If you live paycheck to paycheck then an emergency expense could send you spiraling financially. You might be there now, wondering how to get money when you’re broke.

It’s a tough place to be when you’re broke but need money.

How To Get Money When You're Broke And Car Breaks Down

Emergencies Happen When You’re Broke

Many people without savings live in fear of “Murphy”.

That phase is based on Murphy’s law of “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong“. When you have no money that is exactly when you have an emergency.

People know that one unexpected financial burden can send them into a money tailspin. You are barely hanging on financially and then a costly emergency pops up. This starts a chain reaction of financial problems that can take years to recover from.

If you’re living in that fearful place, you might be wondering:

  • How to get money when you’re broke and don’t have an emergency fund?
  • Where to find funds when an unexpected expense comes up?
  • How can you pay for something unexpected if you are broke to begin with?
  • Are there ways to get money for an emergency?

The answers to these questions will depend on your situation but hopefully this article can give you some ideas or a little hope.

Related: How to Build an Emergency Fund

How To Get Money When You Have None

There are several ways to get money when you have none in the bank, but they might not all be ones you want to use depending on your situation.

These are ways to get money in an unexpected emergency that you probably wouldn’t resort to unless you are facing an emergency situation .

If you need money but have no other options this list might help you brainstorm ways to pull together the money you need for an unexpected expense of $1,000 to $2,000.

They are the ways to get money for a financial emergency. The list ranges from the best to the worst ideas:

  • Raid any savings that you currently have
  • Sell anything at home that you don’t need
  • Beg or borrow from family and friends
  • Use a credit card
  • Start a GoFundMe page
  • Get a short term loan
  • Get a payday loan or alternative
  • Take a loan from yourself via a 401k

Believe me, I don’t recommend many of these options on a normal basis. In fact, I know that these options are not the best options. Each one brings about another problem.

Many of these options can cause relationship problems or get you into a bad debt cycle.

But if it’s life or death and you need money? These financial options exist for a reason.

Related: Is $1,000 Enough For An Emergency Fund?

How To Get Money When You're Broke

How To Make Money When You Have None

A different and perhaps better option on how to get money when you’re broke is to work.

In this situation you simply work as hard and fast as possible and earn all the money you can quickly. This is often work beyond and outside of your regular job.

When you are broke and don’t know how to afford something, the best place to go is to work.

There are many ways to earn a little bit of extra money quickly in case of an emergency. In fact I love learning about side hustles for moms and ways to earn income on the side.

  • Have a yard sell
  • Sell as much of your stuff as you can
  • Raid your piggy bank
  • Pawn your valuable items
  • Sell your gold and jewelry for cash
  • Sell blood or plasma
  • Sell used books on Amazon
  • Bake and sell cookies or cupcakes
  • Check Craigslist for a weekend gig
  • Offer up babysitting skills
  • Sell handyman or lawn care services to neighbors
  • Start driving for Uber or delivering pizzas tonight
  • Rake yards, mow grass, and do yard work for neighbors
  • Sign up for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and complete tasks
  • Rent out extra space in your house or garage

There are tons of other ways to make money quickly when you really need it. You have to be creative, be willing to ask, and be willing to work.

For longer term side hustles you can continue making money through things like blogging for money or making YouTube videos.

Related: Start A Reselling Side Huste

How Would You Get Money When You Need It?

MSNBC summarized a study that asked respondents the following question:

“How confident are you that you could come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose within the next month?”

The results of that study showed how many people have trouble coming up with just $2,000 in an emergency situation.

Half of all U.S. households say they “certainly” or “probably” could not come up the funds to cope with such an ordinary financial emergency, according to a new study on financial fragility.

Of households making between $100,000 and $150,000 annually, nearly one-quarter said they “certainly” or “probably” would be unable to come up with the $2,000. The amount was meant to suggest a major car repair, a co-pay on a medical expense or a home repair. It is far lower than the three to six months’ worth of expenses that financial planners typically recommend people have in savings. Yet 28 percent of respondents said they could be “certainly” unable to cope with the $2,000 expense, while 22 percent said they “probably” would not. The survey was conducted in 2009 near the depths of the Great Recession, but the findings were broadly consistent with other data about Americans’ financial resources.

