8 Important Reasons Why You Should Always Carry Cash With You

Carry Cash Money in WalletMy parents live in Florida, and whenever I visit, my dad always asks me if I have any cash on me. It’s not that he needs to borrow some; it’s quite the opposite. My dad firmly believes in carrying cash in case of the unexpected. In response, 9 times out of 10, I tell my dad that I do not have any cash. He usually slips me a twenty dollar bill.

My dad is right to be concerned that I never carry around any cash. As a safety precaution, we all should carry some cash in case of an emergency. I’m not saying that you need to carry a lot; you certainly wouldn’t want to get robbed or lose any of it. However, in a world where people only use cards, cash is still king.

Here are 8 reasons why you should always carry some cash.

1. Splitting Bills
Eating out and splitting the bill with friends or roommates? Some restaurants may be able to print out separate checks, but it is much easier and timely to pay as a single party. Similarly, if you and a shopping buddy split a purchase, it’s easier to do so with cash. Otherwise, one person might get stuck with the whole cost if the other promises (and forgets) to reimburse later on. Also, written checks might cause an inconvenient trip to the bank or an ATM.

2. Tipping
My sister-in-law is a server at an amazing restaurant, and she has told me that she prefers cash tips over credit. If she gets a cash tip, it is all hers. While she does give some money to her busser, it does not go through management, which takes its own cut on tips given in credit. If you know you will be dining out at a sit-down restaurant, make sure you bring some $1 bills for proper tipping etiquette.

3. In Case You Can’t Use A Card
It seems as though you can use credit or debit cards pretty much anywhere these days. And for the most part, this is true. However, there are some places that only accept cash. For example, I was once in a taxi van going to the airport, and to my surprise, they only accepted cash. The whole van of people had to wait for me to pull cash out of an ATM. Needless to say, they were not too pleased with me.

Vending machines are another example of these rare cash-only moments. Yes, some vending machines do take cards, but the majority of machines do not. Sometimes when you are thirsty, it is necessary to use a vending machine to get a drink, especially after a work out. My mom and I always bring a few dollars with us when we go running in the park.

4. In Case Of An Emergency
You never know what can happen, so you always need to be prepared. If you are going on a road trip, and you don’t have a AAA membership or some other road side service, you need to make sure you have enough cash to pay a tow truck. Having cash at hand is one of the more important travel safety tips.

5. Suspended Card
Although some emergency service providers accept credit cards, you never know when your card might let you down. What if your payment won’t go through? Perhaps your credit card company suspects fraudulent charges and suspends your card. Hopefully you didn’t reach your spending limit (remember the Golden Rule of credit cards!). If you are trying to use a debit card, what if you have insufficient funds? Don’t depend too heavily on your plastic – you may find yourself in a tight spot. Believe it or not, more Americans are saying no to credit cards and using cash instead.

6. Envelope System
If you live by the envelope budgeting system as a means to getting out of debt, you must have the cash on you. Otherwise, you won’t get very far with your budgeting and will find yourself constantly overspending. One of the reasons that this methodology is effective is because you see the money physically being spent or saved. This cannot be done without cash. Alternatively, you can follow this same strategy using an online money management tool like Mvelopes.

7. Tolls
When I traveled to Orlando a few months ago, I had to take several toll roads. Even though I knew I needed to take them, I forgot to plan ahead. When the time came for the drive, I had absolutely zero cash on me. For each of the 5 toll plazas I went through, I had to fill out paperwork and send a reimbursement to the Florida DOT after the trip. The whole situation could have been avoided if I had cash with me at the time.

8. Mug Money
I have a friend who always carries a twenty dollar bill just in case he gets mugged. His hope is that if he gives the mugger the $20, he will be left alone and the mugger will be satisfied. I have no idea whether or not this actually works, but I would much rather give a mugger a $20 than my credit or debit card!

Do you carry cash with you in your purse or wallet? How about in your glove compartment? How much do you usually take with you?

(photo credit: dslrninja)

  • http://www.uhnw.com.au Jim Smith

    I always have a stash of cash in the family safe. You never know when you might need it. Who knows if a computer virus is going to crash the ATM system or a power black out knocks all the credit card terminals out. While it might sound a little like the apocalypse is coming, a little gold doesn’t hurt either.

    • Casey Slide

      Yeah, it is a great idea to have a family, fireproof safe! Thanks for adding that!

  • Kyle @ The Penny Hoarder

    Yeah, I’m also terrible at remembering to carry cash, but there are times I regret it. I stopped carrying cash regularly anfew years ago because I discovered that if I had cash on me it usually disappeared by the end of the day.

    • Casey Slide

      Yes, that is the problem with carrying cash – it is a lot easier to spend money!

  • http://stretchyourdollarwaukesha.wordpress.com/ Skirnir Hamilton

    I thought when I leave it tip, the waitress gets it, whether it is cash or credit. How can the restaurant take a cut just because I do it on credit? Credit is so much easier to track, and I get 1 to 2% back.

    • Casey Slide

      Here is the response I received from my sister-in-law in regards to cash tips:

      When you pay with a credit card, the restaurant knows exactly how much of a tip you received and it gets reported. also, any money you are required to tip out to other employees (food runners, bussers, bartenders etc) gets taken from that tip written on the credit/debit card receipt. If you pay in cash, the restaurant has to guess how much tip you received on the cash payment (usually they assume around 10%). So, if you get a tip that is more than 10% on a cash tab, you will only have to tip out on 10% of it.
      Also, if you pay for your food with a credit/debit card and then leave a cash tip, we get to keep the entire tip since you write “0” on the tip line and then leave cash. it looks like we didn’t receive a tip! so, that is the best senario since we get to keep 100% of the cash tip on a card payment.

      • BTL2A

        Yea, that’s called fraud. Hopefully she is never audited by the IRS.

  • Julia Brown

    Also to help out small business owners who are charged when a customer uses a credit card! My son’s hair dresser always requests that we pay with cash (or check) for this reason. Cash could also come in handy if you frequently shop on craigslist.

    • Casey Slide

      Oh yes, those are both great points! Thanks for sharing, Julia!

  • saeideh


  • saeideh


  • The Texan

    In times of an apocalypse cash will be worthless. Only gold can save you in dire times. As for mug money. I keep three fake credit cards in my wallet and my real one in a hidden sleeve that I cut my self so if I get mugged. Ill show the three cards and give him those. Then as he leaves ill say “oh I forgot I got one more.” He will turn back to look, and that’s when I squeeze the trigger.

    • ?????

      In times of an apocalypse, what makes you think your shiny pieces of metal will be of any more worth than the pieces of paper with dead presidents on them? If society collapses to that point, I’m not trading away my food and water for a shiny piece of metal or a green portrait of a dead president, and I suspect many people will feel the same.

      Toilet paper, soap, shampoo, and such items will probably be the currency of the apocalypse; gold and silver are useless to the average folks.

  • Kurieren

    @The Texan, fuck I hope your a troll and not an actual person.

  • ?????

    $2 bills make for better tips than $1 bills, fyi.

  • S

    meh none of these are very important reasons and most can be avoided. Suspended card.. carry two. Tow truck.. that’s going to cost over $100, no one carries that much cash 24-7. Splitting bills.. most places will split. Vending machines?? just don’t go to them. Tolls is the only one I see as valid and a taxi, but those are both things that are planned ahead of for.