Let’s get down to brass tax. I’m talking dollars and cents. All bad puns aside, today I’m going to talk about how much cash to carry with you every day. With the whole world going digital, it’s easy to consider dropping cash from your everyday carry kit. After all, with credit cards, Apple pay, and everything else, are greenbacks really necessary? Today I’m going to cover why dropping dollar bills from your kit probably isn’t in your best interests.

According to a US Bank survey (2017) 76% of people carry less than $50 dollars in cash with them. An astounding 50% of those surveyed carried less than $20 in cash! In a world of Uber and other app based purchases, it seems that carrying cash is a relic of the old world. However, in a digital world, there are still benefits to carrying cash in your kit. Ideally you should carry $150 in cash for emergencies, but at a minimum you should carry $100. Your money should be split between $50, $20, and $5 denominations.

How Much Money Is Too Much To Carry?

You may be wondering how I settled on $150 as the ideal amount of cash to carry with you every day. Assuming you aren’t traveling abroad, $150 should be sufficient to get you out of a bad situation where you’re having to dip into your emergency stash. Additionally, most daily expenses (e.g. groceries, gas, etc.) won’t exceed this dollar limit.

With all of that said, at what point does your on-hand cash become a liability? Anything above $300 in cash is probably too much for the average person to be carrying around nonchalantly. Carrying larger sums of money can make you a target. Unless you’ve planned on making a large purchase you shouldn’t need this amount of cash for any daily purchase.

However, what is considered “too much” cash depends upon your disposable income. For example, it’s probably no big deal for Warren Buffet whose net worth is 80+ billion dollars to carry around a couple thousand dollars in “loose change.” It’s all relative my friends.

How To Secretly Carry Money

Diversifying your funds makes it easier to carry larger sums of cash. Additionally, hiding portions of your cash makes you less likely to be targeted by an unsavory individual. If you take out a wad of $20 bills you may draw unwanted attention. Below are a few ways that I have carried emergency cash with me.

Concealment Belt

rainy day hidden cash in belt

Last Christmas, a friend of mine got this belt for me. The travel security belt is a great way to tuck away a few bills in the event your wallet gets lost or is stolen. A zippered pocket runs horizontally along the belt and you can easily tuck multiple bills, spare key, and other small items for emergency use.

Belly Band Holster With Extra Pocket

how much cash to carry: belly band concealment pocket

If you carry a concealed firearm, and use a belly band, then you can tuck some spare cash inside the belt. However, some belly band holsters like the ComfortTac Belly Band above come with an extra pocket. You can comfortably tuck an ID/passport into the pocket along with some emergency cash.

Paper Clipped To Undergarment

This methodology was taken from the movie “Maverick” with Mel Gibson. For a “rainy day” Maverick keeps a $100 bill tucked away. When confronted by a group he owes money too, he dips into his rainy day stash to pay off his debt. Needless to say, you can easily paper clip a $50 bill to your undershirt, or even your underwear for your own rainy day fund.

Tucked Inside A Hat

I touch on stashing extra cash in my EDC hat in this article. Whenever I head into the city, I always tuck an extra $50 inside my baseball cap. Oftentimes, this is enough money for cab fare out of the city to my parents place.

Tobacco FTW

Nicotine fans rejoice! I’ve finally found a defensible reason for carrying around that pack of smokes. Simply tuck a few $20’s into the cellophane, or inside of that pack of cigarettes for a hidden stash of cash. Just remember not to set that pack of smokes down where someone can grab it. I wouldn’t recommend keeping too much money hidden.

Not a smoker? That’s ok, you can re-purpose an old chap stick container and tuck some rolled up bills inside for emergency funds. Just be careful not to drop this along your travels!

8 Reasons To Keep Cash On Hand

So far, I’ve talked about the amount of cash you should carry every day, and where you can conceal some of it for a rainy day. Additionally, I’ve touched on a few reasons why you might need cash in your day to day travels. But here’s a few more reasons.

1. When Technology Fails

On more than one occasion I’ve needed gas, only to find out the credit card machine is not working. Whether it’s a power outage, failed internet connection, or faulty hardware having cash on hand can keep you from getting stuck on the side of the road, literally.

2. Person To Person Sales

handing over $10: reason to carry cash

Paypal revolutionized P2P sales, and the success of subsequent platforms with a similar model (think Zelle) seems to continue this trend. However, if you’re cruising Craigslist or happen upon a yard sale, having cash is the only way you’ll walk away with what you want. Sure you can run to the nearest ATM, if you’re fine with the $3 fee you’ll be charged. Having smaller denominations is key so you don’t rely on the seller to provide change.

3. Toll Roads

Are you heading on a road trip? That cash you keep on hand can help prevent you from a hefty fine for “failure to pay” the toll. I learned this lesson the hard way after coming up shy in the cash lane heading through NY in my early twenty’s. After explaining my situation, they let me through and explained I’d be receiving a bill in the mail. Here’s a shocker, it was way more than the cost of the toll.

4. Cash Only Discounts

This doesn’t come up very often, but every once in a while you’ll come across a vendor who offers a cash only discount. At my local gun show, some vendors only deal in cash to avoid the credit card fees. Usually it’s the smaller vendors selling holsters, cleaning supplies, and other accessories. However, even shops selling firearms usually provide a cash discount.

5. Tipping Servers

Having friends and family who work in the restaurant industry, I can tell you that many servers prefer cash tips. It means they don’t have to wait to settle up with the manager at the end of a shift.

6. Lost/Stolen Wallet or Broken Phone

hide cash in case of broken phone or stolen wallet

One of the biggest reasons to stash some cash is in the event of a lost or stolen wallet. However, if you rely on your phone for transport (e.g. Uber/Lyft) you could be in a bad situation if your phone breaks or is stolen. This happened to my girlfriend in Italy. However, she’s a boss and ran down the thief and took her phone back. But, not every story ends happily so keep some cash tucked away.

7. Skip The Line – The Credit Card Line

Ever heard, “I can take cash over here” at the checkout line?  Keeping cash with you everyday means you’ll be able to jump on this opportunity. While everyone else is waiting in line to use that plastic money, you’ll be out the door and onto your next destination. Convenience shouldn’t be overlooked.

8. Cover Charges

If you enjoy the night life, then having cash with you is a must. Not necessarily to cover your drinks, but you may need to pay a cover to get into that new bar downtown. Don’t be caught running to the ATM or bumming your friends for cash to cover your entrance fee.

Parting Shots

Your rainy day cash should consist of at least $100 in mixed denominations, but $150 is ideal. If you’re considering dropping cash from your everyday carry kit, I highly recommend you reconsider. Because of the minimal size and weight it’s well worth your efforts to keep some money available for emergencies. How much do you carry? Any clever ways of hiding it? Share your thoughts with the community.