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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 :) ), but cash seems like such an outdated way to stay financed.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)

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

  1. pcooper says:

    For the past month of so, I’ve been trying carrying $0 in my wallet.

    I haven’t had any problems yet, and so plan on continuing to do so for the foreseeable future.

    If I were to go on a trip or something, I might want to carry something in case I want to spend somethig somewhere that doesn’t take cards. But for my normal day-to-day life, I haven’t seen a need for cash for a long time.

  2. Drew says:

    Now that I work in the city full time doing apartment and home showings as well as lease signings, I try to have no more than $20 on me at any one time. The first thing I do when someone hands me a security deposit is take it to the bank, so I don’t have to carry it around with me. The chances of something happening are slim to none, of course, but as was stated in the article it’s better to have the protection of a credit card than carry a roll of bills around.

  3. Miranda says:

    Right now, I have $23. Usually, though, I have $50-$75 for those times when it might be necessary to have cash. Especially since the bank error that resulted in my debit card being placed on hold. Because one never knows when something like that will happen.

  4. Archie says:

    Usually between $40 – $80.

  5. James says:

    $0 and I usually have just a few bucks on me. I generally spend it on coffee at work–the government won’t supply it so we have to pay $.25 a cup. I ride the bus to and from work so I don’t have to stop anywhere on the way home. Basically, I just don’t need to carry money.

  6. Brandon says:

    “I did one of those “pay with credit card, take the cash” moves at a restaurant”

    You mean table banking? :)

    I have $5 on me right now…the only time I’d carry more than $20 on me is if we are going to a festival/fair/etc…and nobody takes cards. I have found that if I have cash on me – I can spend it and I don’t think twice about it. If I have a card though, I’m constantly aware of how much I have spent and how much I can spend on it to stay within my budget.

  7. jim says:

    @Brandon: I had no idea it had a term, table banking is so much easier to say than “pay with credit card, take the cash” hahaha. It’s also funny you’re like that with cash and not with credit cards, most people are the other way around.

  8. Glenn Lasher says:

    I have $14 in my wallet right now, though this is up from recently and down from the longer trend. I generally like to carry around $60. I don’t need to carry much, though, because I commute by bus (and use a transit pass for that) and carry my own lunch to work with me.

    I like using my debit card because I use an accounting trick that builds up a reserve for me by rounding each transaction up to the next full dollar when recording it in my chequebook.

    . . . So to keep a long story short, I feel justified in using my debit card and not carrying much cash.

  9. Frugal Dad says:

    I try to keep about $100 in cash on me, but my wife and kids make that pretty difficult (I’ve been called the “human ATM machine” at home). I agree that carrying credit cards is safer, but I still feel naked without a little green in my wallet just in case.

  10. FW says:

    Right now I have $40 in my wallet — usually I only carry a few dollars, maybe around $5, for things like sodas at work. My DH and I carpool, so if we go anywhere after work, either he has money or we use a card (debit). A few days ago he had a medical procedure and I got a little extra out of the atm so we could go out to eat afterwards and it didn’t cost as much as I thought it would.

  11. Jessica says:

    I have $3 in my wallet right now and that’s about normal. I never take more than $20, but will opt for $10 cashback if I can. Like others, I only use it to buy sodas here and there. All other expenses are taken care of by my debit card, which I obsessively check the balance on so I can see exactly how much money I’m spending and where it’s going.

  12. Jimmy says:

    I usually carry less than $20 and I usually go for a week with less than $5. At work, I bring my food from home and don’t stop around for snacks or drinks. I get my cash using my bank’s ATM.

    Recently, I had to get all new cards due to theft. For about a week, I was floundering, afraid to buy anything since kept forgetting to get extra cash.

  13. Laura says:

    I carry $30 in my wallet, but I don’t replenish it regularly.

  14. CK says:

    Currently 0 in the wallet. I usually don’t carry any cash unless I for see a need in the near future. It seems I’m actually more apt to waste cash if I carry it around so I try not to.

  15. Llama Money says:

    Generally I’m a $20 or less kind of guy. Right now I have $340 in my wallet – but then again I’m depositing it at the bank during lunch today.

    Besides that, I’ll have a couple hundred if I’m on my way to the grocery store. But everyday… $20 or less. No sense carrying around too much – I’d be ticked if I lost it!

  16. Right now I have all of $5 in my wallet. I rarely carry much more than $20, and mostly only use it for cheaper lunches at work (if it is over $5 I will usually put it on my credit card.)

    I am surprised to see most of the comments here with such low numbers… my boyfriend almost always carries $80+ on him, and I thought that was more of the norm!

  17. Ken says:

    I used to carry like 100-200 in highschool. Never had a CC and debit cards weren’t around.

    Now i have a couple cc’s for daily purchases and usually get about $60 cash out every 2 or so weeks.

  18. Jeremy says:

    I start every Monday with about $40 in the wallet. About half of that is used for paying for lunch at our cafeteria at work, which doesn’t take plastic. So cash is the only option. The rest of the money is just for small spontaneous purchases or to keep on hand for the “just in case” item (stopping at a roadside produce stand, see something at a garage sale, etc)

  19. Diane says:

    I have $20 in the wallet – cash back from my last debit card purchase at Wal-Mart. I usually carry about $20-40, mainly so I’ll have some cash handy to give my son as he’s leaving – he’s 17 and doesn’t have a credit or debit card.

    I don’t spend more by carrying cash because I habitually use my debit card for nearly everything. If it’s under $5 and I have cash I might use it. The only place I can’t use debit/credit is a local bakery where we buy bread. They only accept cash for purchases under $20.

  20. Stan says:

    I have $15 on me now and I usually start off the week with around $60. Anything over that amount goes on the debit card and that doesn’t happen often. I prefer using cash over credit because cash makes me more hesitant to spend foolishly. I also recently paid off all of my creditors and I will never again make the mistake of abusing my credit. Call me paranoid but I also have trouble with the fact that the banks and card processors have records traceable to me; cash affords me a degree of anonymity.

  21. Yep, I don’t have much: I get about NT$5000 per month for spending (US$165)… it usually lasts pretty well.

  22. Bogey says:

    Right now I have $94 in my wallet. I almost always get out $100 from the ATM. But I’m not one of those guys who has the cash burning a hole in his pocket and has to spend it.

    Living on the West Coast I used to listen to Mark & Brian’s morning radio show. They would play this game with their guests where they ask “How much do you have on you right now?” It was amazing that sometimes the celebrities on there had $0 and sometimes they had $2000. I always want to play this game with the random people I meet at the golf course but never actually ask them.

  23. Start-Up says:

    I carry at most $100 with me at any one time. I use my credit card for the rewards as much as possible. I think it also depends on if I will be anywhere near an ATM for my bank to avoid fees. If i’m traveling away from where my bank branches are I will take out more than $100 for the trip to avoid those ARM withdrawal charges.

  24. Anna says:

    I almost never carry cash with me, although at one point in our lives we strictly doled out every expense from envelopes of cash. I think it is much easier to lose track of your spending when you strictly use credit and debit cards. At the moment I do have $19 of which my son just took $10 for a trip he is going on today.

  25. Ceo Reom says:

    About $50.


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