The Best Ways to Cover a $1,000 Expense That Blindsided You

You have plenty of options for fixing the damage.

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Surveys routinely show that most Americans don't have emergency savings to cover a big expense that comes out of nowhere, like a $1,000 hospital bill or car repair.

If you're not prepared for a rainy day, what can you do when it starts pouring?

Here are 10 dependable ways to conquer that expense --- and avoid similar debt disasters in the future.

1. Sell your stuff

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Most homes are filled with valuable, little-used technology, jewelry, clothing, sports gear and more. Selling those items could net you that $1,000 quicker than you might think.

You might offer your items for sale on eBay. You can use either the fixed-price "Buy It Now" option, or try to maximize returns using the site's bidding platform.

Another option — which will likely net you less money — is to try selling your items in person to pawn shops, used computer equipment stores, used clothing and sporting goods stores, or cash-for-gold liquidators.

2. Put your credit to work

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A low-cost source of funding may be as close as your wallet. If you've been a long-standing credit card holder, you can ask your issuer for a credit-line increase or a low, promotional rate.

Credit cards typically have fees for cash advances, and those withdrawals are often excluded from low-rate offers. So make sure you know exactly what the extra credit will cost you.

You could use the credit to cover other bills while you work on whittling down that $1,000 expense. But this option works only if you have a solid plan to pay off the card balance quickly. Otherwise, you'll just get deeper into debt.

3. Get a gig

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People want their homes painted, need dog sitters and run events all the time — and you could make some money helping out. Quick gigs could net you $100 a day and get you halfway over that $1,000 hump in under a week.

There are countless ways to make money from home in the gig economy. Check out sites such as, Fiverr, Craigslist and others to look for a side hustle that matches your skills.

Working part time at night or on the weekends adds up faster than you think, and a side job might even be an opportunity to try out a different line of work. Many people turn their temporary gigs into full-time careers down the road.

See how fast you can save $1,000.

4. Ask for more hours at work

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If your job pays hourly and you need the cash, then offer to cover someone else's shift. If there is overtime available, take it.

There is a double benefit in working harder at your current job. First, you earn the money you need to cover your unexpected bill. And second, you’ll make a good impression that could lead to more opportunities down the line.

Of course, the extra work could be only temporary — but it's easier to put in additional hours at your current job than to find a completely new source of income.

5. Hit your boss up for a raise

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If you are a good employee and haven't had a pay adjustment in a while, a personal financial crisis may give you the motivation to ask for a raise.

Think about how your company has benefited from having you on staff over the past year. Have you taken extra initiative, helped out when needed or brought in other good workers? Do you think you're fairly compensated?

If not, then it could be time to sit down with your boss and talk about a raise. You might not get the needed $1,000 right away, but a raise could help you pay off some of the bill.

6. Get serious about your budget

Business woman learn financial accounting.
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Failing to properly budget how you spend your paycheck is a common source of urgent money problems.

Budgeting means adding up your most recent bills for basics (housing, electricity, internet and phone) and subtracting that from your monthly earnings. What’s left is what you have to spend on food, gasoline — and paying off that $1,000 bill.

To help wipe it out, trim your spending by shopping for a cheaper phone plan, taking advantage of car insurance discounts, avoiding those daily $4 coffees, and making an effort to cook at home.

7. Tap insurance policies or your retirement

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If the $1,000 must be paid immediately to avoid dire consequences, then you could consider borrowing against your life insurance policy or taking out a loan from your 401(k) or other retirement account.

If you go this route, then make sure to develop a plan to pay the money back as soon as possible, so you won't jeopardize your retirement dreams or risk shortchanging your life insurance beneficiaries.

Also, be sure to speak with an investment adviser before taking these sorts of actions, because there could be tax consequences.

8. Shake out some home equity

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It's usually not a great idea to use your house to try to solve a $1,000 problem. But if you have no other choice, then a home equity loan or line of credit could be a low-cost solution to your debt.

If you make this choice, consider maximizing the benefit by consolidating your other debts and using the loan or credit line to pay for that debt, too, at least in part.

Speak with your bank or mortgage lender about all of the potential consequences and monthly payment options. Remember that if you can't pay the money back, you risk losing your home.

9. Try to negotiate your way out

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Here's a novel idea: Grab your phone and call the hospital, the garage or other business that has stuck you with the $1,000 expense. You might be able to reduce the bill, or at least score better repayment terms.

When you’re negotiating, remember that creditors want you to pay your bills. If you insist that the only way this will happen is if they agree to cut you some slack, then they just might play ball.

Be friendly and confident when you talk with the creditor. Don't be pessimistic. Your situation is never beyond hope!

10. Borrow from friends or family

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Typically, most people avoid borrowing money from people they know — for good reason.

Family and friends may be more generous than banks and may not push you to pay them back quickly, but if you have trouble returning the money you could ruin a relationship. So, borrowing from the people in your life should be a final resort.

Then, once you’ve dealt with this bill, make it a priority to curb your spending. Take whatever extra cash you're able to squeeze out of your budget and start a savings account for future emergencies.