How Much Cash Should I Have on Hand in my Wallet?

It's old-school advice to always have some cash on hand in your wallet or home for emergencies. The emergencies could be of any type, and liquid cash on hand can be beneficial in the time of need.

I hope you remember what happened in Greece a few years back and the recent crisis in Myanmar where people lined for hours to get some cash out an ATMs.

Besides such catastrophic emergencies, we face when we need cash due to an out-of-order POS machine or the merchant does not accept cards or digital payments.

In those uncertain situations, cash in your bifold wallet can help you avoid anxiety or embarrassment.

We surveyed to find the ideal amount you should have on hand in your wallet, and everyone recommended something between $50 to $100. Experts also recommend having around $1000 on hand in your home and liquid cash of $1000 in your bank.

However, the amount you should keep on hand in your wallet can widely vary concerning your personal needs. So let's dive into each situation and how much cash you should have in your wallet.

50-30-20 (18-2) Rule

The 50-30-20 is a fantastic rule for managing your income into three categories.

50% of your income should go into essentials like rent, food, transport, bills, etc.
30% of your income should cover spendings you don't plan for, like dinners, shopping, etc.
20% of your income should go into saving.

We advise you to slightly change how you save and keep at least 2% of what you save in hard cash, but it should not exceed 50% of your monthly income.

So, practically, you should have one month's cash on hand to take care of your one-month expenditure on essentials.

College Going Individuals

The reserve cash in a wallet should be concerning how far they have traveled out for college-going individuals. They should have enough in their wallet to get a ride back home and be able to get a two-time meal. Likewise, you should have enough cash to fill your gas twice if you own a vehicle.

The amount required to do so can vary from one individual to another, but $20 to $30 will be enough for most of them.

Being a college-going individual, the amount of cash you should have on hand is around $200 to $250. This amount is enough to cover accidental damages to your smartphone or laptop.

If you have a vehicle on hand, make sure to have enough cash to get new tires.

Working on Daily Wages

If you rely on working every day to get things going, the formula to have enough cash on your hands and in your wallet will vary significantly.

As a daily wage, the amount you should have on your hands should cover at least 30 days of not working. Around $700 to $1000 is enough to put food on the table.

And the cash on your hands in your wallet should be around what you make in a single day. Being on a safe end, an amount between $50 to $80 in your wallet will cover most emergencies.

Don't forget to keep change in the form of coins, as that can be pretty helpful in certain situations. We have an entire collection of Coin Purses, mainly designed to carry coins without creating bulk.

On a Traveling Trip

The amount of cash you should have in your wallet or on hand can drastically vary if traveling.

You can face multiple emergencies when traveling, and one of them is losing your wallet. You will also encounter moments more frequently when a business is not accepting cards and modes of payment when traveling.

So while traveling, you should keep around $100-$300 in your wallet all the time. Also, make sure to keep another $100 in your luggage, so you can have some cash in hand after losing your wallet.

If you are traveling out of the country, you will also have to carry cash in local currencies. You should change around $100 into the local currency and keep that in your wallet. Avoid keeping dollars in your wallet, as that can turn expensive if you start paying tips and fares in USD.

Our travel wallets are designed to carry different currencies, which can become quite handy when traveling.

On a roadtrip

If you are on a road trip with your vehicle, the amount of cash you should have on hand will depend more on what you drive, how far you are going, and the terrain.

On a road trip, you should have around $300 to $500 on your hands divided across your luggage, car, and wallet. When on a road trip, there is a lot that can go wrong. Bad weather, flat tires, accidental damage, losing your gear, etc.

Divide the cash in these bills

Ok, so keeping a single bill in your wallet is not a wise idea. You can keep the cash in your wallet in different splits, but most mens wallets will start to bulk after 5-6 bills inside them.

So an ideal breakdown should be something like this for a total of $100.

  1. $20 x 3 (Great for tips, and a resonable bill to store vale in less number of bills)
  2. $10 x 3 (Great of a single time quick meal or coffee)
  3. $5 x 1 (For small groceries items)
  4. $1 x 3 (For change)
  5. $2 in coins (For change)


I will conclude this discussion with a small note that can help you decide what amount you need to carry in your wallet and how much cash you should have on hand.

The formula is simple. Get an idea of how much you spend every day, and carry twice the amount with yourself all the time. If you carry a bag, divide it between your wallet and bag.

And the amount you should keep at home for rainy days should cover your one-month essentials like rent, bills, food, gas, etc.

That's it. Peace.

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