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Your Take: How Much Cash Do You Carry?

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Fat Wad of Cold Hard CashI’m not asking because I want to rob you, though if you carry more than a grand I would be tempted (just kidding! 🙂 ), but cash seems like such an outdated way to stay financed.

How much do you have on you right this very second? I just checked my wallet and I have $142, which is far higher than what I normally carry. It’s that high because two weekends ago we took a trip to Ocean City, MD with some friends and I did one of those “pay with credit card, take the cash” moves at a restaurant (Citi mtvU offers 5% cashback and I have student loans to pay off!) so that boosted the amount.

A few months ago, I remember reading an article in a major men’s magazine that talked about how carrying a fat roll of cash gives you a sense of power, confidence, and bravado that you don’t have carrying a couple pieces of plastic. I believe the author likened it to a power suit. Anyone who has put on a nice suit can attest to this. Suits boost your confidence because you look good in them. You look professional, smart, and powerful. Does a roll of money do the same?

Normally, I don’t carry much cash on me, maybe forty or fifty bucks at any one time. I don’t really see the advantage in carrying a lot of cash. Plastic offers so many more protections on so much more money that credit cards are really my primary source of funding. If you lose cash, it’s gone. If you lose a credit card, you cancel it and get a new one. The combined credit limits on the cards in my wallet is easily over ten thousand dollars but I would never ever even consider putting more than a few hundred in my wallet.

How much cash do you have on you right now? How much cash do you usually carry on you? Why so little or so much? Do you think I need to carry more or less? Do you think I’m insane?

(Photo: refractedmoments)

{ 47 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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47 Responses to “Your Take: How Much Cash Do You Carry?”

  1. Kristina says:

    I have $2.50. When I make a purchase with a debit card, I religiously enter that amount in my checking account register. At the end of each day, DH and I do the math to see what the available balance is in the checking account. At the end of every week, I reconcile all of DH’s and my purchases with the online account summary on our banks website. When cash has been taken out of the checking account, we have to subtract it from the available balance in our checking account. As a result, we tend to view cash as having already been spent and we blow it pretty quickly.

    DH and I both carry $2.50 as an “emergency lunch fund.” If either of us forgets to bring our lunch, it costs $2.50 to buy lunch in the cafeteria. Since we don’t keep cash in the house or in our wallets, it is a hassle to replace that $2.50 if it gets spent. We must then own up to each other that we forgot lunch and must go out of the way to get a new lunch fund.

    Basically, DH and I are playing psychological games with ourselves to reduce spending and make us accountable to each other. It has made a difference in the amount we spend each month.

  2. Chris says:

    Zero point Zero. 90% of the time, I have no cash on me at all and it’s been that way pretty much my entire adult life. Gotta love the debit card. It used to be embarrassing to buy a coke for under $1 on the card, but I got over that 10 years ago.

  3. Boyan says:


    I need to buy two stamps at the end of the month. Everything else goes on the credit card and gets paid off EVERY TIME!

  4. Jim says:

    $46 on me right now. I generally carry something in the $0 to $100 range. I use my CC for most things and the cash is there if I need it or to make change at dinner with friends. When I go out with friends sometimes they pay with CC and I pay with cash and sometimes its the other way around. So we end up trading some cash back and forth between ourselves every week or two.

  5. Dan says:

    Only $40, but all in a wad of $1s. If someone belittles your financial status, you can just chuck the ball of $1s in their face and laugh. Plus you’re good for an impromptu stripper outing.

  6. I always carry $20-$100 in cash on me…every paycheck i pull out $100 so i always have cash 🙂 ya never know when you’ll need some, right?

  7. Todd A. says:

    I carry virtually no cash. The prevalence of ATMs makes obtaining cash relatively simple (and usually at almost no cost). I find that I spend less when I have to figure out a way to pay for something. And, if I really need to pay someone, an ATM card or credit card can usually get it done.

  8. Amanda says:

    Usually between $20 and $100 bucks, depending on whether or not I’ve been to the bank recently! Rarely more than $100… that just makes me nervous!

  9. I have $12 and that’s a little high for me. I carry very little cash as it’s harder for me to track my cash spending. I also tend to spend more when I use cash. My experience is that men tend to carry and use cash more then women do. I wonder if a survey of your readers would prove or disprove that theory. Good topic!

