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When it comes to your finances, surprises are rarely a good thing. While you might dream of winning the lottery or inheriting a large piece of property from a long-lost relative, what are the chances they’ll actually happen? The odds aren’t in your favor. So, handling surprise expenses is important to learn.
Do you know what’s more likely to happen? Chipping your tooth or surviving a tire blowout on the highway.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid these unpleasant surprises altogether. But you can prepare your budget for unexpected expenses. With a few tweaks to your money management style, you can handle a surprise without any delay.
Use Your Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is a cushion of savings that go above and beyond your usual spending. It’s a special reserve of cash you can rely on when something urgent and expensive happens unexpectedly, like a car repair, home renovation, or medical expense.
Emergency savings should always be your first line of defense against the unknown. But how can you save for something that you can’t predict? The trick is to save as much three to six months’ worth of living expenses in your emergency fund.
Half a year of expenses can be overwhelming, so try to focus on smaller attainable goals at first. Sit down with your budget to find out how you can set aside just $50 at first, working up from there.
Put it on Credit
An emergency fund is meant to be used, so there may come a time when you’re low on savings. What happens if you hit a streak of bad luck and wind up having to repair a burst pipe after you’ve already drained your savings?
If you have room on your credit card, now’s the time to pull out the plastic from your wallet. You can pay for your urgent repair upfront with credit and then systematically pay off what you owe when you can.
While a credit card comes with the option to make minimum payments, you’ll want to pay off as much as you can handle at once. This strategy will clear up your credit limit for the next emergency, and it may even limit how much you pay in interest and finance charges.
Take out a Personal Loan Online
A credit card is only an option if you have enough free space on this account, but it’s not much help if you’ve maxed out your account. In this case, you may want to research personal loans online.
Online loans are convenient options when you don’t have time to visit a financial institution in person. Instead, you can research, apply for, receive, and pay off your personal loan or line of credit anywhere you get Internet.
Some online personal loans are available, even if you hurt your credit score by maxing out your credit cards. Lenders that offer personal lines of credit and installment loans for bad credit often temper your credit score with other financial information before making their decision. This information may include your payment schedule and income.
Talk to Your Creditor or Service Provider
If you can’t cover all your unexpected expenses through savings or borrowing, reach out to the creditor or service provider that you owe. They’ve probably had other clients hit difficult times in the past couple of years.
There’s a good chance your creditors already have a system in place to help down-on-their-luck customers. This could include providing more leeway with due dates or financing a plan that lets you pay off what you owe in installments.
The exact nature and cost of your surprise may not be predictable. But you can be prepared for the unexpected by following today’s suggestions.