Most Americans tend to live on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis, and the typical household has nearly $10,000 in credit card debt. Adding to that is the fact that Americans are saving money at the lowest rate in history. We spend what we earn, when we earn it, and there’s little or nothing available when a disaster or an emergency strikes. How can the average American make sure there will be money available for that “rainy day” emergency?One possible solution would be to open a home equity line of credit. The equity in a home is the difference between the value of the home in the market and the amount owed on the mortgage. Rising real estate prices across the country have left Americans with record amounts of home equity, and record numbers of homeowners are borrowing against the equity in their home. There are two main types of home equity loans; the traditional loan and the line of credit. The traditional loan lends a fixed amount of money that is repaid at a fixed interest rate over a fixed amount of time. This is ideal when the money is borrowed for a specific purpose, such as a home-remodeling project.The home equity line of credit, on the other hand, gives the borrower great flexibility. The amount of money is capped at a certain amount, but the borrower writes checks to use the money when they need it. The borrower only makes payments when he or she actually writes a check to use some of the money, and the interest rate on the loan is adjustable. The line of credit is the perfect source of funds for that “rainy day” emergency. The costs of obtaining a line of credit are minimal, and the paperwork is much less involved than the paperwork associated with obtaining a primary mortgage. The beauty of a line of credit is that there are no additional costs if the money isn’t used. The homeowner is under no obligation to use any of the money, but he or she can simply sleep soundly, knowing that it is available should an emergency arise in the future.Americans, as a group, tend not to save much of what they earn. But even poor savers who own their own homes can prepare themselves for unexpected financial emergencies by taking out a home equity line of credit. One never knows when an emergency will strike, but it is always a good idea to be prepared to face one.