Have you saved funds for a rainy day? How about for the rainy day where a piece of hail cracks your windshield?
Saving for an emergency or unexpected expense is very difficult for many people these days. If you’re struggling to put away enough money to cover one of life’s inconvenient surprises, that’s OK, and you’re not alone. It may take some time to save enough money to have a financial emergency fund, and it might be even harder when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. This may be why, according to a 2021 Bankrate survey, less than 40% of adults in the U.S. could afford to pay a $1,000 unexpected expense.
However, there are ways to deal with these emergencies even when you don’t have a lot of money saved in an emergency fund to act as your financial safety net. Below are a few options that may help you pull through your financial hardships, for 4 different emergencies that you may commonly encounter.
1. Medical Emergencies
Some people may not think it’s worth it to pay for health insurance. That is, of course, until they have to pay for a trip to the emergency room for themselves or a loved one out of pocket.
How expensive can a trip to the emergency room be if you don’t have insurance?
- An ER visit may cost anywhere from $150-$3,000
- If you need an ambulance to get there, the fees can be over $1,000
- If critical care is needed, the cost can climb even higher
Workplace Health Insurance
This may seem like an obvious answer, but if your workplace provides any sort of health benefits, make sure you use them! It may surprise you to learn that only 3 out of 10 employees surveyed say they feel like they’re getting the most out of their workplace benefits.
If you’re a student, your college or university may provide some sort of student health plan for you to take advantage of. However, not all plans are created equally, and you may be better off staying under your parents’ health coverage, if possible. It pays to sit down and thoroughly go through both plans to decide which is the better option to provide you with emergency financial assistance in your time of need.
You may also want to consider applying for a short-term online line that’s specifically meant to help you handle an emergency expense.
A Family Doctor or Urgent Care Clinic
Your community may have a waitlist to get a family doctor and moving to the top of that waitlist could take some time. This might have discouraged you from even putting your name on the list in the first place.
You may already be familiar with the benefits of a family doctor. They could potentially give you a higher level of personalized care, and being able to go back to a doctor who already knows your/your family’s specific health history is a benefit. However, you may not have considered how much money it can actually save you.
As we already mentioned earlier, a trip to the emergency room can be expensive. But a big chunk of medical care in the U.S. is delivered by emergency departments. If an emergency occurs, then you have a valid reason to visit the emergency room. But many medical needs like flu symptoms, an unexpected rash, or nagging pain can often be dealt with by a family physician. Depending on what you’re seeing the doctor for, a visit to your family doctor may be cheaper than taking a trip to the ER.
You might also be able to save money by going to an urgent care clinic instead of the emergency room, which tend to be much less expensive. This could be a good option for a minor condition like flu symptoms versus something more extreme.
2. Dental Emergencies
Dental emergencies and expenses can add up in a hurry and cost you more than you may expect.
This is another situation where insurance can go a long way to reducing your out-of-pocket spending, acting as a preemptive financial safety net of sort. Consider that the average cost of certain basic dental procedures is:
- $75 to $200 for a routine cleaning by a dental hygienist
- $225 to $600 for the removal of an impacted wisdom tooth
If you’re in the clinic for something more serious, you could be facing:
- A root canal costing you approximately $300-$2,000
- Tooth extraction costing $219-$4,000
How to Reduce Dental Costs
The easiest answer to keeping your dental bills down is making sure you and your kids are flossing and brushing regularly. However, doing so can only go so far to saving you money on dental care.
If there is a dental school or college in your area, they may offer free, or discounted, dental services for things like cleanings. The students at these institutions should be trained in how to perform these basic-level procedures and are typically supervised by qualified instructors.
You may also consider:
- Searching on sites like Find A Health Center to look for experienced dentists who volunteer their time.
- Looking into Dental Lifeline, who provides affordable support to vulnerable adults, like the elderly or people with multiple chronic conditions.
- Contacting America’s Tooth Fairy for low-cost dentistry options for your children.
- Browsing The American Dental Association’s page for children’s dental care, which also has a tool that finds discounted care in your area.
3. Emergency Automotive and Car Expenses
You may already pay a lot of money to cover your car loan interest rates, gas, and insurance. But, when your car starts making a strange noise or the “check engine” light comes on, things can get even more expensive in a hurry.
In fact, AAA reported that the average car repair in America for a new car costs around $0.09 a mile. So, for reference, if you drive 10,000 miles in a year, that would be $900.
How can you prevent or reduce these costs during times of financial need?
