“Cash is king!,” a Chicago native told my husband one day.  I hadn’t heard the term before but considering that our friend’s family was reputed to have ties to the mob, I wasn’t surprised.

image by bfshadow

I’ve thought a lot lately about the importance of having cash on hand.  Severe weather and natural disasters routinely shut down access to banks and ATMs, and in fact, ATMs can be emptied of cash in no time by panicked customers.  A worst case scenario, such as an EMP or economic collapse, would shut down banks for long periods of time.  Even if the dollar was devalued, there would still be some value left in saved cash.

I recommend storing enough cash at home to get you through at least a week.  In the case of an evacuation, this cash would be useful for hotel stays, fuel for your vehicle, food, supplies, and more.  If hordes of evacuees descend on a town, your cash-in-hand might mean a good night’s sleep in a clean hotel room if a hotel manager decides he or she would rather have cash than payment by debit or credit cards.  And forget writing a check in an emergency.  Out-of-town checks are rarely, if ever, welcome.

Are you planning for something much bigger than an ice storm, such as an economic collapse?  In that case, set aside as much money as you think you’ll need to cover the mortgage payment or rent, utilities, food, and other necessities for several months.

Be sure to stash smaller bills, no larger than $20s.  You may not be able to break a fifty- or hundred-dollar bill.  Store $50-100 in small bills  in your emergency kit/Bug Out Bag, and a similar amount in your vehicle.  If money is tight, try to set aside just ten dollars each week in order to have a nice stash of cash in a few months.  Around the house, divide your cash in three or four different bundles.  If your kids are responsible and mature-ish, let them know the location of one of the stashes.  If there is ever a time when parents aren’t around, that money may help your kids survive in difficult circumstances.

Protect your cash from the elements as well as severe weather and natural disasters common to your area.  Just remember all your hiding places and save your money for true emergencies!

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

(28) Readers Comments

  1. Agreed.

  2. Excellent point. Our problem is…we've tried this twice. Both times the money "mysteriously vanishes."
    I need a safer place to hide it….like with my chocolate, in an empty tampon box. LOL!

    • Buy a safe that bolts to the floor….

  3. Excellent article.

  4. I work in a large national grocery store in the mid-west. Every Holiday, without fail, our computers go down. Too many people shopping nationwide. Inevitably, we hear "We cannot process credit or debit cards. Please use the ATM or a check for your purchases."

  5. You can also try cashing checks instead of depositing them and keeping the cash instead of spending it. Rebate checks, birthday gifts, checks from the insurance company, etc.

  6. Great post. We vacuum seal bundles of cash using our food saver. Not only does it protect the cash, but it compacts it to save space and makes it less tempting to break into unless there's a real emergency.

  7. I am a cash kinda gal! I pay for everything in cash. And yes rwmom, I used to stash my cash in the bottom of a tampon box too. I won't have to find a way to live if the power goes out and no purchases can be made but I think a clerk would be more willing to accept a $100 bill in exchange for $50 in food if she/he could pocket the rest, or I could get a good hotel room cheaper with cash than with a plastic card that doesn't work. . That's my plan anyway. Really, I don't have much of a plan, cause I don't know what to expect, but I'm prepping more than most, less than others.

  8. Also consider saving coin ! paper money is great "most of the time". Look into investing in some junk silver coin, quarters/dimes mostly. Check with local coin dealers. Just some Preppy suggestions!

    • Just make sure the coinage is pre-1965…that is, 1964 and earlier.

  9. Consider saving $1 bills. Bundle them in stacks of 25. They add up over time and are less tempting to spend unless there’s an emergency. In a serious emergency, banks may not be able to dispense currency and the singles will come in handy for small exchanges.

  10. How about storing nickels? Its cash that due to its weight is hard to steal and each coin currently has a seven cent melt value which is certain to go up drastically in the near future.

  11. Tampon boxes? I don’t go on the rag so I don’t have any. I put cash in empty ammo boxes so its with the guns, both are coming with me on the bugout!.

  12. Yes cash is king. We had a power outage last September here in Southern California…San Diego. No ATMs worked. No gas pumps worked. However Target Stores had backup generators…Hmmm…Maybe Gas Stations need be equippped??? Anyway people with cash were able to buy. The rest were SOL.

  13. I live in a hurricane zone. Have had to evacuate 8 times but never had a direct hit thank Goodness.
    Keep $1,000 in small bills from $20′s to $1′s. This is not mixed in with regular funds, it’s in my large go bag. The power ALWAYS goes out due to winds blowing trees down on power lines so ATMS and credit cards don’t work. One roll of quarters, some gold and silver in case things get really bad. Another thing I learned here, and when I lived in Canada (where getting your car stuck in the snow at night in a deserted area, and running out of gas to keep your car warm kills people every year) ALWAYS keep your gas tank(s) at least 1/2 full. When the power goes out, the gas pumps don’t work. Keep about $50 is a “throw away” wallet, with some EXPIRED credit cards and pictures in case you get robbed, I don’t go around flashing the roll of $1,000!

  14. I travel a lot for work. Of course my wife has a debit card on our shared account and check books for our banks, but I started leaving $500 at home for “emergencies”. I won’t say it’s a problem, but things always come up that she needs some cash, and it’s been very convenient for her to have that cash at home. Like if she needs to go grocery shopping and I haven’t got my pay check yet. I have been thinking about starting a second $500 stash. An emergency $500 and a “when you need it” $500.

