How Much Cash Should You Keep on Standby for Emergencies?
It's difficult to predict when an emergency might happen, but if you take the time to prepare in advance, you can be ready for just about anything. Having enough "crisis cash" on hand can go a long way in keeping peace of mind.
Under normal circumstances, you might rely on your ATM debit card or smartphone if you didn't have enough cash on hand. But what if that isn't an option? How much cash would you need in order to get through an emergency, such as a week-long power outage, a natural disaster, or a weather-related evacuation?
How Much Cash Do You Really Need?
Ask yourself which items are critical to your daily life. How much money is the right amount in case of emergency? If there were power outages or a computer glitch, how much cash would you need to purchase your daily necessities such as food, gas, medications, or even toll booths for travel? Multiply that daily amount by the number of days you want to plan for.
For example, if you estimate $30 would be the minimum amount of money you would need, and you think five days is the right amount to plan for, you would have a comfortable baseline of $150 for your emergency preparedness reserve. While it is legal to keep as much as money as you want at home, the standard limit for cash that is covered under a standard home insurance policy is $200, according to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. Any amount more than $200 that is lost, damaged, or stolen in the home would be counted as a personal loss.
How to Keep Cash at Home
Think of creative and practical places to store your emergency cash reserves, ideally in a locked fireproof safe that is bolted down to something that can't be easily moved. Avoid the only-in-the-movies places, such as under your mattress or in your freezer under the frozen steaks. You could spread it out, keeping $20 in singles and fives in your glove compartment, $20 in your wallet, and $200 or emergency cash in a safe, your emergency kit (also known as a 72-hour kit), or a hidden spot of choice.
Going Beyond Cash at Hand
Studies from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System show that only 54 percent of Americans are prepared to pay for a $400 emergency. If you're able to take your emergency preparedness to the next level, talk to your financial advisor about opening an emergency savings account. They can help you figure out how much money you can save so that if the unexpected comes knocking on your door, you'll be ready to conquer it with enough funds to focus on what matters.