Prepared for a $1,000 emergency?

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If you were faced with a $1,000 unexpected expense, would you be able to pay for it? Or would you have to seek a payday loan?

According to Bankrate’s June 2012 Financial Security Index, 28 percent of Americans do not have any money set aside for a rainy day.

Do you fall within that number?

Be financially prepared

The question is not “if” an unexpected expense will present itself, but “when.” Whether you have a sudden illness, lose your job or face a home repair, certain expenses are bound to happen.

Nothing taught me this lesson better than Hurricane Katrina. As the storm approached and I had to evacuate, I packed a few items, initially thinking I would only be away from my home for a few days.

But reality soon set in. While I could not prepare for every future issue that might have resulted from the storm, I was financially prepared.

My dad puts it best: “It is often clearer in the back of the bus.” In my case, that means I probably would not completely understand the importance of personal finance — and of being prepared — had it not been for some of my mishaps, such as Hurricane Katrina and overspending in college.

If you find yourself without any money set aside for rainy days, get creative in building your emergency funds. Whether it is $20 or $200 monthly, make a commitment to save something.

Here are three ways to begin.

Make a budget. I know, I know — who wants to live within a budget? But the reality is that without one, you are destined to fall short of your financial goals. Creating a budget will help you identify amounts you are able to save, or identify areas where you overspend.

Set up automatic deposits. Have money periodically withdrawn from your paycheck or bank account and deposited into a savings vehicle. In time, you will be amazed at how these amounts will add up.

Cut expenses. Cut your expenses across the board. I recently read an article that says you should commit to cut $10 from each expense. I started to implement this approach to my finances and am on a journey to cut 10 percent across the board.

Remember: your choice, your future!

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and business professor. She writes a personal finance blog at Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.