    • Keep as much cash stored as you possibly can…in all sense of “cash”…bills, coins, silver, small gold coins (if you can). I keep around $10,000 available now, since I am out of debt. Small home mortgage is it.

      Store cash where it is safe from fire and other natural disasters-which each family must decide for themselves where it is safe- and only responsible family members should know where it is.

      NEVER tell people about your cash stores!

  15. I agree cash can be saved for local emergencies, power outages and whatnot. But in the event of an “economic collapse” as you say, our money would either be worthless or severely devalued. After all, an economic collapse is a collapse of the MONETARY system, in this case, the USD.

    Keeping denominations of 5, 10 and 20 federal reserve notes would be basically useless. They would be worth nothing. Less than a penny in today’s value. In the case of an economic collapse, keeping alternate forms of currency, like gold, silver or other precious metals would be the smartest thing to do. I have pesos and and the canadian dollar as well….those nations financial woes are nothing compared to ours and their currency could be ok for a time, even if our USD collapses.

  16. A common prepper expectation is that fiat money will be “devalued,” but the mechanism for this (money “printing”) is improbable in an economy where debt, not currency, forms the bulk of the money supply. The first part of a crisis is apt, IMO, to be deflationary as mountains of unsupported debt collapse in value. During this period of time (months, even several years) those with cash may reap substantial purchasing power increases and less money chases available goods and prices therefore drop.

    For this reason, it may be even more prudent to stash cash than might otherwise be apparent. No one knows the future, but cash-saving has been punished by inflation for a lifetime. It’s due at least a temporary reversal.

    • Yes david c. I agree fully. just hope no wars accompany the crisis

    • As far as I know, no one considers debt to be a part of the money supply.

      And, the bankers will print and print because – of – the debts, to avoid going upside-down.

      True, no one knows the future, but trends are what they are.

      As with T.A.R.P. the bankers and their buds will do Anything to avoid going bankrupt, no matter how unpopular it is.

  17. Ah yes, the Deflationary scare. Supposedly, that’s what the Ben Bernank fears too.

    Myself, I find it real hard to imagine falling prices, especially of things the rest of the world wants too, such as oil and gas, or food and clothing. Although, falling prices would be nice.

    Sure, the price of things like run-of-the-mill baseball cards might drop, or as I’ve noticed lately the price of clothes might drop, however; the clothes that have dropped in price have also made an equal dip in quality which more than equalizes things – it’s more like prices went up – because the quality has gone down so far.

    If anyone can imagine an emergency situation where the goods People are demanding are dropping in price,… well, do tell more, cause I don’t see how that is possible. The rest of the world will keep on bidding up the prices of things.

    With a global economy it seems there is no way the price dips of The Great Depression could happen again.

    “Money printing” isn’t the only source for an influx of money to make its way into the unitedstate economy, there’s a whole mountain of money overseas ready to come onto the scene like a tidal wave, causing prices to rise.

    Also, fifty is the ‘new’ twenty. So I’m not so sure twenties are as favorable over fifties as they have been. Jmho.

    • Not that I think we will Never have a deflationary event, we’re just a long long ways away from it.

      “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved” – L.V.M.

  18. At the risk of blog-hogging (sorry) I’ll add one more thing.

    The way things are now *IF* somehow prices were to start falling, and *IF* the money supply were to drop somehow, I imagine there would be more scarcity of things than there would be numerous low prices.

    If inputs used, like oil and gasoline, to farm or manufacture were still high, and even though U.S. consumers had less Dollars to chase after the goods, the U.S. farmer or U.S. manufacturer is likely to go out of business sooner or later, rather than selling at a loss.
    That seems like a good reason to prep.

    Another thing to consider, if prices started falling the goberment would react by doing things like shooting livestock and forcing farmers to plow under fields in order to maintain high prices as they did during The Great Depression, and as they are doing now, i.e. shooting the small farmer’s hogs in Michigan and paying farmers not to plant via “set aside” acreage and “wet lands” preservation. Manufacturers might have price controls imposed upon them, that’s how we get gas stations with no gas available during hurricanes and such.

    The old Soviet Union had similar government induced low prices too – insert image of bare shelves and long lines – here X.

    Is that what we’ll get as many People clamor for ‘more government’ doing more?

    … And the beat goes on.

  19. why would you pay your mortgage in case of such a calamity,or for the matter, any bills?

    heck, we now live in the ‘land of the ensalved and home of the entitledt’, not to be confused with the long-lost ‘land of the free and home of the brave’.

    sheeet, if and when the sheet hit the fan like you say, best to be thinking outside the box of such mundane things things like fulfilling your ( alledegdly (sic) legally(not to mention morally-dubious) so-called obligation to contribute to the perpetuation of the very corrupt and immoral system that brought about the very calamity that we are now struck with!

    oh no, my dear friends, with all due respect to the author, articles like this do not fully explore the full spectrum of the the problem at hand.




    It will come to you sooner or later!

    may you all know happiness and the root of happiness,
    may you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

  20. Coming late to this, but one of our favorite “cash stashes” is taped to the bottom of the dirty diaper pail. Who’s going to dig through dirty diapers? :0D

  21. Pingback: The Quick Start Guide for getting prepared

  22. Pingback: When You’re Feeling Powerless: Preparing for power outages | WROL Newsfeed

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