What To Do When You Need Cash and You Don’t Have an Emergency Fund

Updated: July 14, 2023

Financial emergencies can happen anytime.

Without warning, you can lose your job, get sick and be unable to work, run into an accident and be hospitalized, your stuff can get stolen, or your car or home can suddenly need major repairs.

These are just a few reasons why it’s important to have an emergency fund.

It’s recommended that you save at least six months’ worth of your monthly expenses, but if you want to be really protected, then you can follow my formula in this article.

Now what if a financial emergency happens and your savings is not enough, or worse, you don’t have money saved at all to pay for the expenses – what can you do, and what are your options?

Here are seven sources of cash that you can tap if you don’t have an emergency fund.


1. People who owe you money

You were generous to lend them money when they were in need, now it’s time to pay you back, and you have a good reason to ask for it.

However, don’t get your hopes up because most of them won’t pay, but it’s always worth a try.

2. Cut back on spending

Re-allocate your budget for discretionary expenses towards your financial need. Get rid of your normal indulgences and remind yourself that every bit of cash that you save will help.

Although this sounds like common sense, I’m still surprised to hear some friends complain about not having enough money to pay for important home repairs, but they’re in front of me sipping a Starbucks frappuccino.

3. Find sources of income

It’s time to be creative and look for ways to earn extra income. Buy and sell stuff. Offer your skills as a service. And if possible, apply for a second job.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. So when the need for cash becomes imperative, you will discover that income opportunities are actually everywhere.

4. Liquidate assets and investments

Sell the things that you own. You can start with the stuff that you haven’t used in a year, especially branded clothes and kitchen appliances.

If you find yourself still short of cash, then proceed to redeem your paper investments and sell your pooled fund units and shares.

5. Withdraw from your life insurance policy

Call your life insurance agent and ask if your policy already has some cash value that you can withdraw.

But don’t get your hopes up, especially if you’ve had your policy for just five years or less or if you have term insurance.

6. Borrow money from a friend or family member

I’m putting this as your sixth option because borrowing cash should be a later consideration. Try your best to produce money on your own first.

If this is inevitable, then have the honor to pay back the loan in the future. Be realistic about when you can pay so as not to betray their trust. Lastly, don’t be mad if they don’t lend you money.

7. Take out a personal loan

Finally, when all else fails, apply for a personal loan. Getting an unsecured or non-collateral personal loan from SSS, a bank, or a loans association will be quick, albeit the higher interest. This is recommended if you only need a small amount.

For substantial amounts, it might be better to get a secured loan because this has lower interest rates. Be sure to really study your future cash flow, or you’ll risk losing your collateral.

And that’s it! Did I forget something, or do you have any other tips? Share them below in the comments section.

BONUS TIP: It’s good to always have cash at home for sudden financial emergencies, especially when it’s a bank holiday, and ATMs are offline.

Further Reading: What To Do When A Financial Emergency Happens

Photo credit: aquino_paolo


  1. Things can happen anytime, friends are the best people to lean on when times get tough, and it is best if your relative is also a friend

  2. I needed this right at this very moment! I do have an emergency fund, but it’s not for 6 months. And then my emergency also included needing to buy a new laptop so I can find work… which means my emergency fund took almost a 40,000peso hit.

    Thanks for this, Fitz!

  3. I like this. Makes sense. Emphasizes more the importance of having an EF. BTW, I love this mobile setup of your blog, if you know what I mean, *wink*

  4. Hi thanks for this, i also tried to sell some collections from my kitchen, plastics and bottles are very helpful when you collected good amount of it. I am segregating my garbages and try to collect some thing that might be useful in future, try not to sell it if you’re still not in need and you’ll be surprise! :p

  5. be ready for future emergencies.
    join cooperatives like Novadeci.
    Join cooperatives from your job.
    just be sure to check the credentials of the coop and
    the people who manages the funds..

  6. I never thought of asking what I would do if I needed money and I had no emergency fund because currently I have one. Of course the best is to have an emergency fund but there might be cases where my emergency fund is all spent and another situation comes up, or my emergency fund might not be enough. You’re a really smart blogger and adviser, sir Fitz. I really like the way you write your posts. So, is your book out yet on NBS?

    Stay awesome,

  7. Thanks for the good tips! Of course we all should save in case of those emergencies. But if we don’t or it’s not enough, I guess borrowing from a friend or selling stuffs sound okay.

  8. A useful detailed article =) I think cutting back on spending is perhaps one the most important tips. Unfortunately, a lot of people keep spending and complain about their financial situation afterwards…

  9. Great article. So many people are lost when it comes to what to do in an emergency. I think this is why people ultimately turn to credit cards.

  10. you always have great articles to read. ^_^… to add, for those who live in rural areas, they can always sell fruits/veggies from their backyard or neighbor with permission of course.

  11. My beautiful bride took a financial ” hit” way back in time when she was forced to sell the Rolex watch her Dad had given her on her college graduation. Later, when she was well established as an academic writer, she would from time to time collect some fine quality pieces of jewelry at deep discount prices. If an emergency came up, she usually was able to sell one or more pieces for at least what she paid for them and often more that she had paid. I have asked her why she continually did this and if she was sad to let go of the items? Her response was ” I enjoyed them while I owned them but was happy when I needed to help out my family members.” She also said ” My only real regret was that Rolex from my Dad, I wish I could find it today and buy it back.” These days, as a married couple, we DO NOT plan our emergency funds based on what can be pawned but this was educational for me

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