How to Get Money if You Don’t Have an Emergency Fund

Financial emergencies happen to the best of us. Unfortunately, many people who need cash quickly don’t have an emergency fund they can dip into. While these options should be used sparingly, Lifehacker notes that they may be able to help you get your hands on some money quickly:
  • 401(k) loan. If your 401(k) permits loans, you can usually borrow the greater of $10,000 or 50 percent of your vested balance, and no more than $50,000 (though your plan may set its own limits). There’s no credit check required, so your credit score won’t be affected. What to keep in mind about a 401(k) loan, however, is that you have, typically, five years to repay what you borrowed (unless you leave your job).
  • Roth contributions. Along the same lines, if you’ve contributed to a Roth, you can withdraw those contributions at any time, tax- and penalty-free. You cannot, however, withdraw earnings unless you meet certain requirements.
  • Home equity line of credit. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a secured loan in which your house is the collateral. You aren’t loaned a certain dollar amount, however; rather, you’re extended a line of credit and you can borrow up to that amount, like a credit card, over a period of time.
  • HSA withdrawal. If you have an HSA and can pay with cash now, you might be able to recoup your money at a later date to cover an emergency, assuming you keep your receipts (otherwise it’s smart to keep your HSA funds to cover medical costs in retirement, if you can swing it).
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