 percent of Americans would lend money to their immediate family, and even less would lend to friends, extended family, or co-workers.
An Unsecured Line of Credit
An unsecured line of credit acts as a safety net in emergencies. It keeps your finances from going splat when unexpected bills and repairs upset your budget’s equilibrium.
It’s cash you borrow from a financial organization like a bank or online lender. But it’s unlike the average personal loan.
Rather than receiving a lump-sum of money you pay back by a specific date, you’re given a credit limit you can use at your leisure. You only pay back as much as you use, and you only accrue interest on your outstanding balance.
Once you repay this balance, you have access to your full credit limit again and so on as you use and pay off your unsecured line of credit.
Some financial institutions require their borrowers to have good credit, but there are options available regardless of what score you have. Individual financial institutions may have different requirements.
If you have subprime credit, learn about your options for an unsecured line of credit before you run into an emergency. This way, you’ll know which route to take without delay.
Figure it out Now, Not Later
Wishing for good luck isn’t an effective way to protect your budget in an emergency. This passive role in your finances won’t help you take on unexpected bills and repairs.
A far better way to handle life’s curveballs is by being proactive. Be prepared by finding out which option works best with your finances. Then you won’t have to think twice before tapping into savings, asking for help, or borrowing an unsecured line of credit.