  10. Paula says:

    On work days I carry enough for transportation/parking/bus and one meal (even though I brownbag-it’s an emergency thing). On weekends, I try to carry what I need for what errands I’m running, plus an extra $20. When I go out of town, even for a day trip, I carry a bit more, but the amount varies $40-60. I have an older friend who recommends carrying enough for a tow truck and one night in a hotel–for emergencies. But i haven’t done that–most hotels take plastic.

    I don’t keep enough cash at home, yet. Post-Katrina experts recommend keeping anywhere from a week to a month’s worth of expenses in cash–in case a disaster takes the ATMs off line. I simply can’t afford that, but think it’s probably a good idea.

  11. Adam says:

    This morning I have $563.00 in my pocket, this is only because I had a good night of gambling last night. I usually don’t carry any cash, just a Chase Freedom, Amex Blue Cash, and an ATM card.

  12. Katharine says:

    I am a $0 girl. Unless I am going out to dinner with friends, I don’t bring any cash. And even when I go out to dinner with friends, I table bank if possible.

  13. Elaine says:

    I try to keep as little cash on me as possible. I’m very good at controlling spending when I use credit cards, but if I have cash on me it flys out of my pocket.

  14. Ken says:

    I carry zero cash unless I’m traveling. Everything goes on the credit cards, which get paid in full every month. This way we earn a little back plus the detailed monthly statement make it easy to keep track of what we’ve spent.
    When I travel, I take maybe $100 or so in case we need something from a store that doesn’t take cards.


  15. marci says:

    $310 a month goes in. So I usually have $100-$400 in my wallet at any given time. That $310 is for groceries, gas, grandkids, gifts, and gadabout money. That’s how much I give myself per month – cash.

    I’m just a cash kind of person. I don’t like having a credit card bill hit me at the end of the month, nor do I like having to keep track of a debit card. Cash works just fine. My utility bills & insurances are paid with a check. And that’s usually all my bills to be paid 🙂

  16. Mark Nelson says:

    I tend not to carry any cash. I seem to spend cash a little easier than using my debit or credit card.

    Using my debit card also lets me track my spending more than if I am just using cash.

  17. Matt says:

    Cash sitting in my wallet is a very rare thing though I’ve been debating attempting to use cash instead of debit as a means for helping me budget. I’ve gotten so used to just debiting everything that I can forget how much money I have or haven’t spent.

  18. Typhex says:

    I’m a student, so I’m new to the whole managing my own finances thing. This blog helps me out a lot with that. I usually carry between $10-$30 in cash for “just in case” situations. I wouldn’t want to be out with friends and have to go to an ATM in order to pay for my share of a meal or something. It is also considered embarrassing to pay for small food purchases (soda/snack) with a debit card, especially if you’re on a date.

    I find that if I carry a lot of cash, I’m prone to spending it. The reason is because it has already been withdrawn from my bank account, it’s as if I have already spent it, so I don’t feel as bad spending it as with my debit card. It’s silly I know, but that’s just how it is in my head. This is also why I don’t carry more than $30 bucks.

  19. Donna Freedman says:

    Right now, about $12. I generally keep it under $20 at all times. Sometimes it’s only $2. This is a habit from way back in the past, before debit cards — if I ever got robbed, I didn’t want to lose too much money.
    I never got robbed. The closest I ever came was in line for the subway, when one of a trio of teens behind me flipped a lit cigarette into the canvas bag I was using as a purse/carryall. “Hey, lady, he put a cigarette in your bag, lemme get it out,” one of them said, trying to pull the bag away to “help” me.
    My wallet was in that bag, and although it held only $3 or $4, tops, I wasn’t giving it up. That teenager had probably never been pushed that hard by a pregnant 20-year-old woman before. “HANDS OFF, I GOT IT!” I bellowed, yanking the bag back in front of me. People turned to stare and the kids took off. I pulled the cigarette out myself. Punks.
    Still don’t carry much cash around.

  20. Broke Like A Joke says:

    I carry about 1100 dollars cash. you never know when you have to buy some plants, white, black, or some ease.

  21. joe from nh says:

    i usually carry between $500 to $1500 on me… it’s alittle higher than most, but i did win the lottery two years ago! lucky me!

  22. karl says:

    I have no cash on me. LOL Use debit card only.

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