Do Some Basic Car Maintenance on Your Own
Don’t skip this section just because you’re not comfortable with working on your own car or you’ve never tried it before. We’re not talking about anything major. Certain small tasks may be very doable, and/or easy to learn for the average person. This can include:
- Changing oil
- Swapping air filters
- Replacing headlights or taillights
- Changing the battery
Start by Googling, “How do I (insert the task here).” In fact, you may even be able to go model-specific and type in, “How do I (insert task here) on a 2016 Honda Civic.” You will likely get dozens of detailed walkthrough videos. Watch the video once to see if this looks like something you can do and to see what tools, parts, and supplies you will need.
Build an Ongoing Relationship with a Mechanic You Trust
If you haven’t found a mechanic that you trust just yet, ask your friends who they use, or look for recommendations on Facebook.
A solid rapport with a trustworthy mechanic can be very beneficial to you. You may find peace of mind in knowing they’re giving you a fair and accurate estimate, and in some circumstances, they may even cut you a deal for being a valued customer.
So, in the case of an emergency car repair, you can be at calm knowing that you are unlikely to get swindled out of a lot of money in your most dire times of financial need.
Avoid the Dealership Once Your Warranty is Up
If your car is still under a warranty, bring it to your dealer or dealer-approved mechanic to make sure your repairs are covered. However, once that warranty expires, some experts say that you’re better off going with smaller and independent mechanics/garages. Some claim that you will experience shorter wait times and get a better price, which can both come in clutch in the case of a financial emergency related to your vehicle. They may also be able to help you save money by assisting you in locating used (but still quality) parts for your repair.
As above, ask around to see if your friends have a go-to garage they trust.
Stay on Top of Your Car Maintenance
We’re sure you’ve heard this before, and we know you’re very busy. But taking good care of your car may help you extend its life and help you reduce how much you spend on repairs.
Do the little things, like getting your oil changed on schedule. Your engine is the most important and most expensive part of your car, so take good care of it. Make sure your tires are properly inflated because failing to do so may cause some costly wear and tear on your car’s tires and suspension and may have a tangible effect on your gas mileage.
Also, new brake pads can be inexpensive and can go a long way to helping your car run (and stop) smoothly.
4. Pet Emergency Costs
This may be a massive expense that not enough people are prepared for. Consider the fact that most dog owners can expect to pay anywhere from $700-2,000 per year for veterinary costs. Those are just the costs for routine check-ups and cleanings and do not include emergency expenses! A single emergency can easily cost you over $1000 by itself, particularly if overnight care is required.
How do you reduce these costs while still keeping your furry friend as healthy as possible? Can you get emergency financial help for your pet?
Look for Resources in Your State
There is help available for animal lovers and pet owners on a budget. In fact, the Humane Society has provided a great resource page that can help you find affordable options and emergency financial help for pet owners in your area.
Ask About Installment Payment Plans For a Pet Emergency
Like a good mechanic, it may pay to build a solid ongoing relationship with your vet. If you’ve been there before and you’re in good standing, they may be willing to set up some sort of payment arrangement or installment plan to cover a larger bill. They may be less likely to do this if it’s the first time you’ve ever been to their clinic, and you attempt to seek emergency financial help immediately.
Getting pet insurance can soften the financial blow of pet illnesses and injuries. This works similarly to traditional health insurance. You will typically go through a provider to get coverage, with a particular plan that has set terms and a set deductible.
Coverage will depend on what type of pet you have and where you live. If you want to get an idea of what to expect, you can visit ValuePenguin.com to browse average costs and quotes. Like any type of insurance, it may be a good idea to get coverage now instead of waiting until after an emergency when the financial damage has already been done. It is better to be prepared and collected for when a financial emergency eventually unfolds and requires immediate financial assistance to resolve it.
A Line of Credit May Help Any of These Situations
A line of credit may be useful in any of the above scenarios. It could provide you with a financial safety net when your savings can’t cover the cost of an emergency. It’s there when you need it, and you’re usually only charged interest and/or fees based on how much you withdraw. You may be able to get the financial help you need without stretching yourself too thin.
We Can Help You Establish a Financial Emergency Safety Net
A line of credit may help you deal with unplanned expenses. It’s important to make sure you only use this product when you’re facing an unexpected expense or financial hardship that you don’t have the savings to cover.
If you think a personal line of credit would be right for you, consider submitting a request for a Line of Credit through CreditFresh. The process is simple, quick, and completely transparent, with clear terms and no unexpected or hidden fees. Submitting a request can be done online at any time and you can click here to get started right now!