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Money Emergency? Which Resources to Tap First, and Last

When disaster strikes and your internal panic button ignites, your frazzled instincts might tell you to tap into the first financial resource that comes to mind. Practice damage control by knowing which actions will cause the least harm to your overall financial health, and which will threaten it the most.

CNN Money lists 17 ways to get your hands on cash ranked from the best to worst. I can't say I completely agree with their rankings — it's beyond me why selling hard assets is seen as a worse way to get fast cash than borrowing against your home — but if you want more explanation on any of the following items check out their article.

  1. Tap your emergency fund.
  2. Sell some non-retirement investments.
  3. Ask the folks for a gift.
  4. Bust into a CD early — it's cash you already own.
  5. Cash in your whole life insurance policy.
  6. Borrow from family or friends.
  7. Take out a home-equity line of credit.
  8. Do a cash-out mortgage refinancing.
  9. Borrow from your 401(k) or 403(b) plan.

Discover the other eight progressively worse ways to raise fast cash when you


  1. Borrow against other investment accounts.
  2. Borrow from strangers on sites like
  3. Tap your IRA.
  4. Do a reverse mortgage.
  5. Sell some hard assets like artwork or jewelry.
  6. Take a cash advance on your credit card.
  7. Liquidate your 401(k) or 403(b) account.
  8. Absolute worst: Go to a payday lender.


Join The Conversation
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i always get worried about what would happen if i needed money fast. lucky for me - i always go to mom first - and chances are if she could help me she would. i had a medical bill situation that i couldn't pay and my insurance only covered part of it - so lucky for me she was there to help with the rest. i know that a lot of people don't have that. i would do my best not to tap into my retirement stuff - knowing full well that i'll end up broke when i retire if i touch it now.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Skigurl - you are correct. the return rate for them is pure robbery. They are bad news. There is one on every corner in my neighborhood.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
i worked for the government on a file regarding credit unions and i learned a lot about payday lenders and they are TERRRRRRRRRRRRRRIBLEEEEEEEEEEEE they have ruined countless lives
jen1975 jen1975 9 years
Yeah, some of us would rather sell jewelry than ask our parents to bail us out--what are we, twelve?
chatondeneige chatondeneige 9 years
That's an interesting list... But I'm with Savvy, I'm not sure that the order they present is what's best for everyone - some people have different priorities!
d_et_g d_et_g 9 years
This article is horrible... Why wouldn't you sell something like jewelry before you plunder all your other finances like life insurance or reverse mortgaging your home? It sounds like you're probably in too bad of situation to be able to pay back a lot of these other loans which probably have adjustable interest rates or huge fees. And what about a good old traditional loan?
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Ohh wow, great article and very eye opening for me. I couldn't do most things on that list right now but have but I really hope I never have to do any of those things again. Especially, borrowing from retirement and cleaning out emergency fund.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
I read this yesterday. Now who the heck will go around and borrow from strangers?
SugarKat SugarKat 9 years
Great article!!!
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