25 Ways to Pay for a $1,000 Emergency Expense

Wallet full of cash
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When was the last time you were hit with a $1,000 expense that wasn’t in your budget? We’ve all been there and that’s why money expert Clark Howard says you need to have an emergency fund in place.

Even if you don’t have much money in the bank, I can help you create a plan to pay for that unexpected $1,000 expense ASAP.

Unexpected $1,000 Expense? Here Are 25 Ways to Pay for It!

Not long ago, I was faced with a $1,000 charge that I hadn’t planned for. Could I afford to pay the bill and move on? Yes. But I hate seeing my bank account balance drop and wanted to look for solutions to make up for that lost cash.

I sat down at my desk and created a list of 25 ways that I could spend less money and make more money, though you’ll notice that some of the strategies are more practical than others.

Here’s a look at the chart I made, but keep reading because what I have to share with you next is so important…

Cook more and eat out less Find a new job
Switch cell phone providers Ask for a raise or more hours at current job
Cut the cord Odd jobs/one-time-only gigs
Cancel subscriptions Get a permanent side hustle
Negotiate or refinance loans/debt Sell old stuff (clothes, electronics, furniture, etc.)
Downsize home or car Earn cash back from apps
Shop for cheaper prescription drugs Amazon Mechanical Turk or another flexible online job platform
Cut back on water and electricity usage Switch to an online bank for more interest
Get car insurance quotes Open a new credit card or bank account for bonus money
Cancel upcoming travel
Stay home more to reduce entertainment costs
Stop buying clothes
Reduce charitable giving
Cancel gym membership
Get haircuts less frequently
Do it yourself to stop paying a service provider

What did you notice about this chart? First of all, I jotted down a lot more on the “spend less money” side, but it may take a combination of several strategies to actually reduce my expenses by $1,000.

On the “make more money” side, most of the strategies will require me to put in extra hours on top of my full-time job.

When I’ve needed to come up with extra cash throughout my life, I look for quick and easy solutions. Finding a new job or refinancing a mortgage can be a lot of work! That’s why I crossed them off my personal list.

I narrowed it down to five things that I can do right away to help offset the unexpected $1,000 expense:

  1. Cook more and eat out less: Meal planning is my secret weapon to lower my food spending by at least $100 a month. Here are Clark’s 20+ best tips to save on groceries!
  2. Cut the cord: I canceled cable TV service about 10 years ago, but I recently switched to a live TV streaming service.
  3. Get car insurance quotes: It’s been almost three years since I conducted this auto insurance price comparison and switched for a better rate. I’m going to repeat the process to see if I can lower my bill again!
  4. Amazon Mechanical Turk: I don’t have the energy for a traditional part-time job right now, but MTurk is an easy way to make money online and set my own schedule. Here’s what you should know before you sign up.
  5. Credit card sign-up bonus: My credit score is 818 and I pay my bills in full every month, so I’m considering a new credit card with a cash sign-up bonus.

Most of us have at least one or two budget categories where we could cut back on spending. My suggestion is that you start by reducing expenses in areas that won’t make you feel like you’re giving something up. 


For example, if you love to go to the gym, don’t cancel your membership! That’s something that keeps you healthy and happy.

Instead, you can begin reducing expenses by shopping for a lower auto insurance rate, finding a better TV bundle, switching to a low-cost cell phone provider or using an app to find cheaper prescription drugs.

Those four strategies from my chart can save you a lot of money with no sacrifices whatsoever. Make an action plan for those first!

If you’re like me and have already cut most living expenses to the bare minimum, explore some money-making options from the right side of the chart. Spending less and making more at the same time will help you get to $1,000 faster.

Do you have any tips to help Clark’s readers? Comment below with your best advice and tell me what you would add to my list!

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