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chyna's avatar

What is a good amount of money to keep on hand at your home for emergencies?

Asked by chyna (50567points) September 13th, 2022
37 responses
“Great Question” (9points)

I don’t mean the amount you should have in savings in case you need to pay bills. I just mean the amount you should have in your underwear drawer for “just in case”.

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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

$20 per enough for cab fare and back anywhere in the city plus one days worth of food for everyone in the family. (Or for one tank of gas and a meal for each member of the immediate family.

Or whatever one needs to last 72 hours.

RayaHope's avatar

I think a thousand dollars would be nice for emergencies. Things are too expensive for anything less.

janbb's avatar


smudges's avatar

I agree with @janbb. Twice I’ve been caught without funds to pay a tow truck driver with. $200 would be plenty.

Blackberry's avatar

Yea a couple hundred seems fine, for tipping or a quick emergency.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

You need a couple of weeks to a month of expenses tucked away in cash. For most people that’ll be about $500—$1000 in smaller bills. I’m not talking expenses like rent, you need funds for basics like food, gas and for things like a set of new clothes. You never know what an emergency will look like until it happens.

JLoon's avatar

I think it’s good to keep at least $2,000,000 available for unexpected expenses.

I’d really like that.

Really really.


kritiper's avatar

$200 in the house.

Inspired_2write's avatar

In an emergency kit and from tips from Emergency services if a wildfire etc they suggest a couple hudred worth in $5, $20 and loose coin, and that is only to get one out of the danger zones. Once in a safe secure place then use debit and vridt cards plus call your insurance agent ( my tenant insurance policy covers up to $2500 for living expenses ..motel,food, plus extra for clothing etc)

I suppose a crdit card would help once in another safe area that has amenities to get get a Motel room for safety.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

AS everybody has said a couple of hundred should cover that unexpected emergency that might spring up.

Zaku's avatar

I don’t really have that, currently. At least, not intentionally.

I have done at one point. I think I kept $200 on hand, for a bit. Heh, it might still be there.

Jeruba's avatar

I’d say $400 would cover most immediate contingencies. I’m sure I must have that much around in various little squirrel stashes.

I also keep several $50 or $100 all-purpose gift cards on hand. They’re small and discreet, and they can serve in situations where cash won’t do and you can’t or don’t want to use a credit card. I’ve used a number of those in the past few years.

eyesoreu's avatar

Vastly varies in a number of ways, including how anyone personally defines an “emergency”

WhyNow's avatar

100k in cash
100k in gold
100k in juicy fruit bubble gum.

You may laugh now, but when the zombie apocalypse comes…

flutherother's avatar

At the moment I have £80.00 plus some loose change. It could be handy if I lost my debit card.

rebbel's avatar

€92.55 ($98.26)

JLeslie's avatar

I’d say $500 to $1,000, depending on how many people live in the house. Admittedly, I often have much less than that, I very rarely use cash. I would include the money in my wallet as cash in the house.

For me it depends on the season. Hurricane season I’m much more aware of being prepared if the electricity goes out for days, which is the main reason for the cash. Even a daily storm can create disruptions in utilities and the ability to process credit cards. We rarely lose electricity, but nice to be prepared.

Being prepared includes being able to buy food, gas, and lodging.

Up north, I might be more in tune with winter weather.

Whenever I sit in on a lecture about moving towards a cashless society I think it’s crazy. The need for cash in emergencies is real. Additionally, it’s a convenience when shopping and the credit card service is down.

jca2's avatar

I don’t keep any particular amount in cash. I will take out $200 in cash at a time from the ATM, but I will spend it, and then replenish it when needed. I don’t keep cash in the house for the sole purpose of an emergency. If there’s a big storm coming, like in the winter when there’s big snow or a hurricane predicted, I mayi go to the bank and get some cash if I don’t have much in my wallet, as well as filling the car gas tank and making sure there’s adequate food in the house.

LuckyGuy's avatar

$500 in twenties. (I confess to having more than that. It sits untouched )

I also have bills marked and registered on

WhyNow's avatar

^ Seriously cool site!

rebbel's avatar

Cool site indeed!
Felt like I was teleported to the nineteen nineties!

elbanditoroso's avatar

How much is enough? I have about $400 in ready cash at home.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@LuckyGuy me too – I go through phases where I register every bill, and phases where it’s too much hassle.

JLeslie's avatar

I used to leave money untouched, and then they started changing our bills, so I decided to spend it and replenish. It takes me more than a year to spend $500, so it’s a slow process. I take cash out of the bank maybe once a year. I don’t have children. I think children create more instances where you need cash, or need to give them cash.

Forever_Free's avatar

I don’t have an underwear drawer. I am a “comando” kind of guy.

I usually have about $200 on hand. It is typically 1 dollar bills.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@JLeslie If I am buying something and the bill is below $20, I will pay cash. That greatly reduces the number of times my card is used and potentially exposed. I am aware that I’m not getting my 1–2% cashback but it is worth it to me. Also, this is beneficial for the vendor since they don’t have to pay credit card processing fees. Brick and mortar places can use all the help they can get.
A large purchase I will use the credit card unless the vendor offers a cash discount. They often do. (Last week I saved $40 on a $500 concrete job by paying cash.)

Kropotkin's avatar

I think $1,999,999 and not a dollar more.

Also @JLoon is really greedy.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@elbanditoroso I try to have a few marked bills in my wallet. I give them out as tips.
If I get a marked bill in change I will mention it to the cashier – and give them 2 free marked bills. (I did that yesterday at the local bicycle shop.)

@rebbel That site has been around for a long time. (Our friend @johnpowell did it as well.)

Fun fact: The CDC used data from WheresGeorge to simulate and model the spread of infectious diseases and determine the efficacy of a limited number of vaccine doses.

rebbel's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yeah, the design gave their age away, a little :-)

RayaHope's avatar

@Kropotkin Haha!! I’ll tell her to put that dollar back! :)

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy I think some of the vendor fees on credit card are better than they used to be. Some stores used to pay per transaction and a percentage of the sale, and so a sale that was very small really hurt the retailer. Now, I don’t think there is a fee per transaction, especially not for companies that process a lot of transactions. Even so, of course it’s financially better for the retailer to receive cash, because there is no fee at all with that.

I completely agree about exposure. I know my car number was taken at a particular gas station twice, it was years ago. The second time confirmed it for me, I was already suspicious it happened there the first time, so I never went there again. Recently, our card was lifted in another state, and I’m 99% sure it happened at a gas station, but I can’t be sure. Now, I mostly buy my gas at the Walmart near me, and I use my phone to pay to get the 3¢ discount.

Most of my shopping is done at the same 10 places whether the transaction is big or small.

RocketGuy's avatar

I keep $200 in $20s at home, just in case.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

$200 seems to be a popular amount.

JLoon's avatar

@Kropotkin – I just have a more progressive view of my own needs ;D

Entropy's avatar

I don’t keep cash around. If there’s some kind of zombie-pocalypse, paper money won’t be worth anything anyway. So I’m all digital.

RocketGuy's avatar

If shit really hits the fan, electricity will be out. Good luck trying to Venmo the guy with bottles of water and cans of food.

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