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Prepper Cash: Keeping Money On Hand for Emergencies

Everyone knows they should have an emergency fund, but most people keep their money in the bank. That’s a good place for it . . . but you should also have a prepper cash stash.

Prepper cash means keeping actual money on hand for an emergency situation. If things go south, you may need to buy supplies and possibly safe passage, but banks may not be available. Basically, having some cash on hand allows you to take advantage of opportunities.

Keep in mind that having money on hand doesn’t mean you don’t need to prep in other ways. You should build up your food and medical storage first. However, once you’re ready to survive, you’ll want to have that cash on hand.

5 Reasons To Keep Cash Around

Why would you need to have cold, hard cash?

Imagine if the banks are shut down due to a crisis, but people are still charging for amenities? It’s too early to barter and too late to get cash. What do you do? This is where it would be useful to have some money ready to go. Here are a few potential scenarios that might require money:

  1. Someone has set up a “toll” on a road or bridge you need to cross.
  2. You want to buy last minute supplies from a store.
  3. Your home is unlivable and you need to stay in a hotel, but the credit card machines are down.
  4. You need gas for your car, but gas stations are taking cash only.
  5. Someone in your family needs medical aid and the only person available to help needs to be bribed.

These are just a handful of reasons you might have to pay cash. And it’s not inconceivable . . . many of these scenarios occur all the time when a hurricane or earthquake hits.

Where to Hide Your Cash

It would be ridiculous to leave your money out where other people could find it if they’re going through your home. To this end, it’s a good idea to hide your money, but not necessarily where others might hide theirs.

Common hiding places include:

  • Taped under a drawer or desk
  • Behind a painting
  • Tucked in a photo, between picture and backing
  • Under the mattress
  • In a safe
  • In a false container (like a spray can with a hollow space

While these could be good places to start with, anyone who has seen a heist movie will know about them. So, with that in mind, you’ll want to look for more difficult to find spots. It may also be a good idea to split your money up so if someone does find your stash, it isn’t everything.

Try storing your cash in an envelope tucked in with all your saved birthday cards. The idea here is to blend in with the surroundings. An envelope tucked into a box of papers is not noticeable at all and it’s not likely a thief will go through everything to find it.

While you can store cash in books, it’s an even better idea to add a false backing panel to your bookshelf and tuck some cash in there. People may flip through the books, but they probably won’t think to look for a false panel.

Likewise, instead of putting money under or in your mattress, roll it up and put it inside the screw on legs of the bed. A hollow post for the bed frame can also be a great option for hiding some money.

Other options include:

  • In unused electrical outlets or switch boxes
  • Inside the base of a kitchen appliance
  • Behind the bottom panel of the stove
  • Frozen in a bag inside a block of ice in the freezer
  • Tucked inside a sewing machine’s storage compartment
  • In the seat of a computer chair or inside the hollow legs
  • Stuffed in a dark beer bottle that is capped and placed with other actual beer bottles
  • Inside a board game no one ever plays
  • In feminine hygiene product packages (fold the money to look like a pad and tuck inside wrappers, then replace in the package)

As you can see, if you just get creative, you can do a lot with hiding your money. So, now that you know what you need this cash for and where to put it . . . how do you actually get some cash to hide out?

Where to Make Prepper Cash

Chances are, you already spend your budget each month. Maybe you have some money that goes into savings and that’s a very good thing. In fact, I do not recommend storing cash in your home until you have a solid savings account and emergency fund set up.

So, earning extra money is the best way to add to your cash stash. You have a few options here. You can pick up some overtime and put that toward your stash, or you might even take on an extra job.

Other options include:

Selling stuff. Take this opportunity to clear some clutter out of your home and sell it all. You’ll get more room for your supplies and make it simpler to clean the house. Plus, you’ll have some money in hand.

Work online. Sites like mTurk, Swagbucks, and others will help you make small chunks of cash at a time. These are handy to do in your spare time and you can make a little extra money. If you want to make more, consider getting an online job or writing. You can find jobs on Upwork.

Set aside money. Every time you get a paycheck, consider setting aside $10-50 in cash. This isn’t a ton of money, but it could end up being a massive amount if you save it consistently.

Put up your change. Get a gallon jar and have everyone drop their change into it when they get home each evening. When the jar is full, convert it into bills and then start again. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this method adds up.

Do seasonal jobs. During the summer, mow a few lawns or do some yard work. Offer a New Year’s Eve babysitting service, or a cleaning service for those new year parties. Seasonal jobs tend to pay really well and are in hot demand. Even a few times a year can add up.

