How Can I Prepare for an Unexpected Financial Emergency?

We asked some of our contributing financial experts what to do to cover emergencies, in addition to having an emergency fund. They give some great suggestions.

An older couple look serious as they look at their laptop on the kitchen table and go over bills.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Oh, the dreaded financial emergency. It crops up when you least expect it — usually late on a Friday, right? That’s when our options for resolving the issue are the most limited, whether its air conditioning on the fritz (an especially big concern during all these heat waves) or a plumbing disaster. We’re left scrambling to both secure expert help and pay for it. Or maybe you have an unexpected medical bill or lose your job. What can you do to make ends meet?

While there’s no way to know what’s going to happen or take steps, beyond the usual preventive ones, to head it off, you can at least be prepared in other ways. To find out what our options could be during a financial emergency, we at asked some of the financial experts among our Building Wealth contributors and Kiplinger Advisor Collective members to answer this question:

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Joyce Lamb
Contributed Content Editor for Building Wealth,

As Contributed Content Editor for the Building Wealth channel on, Joyce Lamb edits articles from hundreds of financial experts about retirement-planning strategies, including estate planning, taxes, personal finance, investing, charitable giving and more. She has 32 years of editing experience in business and features news, including 15 years in the Money section at USA Today.