Ten reasons to keep cash in your bug out bag

Ten reasons to keep cash in your bug out bagWe are used to swipe our credit cards every day and get the items we need, we even use our phones to pay for the things we desire. However, in the event of a regional emergency, your credit cards will become useless for quite a while and this is why it’s important to keep cash in your bug out bag or on you at all times.

Regardless the reason behind the emergency, most of the world will still take cold hard cash and you would have the upper hand if you keep cash in your bug out bag. There are many preppers and survivalist who recommend having a cash reserve ready for emergencies and their reasons vary based on the event they are prepping for.

There is also the debate on how much cash one should keep in the bug out bag and how to use it when things go south. I can’t speak for others, but I can share with you how I’m prepping in regard to this topic. I usually keep $1,500 as my emergency money reserve and if I somehow manage to use some of it, I always put it back.  If you want to keep cash in your bug out bag, it is important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t keep all your eggs in one basket. I usually divide the amount of cash I put aside and keep some of the money on me, just as a backup plan.

When it comes to how you should use your money, the situation can vary based on the region you live in, the time of the year and the crisis that could hit your area. Below you can find some of my reasons, which can be common for any type of disaster.

10 reasons to keep cash in your bug out bag:

  1. ATMs are inaccessible and unsafe in a disaster

First of all, the power could go off and you won’t be able to use your credit card to withdraw the money you need. Second, these machines will run out of cash fast if general panic sets in, remember how the Greeks were lining up to withdraw money when the economic crisis hit them? And third, if the disaster creates favorable conditions for certain elements of society to act up, you don’t want to be near an ATM when the looting starts.

  1. Stores will not be able to process your transactions

The stores could be up and running without any problems, but the credit companies could be shut down or the network could be hacked. If they can process an electronic transaction, you will be glad you brought your cash reserve with you. You will be able to get your items and be on your way faster if you keep cash in your bug out bag.

  1. Last minute shopping

There will always be last minute shoppers who need emergency items, and it doesn’t matter if they are preppers or regular Joes. Cash is king and if the stores are still open, and if you know what to buy, a last minute shopping run will keep you alive longer than those who buy bread and milk.  You can also keep cash in your bug out bag as a loan for neighbors and distant relatives.


Suggested reading: 10 best survival foods at your grocery store


  1. You can pay for services right away

If you keep cash in your bug out bag you can pay for whatever service you may need, if you haven’t planned for it or if it’s something unexpected.  You can get to a mechanic and say “Here’s $1,000 to fix my car in the next hour”. You can pay for medical aid and pretty much anything you’re not skilled for.

  1. Vending machines are just waiting for your cash

This may not sound appealing for the hard core prepper, but in an emergency you can use vending machines to get food and water, or any other items they hold. You could also smash the front glass and take what you want, but why risk it? Especially if you don’t know how the locals are and how the type of emergency is influencing the authorities. The last thing you want is to get shot for a snickers bar.

  1. Bribe your way out of a tight situation

If you find yourself in a situation where you have to deal with roadblocks or guards, you will be glad you keep cash in your bug out bag. You can bribe people to close their eyes and let you pass so that you don’t get trapped with the rest of the crowd. You can bribe guards to let you pass through private property if your bug out routes are obstructed.

  1. Money can be broken down into various denominations

If you need to buy something that costs $5 and you only have $100 bills, you might need to rethink your strategy. First of all you don’t want to flash a $100 bill when there are people around you that have no other options than using their credit cards (and can become desperate). And second, if you carry small bills, you don’t have to wait for the change stores don’t have and you can strike a better deal. If you plan to keep cash in your bug out bag, you need to have $5’s, $10’s and $20’s bills.


Related article: Bartering after and economic collapse


  1. You can use your money to “manipulate the sheeple”

People always take cash and they have an instinct based on immediate gain, rather than a long-term prosperity system.  Before most of them realize that cash has lost or doubled its value, they will be willing to take cash for anything. You can use your money to get supplies, you can get a guide to accompany you through an unknown region and so on. It depends on what you need and how good your social skills are.

  1. Cash will help you stay under the radar

If you are one of the preppers that are dedicated to the Grey man approach, you should know by now that you need to keep cash in your bug out bag if you want to become invisible. The purchases you make using cash can’t be tracked electronically and you will be off the radar.

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  1. Get a ride when times are tough

If you lose your bug out vehicle or if it breaks down on you for whatever reason, you will be forced to continue your journey by foot. Things may work in your favor if you keep cash in your bug out bag and you could easily get a ride in a regional emergency. If you offer to pay cash, you have much better chances of getting a ride than those offering to barter in exchange for a trip to safety.

The list of reasons to keep cash in your bug out bag enumerated in this article is not exclusive and it represents a glimpse of why I’ve decided to keep cash in my survival bag. You may have your own reasons to carry cash in your bug out bag and I’m assuming is not just to use the paper for fire tinder. If there are any other good reasons you think carrying cash with your survival gear will make a difference during SHTF, please use the comment section to let us know.

Stay safe and God Bless!

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8 thoughts on “Ten reasons to keep cash in your bug out bag

  1. Good article. A reason we keep cash on hand, small denominations, is for a power outage. If long term, no store is set up to handle precious metals. Imagine trying to make change or even come up with various denominations in gold or silver. I think cash is still the way to go over precious metals just for practicality.

