When the unexpected happens, it's always good to be prepared with some extra cash.
Many people no longer feel it's necessary to keep any significant amount of cash at home or in their wallet because it's just as easy to use credit cards at most establishments. If cash is needed, there are ATMs around virtually every corner.
Even though it can be quite easy to access money in these ways most of the time, there are still compelling reasons to store some extra cash under your mattress.
Here's a list of some events that would make you glad you had a bit of money at home.
The collapse of California IndyMac Bank on Friday left many people unable to get into branches or perform online or phone banking transactions over the weekend, although ATM withdrawals were working.
The problem with banks shutting down and being taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation isn't likely to stop there. This was already the fifth bank to fail this year and as of the end of March, the FDIC has been closely watching an additional 90 banking institutions on its "problem list."
The FDIC guarantees traditional bank accounts up to $100,000 per person and IRAs up to $250,000.
If a bank fails, your money is insured if your account stays under these limits. Even when banks close, you should eventually have all the money in your bank account returned to you, but there may be a few days when you won't be able to access the money that is in the bank.
Having a cash fund at home can be of a great help for the short period when you may not have access to your bank money.
Large-scale natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tidal waves can mean that there is widespread damage to the power infrastructure.
If this happens, all the retailer machines that accept credit cards will be down as well as ATM machines to get money out. People selling supplies will rarely take credit cards during these times and having a stash of money can make it a lot easier to find someone willing to help you escape the predicament. During a natural disaster, cash is often king and another reason you should always have some at home.
Stolen or Lost Wallet
If you wallet gets lost or stolen it will take time for your credit cards and bank cards to be reissued. If it happens to be during nonbanking hours, you may not have any way to gain access to money.
Credit Card Troubles
With more and more people defaulting on their credit card debts and banks already reeling from the mortgage meltdown, banks have been reducing the limits they offer on credit cards. While not likely, there also can be instances when your credit cards get frozen.
If you count exclusively on your credit card for purchasing, any trouble can quickly find you without a money source until the issues are worked out. Having money at home can help you get by while these issues are being resolved.
Frozen Bank Accounts
Similar to the troubles with credit cards, bank accounts can get frozen with little warning and it may not even be your fault. If your debit card gets stolen, your entire account can be drained and it can takes days, if not weeks, for the issues to get resolved during which you won't have access to your money in the bank.
Another benefit of having cash at home is that you aren't reliant on ATMs when you need some extra cash. ATM fees can cost several dollars for each withdrawal if the ATM is not part of your bank network.
Add in the rising cost of driving your car to the ATM to get your money, and the cost of not having money at home can quickly add up. While some may argue that having cash at home means you're not earning interest on it, the savings from avoiding ATM fees and travel costs will end up being more for most people. If you have to pay an ATM fee more than a couple of times, you'll wipe out any interest that the money in the bank would have earned.
When you decide to keep money at home, it's important to remember to keep it in smaller-denomination bills, no larger than a $20.
When disasters strike, there usually isn't an option to receive change for large denomination bills. An emergency cash fund of several hundred dollars at a minimum is advisable.
It takes only one incident when you wish you had cash on hand to convince you to keep some extra money hidden in your house. If that hasn't happened to you yet, feel fortunate -- but be prepared on the chance that it does.
Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.