Basically half of Americans do not know how to get money when they are in a financial emergency. It’s not surprising that most people can’t come up with that amount of money.

Before I got my financial act together I know I couldn’t. Honestly even when I was working for many years I wasn’t able to get far enough ahead to save $2,000 for emergencies.

I knew that if something happened, I’d have to get creative with money to cover an unexpected expense.

My Experience Getting Money For Emergencies

Unfortunately my family has a lot of experience in this area where money is tight during an emergency.

Various family members in the last few years have hit financial hardships and found themselves without the money they needed for everyday expenses… myself included.

Unfortunately family has turned to things like payday loans, short term cash loans, credit cards and borrowing from family & friends. In a pinch things like these are not a bad thing but they can spiral out of control quickly and lead you to overwhelming debt.

They can help you get through one situation quickly but if you are not careful these short term loan options can drag you into a revolving door of debt that is hard to get out of easily.

Payday loans and credit cards can give someone the chance they need to get through a tough situation.

While I have never used a payday loan, I don’t ever judge anyone negatively for utilizing these short term financing options. Even if some people don’t consider them the best because of the tricky terms attached, I understand why people turn to them.

I have used credit cards in the past to float me through tough times like when I lost my job unexpectedly. I wouldn’t recommend this method to most people but it did get me through until I had a steady stream of income and then paid off the credit card balance.

My family and I have almost always fallen into the “probably would not” category, meaning we would probably not be able to cover an unexpected expense. Unfortunately that is why various family members have resorted to the short term options I’ve mentioned earlier. Thankfully those options existed because otherwise, what would we have done?

My Plan On Getting Money In An Emergency

Looking at my own life and finances these days, I realize I want to have a plan in place before a situation like this arises. Since getting my financial life together I prefer to be prepared. It’s why I budget and create sinking funds.

It’s always more comfortable to have an emergency fund and sinking funds before a need for money arises.

Luckily I’ve gotten past what I assume to be the most tricky financial transitions, but I’m always one huge medical bill or job loss away from needed emergency savings.

So what do I personally consider the best plan to get money if I needed it for an emergency?

Here are the steps I would take to gather up $2,000 right now:

  1. Gather up any money I already have available. Raid my emergency fund or any bank accounts to get the amount needed.
  2. Hustle, hustle, hustle! Do as much side work as quickly as possible to fill the gap and replenish the emergency fund. Mow lawns and watch kids and donate plasma if I need to.
  3. Reach out to friends or start a GoFundMe. I’d pray that after years of giving to others I’d be blessed in return.

In the past before I was financially responsible, I would have turned to a credit card to cover the expense without a plan to pay it back. Of even if I had a plan for repayment, I wouldn’t have had a plan to pay for the expense before it happened.

Luckily after years of hard work I am in the position where if a $2,000 expense unexpectedly arose, I would be able to cover it from my emergency fund. We would pay for the expenses and move on to replenishing that amount in our emergency fund.

If it was a slightly bigger expense? Or multiple months of $2,000 expenses? That might actually lead us into a tricky situation.

If a very large expense arose that went beyond our minimal emergency fund, then I would work as many side jobs as possible to pay for the expense.

I never again want the stress, overwhelm, and anxiety of a credit card balance that I can’t pay back. The stress and worry debt causes is one of the main reasons I paid off debt to begin with.

So instead of turning to that option now I would definitely do as much as humanly possible to cover unexpected expenses.

I know I can work enough hours to cover the expense quickly even if it’s not fun. I never want to go into debt again just to cover an emergency. It’s just not worth all the stress that the debt brings.

Whatever your plan is, it is important to have a plan in place. You never want to ask yourself again how to get money when you’re broke. You deserve the ability to cover emergencies and have money you need!

Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she teaches how to make online income to build wealth and gain freedom. She quit her day job in 2021 after she doubled her salary.

Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track investments, grow her net worth and work toward to financial freedom.

Her favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, where she built a custom portfolio for free with no fees. She shares her portfolio growth and savings progress every month on YouTube.