Do you save cash in the house? It’s easy to rely on cards and online payments, but what will you do when that isn’t available? It can and most likely will happen to us, so it’s a good idea to be prepared with your own prepper cash stash.

prepper cash

18 Replies to “Prepper Cash: Keeping Money On Hand for Emergencies”

  1. Clay Westfall

    This is invaluable information that people everywhere need to know.  As you said, when the ATM’s go down, life will stop.  I always keep a thousand dollars in smaller bills ready for emergencies.  I also keep a couple ounces of gold in small coins in case the dollar ever fails, so I can get my family out of the city!  Remember to keep your prepper money in small increments in case there is no change!

    Thank you for sharing this crucial knowledge.  We have to be ready!   Clay 

  2. Nicki V

    I have actually been thinking a lot about this recently.  I have all of my money in the bank, but what if we were to have another power outage like there was 15 years ago?  I wouldn’t be able to buy anything. And all the good credit and saved money in the bank will do me no good if I can’t access it.

    How much do you recommend stashing away for an emergency fund?  I already have  a lot of food in storage and medical supplies, so that shouldn’t be an issue, but things like trading and gas, I would need cash for.

    • Genesis

      I would recommend starting out with $500-1,000 since that’s more than most people will have on hand. It should assure you gas and other basics.

  3. Maria

    I remember the last hurricane in Miami, to buy gas there was no way to use credits card, only cash… it was frustrating. The banks were closed, no electricity, everybody pretending get cash somewhere, not possible. Having cash on hand is a good advice. Not only food or first aid products and all medicines for treatment are good, having prepper cash is excellent.

    The best part in your post is your suggestion for where to hide the cash at home 😉 it make me laugh, I hide cash from my children… I really like to have cash on hand, always is useful, but I don’t say anyone where is it 😉 is it bad? hope not to much.

    Thank you for remembering us to have prepper cash for emergencies.

  4. Reinaldo

    Those are all good places to hide money. I believe some store sell money belts where you can store your folded cash in a zippered money belt. Who would think of looking for money in the belt you’re wearing? Very few, if any. In the movie the Pianist, the jewish family of the pianist were hiding their money & jewelry in odd places like the inside of a violin or inside a plant.

  5. Zed

    Hi Genesis,

    Great article! And you are SO right!

    We are living in a crazy and economically unstable world. Still, many people – too many people – has an irresponsible  “after-us-the-deluge”  mentality.

    What they forget: the life is unpredictable. It just happens … And having a stash of emergency cash is just as vital and important as food and water.

    In my opinion, without an emergency fund, you are one missed paycheck from disaster. That’s why it’s so incredibly important to always have a stash of emergency cash on hand. And that’s why your article is so great …

    • Genesis

      You are very right. One thing goes wrong and we can end up in serious trouble! It’s definitely a good idea to have emergency cash somewhere. 

  6. Mina Kim

    Great information you shared here! We really don’t know when these “things” will happen so being ready always is a must.

    I haven’t had any emergency experience, lucky me. But I do kept my money before, because my brother always steals when we were kids– I used it to put at the back of a framed poster!

    I like your suggestions on where to hide cash.

    Thanks for sharing this and wishing you success.

  7. Denis

    This is great advice!  I have some money (not $1,000 like you suggest though) stashed in my fireproof safe, but by reading your article it guess it would be wise to hide it somewhere less obvious.  

    I tend to be a little hesitant to put cash just anywhere, just in case of a fire, which is the main reason why I put it in my fireproof safe.  If ever my house burned down, then the whole process of having an emergency fund is gone up in flames.

    Do you have any suggestions as to where a person would be able to hide cash in a fireproof place that is NOT a safe? 

    • Genesis

      Denis, that’s a good point. Where I live, fires are not a big issue because we live in concrete homes. That being said, there are fireproof bags and envelopes that you could use instead. I would leave some money in the safe and store small amounts elsewhere.

  8. Taetske

    Good Morning Genesis,

    It is not nice to think about these type of scenarios but you are right, better be ready than sorry.

    You come with a good list of where to hide that extra cash in the house. Also to not put it all in one place. I have but one problem. Will I remember where I put it? At 68 I forget sometimes things, nothing serious but in this case it is necessary to remember.

    I have a small ceramic cow and he has a pink pig. On coming home after shopping the 1 Euro coins go in the cow and the 2 Euro coins are for the pig. When they get very heavy I count the coins and bring them to the village in a shop where they come in handy. The bills disappear into the safe.

    Reading your article I will now seriously think of finding a better hiding place. 

    Regards, Taetske

    • Genesis

      Memory is definitely an issue! In that case, I’d put it somewhere you will see often, like a specific book on the shelf. I have been surprised a few times when I open a book and some cash falls out that I’d forgotten about.

  9. Christine

    You are right. We should always keep some cash money for emergency. Thanks for sharing the importance of having cash at emergency.

    Once there were power failure and all machine stop working, we can only use cash to buy stuffs.

    My mum likes to keep her cash in a cookie tins and keep them with all the can food in the kitchen 🙂

    Thanks for all these useful information.

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