Nowadays, people don’t carry around money as much as they used to and use credit cards instead. In fact, according to a study by the New York Post, a mer 1 in 4 Americans carry cash regularly. In addition, of those who carry cash regularly, most only have about $25 at a time.
So, if you carry cash, more than $25, you’ll be in a great position to get what you need during an emergency. When prepping for emergencies, most people wouldn’t think of including money in their EDC kit.
If you have already packed the essential items in your BOB to make it through a disaster, consider adding cash, in small bills, to your BOB as well.
If SHTF strikes and all you have access to right then and there is your EDC kit, you are going to need some money to get you through until you can get to your BOB or stockpiled supplies. Cash still trumps all other types of payment, especially during emergencies.
Reasons to Carry Cash in Your EDC Kit
1. Credit cards will fail you
Sure, having a credit card is a convenient way of paying for what you need on a daily basis without having to carry a load of cash with you.
This is especially true if you live in an area where mugging and robberies happen frequently. And in everyday situations, this will serve you well. But when SHTF and the power goes out, you will be grateful for storing some cash in your EDC kit.
Credit card machines are electronic and need power to run and in today’s world, they often depend on an internet connection. The same is true for ATM machines. If the power goes out in a widespread area, credit cards will likely be useless.
2. For last minute supplies
When disaster strikes, cash is the best form of payment. People will run to the nearest grocery stores in a panic, it will be a buying craze. With so many people using credit cards, the system, even if power hasn’t gone out, will crash eventually.
Though you think you’ve prepped enough, there may be some items you’ve overlooked. Imagine if SHTF on the day before payday or on that one day when you didn’t fill your gas tank because you were running late for work that morning.
You need gas to get home to your family. Without cash, and with credit card machines down, you’re left with fewer options. Even if your gas tank is full, if you have to go all the way home to get cash and come back to the store for last minute supplies, you may find there are very few items left.
Stores will be quickly picked over by those people who do have cash in their pocket and don’t have to take time to go get cash before making purchases.
3. Vending machines
When all that’s separating you from sustenance is a vending machine, money will be your salvation, if power is still on in some areas. Food from the vending machine is good for a quick fix for when you’re hungry and is convenient to carry.
Don’t break the glass if you can’t help it. You’ll be better off going unnoticed by other desperate people around you. You ou don’t want to end up fighting for a bag of chips.
4. Avoid the long lines
If the power and internet are still working and SHTF, you can save yourself from waiting the long lines at the ATM. To avoid bankruptcy, banks will most likely impose withdrawal limits on each person.
The ATM may just run out of cash by the time it’s your turn. And you never know how long the power will keep running for you to make a withdrawal from another ATM location.
For bugging out situations requiring some driving (check out our article on bug out vehicles), be sure to bring some cash with you. Aside from grocery stores, people will sure hit the nearest gas stations. If you’re too late, your best bet is to buy gas from someone. And they sure won’t give it to you for free.
You’ll need to have cash on hand in order to convince someone to give up the gas they have so that you can get where you need to go.
6. For finding shelter
In evacuation scenarios where establishments are still open for business, carrying cash will make it easier to find a place to stay. You can check into hotels, motels, or even nearby campgrounds to spend the night.
If credit card machines and cash registers are down, some places may still stay open and operate on a cash only basis. Be prepared to pay more for a place to stay but at least with cash in hand you’ll have the option to get a safer place to sleep for the night.
7. People will still accept cash when SHTF
Even if the economy collapses and you think your money is just a meaningless piece of paper, it will still hold some value to some people. Remember this if you need to get a ride, get medical assistance, or get help with some heavy lifting.
Your neighbor, a co-worker, or even the kid down the street may be willing to lend you a helping hand in exchange for some quick cash.
8. Buy your way out of tight situations
In bug out situations, when you’re running away from a threat, you may have to bribe your way across borders, into a hiding spot, or to get out of an area where there is a riot.
When anarchy arises, you can’t really count on people to lend you a helping hand for free. Cash will talk to some people and carrying money in your EDC kit is the best way to boost your odds of getting away from danger.
Guide to Carrying Cash When Travelling
When SHTF, there will be a lot of desperate people looking for some cash. And they will do so using WROL (without rule of law). Be one step ahead by hiding your money in the most inconspicuous items. You can carry these items with you and it’ll be the last place muggers will look for cash.
1. Inside a Chap Stick container
This is an ingenious way to hide some cash. Remove the Chap Stick from the container and roll up a few bills inside. It easily fits inside your pocket and thieves wouldn’t think anything of it when you empty your pockets.
2. Inside a pen
If you don’t own a Chap Stick, try using a pen instead. Just roll as many bills up as the pen tube will hold, and tuck it away inside. It’s convenient to carry and will save you when you are running low on funds.
3. Under your shoe insole
Your shoes make a good spot for stashing some money. Go the extra mile by placing it under your soles. I suggest putting it in a plastic wrap first to prevent it from getting wet from the moisture inside your shoes.
Unless a thief or mugger takes your shoes, you will come out of a mugging with at least some of your cash intact.