  2. crisp fresh $1 bills for those vending machines ….

    in regard to vending machines – in facilities like hotels, bus/train/plane terminals, convention/sport centers there’s machines loaded with “guest” “traveler” personal products, first aid, batteries, ect ect …. re-supply that GHB or build one from scratch

  3. Everything said in this article is spot on. However, there is one thing omitted and that is that cash has NO intrinsic value. For a widespread (country-wide, for instance) situation, it is very likely there will be a period of time when cash is hard to come by and still accepted. In any kind of long term situation, eventually cash will have little or no value. That is why it is a good idea to also have some pre-64 (silver) coins, a few 1 ounce silver coins and perhaps even a small selection of gold coins. They can be sewn into your clothing or equipment.

  4. I agree and disagree with the concept of carrying precious metals as below:
    Pro-
    – Getting a better deal for items you need if the proprietor should bump up the original prices if using fiat (paper) money.

    Con-
    – Your one ounce rounds, if offered as payment over paper money, could cause a proprietor to boldly announce that the $5.00 paper price (up from $0.50 the day before) is now valued at, you guessed it, one ounce of silver with no “change” given even though the value for a one ounce round may be worth $15.00/oz or more pre-crash value.
    – As just above, you may not be given the option to buy three (3) of the above $5.00 paper priced items for that one coin, either. Suddenly your buying power just diminished in an inverse proportion to the greed of the proprietor.
    In such a case, unless you ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE whatever item, it is best you just leave, cash and precious metals in hand (if allowed to) and seek an alternative to where you buy from if at all possible.

    What I feel is a better option is to carry a mix of all three: Paper money for those foolish enough to redeem it for products; precious metals for LARGE QUANTITY ITEMS to maximize your buying potential IF the value of the PM can difinitively established ($15.00/$16.00/$17.00/etc. per ounce) pre-crash; and third, SILVER CONTENT coins of present currency (dimes, quarters, etc.) and again assuming you can difinitively establish pre-crash values for 90% silver content coins. After all you wouldn’t want to pay with a silver dime (with a much higher value) than a post-64 dime would buy, right?
    And truth be told, I wouldn’t even think about trying to buy small items with gold PM since it is very difficult to slice off a KNOWN weight of a gold bar for a $5.00 item. I mean, WHO would be carrying a certified scale to weigh the gold slivers used to buy a small item.
    IF you are carrying gold, you must be cautious to use it ONLY for high valued items like, perhaps, a horse and tackle, firearms and ammo, etc.
    Even currency gold coins (dimes, quarters, dollar coins, etc., carry a MUCH higher value than even 90% silver coins. So while it “might” be advisable to stash gold PM in your BOB, GHB, whatever, know that actual use of gold is much less “valuable” or useful unless you seek high dollar valued items.

    Now, having said that I’ll drop this one right here….
    Gold could be your best bet if trying to secure a ride out of a dangerous area or safe passage out of a combat zone for you and family.

    HOWEVER, (You know THAT was coming, right?!?), your substantial gold and silver and fiat cash could bring you under scrutiny by undesirable cretins looking for a soft target or targets (i.e., you.and your family) to rip off.

    Sorry if this has been long winded but there are any number of variables to consider than just giving a “yes I’ll carry PM’s” or “Nope, I’ll trust my credit/debit card or Rolex watch to buy me whatever I need.”
    ‘Nuff said?
    Overnout

    • Of course a mixture of cash and PM, and of course use good bargaining techniques. and of course be very cautious about revealing what you have. There might not be anything to buy, but better to have various money options and not need them than need them and not have them. The cash may become valueless, but the PM will likely hold its value.

      In order for any trade to be successful, you have to know the current value of what you are offering in trade and what you are trading for, and if they don’t match up, how to behave. And no, you don’t offer 1 ounce silver or any gold for low value things. Start with cash, and if that does not succeed, start adding in small pre-64 silver coins. Dimes have .0792 oz of silver in each; quarters, .1984 oz.

      As for gold, as you say, this is for major purchases. For bargaining purposes, the smaller weights are often more useful, especially to start out with. If you can find them and the premium is not ridiculous. Because change is a problem. 1/10 oz and 1/4 oz might be appropriate, and then there are a couple of foreign coins which are in the same range (.1867 oz French 20 Franc, and .2354 oz British Sovereign).

      For both gold and silver, you want valid currency, if possible, and if not, “coins” from a recognizable mint. These are much harder to fake, providing the maximum practical confidence that your currency is not valid.

      For optimum bargaining power, have the ability to produce any fractional amount. For instance, a setup I wish I could afford would be a $100 each of $1, $5 and $10 bills, $200 of $20 bills, and five to ten $100 bills, a roll of dimes (about 12.5 dimes per ounce), a half roll of quarters (about 5 quarters per ounce), four to six (to get into gold value range) 1 oz silver coins, two 1/10 oz gold coins, two 1/4 oz or Sovereign coins, one 1/2 oz coin and one or two 1 oz or Austrian 100 Corona coins (.9802 oz). At today’s prices that would run about $2200 for the minimum to $4000 for the maximum.

      As mentioned, the gold coins might be just the “ticket” for transportation, so having a set of gold for each person in your party might be ideal. But hardly affordable.

      And never pull out a substantial amount of anything of value to pay for or close the deal. Have stuff separated in various places so you can pull out the agreed upon amount while giving the impression you were cleaned out.

  5. Having an emergency fund can go a long way; we just have to keep in mind the value of money. Let’s face it. You can buy anything from anyone, every time.

    • Sorry, Sarah, that is completely untrue. You can buy something from someone IF AND ONLY IF they have it AND you have something they want more. If they don’t have it to spare, or you don’t have something they want, you can’t buy it.

      The value of money is completely determined by circumstances; it has absolutely no intrinsic value.

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