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It’s hard enough keeping up with the regular monthly bills without having to find money for an unexpected payment. But things like domestic emergencies and car breakdowns can happen to us all.

While we’d all like to have a pot of money set aside for a rainy day, that’s not always possible. Instead, a demand for payment out of the blue can cause untold stress.

Making up a shortfall

We did some research* and discovered that more than 7 million people would have to extend their overdraft or use a credit card to meet an unexpected £200 bill. And over 10 million of us would be able to find a couple of hundred pounds at short notice - but have to make cutbacks elsewhere.

For some people, a £200 bill would mean approaching friends and family for a loan. And nearly one in ten UK residents said they just wouldn’t be able to cope.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, older people seem better at squirreling away cash. For one thing, they've had more time to do it! Our research found that nearly half of the over-65s could pay a £200 bill without any problems, compared with less than 10% of those aged between 18 and 24.

Across the country, people north of the border seem better at 'finding' the money they need – one third of Scots said they could easily get the cash for an unexpected £200 bill.

Meanwhile, people in Northern Ireland and the North East of England anticipated the most problems. Just 12% of respondents from those two regions said they could find the cash in their day-to-day budget.

Making ends meet

If you’re one of those people who would struggle to make an urgent payment you weren’t expecting, bear in mind there are things you can do to improve your finances.

Try and set aside a little money every month for emergencies. You’ll need strength of will to leave this cash untouched but it will be worth it in the end. If necessary, you could give up one of life’s little luxuries and channel that cash into a rainy day fund.

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the thinkmoney Current Account. It could put you back in control of your finances. Find out how here.

*Consumer Intelligence questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,149 adults aged 18 and over between 11th and 14th September 2013. Figures have been extrapolated to fit ONS 2013 population projections of 50,371,000 UK adults.

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