Financial Health

Emergency Money Guide: How to Get It, Risks, & Tips

Life happens fast, and you never know when an emergency might require a quick cash solution. Money isn’t everything, but it can certainly get you out of a jam regarding healthcare services, car or house repairs, or loss of income in a shaky economy.

In the aftermath of the coronaviruspandemic, having a safety net to endure financial hardship due to unexpected events should be a priority among your financial goals.

Because so few Americans are in the financial situation to have a reliable emergency fund in a bank account, you might find yourself seeking quick cash in other ways. 

There are multiple ways to acquire that money, each with its risks and benefits.

At Steady, our vision is to present all your options so that you make the smart moves with your income while you earn more. Use this guide to get the money you need while minimizing risks and thinking two steps ahead. 

What Are the Best Ways to Get Emergency Money?

  1. Cut down on costs
  2. Sell off assets/items
  3. Quick-pay side gigs
  4. Steady app and initiatives
  5. Friends, family, and network
  6. Low APR credit cards
  7. Credit card cash advance
  8. Personal loans

No situation is hopeless - there’s always an angle you can work to your advantage and fill your account with cash in the short term. 

We’ve compiled a list of the best emergency savings money methods you can try right now, ranging in risk, speed, and cash amounts. Pay attention to each detail and determine which is right for you.

Cut Down on Costs

The first option won’t put money in your pocket instantly but will create some cash savings over the weeks and months. The best ways to save cash include 

  • Eating at home
  • Cutting out digital subscription services
  • Buying food/supplies in bulk

Reducing the amount of money you spend is the smartest, most sustainable way to set aside cash for an emergency, so always start here. 


  • Virtually risk-free, self-explained, and not reliant on third-parties
  • It helps to refocus your finances and budgeting in the short term
  • Smarter spending habits will position you for long-term savings
  • Better perspective on budgets, financial organization, and management

Potential Funding

Depending on how much you cut back, you can save hundreds - maybe even thousands - per month, allowing you to build your emergency funds rapidly. 

If you’re like most Americans, there are probably several subscriptions and memberships you don’t use, so go through your bank statement and look for ways to save. 

Bottom Line/Risks

Before making any major moves to acquire quick cash, start with your spending habits and see where you can improve.

Sell Off Assets/Items

Do you have stuff around the house that you can quickly sell for cash? Consignment and pawn shops can offer money for electronics and appliances, clothes, and jewelry.

You may also choose to sell off investment assets to secure emergency funding, tapping into your retirement funds if necessary. However, turning to the money market or your retirement savings accounts for quick cash is often unwise.


  • Selling items can put cash in your pocket fast. 
  • Bonus: It clears out unwanted or underused items in your possession. 
  • Apps like Etsy, Poshmark, and Facebook Marketplace make it easy.
  • Top sellers can turn a side-hustle into an entire business.

Potential Funding

Selling clothes and trinkets may only earn you a few extra monthly bucks, while more valuable equipment and rare items could bring in hundreds. 

Make an effort to set up shop and scale your business, and you can run a legit operation that earns you thousands every month. By then, you’ll not need emergency cash.

Bottom Line/Risks

There are few risks to selling items and earning cash, provided you follow best practices and avoid scams. This is a great way to get some quick money in your pocket and do some spring cleaning.

Quick-Pay Side Gigs

The gig economy is in full swing, and you can partake in part-time jobs that pay rather quickly. Rideshare and delivery apps are the most popular and payout every week.

Other services connect you with clients for jobs like cleaning, repairs, and even freelance writing or IT skills. Some payments are immediate, while others take time to cash out.


  • Part-time gigs let you play to your strengths and natural skills. 
  • You can craft a schedule that fits best with your lifestyle. 
  • Payout times are relatively quick, with direct links to your account.
  • Dedicated workers will learn to maximize tips and profits.

Potential Funding

The average rideshare driver makes between $15 and $20 an hour, while delivery drivers can drive around the same. Bigger payouts come from more skilled labor tasks like repairs, cleaning, and moving furniture. 

Bottom Line/Risks

The gig economy is somewhat saturated at this point, but there are plenty of ways to earn emergency cash in a pinch. Remember to factor in costs for gas and maintenance when working with your car, and understand the risks of working in people’s homes.

