The holidays are meant to be a joyous time of family and celebration. However, some people end up short on cash and struggling to pay for items like utilities and medical bills. This can make the holiday season quite stressful. But fortunately, there are several options for getting help with affording these expenses. In this article, we’ll cover a few steps you can take if you need help paying bills around the holidays.

1. Reach out to federal, state, and local governments

Governments offer programs that help people who need assistance with paying a variety of bills. You can start with the federal government by visiting and reading about federal and state government programs that assist people with paying bills.

You can also look to your state’s and city’s respective websites to find state and city-specific programs. For instance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal grant program that gives states funds to help residents pay heating and cooling bills.

2. Look to private organizations

Nonprofit organizations and other private entities may also offer some assistance in paying bills. Many of these organizations focus on specific kinds of bills, such as medical bills. For example, organizations like The HealthWell Foundation and The PAN Foundation (Patient Access Network) help underinsured patients cover the costs of various types of care. There are numerous other organizations that help with utility bills, food, and more.

3. Get a fast cash loan

Fast cash loans allow borrowers to get money quickly, and usually come with less strict credit score requirements. They offer short applications, quick approvals, and same-day funding in many cases. Here are a few types:

Cash advances

Cash advances are short-term, small-dollar loans that can give you funds to cover expenses before your next payday. Typically, you can receive a few hundred dollars and pay the loan back in two to four weeks — usually during your next pay period.

Many cash advance lenders offer loans to borrowers with all types of credit scores. They’ll consider factors in addition to your credit score, such as income and employment history, when deciding whether to approve you. So, borrowers can still get approved with poor or fair credit. If you can’t repay the loan when it’s due, you can roll over the loan for another fee. But be careful not to get stuck continually rolling the loan over.

Pawn shop loans

Pawn lenders let you use any valuable item as collateral to get a loan. They simply appraise your item’s value, then offer a loan amount and terms. If you accept, you exchange your item for the loan and a claim ticket. These loans typically come due in 30 days, then offer a 30-day grace period to pay the loan. You’ll visit the store again to repay and exchange your claim ticket for your item. If you can’t repay, they take the item, but you don’t suffer credit damage.

Title loans

Title lenders can lend you money using your car’s title as collateral if you own the vehicle outright. They’ll appraise your car, then offer you 25% to 50% of its value as a title loan. If you accept, you can leave with the loan that day. Plus, you can continue driving your vehicle while you pay back the loan. But the lender can repossess your car if you default, so make sure you have a good repayment plan in place before applying.

Get help with bills this holiday season

If you’re short on money to cover the bills during the holidays, help is out there. Reach out to the federal government, as well as state and local government agencies. Then, look to private organizations. If that doesn’t offer enough aid, consider bridging the gap with a fast cash loan, like a cash advance, pawn shop loan, or title loan. Hopefully, following these steps will allow you to cover the bills and enjoy the holidays with less financial stress.