The world has become somewhat cashless. From tapping cards to mobile payments, who actually needs to carry wads of cash around anymore? Venmo and Cash App also take personal transactions to the next level. Long gone are the days of passing over a handful of dirty, crumpled notes in trade for a service or product.
When it comes to emergency funds, the same would apply, right? Bank accounts are safe from break-ins and accumulate interest. Your funds can be accessed from almost anywhere and you can sleep soundly knowing that your money is protected. But what if it wasn’t?
Would your bank account save you in an emergency?
Cash can still be rather useful and may even be necessary for some emergencies. But how much would you actually need to be hidden? And where would you hide it to ensure it’s easily accessible? So here’s the thing. There are times when you may not have access to that bank account and nothing speaks as cash does.
Cash is king in a power outage
America is riddled with natural disasters and certain areas are targeted quite frequently, sometimes leaving you without power for days. Remember Hurricane Sandy from 2012? Some areas were left without power for two weeks and Puerto Rico is still struggling with power issues after a succession of storms thereafter.
Blackouts lead to phone batteries and other devices being depleted. They have a knock-on effect on businesses where they may be unable to accept digital payments. Even data networks may be affected. This would take the entire area back to the stone ages and that’s where having cash on hand could be your saving grace.
Cash is generally accepted almost anywhere
There might be a situation where you could keep your phone and other devices charged, but that doesn’t mean that the people or businesses you deal with are able to do the same. You can’t Venmo someone if they don’t have a Venmo account for example. Also, in genuine emergencies, nobody’s going to be looking at downloading apps. They are going to be tightening down and focusing on survival.
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How much emergency cash is actually enough?
A little cash available is a good idea, but try to not go totally overboard here. Overall, your entire emergency savings should cover a few months, but when it comes to cash, enough to see you through a week should do. This would essentially cover fundamentals such as gas for your car or generator, groceries, medicines, or prescriptions. And maybe a few nights at a hotel or motel if you’re unable to remain on your premises at home.
You will need to calculate this based on the size of your family and their individual needs. Generally speaking though, aiming between $500 and $1000 should suffice. Even $200 can keep you afloat for a while. More than this is probably too much and puts your money at the risk of theft or loss, but don’t disregard the value of cold hard cash.
Calculating how much emergency cash you need
In order to determine exactly what is needed for your family to survive a week on cash, you need to keep a few things in mind. Fresh water may not be available from your tap if a storm hits, so you will need to be able to purchase bottled water. You will need cash to cover food, medicines, and any additional health care needs.
A night or two in a nearby hotel could cost quite a bit, especially in a time of emergencies as your family wont be the only one seeking refuge. You should work out those costs and round up to the nearest $100. This should be enough to carry you for a while. There are a few things to take into consideration though.
These important tips could save your family in a time of financial crisis
Shrinkage. Money loses purchasing power over time as the cost of living rises. This means that the $500 you save today will not buy you the same value in items in say 2 years. It would be good to revise your savings every few months to ensure you still have enough.
Deterioration. Money is made of paper and paper deteriorates over time. Not only does the organic qualities of money render it volatile, but the cash in circulation has a lifespan at banks too. Keep your money in a dry, safe place where it should be safe against water damage, fires, rodents, and prying toddlers who may not understand that cutting up paper can sometimes be costly.
Do not touch it. Dipping into your savings once in a while may be tempting. Especially due to the convenience of it being right there. This may come in the form of tips, paying small amounts to neighbors, or grabbing a few bills for that local yard sale. If you do this, that stash will soon disappear and you might not have the chance to add to it again before disaster strikes.
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