Let's say you get surprised with a sudden, hefty car-repair bill. Often, after our initial shock and disappointment, our first instinct is to say, "well, thank goodness we have that emergency fund - and this is an emergency - so we'll dip into that; then we'll pay it back, over time."
That's a good moment, which beats not having an emergency fund! However, it's often the wrong way to proceed.
The financial experts at Lifehacker.com tell us that you should first: try to look at the situation as NOT an emergency.
This way, you are likely to seek a payment arrangement, or propose a trade, or some alternative measure of compensation, rather than dip into your emergency cash or account.
And that's the second, key part of this new way of thinking. Get creative about ways to pay your bills, without hitting the last-ditch money.
Banks will rate you better, if you keep that stash untouched. And that helps your over all credit situation, way more than you might realize.