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How Much Cash Should I Have in My Wallet? [Complete Guide] to Carry Cash

Inside: Are you unsure how much cash to keep in your wallet? This guide will teach you how to calculate the amount of cash you need and recommend the best ways to store it.

We all know we should carry some cash with us.

But how much is enough? How much is too much?

And what are the best ways to keep our cash safe when we’re out and about?

Personally, I am always worried when I carry cash and I’ll admit I’m not the best at managing cash. However, I have been stuck without a way to pay for something and needed cash.

In this complete guide, we’ll answer all of these questions together.

So whether you’re a seasoned spender or new to handling cash, read on for everything you need to know about carrying cash safely and efficiently.

Are you unsure how much cash to keep in your wallet? This guide will teach you how to calculate the amount of cash you need and recommend the best ways to store it. You'll also learn about the benefits of using cash and strategies for avoiding theft.

How much cash should you have in your wallet?

As a general rule, it’s recommended to carry at least $20 in your wallet. This amount should be enough to cover small expenses like tolls or cash-only store purchases.

If you can afford it, have between $100 and $300 in your wallet. This amount should cover most normal day-to-day expenses and can help you in an emergency.

Just remember, it is only recommended to keep cash in your wallet that you can afford to lose.

What are the benefits of having cash in my wallet?

Picture of cash for benefits of having cash in my wallet.

Having cash in your wallet can provide many benefits in everyday situations.

For instance,

  1. Allows you to easily split bills and pay for goods and services quickly.
  2. Helpful for budgeting, tipping, and even increasing your confidence.
  3. Cash can also come in handy if card readers aren’t working.
  4. For valet parking tips for their service.
  5. Cash can be especially useful for travelers who need to have access to cash in a foreign currency.

Overall, having cash in your wallet can be a good idea to have on hand in case of an emergency or opportunity.

What are the risks associated with carrying cash in my wallet?

Picture of risks associated with carry cash in my wallet.

Carrying too much cash can be dangerous as it may be difficult to replace if it is stolen also comes with a variety of risks.

For instance…

  1. Carrying large amounts of cash could attract unwanted attention, making you a target for pickpockets and thieves, especially in areas where thefts are more common such as tourist attractions or shopping malls.
  2. Cash can be easily stolen and once it is gone, it’s gone.
  3. There is also the issue of cashless merchants, which can be an issue if you rely heavily on cash and don’t carry credit or debit cards.

In order to minimize the risk of loss, it is best to spread the cash around different pockets and not carry more than you need.

Why do you need cash on hand?

1. To make small payments and purchases
2. To pay for services and bills
3. To pay for public transportation
4. To pay for convenience when making payments
5. To have a safety net in case of an emergency
6. To save money by avoiding bank fees
7. To have the option to pay cash for certain purchases
8. To manage your spending habits
9. To have flexibility when making payments
10. To be prepared in case of an emergency

How to estimate your daily spending needs?

Picture of a calculator, notebook and cash to estimate your daily spending needs.

Knowing your daily spending needs is essential if you want to know how much cash to carry in your wallet.

You need to think about your typical expenses and personal comfort level when deciding how much cash to carry with you.

When determining your daily spending needs, take into account the cost of lunch, coffee, parking, gas, bus or subway fare, groceries, and incidentals. Also, account for what you use cash for and what you charge on a credit card or debit card.

For example, if you buy a coffee every morning, keep a few extra dollars on hand for that. It’s also a good idea to have some extra cash in case of emergencies.

The amount of cash to carry in your wallet will depend on your personal spending.

Best practices for managing cash on hand

Picture of a wallet for best practices for managing cash on hand.

Carrying too little cash can leave you stranded in an emergency, but carrying too much cash is also risky.

You might be surprised to learn that there are certain best practices for managing the cash you carry with you every day.

1. Set a cash limit and stick to it

Setting a cash limit can help you manage your cash on hand by helping you to stay within a predetermined budget and reducing the temptation to overspend.

When you are only carrying a finite amount of cash, you will be mindful of your spending decisions and will be more likely to stick to a budget.

Additionally, by separating your cash into different cash envelope categories, such as groceries, gas, and coffee, you can further limit your spending in those areas and save money.

Ultimately, setting a cash limit can help you manage your cash on hand and save money in the long run.

2. Keep track of your cash flow and spending habits

This will help you to understand exactly how much money you spend each day.

With careful tracking, you can make sure you don’t overspend, which can help you reduce debt and save more money. Additionally, it will make sure you don’t accidentally misplace your money.

3. Consider the benefits of electronic payments and wallets

Instead of using cash, switch to electronic payments and or credit cards.

