by Beth Kobliner, REDBOOK
It happens. One minute you're in the black, the next you're blindsided by budget-blowing surprises (fun stuff like a root canal or car trouble). Stay calm and follow this advice.
Tap your friendliest biller first. Dial up offices that know you personally, like your dentist. They're more likely to give you extra time to pay without reporting it to credit bureaus (so your credit score won't take a hit). But be sure always to ask up front about interest rates and penalty fees.
Related: 5 Things Super-Happy Couples Do Every Day
Beware short-term loans from new sites like billfloat.com, which pays bills of up to $225 for you but requires you to pay it back in 30 days, with 3 percent interest plus a fee. One little loan could quickly spiral into a black hole of debt.
REDBOOK's money expert, Beth Kobliner, is the author of Get a Financial Life and is on the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability.