How much Cash Should I have?

If you have been reading this blog for some time you already know that there’s much truth in the “cash is king” saying.

When disaster strikes the “cash only” signs go up. When you have to buy / sell on the go, cash makes it happen. When banks go on holydays and everyone is looking for an ATM with some money left, Cash not only buys you good and services, it allows you to get some pretty nice deals. Since we’re talking deals, nothing gets you as many of those as a wad of cash at the right time. For someone looking to close a sale, the money being physically within hands reach, literally speaking, is an important factor.

When you have to leave everything behind, what you carry with you and what you have in the bank is all you have left, and if the banks happen to go down along with whatever is forcing you to leave, then what you have with you is all you have left.

Looking at different events around the world, if there’s one thing all refugees have in common is that they can all use a fat wad of cash.

Supplies are very important and what you have at hand may be all you have, so having a good supply of food, water, and basic gear is essential, but there’s areas where you can go overboard.

Remember that in the event of a)a disaster that compromises your home b)an event that forces you to move out and leave everything behind, in any long term bug out situation, your gear is reduced to what you can carry, the rest is gone. Sometimes it’s a couple suitcases, sometimes it’s a backpack, but what gets left behind I can assure you, you will wish you had the chance to have turned it all to cash on craiglist or a garage sale.  This is why balance and common sense is so important.

Should I have a life supply worth of nails and hammers? A year supply of toilet paper and other households instead of the cash saved up to buy those? Well… look at it this way, if you are in a situation where you’re using up the last of your year long TP supply, you should have left 11 months ago! A month goes by without a store being opened for you to buy TP or soap? You should be evacuating or relocating already.

A good supply of gear and supplies is important, but every once in a while do ask yourself:  What’s your situation if you have to leave everything behind? What if bugging in just isn’t an option? What could I take with me? More important, how much are you forced to leave behind?

Once we understand that cash as means of purchasing goods and services is important, the question is how much do I need. Here’s a quick approach that might work for you:


One month worth of basic expenses in cash. Think mortgage/rent, bills, car fuel and food.


One month worth of basic expenses + plane ticket for each family member to out of state/out of the country alternative location.

People have been forced to relocate abroad many times in history. It has happened to millions in recent history, it could happen to you.


Three months worth of expenses + plane tickets for each family member + 1month deposit plus two more months worth of rent in potential BO country.

This should cut you some slack to get settled and get back on your feet.

Even better:

Three months worth of expenses + plane ticket per family member + 1000usd/gold eagle bribe per family member + deposit and three months worth of rent + money for ok used car

The more financial resources you have, the better your chances are and the less traumatic will the experience be. Some of this could be in the form of gold. During war scenarios an ounce of gold may make all the difference in the world, and precious metals (our Sponsor, Precious Metal House) have the advantage of not going down along with paper money if the nature of the disaster affecting you compromises the fiat currency as well.

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How much Cash Should I have? — 21 Comments

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  2. If it get that bad and as you say “if the banks happen to go down along with whatever is forcing you to leave, then what you have with you is all you have left.” Why would you ever want to have money for the mortgage or taxes. Gee, the whole system has collapsed and nothing is working but I sure want to run down to the bank and pay my mortgage!

    • Because that would be convenient, wouldnt it? But these things never go down in a way that is convenient for you. Rather the opposite. the system collapses, you cant get your money, you cant get a loan, but you’re still asked to make your payments.

    • FerFAl has been through a collapse, we saw the collapse of the USSR. What we saw was the system reset, general misery and poverty etc… but a government was still in charge. The system still functioned, bills/taxes will get paid, stuff will still get to market (legal, gray or black), cash will get accepted you will get hauled off to jail if you kill someone.

      If/when a financial meltdown happenes stateside , odds are we’d see something like what happened in Russia and Argentina not a mad max hell. Either way our traditional freedoms are going out the window but it would be better than a mad max scenario.

      In a Mad Max scenario most of us will be dead in a year or two anyway no matter how much gold, guns, bullets, MREs we stock up on or farm land we have. Most of don’t have the skill sets, training, or have stock piled enough to really make a go of it.

      We also don’t have huge extended families any more, a big family = protection not just free farm labor. The closest we see to a large extended family are gangs, police forces and military. hmmm I don’t see you holding on to that stock pile in Mad Max scenario.

    • Because you’ll have to pay it anyway. Even when lizzard men invade, when the world is covered in flames, misery and destruction, you still wont dodge your mortage and taxes. That and death are the only certainties in life. 🙂

  3. Enjoyed your take on the cash issue. I frequently have told people and my kids to keep cash on hand as part of their preps, but I really didn’t have a good logical way to determine how much. Good stuff!


  4. How much cash are you allowed to have in hand and still get on an airplane to another country? If memory serves me right the limit is around $10,000 I’m pretty sure that if you had an excess of cash in hand, you would be stopped and interrogated by the TSA. At that point, you can kiss your cash goodbye. Oh, and you probably won’t be traveling anywhere. Maybe you could get around this by dividing up the cash among family members, but I would be pretty reluctant to put thousands into the hands of my four-year old.

    • You can of have to keep your mouth shut about it sometimes. Maybe Argentina says I cant leave with more than USD1000 but if Im escaping the damn place becasue of the corruption I wont care much, I would hide it well and shut up.

    • the law says u have to report anything over 10grand but u can take as much cash as you want there is no law that says u can not travel with any amount of cash u want

      • Hi James that incorrect, you have to be a financial entity to leave Argentina with more than 10.000 usd and you have to be allowed by the government to do so even then. As an average citizen, ANY dollars you have you will be inquired about it by the AFIP. That’s why AFIP officers are at the airports, that’s why they have dogs sniffing dollars across the boarders as if it was drugs. Officially, no , there’s no ban, you’re just not allowed by law to have USD (funny how that works) For traveling abroad you have to ask permision to the AFIP (gov.) to buy dollars, and they jsut say no. That’s it. You certainly cannot take “as much cash as you want”, not dollars, not pesos.
        How do Argentines travel abora? We’ve already established that there is a ban on foreign currency. Your options are basically the black market which is what most people do. Then you have credit cards, but that will now suffer an extra 15% tax AND, maybe even worse, the AFIP will after you.

    • That is not true, if you have enough cash in the bank, the interest rates will go up on your savings and checkings. You will not get rich, but help heave off, the major increases in inflation. It is to prepare more for a rainy day, then chaos of our country.

      • Thats works as long as the banks dont close the doors on you and convert to whatever new currency or rate you end up with after an economic collapse. That’s what Ive seen happen and you dont win anything, the bank just steals from you. Know one thing, Banks are NOT your friend.

  5. Regarding money for hard times; When things crash, yes, you should have cash. Hopefully cash will be worth something but be aware of the devaluing of it. Regarding gold, silver, diamonds or what ever be your mediums. Be sure those ounces (if you were lucky enough to have any) are in small enough denominations that you will be able to accurately barter with it. Giving an ounce of gold that is worth possibly $2000 for a tank of gass could be a hugh mistake. Devide all assets into many small amounts and stash the larger ones for those necessary times. Having prescious metals means make them prescious to you and others too. Small amounts of anything are necessary to beable to get the best deals.
    Also, some people are storing alchol as a barter item. Do you really want to give booze to those that may be a danger to you? A drunk is an irrational person or group to deal with. There are many other items other than booze to barter with.

  6. Pingback: How Much is Enough? | Winter Ant

  7. Good suggestions on amounts. Although it may be hard to get a spouse to agree to have on hand, let alone not spend it on new shoes for the kids or her yadda yadda. A Mother’s definition of emergency is different than yours.

    Also, security and keeping your mouth shut (OPSEC) should be at a premium. Thats a lot of cash to some folks, well worth stealing or attacking you for it. Some folks will attack you for $20 bucks because you have they need it to buy beer, seriously. A months worth in rent, food and other expenses is a princely sum to folks like that.

  8. Don’t forget to apply now for EBT cards if you live in the USA. They’ll be the interim currency between dollars and gold. That’s because the government MUST increase EBT allowances to match rising food prices, or hungry rioters will loot and burn every city in the country.

    At the moment, 47 million US residents use EBT, and it’s easy to give them all a raise. But getting EBT cards to the other 265 million, as their wages and savings dwindle to nothing, will be an enormous logistical challenge.

  9. Question: “How much money is enough?”

    Answer: “For most people, more than they have.” Furthermore, if hyperinflation occurs, one will need a fleet of trucks to haul enough devalued paper currency to fund mere survival. The government creating the money can save paper by just printing more zeros after a numeral, though that makes the buying power of each piece of currency decline even faster/ Hyperinflations always end when the buying power of the currency reaches zero.

    However, if you mean REAL money–silver coins and gold coins–and you have some, the right answer might be, “You have enough.”

    For some questioners, the right answer will be, “Your little stash of precious metal coins will last only a few months. (Admit it: That’s better than nothing!)

    Circumstances unique to each person will tip the scales one way or the other. For example, place of residence is an important, sometimes crucial, circumstance. Use your imagination, and keep researching.

    • Once again, I have stated in above response. If hyperinflation hits, any cash you have on hand is losing money daily. In this situation, home and car loans will be in the teens for percentage, and if you have a little in the bank, you will get some back by interest.

      I am speaking very openly, since I have enough for a rainy day,but not much extra.

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