Cash in the Bug Out Bag

Something that is occasionally overlooked when assembling bug out bags is the need for cash. Remember, it need not be a complete end of the world calamity for you to end up having to rely on your bug out bag for at least the short-term.

For anything up to a total collapse, cash is likely to still be king. If the power is out, many places won’t take credit/debit cards. If you’re a motel owner and you have two people in front of you, one with a Discover card and the other with $50 in cash, you’re going to go with the cash every time.

If the power is still running, a few singles and some quarters can get you some quick calories from a snack machine. Hell, you might even run across a true rarity — a working payphone.

How much cash should you have in your bug out bag? Well, in all seriousness, the more the better. Make sure you have a little bit of everything, from twenties down to quarters. I’d say twenties are probably the largest bill you want to carry as you don’t want to end up in a situation where all you have is a fifty and the other guy doesn’t have change.

Here’s my recommendation for cash in the bug out bag, if you can swing it.

$100.00 in twenties
$50.00 in tens
$30.00 in fives
$20.00 in singles
$10.00 in quarters

That gives you $210.00 total. Plenty of cash to get you a decent motel room for a night or two, plus perhaps a couple cheap meals or a ride out of town.

My suggestion is to include in your bug out bag a pouch, commonly called a neck safe. This is a small cloth bag you wear around your neck and under your shirt. Put most of your cash in there to keep it safe when you’re traveling. Keep a bit of cash in your pocket for easy access.

The roll of quarters serves two purposes. It can get you a bit of food and it can also be inside your fist, should you need a bit of…reinforcement.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

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