4. In your socks
Socks like the Zip It Pocket Sock have a zippered section designed for holding cash. These socks are designed to carry your valuables, while still providing comfort and ease of use. They also have a fast-drying feature to prevent your bills from getting wet.
5. In your underwear
Disclosure: This post has links to 3rd party websites, so I may get a commission if you buy through those links. See my full disclosure for more.
If you must a hefty sum of money with you, keep it secured in your underwear. Companies like the Clever Travel Companion have developed underwear with zippered pockets to let you put your cash, passport, credit cards, and other valuables.
6. Inside a belt wallet
There are some travel belts with a secret wallet compartment as a crafty way of storing money. In this way, even if your wallet is stolen, you still have money to spare. Check out this belt from LeatherBoss.
7. In the waistband of your pants
Upon closer inspection, you will see that the waistband of your pants is a folded piece of cloth. Slicing it open with a razor also makes it a good hiding spot for your money. It’s best if you place it on the front and pull your shirt out to hide it from view.
8. Inside your hat
Hats make a great hiding place of money. Some are known to contain pockets to put money in for safekeeping. It’s easy for someone to grab your hat or for it get wind-blown, so best to put just a small amount in it.
9. In your shirt
Some shirts have well-placed pockets that make it hard for pickpockets to rob you. The pockets are usually on the sides under your arms or in the chest area so you can always keep a good eye on your cash.
10. In the small pockets of your wallet
This trick is more a tip to help you save money. Place some cash in the small sections of your wallet where it’s hidden from your sight. When you check your main wallet compartment to take stock of how much cash you have, you’ll think you have less, and it will keep your spending in check.
This lets you avoid spending those hidden dollars as you’ll probably forget about them being there until the time comes when you do really need the cash. It could also help you keep some of your money if a thief or mugger grabs your wallet, pulls bills from the main compartment, and tosses the wallet back to you.
Many people won’t take time to look in every compartment. This trick doesn’t help obviously if a thief or mugger takes your entire wallet.
11. Behind your clothes tag
Sewing paper bills inside your clothes tag will pay off in case of emergencies. No one would suspect a thing and you won’t be tempted to spend it. But make sure to remove it on laundry day. Your money wouldn’t be much of use soaking wet.
12. In your cell phone case
There are also cell phone cases, like the Otterbox, that come with a concealed holder for your cash and credit cards.
Cell phones, though, are great bait for thieves so be sure to keep yours out of sight and don’t put too much money in it in case it gets stolen.
13. Use a dummy wallet
This is not hiding place for your cash, but an extra precaution against thieves. Should you get robbed, toss the dummy wallet to the thief.
You can breathe easy, knowing that your money is still safe with you. And you can be far away before they realized they’ve been duped.
14. Keychain Emergency Capsule
The year I went away to college, my grandparents gave me a gift for Christmas. It was a small metal cylinder with a keychain ring on the end of it. It looked like a whistle. But one end of the capsule could come off and inside they had rolled up two $20 bills.
My grandmother told me it was my emergency money. You can use a similar type of device to carry cash as part of your EDC kit. Simply buy a waterproof key ring cache and attach it to your keys.
Roll several bills and slip them inside. If your wallet is stolen or lost, you still have cash as long as you have your keyring.
15. An Altoid Tin
Believe it or not, an Altoid tin can make a great place to store emergency cash as part of your EDC kit. These containers come in several different sizes and the lids generally fit pretty tightly.
Put your cash inside, even some change if desired, and toss the tin into the bottom of your purse or carry it in your pocket.
How much cash should you have in case of emergencies?
Since you know all about why and how to keep your money with you, the question that remains is how much should you carry with you? It should be enough to cover emergencies and a little bit of extra, just in case. Here’s what I usually carry.
1. A $50 bill and four $20 bills
In case of a disaster, this should be enough to get by for a few days. Though you may have a long-term plan all figured out, this will keep your options open and buy you some time before you head out into full survivalist mode.
2. Five $10, four $5 bills, and five $1 bills
This is good for paying tolls and buying small items. This should be accessible and not to be mixed with your larger bills. You wouldn’t want to end up giving $20 when you only intended for $5.
During SHTF scenarios, especially, at the beginning, cash still rules as payment. Having some money safely tucked away for these situations is a smart move that every survivalist should do. You wouldn’t need much, as it is meant to cover emergency situations only.
And in carrying cash, distribute it so that even if you get robbed or lose some of it, you will still have some cash left to keep you going. Some robbers may be clever enough to figure out your hidden stash, but you’ll still outsmart them if you keep them in multiple locations.
One last piece of advice. Don’t be tempted to spend it on something unnecessary. You may justify it as a one-time thing and replace it as soon as possible. But if you do it once, chances are you’ll do it again. Before you know it, you have no emergency money when there’s an actual emergency happening.
Do you know other places where you can put your money for safekeeping? Feel free to comment below, and do pin this on your favorite Pinterest board for later.
updated by Megan Stewart 09/24/2019
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.