Tuesday, January 8, 2019

How much cash for emergencies? Denominations?

Hope all is well.  When putting cash back for bad times is there a percentage or mix of denominations that works best?  I am sure anything is better than nothing but is it better to have a large sum in big bills back, or a mix?  I would imagine if inflation hits smaller denominations are worthless?

Hello A-

Thank you for your email.
Cash is one of those things you just don’t see people talking about that much in our community. Sure, someone mentions having a few 10s or 20s, maybe a few coins for machines and such but rarely much more than that.

Over the years, whenever cash was brought up, I get a few standard replies.
“Cash? That becomes paper after SHTF, look at Weimar republic”
Yes… kind of. Weimar was a very specific case and even if something that bad happens cash won’t lose its value overnight. I’ve seen my cash lose about 60% of its value in a matter of days… cash was STILL valuable, especially if you had either the green or European kind.
“I don’t focus on cash, I’m all about the skills, hunting and growing food. I wouldn’t change a single chicken for a bar of gold or a million bucks… cuz I cant eat gold or cash”

Ok.. first, that’s stupid. Even if you don’t care about cash or gold, a bar of the stuff of any size is a lot of money that you can easily sell/trade so it would idiotic not to take advantage of such an opportunity. Second, its not about you. Even if you don’t want to trade a pound of rice for a pound of gold (or cash), there’s millions of people out there that will, and that’s what really matters, the so called market for said product.

So yes cash is important, clearly one of the most useful tools during real world emergencies and you want to have a good bit of it at hand. A month worth of expenses is a good start.

As for denominations, it depends on where you keep said cash. In my car I keep the ashtray/cup thing ( I don’t smoke) with about 30 bucks in coins. I pick change from there all the time and throw it back in when given to me. In my wallet I keep maybe a couple 10s, a couple 20s and then about 300-400 in 50’s for emergencies. How much emergency cash to keep on you at all times? Depends on your situation. I would suggest enough for a couple nights in a hotel if needed, enough for a few bus/train/plane tickets somewhere safe.

In a pack you may want to have 100 bucks in 10 or 20, but any more cash you may go with 50s or 100s because it probably means you’re buying something more expensive, maybe getting a room, renting a car, buying a ticket for traveling and so on.

As for the cash you keep at home for emergencies 100s bills are fine. Some change makes sense but I don’t see the point in having two thousand bucks in 10s just in case you need that much change. Don’t forget also about precious metals, silver and gold!
Best of luck!


Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”


Anonymous said...

Have made it through some serious hurricanes and floods the last 25 years in South Louisiana, and the one thing I've learned was not only to keep cash where I could get to it, along with keeping as much of it as possible in small bills. Because the prices tend to go crazy after a weather event here, no one has change, or wants to give it to you. Also because soon as the electricity goes out, there are no working ATM machines for cash. We were 75 miles from New Orleans for Katrina and didn't have almost any rain at all, but we had strong winds that took down hundreds of trees, so there was no electricity for weeks. Which means no banks were open and no ATM's were working, nor gas station machines. Hurricane Gustave was much worse for us, as was the more recent flood of 2016. We lost the electricity after Gustave for 9 months at my place, although some neighborhoods came back at 6-8 weeks. It was 95 degrees F. during this time. The state estimated one million trees were lost in this area. Credit cards are not useful in these situations until after the events when there is substantial infrastructural improvements and repairs. And lastly, no cell towers means almost no communication (wind).

Anonymous said...

You must have small denominations, because no one will give you change. This from 25 yrs. of hurricanes in South Louisiana. No electric means no banks, no ATMS, no credit cards can be used.

Rob said...

It is legal here in the US for the police to seize any cash you have if they search you and find it. They give you a receipt and you hire a lawyer to try and get it back.
Something to keep in mind.

It's still legal to refuse to allow them to search you...

J said...

Seems to me that smaller denominations would be more flexible. I don't want to have to fork over a hundred bucks for a $25 item that I need. A thousand dollars in twenties might not be good for a wallet, but it doesn't take up that much space in a larger bag or in the safe.

Anonymous said...

I concur with the two previous posters who wrote about cash and small denominations during natural disasters. Like them, I lived through major hurricanes (Andrew, Katrina, Gustav, etc) and the 2016 floods in the EBR area. Small denominations are critical because you will buy things like ice, food, gas, batteries, cleaning supplies, and booze. You may also want to hire kids to help with cleanup work, and it's better to negotiate with a smaller set of bills than with a wad of Benjamins. Much of this will require cash, especially in small stores and towns. Keep as many fives and tens as possible.