Steady App and Initiatives

Just download Steady to see plenty of income-boosting opportunities open up before you. Create an account, navigate to the “Booster” tab at the bottom of the screen, and take advantage of the offers to get cash rewards directly added to your account.


  • Steady rewards users for signing up with partner products and services. 
  • These include mobile-only banking and investment accounts to rideshare apps and delivery services.
  • Go through Steady and get the extra payouts to add to your emergency fund.

Potential Funding

The average Income Booster is around $15, while some of the better offers can earn upwards of $65. Steady also often runs grants, giveaways, and other initiatives to funds members directly through various initiatives to help those in need. 

Bottom Line/Risks

You might as well use Steady’s Income Boosters and start earning more cash now to get your emergency account started and connect with new income opportunities. Some Booster payouts may take longer to process than others, but it all goes straight into your pocket, to reward you for making better financial decisions!

Friends, Family, and Network

Reaching out to people you know can be a low-risk way to secure emergency resources. There are no guarantees here, but it’s worth a try if you make a tactful request and set clear expectations from the start.


  • Friends and family may be willing to help you out in an emergency.
  • You can build trust and respect by paying them back with interest.
  • No need to get involved with banks, credit unions, or other institutions.

Potential Funding

Don’t expect to get months of expenses covered by friends and family in most cases unless you’re involved in some high-level social circles. A few hundred dollars here and there is a fairer expectation, and you may be expected to pay some interest in the long run; however, this money could make the difference for your well-being, so don’t be too shy to ask for help.

Bottom Line/Risks

Borrowing money from loved ones can be tricky, and you may want to avoid this altogether to avoid conflict. However, it's worth a go if you’re confident you can repay your loan.

Low APR Credit Cards

Credit card companies typically have a low (or zero) APR introductory offer to entice new customers. Use these opportunities to your advantage, and you can have a line of credit that gets you out of a short-term financial jam.


  • Credit cards are typically quickly approved, giving you quick funding.
  • You’ll have a higher initial limit if you have good credit already.
  • Pay back the money soon, and this will only improve your situation.

Potential Funding

The average limit for a first credit card is under $1000, but experienced customers may have a larger amount to work with, ranging up to $20,000 or more. 

This doesn’t mean you can spend all that at once since the expectations of credit terms and services still apply. 

Bottom Line/Risks

If you know the rules with credit cards, you can safely navigate this method without much risk. However, remember to navigate carefully since you don’t want to ruin your credit score or reputation with reporting companies.

Credit Card Cash Advance

Many credit cards offer a cash advance service that immediately puts money in your pocket. A cash advance is best suited for emergency scenarios requiring cash and may not always be advised. 


  • When cash is the only option, this is a quick and convenient way to get it.
  • Your credit card may offer no-fee cash advances, which you can use to your advantage.

Potential Funding

Most credit card cash advances aren’t more than one thousand dollars, considering the average credit limit is under $10,000 in the United States.

Bottom Line/Risks

Expect to pay fees and deal with high-interest rates when taking out a cash advance. It should not be your first option unless under extreme circumstances. 

Personal Loans

Many personal loans are available through financial institutions like banks and credit unions. Amounts and terms can vary widely, and you need to research your options in full before committing to an agreement. 


  • Loans can be life-saving and may not necessarily have high-interest rates in all cases.
  • If you are a trusted customer of your bank, you may get more cash and a better rate.

Potential Funding

Your amount will depend on your track record, your standing with the bank, and the interest rate. Loans can range from several hundred to several thousand. As always, be prepared to pay in full, plus interest, in the time allotted.

Bottom Line/Risks

Personal loans can be risky, but that risk can be mitigated by reviewing your options and working closely with the bank. Avoid unsecured loans, such as payday loans, with super high APRs. 


Emergency cash isn’t hard to come by if you know where to look. The real question is how to secure this cash smartly that protects your long-term financial outlook and positions you for success in the years to come.

The takeaway is this: your priority should be building an emergency fund before a worst-case scenario strikes. Work with Steady and our partners to start earning more and get that fund moving in the right direction, so you’ll be two steps ahead in any situation.


19 Ways to Find Fast Cash | NerdWallet

5 Ways to Get Some Emergency Cash | Experian

Essential Guide to Building an Emergency Fund | CFPB