Reasons why you need to carry emergency cash

It has become much less necessary today to carry money with us everywhere we go.  As the use of debit cards, credit cards and smartphone payment apps increase and more businesses expand their acceptance of those forms of payment, it is possible that use of actual cash will continue to decline.

The internet and other technologies have allowed individuals to transfer money to other private individuals.  PayPal offers its users the ability to accept credit card payments directly with their smart phone app or with a PayPal card reader.  I have one myself that I’ve used at craft shows and other events to accept payments from people.

Buying gas for your car no longer requires you to visit a cashier or for the business to even be opened.  You drive up, swipe your card and fill your tank with as much gas as you can afford.

Paying bills once required you to either mail a check prior to the due date or visiting a local office to make the payment.  If you mailed a check, you were left wondering if the post office would get it there in time.

Today, paying most bills is simply a click away with companies offering mobile apps where customers can pay their bills from anywhere with a cellphone signal.

All of this convenience is great and makes day to day living a little easier.  However, there is a significant drawback in relying completely on technology for all your financial business.

If a storm that shuts down power or if the card reader fails at the store, what would you do if you found yourself in the middle of a disaster?   Would you be able to buy food for yourself and your family?  Would you be able to buy gas for your car if you were forced to leave your home? These are questions faced regularly by everyday citizens.




In the event of a security breach, many banks and credit card companies will lock out all customer cards with virtually no notification.   If your card gets hacked, it’s common for your bank or credit card company to disable it pending verification of your purchases.

During a visit to a department store a few years ago my wife and I found ourselves in one of those situations.  Our bank had experienced a security breach and they locked out everyone/s card.

It was interesting to see several checkout lanes all hit at once with people’s cards being denied.  It was good that the bank stopped anyone from losing any money but it was bad for anyone trying to shop for groceries.  Fortunately for us, I had enough cash with me to cover the expense.  There were others in the store who weren’t so lucky and left empty or with very few of the items they intended to buy.

Another incident that happened to me about a year ago was a store’s computer system was down and they were not able to accept any credit or debit card purchases.  I had stopped for gas and noticed their pump card reader was out of order.  When I stepped inside the clerks told me their entire system was down and they couldn’t accept any type of electronic payment.  Again, having a few dollars cash with me kept the situation to a minor inconvenience.

You should carry smaller bills in case you find yourself in a situation where you need to buy something from someone who cannot make change.  Would you really want to pay for a bottle of water with a 20 dollar bill?  Keeping smaller bills will help keep any potential over payment for items to a minimum.

I don’t recommend carrying large amounts of cash with you everywhere you go, but having enough to cover some of the daily expenses can help make your life easier in the event that something happens to the technology we have become so dependent upon.

What are your thoughts?  Do you still use cash as part of your day?  Comment below with your answer.