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The car breaks down. The roof starts leaking. The kids have a school activity. There are times in our lives when we need money quickly. Before you raid your emergency fund (or if you are simply looking to pump up your emergency fund), try cutting these costs for fast cash.

1. Eat at Home

Start eating food only from your own kitchen. Don’t buy lunch while you are at work or meet up with friends for happy hour. You can do this for a short time — you may even enjoy it and keep this as part of your full-time money-saving plan.

If you want to be social, host a potluck dinner with friends or try a recipe swap so you can get new ideas to cook at home. Try to keep your spending on food and drink outside of the home at zero.

2. Go Generic

In addition, try to reduce the cost of the food you bring into your home. Shop with a list so you are less likely to buy on impulse. Make a meal plan before you shop. Also, try buying generic instead of brand-name items. This can add up to some savings, even in the short term.

3. Look for Lower Rates

Save some money by investing some time. Take an inventory of your bills. This likely includes cellphones, insurance, etc. Reach out to all those companies to ask for lower rates. Research how much you could be paying for a different life insurance policy, cellphone plan, bank account, car insurance, etc. Look at what you are paying for and what you are actually using. For example, you may be paying for a large amount of data usage on your cellphone but only using a small fraction of that data.

4. Cut Cable

Make this the summer without television. Create a challenge for yourself or your family so it is fun. List all the activities you can do instead of watching TV — walk outside, draw, read, etc. You can even watch television — as long as it’s not cable. Try renting seasons of your favorite old shows from the library.

5. Stop Spending

This one won’t necessarily help you out in the long run but can be useful for coming up with cash quickly. Simply stop spending money. If you can put off a purchase or payment, do so. For example, if you know your socks are wearing thin, just wait to replace them a little longer. If you have friends who want to go out for drinks, schedule it for a month or two from now. You usually get a haircut every 8 weeks, try waiting for 12 weeks instead. “Buy” yourself a little time. Don’t risk it if it is a safety or health issue, though. You can’t put a price on that.

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