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Your Take: Why I Keep Cash at Home

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CashTell a few personal finance bloggers that you keep cash in your house and you will invariably be asked why. Why keep cash in your account when you can put it into a high yield savings account and earn a percent of interest? What if there is a fire? What if you get robbed? Why not put it in the warm embrace of FDIC insurance at th ebank?

I don’t keep much, usually only one or two hundred dollars, and the reason I do so is so I can get cash easily if I need it, whatever the reason. I don’t keep a lot, I don’t see the point given credit cards, but I do want to keep a little for those times when cash is king and credit can’t be accessed. I’m talking about those rare cases, like a black out or a big snowstorm (like the major snowstorm a few years ago in the Baltimore Washington metropolitan area), where you need some cash but just can’t get to a bank.

To be perfectly honest, the number one reason I do this is because I’m lazy. I don’t really think that there will be a calamity where I won’t be able to get to an ATM or use a credit card, but sometimes I’m going out somewhere and I need cash but don’t want to make a trip to the ATM. It’s nice to have a few bills at home so that I can tap that reserve instead of make that trip. That’s why I keep some money stored away at home, instead of earning a few pennies at the bank.

One final bit of warning, cash is usually not completely insured by your homeowners or renter’s insurance. So if you are robbed and they take cash, or there is a fire and the money burns, you may be limited in how much cash is covered – that amount will be listed in your policy. I don’t recommend keeping thousands of dollars at home, but a few hundred will probably be covered by your policy.

Do you keep cash at home? If so, why?

(Photo: amagill)

{ 30 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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30 Responses to “Your Take: Why I Keep Cash at Home”

  1. Rick says:

    Yes, I always keep about $1,000 in cash at home, with a mix of bills. Reasons – a little lazy, I hate stopping at the atm, so I just grab what I need and it has come in handy in emergency. We have a couple bad storms and but the worst was a year where the power was out for a week in summer – you couldn’t use credit/debit cards anywhere. Cash really was king – started keeping it at home ever since.

  2. lostAnnfound says:

    I keep a couple hundred dollars in the house. It came in handy when the snowstorm hit the end of this past October and power was out for four days (at least for us; some were without power one week or more). Only two gas stations in our city that were open the first two days and the pumps and store light/fixtures only were operating on generators. No computer access for cash registers to swipe cards or to use at an ATM. Cash came in handy then for milk, bread & some gas for the car.

  3. Joe says:

    I consider myself a little bit of a survivalist, so I always keep a few hundred at home. I never touch it, because it’s for one purpose, in case of calamity. I keep it in my fire proof gun safe that weighs about 300 lbs., so it’s protected to an extent.

  4. Karen M says:

    Yep, I always keep a few hundred tucked away at home. I still remember the big blackout that happened several years back, when a tree limb rubbed on an electrical line in Ohio, and multiple states lost power for 2-3 days. No ATMs, no credit transactions. If you could find a store open, they wanted cash only.

  5. cubiclegeoff says:

    I have a few dollars, but not much. We never use cash and I rarely have it on hand (maybe a couple of times a year I carry cash). I could see having some around just in case, but I still probably won’t.

  6. WRXTuan says:

    I have a jar somewhere in the house that I can remember if I need some cash on hand.

  7. Long says:

    I keep some money at home as well for the same reason the other commenters have listed. It’s always a wise idea to keep cash, in small bills, around in case of emergency.

    A water and fire resistant safe is a great touch as well. It’s a great place to keep cash and any important copies of paperwork and personal documents at home secure.

  8. Lesley says:

    I keep a couple of hundred, in ones. I figure that if there is an emergency that makes ATM’s available, no one is going to be able to get into cash drawers or registers. So if you pay for food or whatever with a bigger bill (like a $20) you might not get change. It’s just an emergency measure. I keep a few bigger ones, and when I don’t want to make the trip to the ATM, like you, I go and get those.

  9. No way can I keep cash at home. Suddenly everything would seem like an emergency. I just can’t trust myself.

    That being said, I SHOULD. When the “hurricane” hit Ohio in 2008 (Sept. 15, 2008 to be exact, it’s my birthday and the day I was moving out of my home and my marriage so I remember it well). We didn’t have electricity for a week. Cash was needed for everything. Luckily I had a mother who could access cash but now, I would be in trouble. This is definitely something for me to consider.

