When you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck and struggling to pay off your debts, saving money can feel like an impossible pipe dream. But you’d be surprised how the small act of getting creative in finding ways to save money can pay off. Commit to better financial health with these five easy-to-follow habits:

Rainy days can be peaceful and relaxing — unless, of course, the roof starts leaking and you suddenly have an unexpected expense and no funds for repairs. Emergency funds are used to cover expenses for all kinds of unforeseen situations, from medical bills to housing repairs. Without any savings, both individuals and families can get a real shock when problems arise. Emergency funds should amount to at least $500 to $1,000 kept in a savings account you do not touch unless you have a real emergency. It’s smart to save on a daily basis — in ways that don’t stress your budget — so you are always prepared for that inevitable emergency in the future.

One popular way to reduce debts that carry high interest rates — like credit cards — is to use your existing real estate investments to your benefit with a cash-out refinance. This type of loan involves refinancing an existing mortgage, with the new mortgage being greater than the original one in order to provide the borrower with the extra funds they need to pay other bills or reduce other debts. This process can actually improve credit scores if you pay off maxed-out credit cards with your refi. And you may even be able to deduct the mortgage interest from your taxes! To get started, learn about the requirements for this type of loan:

If you have built up equity in your home but are struggling under the pressure of mounting bills, a cash-out mortgage refinance may be a good solution. These types of loans allow borrowers to take a percentage of their home equity as a cash payment that can be used in any way they wish. Of course, the smartest financial planning is to use a cash-out refi for a long-term fiscal goal rather than a short-term project. In other words, using your home equity to buy new clothes or take a fancy vacation could be a decision you regret. Instead, consider these smart ways to use your loan to improve your credit score and position yourself for better financial success in the future.

Money owed is money owed, right? Not exactly. Debts can differ dramatically, especially when it comes to which debts can be consolidated and the ways lenders can work to recover what was borrowed. There are two major types of debts: secured debt and unsecured debt. If you understand the difference, you can better understand your financial health as you work your way out of debt and get on the path to a stronger fiscal future. Let’s take an in-depth look at the different kinds of debt so you can make informed decisions as you work to prioritize your repayment process.

Are you at the point where you’re too stressed out to check your mail or answer your phone, for fear it’s a collections agent, another bill, or any sort of unpleasant reminder that you are struggling under the weight of debt? You’re not alone. High-interest credit card debts, medical bills, student loans, home equity loans, and many other kinds of debt can stack up quickly, making it difficult to imagine there’s a solution to repair your credit history, pay off your debts in a responsible way and maintain your dignity.