How Much Cash Do You Keep At Home?

morning coffeeToday’s question to get your morning rolling is, How much cash do you keep at home?

I know a lot of people that don’t keep any cash at home and I was one of them until 1995. Since then I always keep a minimum of several hundred dollars at home and I don’t even try to hide it these days since my conversation with a burglar (I figure is someone is determined enough to break into my house, they are going to be determined enough to find the money as well — that being said, I am living in Japan before anyone tries to track down where I live 😉 )

From a financial standpoint, pre 1995 it didn’t make sense for me to keep a large amount of money at home. The money wasn’t earning any interest and there was always the chance that it could be stolen. I maybe had $20 in my pocket and relied on credit cards and small cash withdrawals from the ATM which worked splendidly.

I don’t think that I have ever met anyone who has been in a major natural disaster that doesn’t keep some extra money at home. Mine was the Great Hanshin Earthquake on Tuesday January 17, 1995 when the city of Kobe was destroyed. While I lived on the other side of the mountains where damage was much less extensive, I had to hike 20 miles into the quake stricken area to deliver medication to my wife’s aunt who lived in the center of the city and had no way of obtaining it.

When all power and water is out and banks are closed, you quickly learn that ATM cards and credit cards are of little use and it doesn’t matter how much you have in a bank account because there is no way to get at it. All commerce for the weeks after the quake was done in cash because none of the credit card systems worked.

I hope that I never have to use this emergency cash money, but I feel more secure that if something terrible does happen, I will be in a position where I have the means to negotiate getting the things that I need.

Please share your own experiences on this topic as a wide variety of views and thoughts are helpful to everyone. If there is one thing that I have learned about personal finances from all of you is that there are always exceptions to the rule and differing circumstances can mean completely different solutions. If you have a blog and you have written about this topic in the past, feel free to link to your writing (although a short summary would be helpful). If you have recently read a good article on this topic, please links and share in the comments.

Image courtesy of amanky

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17 Responses to How Much Cash Do You Keep At Home?

  1. benny says:

    I would keep money in my house if I lived in a safer neighborhood, but doing so would just be like giving it away. Any suggestions for someone in my situation to have cash when their is a big risk of it being stolen?

  2. greg says:

    I have to agree 100% that cash at home is a must for emergencies. Sometimes it’s the only way to bribe yourself out of a bad situation (or get help when everyone is over extended). I have over $1000 in cash that I keep well hidden.

  3. toopoor says:

    It’s impossible to keep cash at home when you don’t have any cash at all. Why not ask a question that applies to those that are poor?

  4. stiyg says:

    I’ve been a lurker here for quite some time and it’s time to put an end to all the crap that toopoor spatters.

    Hey, I get it. You don’t have a lot of money. I’ve been there and understand that it can make you bitter, but just because you don’t doesn’t mean that anything that doesn’t apply to you isn’t useful for other people. This blog isn’t being written just for you, so take what you can, but can it when it doesn’t. Just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t give you the right to be a complete jerk.

  5. Karen says:

    I think it can be a good idea to keep a bit of cash at home. I learned this from my mother. She kept the majority of her money in the bank but when her husband passed she needed some cash quickly. Not a great amount but enough to feel as if she was not stuck esp. when so many other things seemed out of control. Fortunately I live in the country in a very remote area. It is possible to have the money buried in the ground in a spot that only two people know about. For years I worked with women in the prison system. I assisted them with alcohol and drug issues, criminal thinking challenges and making healthy life style changes. AWESOME REWARDING CAREER. I treated the women with total respect knowing that change is possible if the hard work is completed and maintained once the skills are taught. One major positive was that I did learn how they commit crimes and where the majority of they searched for money in homes.

  6. t says:

    I try to keep $100-200 cash in $20 at home with a ledger. I also keep $30-50 in $1’s and $5’s in my vehicle.

  7. baselle says:

    stiyg – please don’t feed the troll. 🙂

    I keep a bit at work, definitely enough to get me home. I can’t say that I keep any cash at home, and I experienced the Nisqually quake in Seattle. I’ll have to re-think that possibility…but I really want to hide it. I can rent a PO Box within 10 blocks of my house. Anybody store emergency $ that way?

  8. Karen says:

    Hey, I just remembered something. At one time I had my daughter giving me the majority of her cash from a waitressing job. This started when she was 15. I let her keep a quarter of the money and I got three fourths for college, car, life savings. I placed it in a safe deposit book at the bank. That only cost me $12 as long as I maintained an account at the bank that had $5 in it. Now I guess weather and other challenges could be possibility as far as safety but I know that worked for us.

  9. Pinyo says:

    We keep several hundred dollars at home just to have it. We have never thought about ATM not working in case of a natural disaster. Interesting perspective.

  10. Curt says:

    With banks beginning to fail, I think I’m going to open several more banks to stread some money around so that if one bank fails, I will still be able to operate my account in my other banks. I have a few hundred dollars are home, but am considering increasing to a few thousand.

  11. Zainuddin Ab Rahim says:

    From where I’m staying ie Malaysia, you must have cash in hand because not everything can be purchase via credit card.Minimum usage of credit card.

  12. Grey says:

    I have mixed feelings on this. My house was recently broken into and ransacked in May, and they did indeed tear everything apart looking for money and valaubles – down to emptying out my food canisters full of beans. And they did find it.

    It’s hard, though, thinking of place to keep it that would be safe enough (unless I cut a hole in the mattress, I don’t think I’d feel too safe…and even then!), but I do understand the need for when power is out and banks are down (post-hurricane comes to mind).

  13. Jordan Clark says:

    I just found your site from I found the article headline captivating, so I wanted to add our own experience. We have about $2500 in small bills well hidden in our place as well as a large survival backpack with enough emergency supplies for about 2 weeks. In case of natural disaster it doesn’t make sense to only have money, having basic supplies is also essential.

  14. Carol says:

    We probably keep about $50 at home. We went through the big power failure that hit the US east coast, and a lot of people were in a tough spot with no atm’s or credit card machines working.

  15. Cindy M says:

    Whatever’s in the change jar and in my billfold right now. Probably should hide some bucks but I’ve never felt a great need to do this. I live in a borderline iffy kind of neighborhood but have never been robbed. I work from home and am here most of the time and very visible because I walk so much and am in my yard a good deal. I never carry much on me when out but when asked have almost always come across with a dollar. Not much in my house a thief would want for sure, and I keep my lifestyle that way on purpose. Most of what I’ve got is in my 401K and other savings.

  16. Robert Wayne says:

    I keep $2000 in cash at home. I also keep a loaded weapon handy and wouldn’t mind using it against some burglar.

  17. Fred says:

    I know a man who had his life savings in the bank and had to go to the hospital and surgery. He had a year to pay the bank but couldn’t pay it full. The bank called him and told him he had 24 hours to pay the bill or they would take it from his bank account. He was left with nothing. A person that had nothing and blew all his money would not have had to pay the hospital. If you get sued the first thing they want to know is how much money do you have. If you or your spouse have to go to a nursing home the money in your account now belongs to the nursing home. If you don’t keep a large amount of money hidden in your home you will have it all stolen legally. I didn’t believe that about the bank either, if that is what you are thinking so I asked my banker and she said it happens every day. If you don’t believe that about the nursing home ask someone that has gone through that, I have. While we are talking about money, google F.A.C.T.A. or July 1 2014 and not just the law going into effect but the domino effect. Put your money in physical gold? Look what FDR did with privately owned gold and what they are saying will happen again with gold and a financial collapse. Good luck to you all.

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