    I should also grow up and start acting like an adult when their is cash around. I need to leave it for the emergency it is meant for.

  10. Frugal says:

    We keep $200-300 home for emergencies and for GAS. In NJ, if you pay for gas with Cash, you get a break of 5-7 cents a gallon.

  11. daenyll says:

    I always keep an emergency 20 stashed in a separate part of my wallet, but rarely have much extra cash lying around for emergency. Something to think about.

  12. Shirley says:

    I also keep $200-$300 in 20 and under bills in my purse, for “just in case”.

  13. elloo says:

    I keep about $50 cash at home. I also keep a $20 bill and $10 worth of quarters in my glove compartment for gas, toll, whatever. I poach it when I run out of cash in the house.

  14. Heather says:

    I keep $20 in the car… I do tend to run out of money in my wallet and it is invaluable for a quick lunch or grocery run if I’ve run out (or forgotten my wallet). But I think having more emergency money in the car would be good, too, even thoug its the most likely to get stolen.

    At home my goal, though I haven’t ever reached it, is $1,000 in cash. That’s my target because it is the amount I think you need for bail. You never know!!! Or maybe a few hundred less because you could get some amounts from an ATM.

  15. Mirinda says:

    I have got to start keeping cash for the babysitter! Thanks for the reminder.

  16. Jeff Crews says:

    There are so many times where I do not have cash and am too lazy to go to the ATM or whatever, so I end up buying a certain amount of goods (a candy bar or something) so I can get cash back. I really need to apply these tips within my daily schedule. It will keep my spending down and help me keep my figure. 🙂

  17. Money Infant says:

    I keep several hundred dollars in the house pretty much for the same reason as many of the other commenters; sometimes I am just too lazy to get to the ATM and it is easier to have the cash on hand. It was also a bit of a comfort to know we had cash during the floods here in Bangkok last Oct/Nov.

  18. Martha says:

    Randy Pausch talks about a similar idea, to keep a frew extra dollars in one’s wallet in case of emergencies. I always liked that idea so I try to do it. Only tricky part is when I need cash somerimes I’ll have to use my reserve money and then sometimes I forget to replace it!

  19. DonC says:

    I always keep $100 in small bills for “emergencies”. An emergency may be we’re ordering in and need to split a bill with other people and cash is just easier, or we’re on our way out to place that only accepts cash – e.g. local ice cream parlor. It always gets replenished the next time we go to an ATM.

    I also only go to an ATM one or twice a month, so I will take out 2-3 weeks of cash at a time. IT’S NOT BEING LAZY!!! It’s being efficient. My time and gas are worth more than the need to go to an ATM every time I need $20.

  20. JD Mandrell says:

    In 2008, my area was hit with a storm that left a several county wide area without electricity for 5 days…no ATMS’s, No Debit/Credit cards….everyone should keep some cash on hand.

  21. rlaw100 says:

    I would keep any cash on me instead of hidden in my house. You should always have your wallet with you (with the exception of when your home.) So I wouldn’t keep any money at home, maybe $100 in your car in case you get lose your wallet while out.

  22. ChadC says:

    I keep several hundred (in bills of various denominations) both in the house and $200 hidden away in the car. I readily tap into it for emergencies or situations where I need access to some cash (like when I forget to bring my wallet on a trip to the supermarket). I always replace the cash when used to insure that it is there next time I need it. Saves me the bother/expense of going to an ATM machine and carrying my bank card.

  23. Shorebreak says:

    I keep at least a few hundred dollars at home (don’t tell my neighbors) in the event of a power outage or an ATM malfunction. Also, it’s a nice security cushion. I used to keep a few thousand dollars in cash on hand as a bail fund in case of incarceration, but not anymore.

  24. bloodbath says:

    I keep no more than $100 that lasts for 1 month. The lawn-boy gets $20/mth from it and I spend the rest on public parking, beer and cheap knack-knacks that satisfy my innate feminine urge to shop.
    I keep my ‘millions’ where interest, dividends and profit can be earned – lol!

  25. ziglet19 says:

    Yep, I keep about $200 cash around, for emergencies. I do occasionally raid it to pay the babysitter if I don’t have cash, and then replace it almost immediately so that I always have a little cash. I figure in an emergency situation (like being without power for a few days), some cash would be helpful to buy bottled water or gas, or some other necessity. It never hurts to be prepared!

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