Why It's Practical to Keep Cash on Hand

Whether we like it or not, money plays a major role in our lives.  We all have regular expenses—like paying rent, buying food, any cell phone or Internet bill, transportation costs, or student loans—that we know and plan for every week or month.  Life isn’t always so neat though; sometimes things happen unexpectedly, and these things can get a bit pricey.

Should you face a medical emergency, you can likely rely on insurance to cover a large amount of any cost.  What about those other sudden events and expenses?  Maybe your cat starts munching on some flowers that you brought into your home without realizing they could be poisonous for your precious fur-baby.  Or you boot up your computer one morning only to find that it’s decided never to wake up again.

These probably aren’t scenarios you were planning on saving up for, and if you don’t have the extra funds lying around you could be in serious trouble.  You could always ask your parents or family to lend you some money, but that’s kind of embarrassing and doesn’t contribute to making you feel like a competent grown-up who can handle their shit.

This is why I suggest keeping a cash stash.  A literal collection of cash stored somewhere in your home.

A savings account is something that immediately comes to mind as an ideal space for storing your money.  Sometimes the bank even gives you money for keeping it there; after three or so months you’ll collect some interest.  Online banking also means you can easily keep track of how much money is in any given account.

The downfall of this, however, is the easy accessibility to that money.  Making online money transfers from one account to another is incredibly simple.  If you decide to splurge on a new outfit even though you don’t really have the disposable income in your checking account, a few clicks are all it takes to move some of that cash over from savings and into checking.

Cue the cash stash.  You should still by all means have a savings account that you put money into.  When random expenses come up though, you won’t have to worry about transferring money and depleting that savings account.

There’s also something about actual cash that seems much more real and tangible than any bank card.  When the physical bills are in your hand, you can see the money, feel it, smell it, all that good stuff.  I’ve noticed that when I don’t deal with any cash and rely on my bank cards, I don’t feel like I’m working with actual money.

This cash stash money doesn’t necessarily have to be used for emergencies either.  Say you save up a couple hundred dollars over a few months.  I think it would be safe for you to take some of that money and treat yourself to a nice dinner or a new pair of shoes.  The money doesn’t have to be reserved for serious stuff either.  Maybe you’ve got a crappy old hand-me-down couch.  You can use that cash stash as a saving incentive to buy yourself a new sofa.

A few years ago I really wanted an electric guitar of my own.  I used an empty sparkling grape juice bottle to keep my cash in.  Every week I’d take a few dollars out of my paycheck and stow it away.  Getting the money in the bottle was easy, but getting it out would require me smashing the bottle.  This meant that I couldn’t just reach in every now and then for a couple of bucks for a whim purchase.  I had to mean business when I finally busted open that bottle.

I’m not saying you have to save this cash in some impossible place.  But do realize that the money isn’t intended on being used for a splurge at Starbucks or Victoria’s Secret.  If you’d like, you can treat yourself at the end of every month you manage not to take anything out of the cash stash.

Keeping a huge sum of cash in your home can probably make you paranoid too.  If you’ve got hundreds of dollars hidden in your bedroom and feel nervous about getting robbed or everything going up in flames, totally take some of it to the bank to put into savings.  By that point anyone with a spending impulse would certainly have gained some self-control and wouldn’t be willing to blow all that hard-saved cash on something stupid once it gets tucked into an actual savings account.

I’m all for the cash stash idea, but what about you?  What kind of expenses or purchases would you use the cash stash for?  Share in the comments below how you like to save up!

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