Need money fast? Here are the cheapest ways to borrow money or access frozen funds right now

Need money fast? Here are the cheapest ways to borrow money or access frozen funds right now

Food prices are up, housing costs are up, gas is still expensive – Americans’ budgets are being hit hard.

Even without today’s economic stresses and uncertainty, emergencies can strike at any time. You never know when you’ll need to get your hands on some quick cash.

It could be a trip to the ER, an interrupted transmission on the car you need for work, or a photo in a dream apartment – if you can find the money for the deposit.

What options are available and which is best for you? Here are your best options in the current environment, starting with the cheapest.

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Your emergency fund

If you have one, now is the time to tap into your rainy day fund. But because setting aside this reserve money can be a long and difficult process, some people stubbornly resist withdrawing this money even when they need it.

If the problem is that you’re not completely sure if your situation is a real emergency, think about why: will this situation get worse and cost you more money later? Does it involve keeping a roof over your head, keeping your job, preventing you from going to the hospital or going to court?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, make a plan to pay yourself back and replenish your cash reserve, then make that withdrawal.

But remember: a real emergency never involves restaurants, clothes, vacations, or any other event that requires a swimsuit.

Tap your IRA

Roth IRA

You can withdraw the money you’ve contributed to a Roth IRA at any time without paying taxes or penalties. However, earnings on your contributions are prohibited until you are at least 59.5 years old and the account has been open for five years.

You’re dipping into your retirement money, so make sure you have a real emergency on your hands.

Regular IRA

It can be a risky move, but if you’re absolutely sure you can pay the money back within 60 days, you can withdraw money from a regular IRA.

However, if you don’t replace the money in time, you’ll be hit with taxes and, if you’re under 59.5, an additional 10% penalty. Again, this is retirement money, so be very careful.

Gift cards

More than half of all American adults have at least one unused gift card gathering dust, an estimated $15.3 billion.

In the case of a payment card, such as Visa, MasterCard or American Express, you can cash the card through Google Pay, Square, PayPal and Venmo, usually for a fee of up to 3%.

You can also use a charge card to purchase other gift cards, often at a discount. You can also use a bank card to pay your bills online.

For store-specific gift cards, you have the option of reselling them for less than face value on several websites, including,,,, and others.

Another tactic is to ask your friends and acquaintances who regularly shop at the stores you have cards for to exchange money for your cards.

Adjust your tax deduction

If you’re used to getting a big tax refund every year, that means giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan on your money until next tax season. Instead, adjust your tax deduction so you get that money now on your regular paycheck.

You can get a very good estimate of your tax bill by using the IRS Withholding Tax Calculator at You will need your latest pay stub and last year’s tax return. The calculator checks your tax liability and will even tell you how to change your withholding tax forms with your employer.

Unknown insurance benefits

If you are short of money due to an incident, accident or disaster, check your insurance policies. Your home insurance policy could pay for ruined electronics and even spoiled food and hotel stays after a power outage.

If items are stolen from a hotel or dorm, they may also be replaced by your insurance. Your car insurance will often replace a cracked windshield. And if the stash of cash or gift cards in your sock drawers burns in a fire, some policies will also replace your lost cash.

Forgotten links

Has a generous grandparent, uncle or aunt given you savings bonds over the years for birthdays, graduations, bar mitzvahs or other special occasions?

In many cases, these uncashed bonds stopped earning interest years or even decades ago and are forgotten in a desk drawer or filing cabinet.

According to the US Treasury, Americans are sitting on a total of $29 billion in unpaid savings bonds. You can check if there are any under your name by using the search tool on

Borrowing against home equity

With property values ​​at record highs, homeowners are sitting on around $29 trillion in home equity.

Although interest rates have been rising lately, a home equity loan or line of credit can be an affordable way to tap into the value of your home without selling the property. Typically, homeowners with good credit can borrow up to 80% of their equity.

August rates averaged just above 6% for home equity loans and around 4.5% for lines of credit.

A loan is usually for a fixed amount at a fixed rate, while a home equity line of credit(HELOC) has a variable rate and allows you to withdraw money according to your needs. Most loans and lines are interest only for 10 years, after which they must be repaid or refinanced.

But be careful when borrowing against your capital. If you default on the loan, you may ultimately lose the property.

401(k) Loans

If you have a 401(k) or similar business account, many plans allow you to borrow money from the plan and pay it back with automatic withdrawals from your paycheck.

The repayment period is usually set at five years, but you can pay off the loan faster without penalty. The loan limit is usually 50% of your account balance or $50,000, but varies from plan to plan.

Benefits of a 401(k) loan are that they’re usually quick and easy to get, regardless of your credit score, and you’ll pay interest to yourself, not a bank or other lender.

A disadvantage is that the money you withdraw will no longer earn money in your investments until it is repaid. In some cases, however, your interest payments may amount to more than what your investments were earning, depending on how the market moves.

Also, if you quit your job before the loan is repaid, you will be hit with taxes and early withdrawal penalties.

Cash out life insurance

If you have whole life or “permanent” insurance, these policies often increase in cash value over time. One option is to cash out the policy and replace it with cheaper term insurance, which still leaves your survivors covered in an emergency, but won’t build up capital.

More options

Here are a few more ideas, just in case you need them:

  • Loans from friends or family (put it in writing)

  • Gig-saving work, such as driving Uber, babysitting, freelancing

  • Sell ​​unused items on eBay,, consignment stores, or at a garage sale

  • Check for unreimbursed business expenses and submit those claims

  • Deliver pizza, waiting tables or other jobs on weekends and after hours

  • Check with your local United Way, church, or temple for financial assistance

  • Rent a room in your accommodation

  • Look for unclaimed security deposits, old bank accounts, insurance payments, and other cash at and

The options you choose will depend on how much money you need and when you will need it. But whichever method you choose, once you can get back on your feet, remember to build an emergency fund before your next cash flow crisis hits.

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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