Illustration: Kyle Smart

If you find yourself facing an emergency that you’re financially under-prepared for, the prospect of what to do next may feel overwhelming. Don’t panic. There are things you can do to get through this crisis.

Work With What You Have

The first step is to restructure your current budget. While some expenses are difficult to change, such as mortgage or auto loan payments, there are plenty of areas that you can easily adjust to cut back spending and save money. This budget calculator can help you lay out specifics and make those adjustments.

Click here to read how this tool works, and for disclaimers.

Drawing from long term savings, vacation funds, and other savings accounts can help bolster your finances in a pinch. Similarly, if you’re really in a bind, you could consider cashing in on investments. Even if returns may not be as high as you would like, that money could help address your current emergency.

You should only withdraw early from retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA if absolutely necessary. Unless you meet certain criteria for an approved hardship, there is a 10% penalty for early withdrawals. Also, draining these accounts can greatly setback your financial security during retirement.

Kyle Smart

Supplement Your Income

If your current assets just won’t cover it, look for ways to get more. Consider selling valuables that you don’t need. Things like art, jewelry, antiques, and similar items may be hard to part with, but that money can carry you through a rough patch. Plus, online marketplaces make selling valuables easy to do.

If selling won’t make a big enough difference, try to increase your income by picking up extra work. Additional part-time or variable hour work can help you quickly boost your cash flow. You could also ask your employer for an advance on your paycheck to help cover your current expenses, though not all companies will offer this type of benefit.

Get Help

Remember that you don’t have to face an emergency alone. There are government programs put in place to help protect you and your dependents should you need it. This article walks through some of the programs that will be most helpful to you in detail. If you’ve been laid off, consider applying for unemployment benefits, or if you’re struggling to provide necessities for you and your family, SNAP or TANF can make up the difference if you qualify. If you currently don’t have health insurance, Medicaid or CHIP can help.

When you’re back on your feet, consider taking the time to prepare an emergency fund should you need it again.

Click here to read how this tool works, and for disclaimers.

Disclaimer
While we hope you find this content useful, it is only intended to serve as a starting point. Your next step is to speak with a qualified, licensed professional who can provide advice tailored to your individual circumstances. Nothing in this article, nor in any associated resources, should be construed as financial or legal advice. Furthermore, while we have made good faith efforts to ensure that the information presented was correct as of the date the content was prepared, we are unable to guarantee that it remains accurate today.

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