June 24, 2017

Preparedness Tip: Emergency Cash

Preparedness Tip Emergency Cash

If there is ever a power outage for any length of time, businesses won’t be able to take credit or debit card payments.  They will, however, be able to take cash.  Therefore, having some emergency cash hidden on your person is a good idea.  Having some at home for emergency use is a good idea as well.


Cash On Hand

How much money you keep on hand depends on what your situation is and how much you can afford.  For many people $20-$40 might be just fine, others may like more.

Think about your routine. What do you have to do on a daily basis?  If you live in an area where you have to take mass-transit, having enough cash to cover various fares plus a meal or two would be a good idea.  If you have to drive to work, I would have enough for gas to get home and a meal or two.

Since this is emergency cash, the goal is for it to not be spent unless it’s an emergency.  I had to put it in a separate area of my money clip to make sure I would know not to spend it.  The downside of putting it in another section of your wallet is that if you get mugged, or lose your wallet, you’re now in the very emergency that you could have used the cash for.  One option is under the paper and mints of an Altoids tin.  A money belt cold be worn, or maybe a drop wallet.  A drop wallet is a wallet that looks real but that you carry in case you are mugged.  I knew a guy that carried one and got mugged in Reno.  They took his drop wallet and took off.  He was peeved, but glad he carried it.

Another option is your car.  If you go this route, make sure it’s hidden well enough that someone can’t just break a window and lift the center console to grab it and go. One option is a small empty pill bottle that you can’t see through.  Fold the cash up, put it in the bottle and put the bottle in the glove box.  The bottle will feel empty and might be ignored if your car does happen to get broke into.


Cash In the Home

How much cash you store at home, much like cash you keep on your person, depends on your lifestyle, finances etc.  I think a goal should be enough cash on hand to pay for all bills and expenses for one week minimum to start.  This will ensure you can buy fresh groceries and purchase medicines that might be needed, as well as gas for your vehicle.

Since this is a larger sum of cash, putting it somewhere secure is a must.  A safe that can’t just be picked up and carried away isn’t a bad idea. 

There are the old standby’s, in books, in picture frames between the picture and the backing, gun safe, fire safe, under the mattress, etc.  

Here is a clever idea that I heard about.  Cut a rectangular section out of the sheet rock, 8-12” above the floor.  Put your belongings in there and then place a vent cover over the hole.  It will look like a cold air return to anyone who doesn’t know.

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  1. Good ideas Chris.
    One thing I’ve run into keeping paper cash in a safe is mold. Where I live normally has high humidity plus I could have gotten cash that had been washed or sweated on. (Money can be dirty) I had to actually wash and dry some that got moldy, plus clean and sanitize my small safe. Now, before I put paper money in the safe I inspect it closely, wipe it down with a dry paper towel, spray it with something like Lysol and iron it with a typical clothes iron on the cotton setting. I also keep the little packets of oxygen absorbing pellets that come in my dogs treats to put in the safe.

    If you have children or grandchildren you could hide cash in toys that may set on a shelf or hang on the wall.

    The main key; remember where you hid it.

    I also keep some pre-1964 silver coins on hand to use if the paper stuff goes obviously worthless. Pre-1964 silver coin are high in silver and could be used for melt value. While illegal now to melt coins, in dire times, silver could be an asset. I can’t afford gold.

    Jim Moore

  2. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the info. At one time I stocked $100.00 in each of the following denominations; 1’s 5’s 10’s and 20’s. If and when the situation deteriorates to the point of having to rely on personal stash of cash and not the failed banks, multiple denominations is safer especially with the need to look for change.One major lesson I still need to learn, however, is to leave it alone and not tap into for normal everyday life.
    Now, a question for you and other posters. . . While we may be prepared to deal with a cash society, are the stores “ramping up” to be prepared?

    • Chris Ray says:

      Hi George,

      good call on multiple denominations!

      What do you mean “are the stores “ramping up” to be prepared?” Do you mean cash on hand? I bet they have a limited amount, probably much less than they did 10 years ago.

      If you mean something else let me know.


      • Hey Chris,
        Let me explain my concern. As opposed to customers who cannot checkout using their debit cards, those of us who are prepared with cash in hand may experience stores ill-equipped to serve us. In other words, will cashiers simply stand there with deer-in-the-headlights expressions. They will need direction from store management, but are the managers themselves thinking ahead.

        I am wondering if your site might not light a fire under some stores to be prepared for extended periods of grid-down. This might be fertile new ground for your timely message.

        • Chris Ray says:

          Thanks for clarifying George. I have seen cashiers have trouble making change now, so I absolutely expect trouble in a prolonged grid down situation. I would love it if merchants and businesses in general would take more of an interest in preparedness, though I’m not sure they would listen to me.