For one, using a digital wallet like Apple Wallet is much faster than counting cash or entering PIN numbers.

It also allows for contactless payments, meaning it takes just a few seconds to authorize a transaction.

Furthermore, electronic payments are more secure than cash. If a card is stolen or lost, it can be canceled instantly. This offers an extra layer of protection that isn’t possible with cash.

Learn do credit cards have routing numbers.

4. Keep your cash neat

Keep your cash like a banker. All of your bills face one direction and are flat.

This will eliminate crunched-up bills randomly escaping your wallet.

Also, many prefer to carry a mix of 1s, 5s, 10s, and 20s. Then, you can easily cover most routine expenses without having to worry about breaking larger bills or counting out a lot of singles.

5. Invest in a cash wallet to help manage your cash

Investing in a cash wallet can help manage your cash by keeping it organized, secure, and conveniently on hand.

By having a wallet specifically designed to fit into pockets or purses, you will have the ability to carry cash, cards, and other items in one place.

With a minimalistic design, you can carry just one plastic card and a small amount of cash while avoiding bulky wallets.

Pick your favorite cash envelope wallet.

6. Keep cash in multiple places

Keeping cash in a secure and easily accessible place can be an essential part of your financial plan.

While you need some cash on your person and in your wallet, consider keeping the bulk of your case at home. If you want to have more cash on hand, consider storing the rest in a secure place at home. This could be a safe, lockbox, or another secure storage location like a fireproof box.

Learn how much cash should you have on hand.

7. Know the laws regarding cash forfeiture

Cash forfeiture is a legal process in which a person’s cash or other property is seized by a law enforcement agency. This is done without the need for a criminal conviction.

While there are no laws dictating how much cash a person can legally carry in the U.S., civil forfeiture laws allow law enforcement agencies to seize cash (or other items) without a court order. In these cases, the person must prove that the cash is legally obtained in order to reclaim it.

When traveling from or to the U.S., you need to know how much cash can I fly with.

At home, there is no limit to how much cash can be kept.

What is the best way to store cash in my wallet?

Picture of a wallet for best way to store cash.

The best way to store cash is in a wallet designed to keep cash safe.

You want to make sure to find one of the best cash envelope wallets to make sure that you have the right amount of cash for your needs.

That way, you won’t have to worry about an overflowing wallet.

Also, try to keep your cash in denominations of 20s and 10s and not a bunch of dollar bills.

Finally, avoid carrying all your cards with you when you don’t need them; take only the ones you expect to use in one of these affordable purses.

Different Types Of Wallets Available For Cash

How can I protect my cash from theft?

Picture of cash for how to protect my cash from theft.

Tip# 1: Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, especially in areas where thieves commonly operate such as tourist areas or shopping malls.

Tip# 2: When carrying cash, make sure not to count it publicly or otherwise show the cash when you don’t have to.

Tip# 3: Consider carrying a decoy wallet with a small amount of cash. If challenged you could hand this over and protect the rest of your cash.

Tip# 4: Split your cash between pockets, bags, or even shoes to minimize the amount of cash lost if you are robbed.

Tip# 5: Keep your wallet or money clip as hidden as possible by using an inside pocket.

Tip# 6: Make use of digital payment technology to ease transaction processes and reduce the need for carrying large amounts of cash.

Tip# 7: Invest in a fireproof and waterproof safe for your home in order to protect your cash, as well as other valuables.


To make tracking your spending easier when using cash, you can write down what you spent on a cash envelope tracker or just a plain envelope.

That way you know where your cash went. Then, you can make sure you don’t overspend with cash and stay on track with your budget.

Unfortunately, no. In fact, a Federal Reserve study found that the number of ATM cash withdrawals is decreasing and contactless payment methods are on the rise.

So, while there may be no rewards or incentives for using cash, the convenience of digital payments makes it easier to split expenses with friends, buy things online and avoid the hassle of carrying cash around.

Reminder… Be Wary to Carry Too Much Cash

Picture of cash

Paying with cash can be painful, as it is a reminder of how much hard-earned money is being spent.

As such, it encourages people to be more mindful of their spending.

Having a limited amount of cash can also help reduce the risk of theft or loss, as there is less physical money to carry around.

At the minimum, keep $20 dollars in your wallet.

Generally, it is recommended to keep at least $100 in cash in your wallet if you are disciplined in spending. But if you are not, it is better to limit yourself to a smaller amount of cash, like $50.

This will help you to make sure you don’t live on a shoestring budget.

Know someone else that needs this, too? Then, please share!!

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