What to Do When Money Gets Tight

Is there anything more stressful than not having enough money to meet your needs? Sometimes it’s because you didn’t budget quite right, but there are other times when you’re beset by something completely out of your hands. Your car breaks down in the middle of the week, for example, and you just spent your savings getting the kids new clothes for school. What can you do?

You can try one of the five borrowing options outlined below. Each one is designed to provide quick cash when you’re experiencing a financial emergency. Some require good credit; some don’t.

Ask for a credit limit increase. If you’re in good standing with your credit card companies, consider asking for a limit increase. While it’s never a good idea to max out your credit cards, having a few hundred or thousand extra dollars to work with could solve your problems without you having to submit to a new credit check. You can typically ask for a limit increase online, though you may get a more favorable decision if you speak with someone on the phone. The approval process may take as much as a few days but often takes as little as a minute or two.

Get a check advance from a lender

While an advance on a check is typically associated with an employer (see below) the same concept can apply in a more traditional borrower-lender setting. If quick cash is needed now, you can find a check advance online through a qualified lender. Like other forms of unsecured borrowing, it’s imperative for the borrower to pay it back on time in full.

Ask your employer for a check advance. This is an option only if you feel reasonably sure it won’t hurt your employer’s opinion of you. You may be surprised by the positive reception you receive. Many employers are willing to extend advances to good employees who have been with the company for at least a year. Your boss may let you repay your check advance over several pay periods, not just one like payday loans.

Pawn or sell your belongings. It never feels good to slink into a pawnshop with something of value between your hands, but it is a way to get quick cash for emergencies. Be mindful that pawn shops will give you a very small percentage of what your valuables are worth. While strategies for getting the most money from a pawn shop exist, it’s easy to wind up pawning more items than you intended. This puts more of your things on the line if you run into trouble getting them back. Alternatively, you could post the same things on a seller’s website like eBay or Craigslist and get more money, although you may have to bide your time before you get a buyer.

Get a personal loan. If you’ve got good credit and your bank account is in good standing, approach a loan officer at your bank for a small personal loan. If your credit isn’t perfect you may be able to get a loan at a higher interest rate with a lending company.

Take out a title loan

If your credit is truly damaged, a car title loan is a last-resort option. Car title loans involve putting the title to a car you own on the line for the cash. This means if you can’t pay, you’ll lose your car. Only do this if you know you can pay the loan off quickly. Never, ever borrow more than you need or can pay back.

As insurance against emergencies in the future, start a savings account. Put 10 percent of your paycheck in it every payday, without fail, and only tap the money in emergencies. Emergencies are never quite as dire when you have a nest egg to fall back on.

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