9 Important Reasons Why You Should Still Carry Cash

man getting dollars from a wallet
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

You don’t really need to carry cash with you anymore, right? In the age of credit cards and Venmo, Cash App, Google Pay, and Apple Pay, cash isn’t a necessity. Many times it’s an afterthought.

You probably think, “I never carry cash. Why should I start?”

That’s a good question.

But just because you don’t carry cash in your wallet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Cash has gone from the king of currency to filling a very important niche. And having cash on you at all times can come in handy in a pinch and reduce your stress.

Why You Should Carry Cash


This is the big one. When you think of tipping, going to a restaurant is probably the first thing you think about. And rightfully so. But did you know that if you pay and tip with a credit card, the restaurant can legally deduct the credit card transaction fee from the tip amount?

That’s less money going into your server’s pocket.

Now think about other instances where a tip is warranted.

If you’re picking up a to-go order or at a bar, you have the cash to throw in the tip jar.

If you’re traveling, you might need to tip the baggage handler. At a hotel, a tip for the concierge, valet, room service, or housekeeping is warranted. Carrying cash will come in handy in these instances.

Remember, these people work in the service industry and aren’t getting rich doing it. Tip generously.

Credit Cards Are Not Accepted

When my family and I moved to a new town, we went on the hunt for the best breakfast tacos. As a breakfast taco fanatic, let me tell you that the best breakfast tacos are usually found in hole-in-the-wall places. We must’ve tried 20 different restaurants and food trucks. One place we tried doesn’t accept credit cards. A fact we learned too late. Luckily, we could scrounge up enough cash to pay and tip. Lesson learned.

Cash For Emergencies

Emergencies can constitute a number of things. The one that pops into my head is if you are driving, have car problems, and need a tow.

But in reality, emergencies come big and small.

It’s nice to have cash on hand if you lose your job, have a medical emergency, or need a home repair.

Have you also considered having cash if you need to evacuate? If you live in an area that’s prone to powerful storms like a hurricane, it’s beneficial to have instant access to cash.

Or smaller emergencies like your child need money for something. Kids need money all the time for school lunch, to buy something for activities they’re involved in, or for an allowance.

Problem With Your Card

Recently, my card was used for an unauthorized purchase. After calling the credit card company, the card was canceled, and they issued a new one. My problem was that it would take 3-5 days to arrive.

That’s a problem if you’re not going to carry cash. How do you get gas in your car or groceries? If you have the cash, you don’t have to worry about it.

Splitting Bills

If you’re eating dinner with friends, it’s easy to split the bill if you have cash. If one person pays, you can just give them the money and be done with it.

Candy/Drink Machines

Vending machines are ubiquitous at work places. Even now, many of them still take cash. If you are needing a mid-morning boost of caffeine, having a couple of bucks can come in handy and maybe save you from a tough day.

Pay For Parking

This might not be something you have to deal with often, but if you are going to large events like concerts or games, you will need to pay for parking, most likely.

In this scenario, cash is still king. The last thing you want is to drive around to find parking only to find that it’s cash only.

Protect Against Identity Theft

We live in a world where our phones can keep track of our every location. Google and Facebook keep tabs on what we are looking for. It can be overwhelming when you think about it. There’s not much privacy anymore. If you’re not worried too much about Big Tech keeping tabs on you, maybe you just want to buy a gift for your significant other without it showing up on the credit card statement and ruining the surprise.

But paying with cash allows you to regain some of that confidentiality.

Keep Track Of Your Spending

As far back as 20 years ago, an MIT study found that people who paid with credit cards spent more money than people who paid with cash. Credit cards make it easy to just swipe and sign and forget about it until the bill comes due.

Cash is tangible. You can open your wallet, touch it and feel it. Once you pay, you obviously have less of it. Paying with a debit card or credit card is effortless, cash is more demanding and unforgiving.

Ultimately, carrying cash is carrying peace of mind with you. There aren’t any surprises that you don’t have an answer for.

If you want to control what you can control, have some peace of mind, and lessen little surprises that pop up, then carrying cash is right for you.

How Much Money Does The Average Person Have In Their Wallet?

Money Magazine did a survey that asked that very question. They found that 42% of those surveyed said they carried less than $40, 31% of people carried between $41 and $99, 17% carry $100 to $199, and 11% carry $200 or more.

Here’s the catch, that survey was done in 2013. Think about how much more we’ve become dependent on financial apps and credit cards since then. I can’t prove it, but I bet those numbers are quite different now.

How Much Cash Should I Carry In My Wallet?

If you’re convinced that you should carry cash, but not sure how much some experts have in on this.

CNBC asked financial experts and found that there is no correct answer. For example, Shon Anderson, a wealth strategist for Anderson Financial Strategies in Ohio, recommends having between $100 and $300 in your wallet.

Anand Talwar, who is a consumer strategy executive for Ally Bank, says that you need less than $100.

Ultimately, this comes down to your preference. Only you can determine how much you need to carry.

Personally, I think carrying $50 to $100 feels right for me.

You’ll need some twenties, a couple of tens, some fives, and maybe five ones.

If you’re traveling, you’ll probably want a little more just in case.

How To Carry Cash Without A Wallet

Hopefully, by this point, you see the importance of keeping cash on you. But what if you don’t have a wallet or don’t enjoy carrying one? I get it. Wallets can be bulky and uncomfortable.

You should always slim down to a money clip that holds cash, your ID, a couple of credit cards. A simple cardholder works too.

If you’re not interested in that, some people carry cash hidden in their phone case.

If you’re still not seeing anything that appeals to you, here’s a list of 100 clever ways to carry cash from Trend Hunter.

you can carry cash with a money clip

How Much Money Is Too Much To Carry?

This question will again come down to preference. I wouldn’t recommend carrying a lot of cash, but I would recommend carrying enough to get you through the day.

For example, you don’t want to carry so much that if you lose your wallet or it’s stolen; you can’t pay your bills.

How Much Cash Should I Have At Home?

Carrying cash differs from keeping cash. Many people like to keep some cash safe at home in case of emergency.

T. Rowe Price suggests keeping $1000 safe at home to start and then slowly build up until you have 3-6 months of expenses covered.

Financial guru Clark Howard says he only keeps $400 at home. His reasoning is that if something goes wrong $400 will cover a lot of things.

Try to determine what works best for you and remember that if you have cash at home, it’s not working for you. It’s not being invested or gaining interest.

Is It Illegal To Keep Cash At Home?

It is absolutely not illegal to keep cash at home. If you’re a person who doesn’t enjoy using banks or prefers to pay cash for purchases, then keeping cash at your house is perfectly fine.

Now there’s an argument to be made that keeping cash at home is not the wisest financial strategy.

First, if there’s a fire at your house, you risk all your money going up in flames.

Second, by keeping cash at home, you also don’t allow your money to work for you. It’s not invested, and it’s not earning interest.

Should You Keep Cash In Your Car?

I think a big theme of making sure you’re always covered is redundancy. A backup plan in case something goes wrong.

Imagine a scenario where you don’t have your wallet with you for whatever reason. You realize it is too late. What are you going to do?

If you have cash hidden in your car somewhere, you’ll be ok or at least be able to manage until you can get home.

The amount is up to you, but $50 to $100 sound about right to me.

Most days, you will get by without carrying cash. You might even go months without using it. You can stick some greenbacks in your wallet and forget about it. But there will be a time when you’ll need it and you’ll be glad you have it.

Do you carry cash? If so, how much and why? Let me know below.

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