Emergency situations are rarely planned. While we may have plans or ideas of how to deal with certain events, there are simply too many “what ifs” on this ride called life.
There could be times when you will have mere minutes to evacuate your home and if you do not have a plan and supplies already packed and ready, you lose precious seconds during an evacuation. Because of the uncertainty when it comes to emergencies, we are big believers in having multiple bug out bags for the home, vehicle, and workplace, but for the sake of the article, we are concentrating on the bug out bag for the home.
One mistake that many forget to prepare for is ensuring that your financial needs are met in an evacuation situation. In an emergency, many don’t think to have enough cash on hand, and already in the bug out bag to get them through the ordeal. And without this essential bug out item, you could be caught in a very precarious situation.
Cash is King
Cash is king. Sure, gold and silver are great too – especially in a collapse, but let’s be real; during a short-term emergency, who accepts those or even wants those in exchange for goods or services? Few, if any, especially businesses. The reason cash is better than keeping your credit or debit card on hand is that there’s simply no guarantee that ATMs or credit card machines will be operational. A grid-down situation, bank closure, or run on banks could all limit your ability to take out cash after the emergency. And for that matter, if you are in an off-grid situation, you will not be able to access your bank account or use credit cards.
How much cash do you need?
This will be an entirely subjective answer. It’ll depend on several factors. “Out of the blue” emergencies can be costly. Consider for a moment the cost of food and lodging for a week-long emergency for the entire family. Keep In mind that demand for necessities will increase and price gouging will likely ensue and you will want to prepare for this so having extra money to draw from would be ideal.
There is no magic number per se that is perfect for every type of evacuation-related disaster, but you want to be able to pay for needed emergency supplies not yet purchased for the family, gasoline, hotel, pet boarding, food, etc.
“The rule of thumb I advise my clients is to keep $1,000 to $2,000 in cash in case banking operations are shut down due to a national emergency or catastrophe,” said Gregory Brinkman, president of Brinkman Financial in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Personally, we keep more than that locked up safely because we have children and pets. But, we also foresee very limited situations that would force us to “bug out,” based on our location and the likely emergencies that can arise. Our plans are to bug in, yet we still have cash on hand to get us through 3 months. We have added up 3 months worth of food and other necessary expenditures. If you’re bugging out, this may be a little too much. But it should give you an idea of a dollar amount you can shoot for.
Breaking up your emergency fund and having a percentage of that fund in the form of cash, precious metals, or even traveler’s checks to have on hand can help families secure goods and services for a period of time without the aid of technology. As well, try to have diversity in your bills. Having only hundred dollar bills will definitely cut down on space in your bag, but in an emergency situation, some stores may not be able to cash large bills. Having bills ranging from large to small bills may help your situation. Moreover, make sure that every family member has at least some paper currency and precious metals or junk silver (for long term needs) in their emergency bags in case the family gets split up.
If you are concerned with carrying cash on you, consider caching some money in a secure location around your bug out location along with some other supplies. Here is a great article on the subject:
Also, consider that in longer-term emergencies, alternative forms of currency for bartering situations, such as ammunition, heirloom seeds (like these heirloom garden kits), or medicine. Based on current events, toilet paper could also prove handy.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all plan and you will need to learn to be more flexible than ever before if a real emergency strikes. Flexibility and calmness will both allow you to change your plans on a whim and to do so with a cool and rational head. You may be forced to leave everything behind save for what’s in your bug out bag, and that’s why we suggest you stash some cash in there now!