9 Times When It’s Important to Have Emergency Cash on Hand

It’s no secret that in the modern era, plastic rules. We use credit cards or debit cards for everything, from a cartload of groceries to a cup of coffee downtown. So, it can be tempting not to carry cash with you at all. When you don’t use it regularly, it begins to look superfluous. But don’t hang up your traditional wallet or coin pouch quite yet. There are still times when having cash on hand is useful or even necessary. Here are 9 times you’ll be glad that you still carry emergency cash!  

At the Toll Booth

If you do a lot of driving, you already know that many toll booths don’t take plastic. But what about if you only go on long drives once in a while? If you don’t frequently drive toll roads, you probably don’t have an EZ Pass, which means that you have to be prepared to pay cash when you do drive those roads. Having a coin pouch in your car with some emergency cash can ensure you’re prepared to pay when you come across these roads and don’t have to deal with the hassle of an unpaid toll.

If You Need a Tow

Tow trucks don’t always carry squares to take debit cards, and unlike toll booths, you don’t know ahead of time that you’re going to need a tow. Having your car break down is stressful enough without worrying about how you’re going to pay the tow truck. Even if you have a service like AAA, there’s still a good chance you may need to pay some amount for the tow truck. Keeping a little bit of cash in your car ensures that you don’t have to worry if this happens to you.

To Tip Someone

If you’re traveling, you definitely want to have some cash on hand. Tips are a necessity, and everyone from the valet to the bellhop will expect a few dollars from you. If you’re drinking on vacation, you’ll also want some cash to tip the bartender with. All of these tips add up, so it’s important to have a fair amount of cash with you when you go on vacation or even just daytrip to somewhere you’ll require a hotel and a rental car.

During a Storm

Snowstorms can be a lot of work. When you’re in the middle of shoveling yourself out, especially after a big snow storm, you don’t want a lack of cash to be the reason you can’t say “yes” when your neighbor offers to use their snowblower to get you out for a small fee. While it’d be great to think you live in a world where your neighbor would just plow you out anyway, the truth is that when few people even know their neighbors anymore, those types of favors can’t be relied on. What can be counted on is people looking to make some quick cash, so if you’re not huge on cleaning up after storms yourself, you might want to have some cash on hand.

For the Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s markets are a great way to support the local community while enjoying farm-fresh produce. But because farmer’s markets are run by local farmers, most of them are cash-only affairs. If you enjoy supporting local farmers and cutting down on the fossil fuels that come with shipping produce across long distances, it’s important to keep some cash on hand so that you can visit the farmer’s market on a regular basis.

At Festivals or Conventions

Festivals and conventions are another location where cards may or may not be accepted. At ComicCon, for example, cards are accepted at larger booths, but independent artists who have set up booths at comic con are unlikely to be prepared to accept cards. However, they often have some of the most unique items available that you can’t get elsewhere. That’s why it’s important to carry cash if you’re going to a festival or convention.

For the Ice Cream Truck

There’s something nostalgic about being able to go outside with your kids and get an ice cream from the ice cream truck. But with many ice cream trucks still cash-only affairs, this necessitates keeping at least a small amount of cash in your home. Parks and beaches often also have cash-only treat options, so any family with kids will want to be sure to keep at least some cash with them wherever they go.

At Certain Restaurants

Believe it or not, a lot of old-time restaurants that have been around for years don’t take credit cards. These cash-only restaurants rely on their excellent service and loyal patrons to stay open despite the fact that they don’t take plastic. And while you may think, at first, that you’ll just avoid these restaurants, if you’re in an unfamiliar location, you may not realize that a restaurant is cash-only until you’ve already eaten there. Additionally, cash-only policies often allow restaurants to offer employees better benefits, leading to employees who stick around and are better trained—and, in turn, often making these some of the best restaurants around. So if you really want some good food, you might want to break down and carry some cash for the meal.

For Garage Sales

As you’re driving around town, you’re likely to notice signs pointing to local yard sales and garage sales. These events can be a great way to find items your family needs at hugely bargained prices—but only if you have cash to pay the people running them. If you’re a fan of a bargain, keeping some cash handy for these sales is a necessity.

While it may feel like we’re evolving past our need for credit cards and debit cards, until we reach a point where we’re each given squares at birth and credit cards don’t have fees associated with their use, our society will continue to require cash in certain circumstances. Keeping cash handy allows you to roll with the punches and do what you need to do on a daily basis without worrying about locating an ATM.