I’m sure there will come a day when paper money and coins are a thing of the past. But until that day, currency in hand certainly beats the same number of dollars on a plastic card—especially in emergency situations. Not convinced? Then check out these five reasons to keep a few hundred (or thousand) dollars in a safe and secret location.
Utility Outage: Cash still works during a power outage, or if communication lines go down. Two days after the Derecho storm of June 2012, the mystique of canned soup wore off around my house, and the kids were begging for pizza. I ventured out to find that power had been restored to some neighborhood businesses. The nearest pizza place was a frenzy of industry, as others had the same idea about fresh food. I placed my order and whipped out a debit card to pay. Then the clerk got a strange look on her face. “The phone lines are down sir,” she said. “I can’t take your card.” Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough cash, and returned home empty handed to some angry children.
Person-To-Person: Cash works best for person-to-person transactions. If you need to buy some supplies from your neighbor, or from a makeshift market, cash is king. Just avoid waving around a wad of bills, as this can draw some unwanted attention.
ATM Hunting: Keeping cash on hand will keep you from venturing far and wide to find a functional ATM during or after a crisis. This can be a dangerous activity for a number of reasons. ATM hunting can take you out of familiar territory and away from home, leaving your dependents more vulnerable. Plus, your cash quest puts you in the path of criminals who will stake out ATMs in order to rob the users.
Bribery: You can’t bribe people very easily with a credit card. The use of bribery for needed services or protection is an ancient concept. And nothing works better for bribery than cash.
Protection Of Assets: If you’re concerned that some of your funds may be seized in an emergency, it’s easy to find contemporary examples of this desperate governmental act. Argentina, Cyprus, and Spain all seized part of their citizen’s savings during economic upheaval in recent years. While you probably don’t want to sleep on a mattress stuffed with your life savings, it’s a good idea to avoid keeping all your eggs in one basket.
Do you keep cash on hand? Let us know how much and where you keep it in the comments. (Just kidding!)