Quick question, how much cash do you have in-hand right now?

Image courtesy of the Houston Chronicle

Having extra emergency cash comes in handy from time to time, especially when the instruments of a “cashless” society aren’t available.  Check cards, credit cards, checks, ATM cards, smart cards, key fobs, and the like have replaced cash as a means of payment.  However, if these instruments are lost or the networks they use on are unavailable, the only alternative is cash.

Case in point, my girlfriend and her misplaced debit card.  She was on her way home from dinner at her parent’s house and needed to get gas.  When she went to pay she discovered she only have $5 in her wallet, her debit card was at the restaurant we ate at that morning.  Eventually, her mom stopped by with cash to pay for her bill but the whole situation was stressful, embarrassing, and unnecessary.  When I spoke with her, I suggested she keep at least $20 in her purse at all times, just in case.

Cashless systems are generally very reliable and robust, however they can suffer from interruptions.  This can take the form of severe weather, terrorism, hacking, electromagnetic interference, software malfunctions, network problems, or a myriad of other causes.  Sometimes however, the weakest link in the cashless society is the individual who misplaces or forgets her check card.  Both can happen and one method to mitigate the affect is to have cash on-hand at all times.

You don’t have to have a wad of C-notes or Grants in-hand right now.  One or two twenties in your pocket and some more at home is a good place to start.  If you have a high-quality safe, over time you can add to your cash on-hand and securely store it in case you need it.  The goal is to have hard currency available at all times.

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