What to Do When You Need Money in a Flash

We’ve all been there. You get a big fat bill in the mail, or life happens and boom, you need a big chunk of change to pay off an unexpected cost. And then you check your balance and it’s like damn, funds are looking a little lower than you’d like.

Before you enter panic mode, stop! Take a deep breath. And get to know your options for getting extra Benjamins in your bank account on the double.

What Not to Do

First things first: Not all options for getting money quickly are your friend. Here’s a few things you’ll want to avoid.

  1. Payday Loans

    A payday loan agency might seem like an easy fix. They’re the ones who’ll give you money right away, and all you’ve got to do is pay them back when your check comes in. But unless you’re crazy disciplined and know you’ve absolutely got the money to pay off your loan, you could end up paying insanely high interest fees on what you borrowed. If that does happen, whatever you do, don’t take out another payday loan to pay off your first one. That’s like throwing gasoline on a pile of dollar bills and striking a match – and we don’t want that.

  2. Credit Cards

    On a similar note, the idea of buy now, pay later is so damn enticing. But credit cards shouldn’t be a lifeline for paying off unexpected expenses, especially if you don’t have a game plan to repay them. While the interest fees aren’t quite as nasty as payday loans, they still add up fast. Plus, if you’re not keeping up with your credit card payments, you’ll hurt your credit score. Poor credit can make it hard to get a mortgage, rent an apartment, buy a car, or even keep your credit card.

  3. Skip Bills or Insurance Payments

    The idea of taking money from one pot and dropping it into another almost makes sense – but not if that means defaulting on whatever service those bills are paying for. If you uninsure your car to save a few bucks, every trip behind the wheel is a like playing with fire. Getting in an accident without insurance could cost you way, way more than what you were out in the first place. It’s just not worth it. It’s totally okay to cancel services that aren’t essential (we see you Netflix) to balance your budget, but don’t skip paying for the basics.

Where to Get Money in a Hurry

The good news? There are way better choices if you need to fatten up that bank balance. You could tap your family and friends for a loan, but if you don’t want to mix money and love, here are a few other ideas for a quick cash infusion.

  1. Small Personal Loans from Your Bank

    Payday loan companies aren’t the only ones that give out short-term loans to people in a pinch. While there is still interest, the rates are much lower than payday loans, and usually lower than credit card interest. There are even different types of small loans to choose from, like installment or single payment loans so you can pay the bank back in a way that works for you. Talk to your bank to see what options they’ve got to cover you until your world is right-side up again.

  2. Credit Union Personal Loans

    Not everyone’s got a bank, or let’s be real, likes to deal with the bank. Plus, there’s the whole thing that many banks will want to see a good credit score or know you as a customer. If those are roadblocks to getting a short-term loan, a credit union might be a better bet. Credit unions often serve up small personal loans to members of their community, with better interest rates and lower fees than any of the options mentioned so far, including banks. You’ll probably have to sign up for an account and pay a small membership fee to join, but the long-term benefits (and the fact you can always use them again if you’re stuck!) make it worth it.

  3. Peer-to-Peer Lending

    Look, we know we said shaking down your family and friends for some extra funds isn’t a great idea, but peer-to-peer lending is a different take on borrowing from your people. Check out sites like Upstart, Prosper, Payoff, or LendingClub, where real folks put up their money in exchange for collecting interest on whatever you borrow. With loans of up to $50,000 available, even people with limited credit history can be matched with a lender to boost their bank account on the fly.

  4. Dig Around the Garage (or Closet or Attic)

    These days it’s easier than ever to sell stuff you don’t need (we mean really need) through online marketplaces. If you only need a small amount of cash to cover yourself, a bunch of small transactions can add up fast. Dig through your closet, look around the garage, and get listing. Sites like Facebook offer listing services for free, but that’s just scratching the surface. Check out OfferUp, Letgo, Close5, or Poshmark for other ways to clear out your house and fill up your bank account. If you’ve got hot ticket items like sneakers, collector’s items, or designer clothing, try listing on eBay to get even more bang for your buck.

Depending on how quickly you need money, there are even more ways to rustle up some money in a hot second. Grab a gig job from sites like Fiverr or TaskRabbit, or run a few shifts doing deliveries working for companies like Uber or Postmates.

Just remember: If your emergency funds are coming from a loan, make sure you’ve got a plan to get it all paid off, so you don’t end up in more trouble down the road. And while you’re at it, start shaving off a little money from your paycheck and stashing it away for the next financial blip that hits your radar.