I was reading a recent post over at Jim’s Blueprint for Financial Prosperity site that asked readers how much cash they typically carry, and with the abundance of credit and debit cards, I wasn’t surprised to see that most of the responses dealt with having very little, or no cash at all. And in many ways, that makes sense. With all of the cash back and rewards available, not to mention the security that can be had by using plastic, it is a very effective way to buy things without the need for cash.
Personally, I keep a little bit of cash on me for a few reasons. First, our cafeteria here where I work only accepts cash. Since I eat lunch here almost every day because it’s incredibly cheap, I try to have cash on me so I don’t have to go out to grab something, which would undoubtedly cost more. The other reason is in case of the unplanned need for money or situation where a credit or debit card may not be an option. Picking up some fresh produce at the corner produce stand, or going to buy something or needing gas only to find out that the store’s credit card machine is down.
Since part of this use for cash is planned and set aside for lunch, and the other reasons are quite infrequent, I tend to not carry more than $40 on me. There is enough to get me out of a jam in the event I need the cash, and not enough that would be devastating if I was to lose it or have it stolen. Even so, I think I’ve found a reason why it might be a good idea for everyone to keep at least $30 on them.
May Pays Attacker $30 to Stop Stabbing Him
Ever find yourself getting into a situation where someone starts viciously stabbing you and wish you could make it stop? Well, according to this story, the going rate to stop a stabbing appears to be $30.
One of the men pulled out a knife, chased the other down and began stabbing him, police wrote. The victim suffered two “very deep” cuts in his arm and then gave the man $30 “to quit cutting him,” police wrote.
Who knows, giving up $30 may have saved his life. Would the attacker have stopped the stabbing if you offered to give him a credit or debit card, knowing that he would need your PIN to get cash, or you could call and report the card stolen? Or is he going to pause the vicious beating so that you can write out a check? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want to find out.
All jokes aside, this brings up an interesting point. It can be a dangerous world out there, and if a criminal is looking for money, what lengths would he go to if he couldn’t get any from you? It might be just your casual city mugger looking for a few bucks, but what happens when this guy has a bad day and after stealing a dozen wallets but earning $0 because nobody carries cash, who’s to say he won’t flip out and take it out on you when he finds you also don’t have any cash?
Is it a bit far-fetched? Sure. But if you think about it, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, having a mere twenty or thirty bucks on you could mean the difference between life and death. I don’t know, I don’t spend a lot of time walking the city streets or getting into fights, but maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to keep a few bucks on me as a cheap insurance policy for that very rare chance I find myself in that situation.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.
I address this issue by never going into less-than-respectable areas. Credit cards tend to be more welcome in nicer neighborhoods anyway.
My wife always tells me to keep some cash on me, usually I carry about $20, but the problem is, is that she takes the money for something, and then later asks me for more, and I say I don't have any, and she of course responds that I should always carry cash on me, vicious circle it is...
Hmmm. We could solve this problem by having everyone not carry cash, effectively wiping out the purpose of mugging.
That is an odd and amusing story. Living in Switzerland we are pretty much a cashless society. Meastro cards have a 'cash' facility on them which can be topped up at an ATM (as apposed to being billed through your account). You swipe the card in the normal way but the cash element is not charged by the bank as it is actually on the chip.... so newspapers and small items can be bought too as all vendors have thee facilities.
That said, crime here is virtually zero in comparison to most places, so muggings are not a special concern.
Wow there are some crazy people out there who want to do harm to other people, but even crazier is a person who is willing to stop stabbing someone for 30 bucks? Absurd as to the kind of things that go on in this world that occur for such stupid reasons.
I barely ever carry any cash on me but definitely need to keep at least 20 bucks on me and I think it would solve a great amount of my problems.
Yeah... you never know when you might get chased by a nut job. I also carry fruits, nuts and small cookies in case I get chased by cookie loving leprechauns. You just never know.... :-)
Actually, I carry over $100 on me at all times. The reasons are several: first, there might be a real emergency (e.g. earthquake in CA), and I'm pretty sure cash will not be accessible at that point. Second, I travel a lot, and you never know when you'll get to a place where credit cards are simply not an option.
I tend not to carry much cash. I carry my debit card and an emergency credit card.
To me personally I tend to go through cash quicker than when I use my credit card.
It's good to have an emergency stash of cash. I've been in situations where the computers or lines go down, and a business was taking "Cash Only". It's also good to have in case you've lost your card(s). You at least have some $$ on you as a back up. I come from the old school from my parents where you would keep an emergency $20. (As a kid, it was an emergency dime for a phone call, but now I date myself...I can't remember the last time I saw a pay phone!) People in areas where storms and other situations where there is the frequency of power outtages know...cash is king and always have an emergency stash. It never hurts to have a little on you!!
Single Guy, that's interesting. I find I'm just the opposite with cash, and if I'm specifically using cash for purchases, I spend less since I can actually see how much I have. When I'm using a debit card, I usually spend more, and don't realize it until I login into my bank account.
I don't carry cash because if I have it on me, I will spend it. Reading this post though, I may need to hide a $20 bill in my wallet.
When I graduated from high school, my step-dad gave me a brand new $100 bill and told me to bury it deep inside my wallet for an emergency like a tow truck, etc.
Or you could spend the $30 on your own knife (or pepper spray, or taser, or SAM), and carry it with you in dodgy areas ;)
Having cash in case you get mugged is actually something my parents taught me. It was my mom's reasoning that anyone willing to hold you up on a street corner as opposed to breaking into someone's vacant apartment isn't looking for a lot of work or money. They generally need something like drugs or food or whatever, and they are not interested in trying to use your credit card or fence your ipod, thus if you have no cash, they could be distraught. You also stand to lose less, as people with no cash mugged near atm's here have often reported that the mugger made them go to the atm and get out x amount of dollars, which is certainly more than if you just carry a couple of twenties. If you work in the city and live somewhere else I guess it's no big deal, but for an urbanite it might be a good idea.
Interesting take. I carry cash for the same reasons you do. But I usually have about $50.
Another reason: Bank errors. A bank error recently resulted in my account appearing negative (though it wasn't, and the charged fees were refunded). My debit card was put on hold. I didn't have enough cash at the time to cover the particular purchase, but my emergency credit card sufficed. But cash can help me avoid compounding an already embarrassing situation...
I suppose that's a true emergency fund...(groan)
I don't carry cash on me because I never have any. Guess I'm dead meat!