Three Tips for Managing an Empty Checking Account

The following is a guest post.

In this economy – heck, it can happen even in a go-go economy – it is not at all unusual to come up short in the cash department when there are bills waiting to be paid. This is not necessarily a matter of having been reckless in spending. Millions of people are struggling with increasing expenses and stagnant wages – or worse, formerly two-earner households are now single-earner families due to layoffs or divorce. They are working with a fragile balance of family economics, making just enough money to cover the monthly bills and basic expenses. But if there’s a surprise expense (ambulance trip to the hospital not covered by insurance, or a $1200 car repair), all bets are off.

So what does someone do under these circumstances? Well, the predictable answer is, “draw from your savings.” Except, there simply aren’t savings for many people. Those savings, if they ever existed, went to the last emergency. Another response is, “put that expense on the credit card.” Again, that doesn’t work. Millions of people have lost their line of credit with the major cards because all forms of credit are tightening. Simple rule of thumb: when your money is in short supply, your credit score goes down.

There are still some things you can do if you’re in this no-money-no-funny situation:

• Call creditors to talk through your situation – To a certain degree, you can work through your cash shortage pretty fast with one phone call. Every company handles this differently, but appealing to their sense of fairness sometimes yields a little grace on late payments. It costs little to try.

• Get a fast cash paycheck loan – Personal loans with poor credit are almost non-existent, but with fast cash loans based on your next payday, you can still get some cash in advance (this varies by state). Personal, fast cash loans are legitimately found online, making it a five-minute exercise done from one’s personal computer.

• Bite the bullet…with resolve – Sometimes, there simply is no other option but to run late on a payment. Unless it involves a service cut-off (e.g., losing your cell phone or cable/Internet broadband connection at home), it’s usually just a matter of paying a late fee. No one enjoys that, but it can be a reason to reconsider the necessity of certain monthly expenses – or the need to get a higher-paying job.

All options are by definition less-than-perfect. But be it through a phone call, fast cash personal loans, or just paying the fees, you can reduce the emotional stress of either by taking action as best you can and as soon as you can.