  3. Nancy Sims says:

    Yes..more good ideas Chris!
    Love the idea about the vent in the wall! Never heard of that one. Like Jim, I’ve found the money kept in the small safe, starts to feel damp, and doesn’t smell too good. I started putting it in baggies, press out all the air, and keep it in the safe that way. So far, it has helped. Don’t know about long term. Then like George, we do keep small bills…the train of thought, if you could get some water, or some other small item for $5, and only have a $20, chances are you wouldn’t get change in most of the senerios discussed. And also like George, it is very easy to “need” a $5 or $10, and tell yourself you’ll replace it as soon as you get change. Although I eventually do replace it, “what if” the time I really need it is when I haven’t replaced it yet! Something for me to work on. Then there is the part about remembering all the places you put the money! Had a hard time with that one. Now my husband keeps a little note in a secret compartment in his bible. As long as we remember that I guess we’ll be OK. The only idea I have for hiding a little money that I haven’t seen, is in a pair of old shoes, under the lining at the toe, and just left in the closet among all the other “old” shoes.
    What I wonder is, how will I pay my bills with this cash if we are in an emergency situation? I think then it must depend on the emergency. But I do ponder these things…..
    As always, thank you for keeping my mind working, giving me wonderful ideas, and having other great posters with thoughts and ideas.
    Stay well, God bless you and yours,

  4. Tim Reed says:

    I’ve heard that putting cash in the freezer will provide some protection in case of fire. Not sure but it sounds logical.

  5. All these ideas are good.But,what exactly are you going to use the cash for in a grid down scenerio? I live 20 plus miles from town,no elec.,no fuel,no elec.,no groceries. Even you have fuel to go to town,why advertise that you have prepped to anyone.
    I agree that after a given amount of time there may be a barter system for some things set up,I just don’t think cash will be the barter of choice,not paper money anyway.
    Have I gone too far off the path,or do I have company?
    God’s Speed and Blessings to all!

    • Chris Ray says:

      Hi Annie,

      I see it like this, for 99% of grid down scenarios, the grid will only be down for a short time and businesses will still take cash. In that situation, you’ll not be advertising that you’re prepped. Even in an EMP scenario, many people will still take cash in the beginning of an event. They’re used to taking it and will still see it as having value, that is until the reality sets in that the grid is going to be down for a very long time.


  6. Storing cash for an economic disaster is something we are used to here in Florida. When the power is out, there are no ATMs working and banks can be closed for several days, possibly a week.
    I have seen “hidden safes that were made from cans that look like shaving cream or other household cleaning items. I have also seen books hollowed out and the pages glued together to become a small safe. These can all be found online or in “spy” shops.

    Putting dollars ( different denominations) between the pages of a book works good, as the pages will keep the money from becoming damp. Several books can be used to each have their own denomination. On a shelf they look innocent enough incase of intruders (break ins); just remember which ones carry the cash.
    Picture frames can also be a good place to store dollars. Remove the backing and lay the dollars in a stack of two bills side by side untill back of picture is covered, and replace the backing; dont tape the bills but you can use cling type wrap to hold them in place.

    But another good reserve is rolled coins. These can be stored in pvc pipes that can look like general plumbing fixtures below sinks, or stored in the garage that looks like spare peices stored for future use. The pre 1964 coins contain 90% silver so their trading worth is greater than the newer coins. Bullion coins are 99.999% silver and have a greater value.
    One trick, even though it takes more work is to add to a drawer bottom a false drawer bottom. Take a 1/4′ plywood and cut to fit drawer bottom, cut holes the size of the coins, glue to that a piece of door skin ply wood or cover with heavy formica. Take a peice of material the size of the hole and lay in place to quiet ratteling then attach the false bottom to bottom of drawer, it should fit snug for the look, but can be pulled away by attaching a peice of monofilament line in corner across the new bottom ( leave just enough to grab to pull). This wont work if the drawer has a bottm type slide rail, but you can reverse the process and put it inside the drawer.

    • Chris Ray says:

      Great additions Rick! I have seen the “fake” soup cans, shaving cream cans. There are even fake frozen OJ can’s, so you can hide things in the freezer.

  7. All the above suggestions are great. I would like to add that nickels have a metal value to them greater than 5 cents. If your going to store coins and you can’t afford silver and gold then consider nickels. Google nickel composition value (?) and learn that nickels are in a class of there own.
    Wake Up America- Which side of the FEMA Camp fence will you be on? The sheeple side or the freedom side.

  8. Freezers, picture frames, shaving cream cans are all the places that burglars will look for cash. What about a fire? If that happens all your cash will be gone. If you have a fenced in backyard with steel hollowed out fence posts you can use that to hide your cash and coins. We vacuum seal our cash.

    Just a few ideas.

  9. You can devise a way to wrap a string or something around it that would allow you to pull it up and out easily without having to disturb the post. Just an idea.

    • Chris Ray says:

      Good point. I know that some of the caps are fairly easy to remove, one could attach a hook of sorts and tie a string to it.

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