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Financial Disasters

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Gerri Willis at CNN Money gives us five tips for handling financial emergencies.

Create a safety net. This requires thinking ahead. Everyone will have at least one kind of financial emergency in their lifetime. The author suggests having three to nine months’ worth of living expenses in an accssible account.

Break into the piggy bank. Options here are tapping into your home equity via a line of credit (not a home equity loan) or borrowing from your pre-tax 401(k) savings.

Get help at home. If you’re truly involved in a disaster, the government can help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). You can also, even if you are not a business owner, get help from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Abroad? Call home. If you’re in a foreign country and stuck without money, contacting the U.S. embassy or consulate can help you, if you are a citizen of the United States. More information on traveling abroad can be found at the State Department’s website.

Manage your medical bills. If you’re uninsured, chances are hospitals will try to take advantage of your situation and overcharge you. Fight back. If you still can’t pay your hospital bills, you could borrow from your IRA although you will have to pay income taxes on the early withdrawal.

Published or updated February 1, 2005. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .