Where Americans Go for Cash in a Pinch

America's coin purse
America's coin purse

Where do you turn when you're hit with a nasty surprise expense? If you're like most Americans, it's not your savings account.

A recent online poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling showed that 64% of Americans would tap sources other than their savings account if they were slapped with an unexpected $1,000 bill.

Here's the breakdown of the percentage of respondents that chose each of the different answers:

36% savings account
17% borrow from friends or family
17% disregard other monthly expenses
12% sell or pawn assets
9% take out a loan
9% cash advance on your credit card.

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Wrong Answer

In other words, only 36% of people had the best answer. Because everything else is a no-no. When you don't have an emergency fund, you're bound to make less-than-ideal choices that can just make matters worse, sooner or later. Do you really want to ask mom or dad for money, again; skip a payment on one bill to pay another; or sell an item, whether you can get a good price or not?

"Selecting any option other than taking the money from savings should be a red flag," said Gail Cunningham, a NFCC spokeswoman, in a prepared statement. "If saving money has always seemed out of reach, there is no better time than now to get to the root of the problem and protect yourself, your family and your financial future."