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Best Place for an Emergency Fund?

iced
Valued Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?


@Anonymalous wrote:

@iced wrote:


Power outage, hurricane, meteor strike, etc - none of it is going to make modern society go backwards to taking cash (or gold as I've heard more than one doomsdayer hope for) in a few years time. Even today, some merchants lack the infrastructure to even take cash (register-less) or deem it too great a risk (no secure way to store large sums, employees can't be trusted to not skim, etc).


None of that has any real relevance to what I've been discussing, which is the real disasters that occur on a regular basis, and the practicalities of emergency management and response.

 

Cash is a good fallback for a few days after a major disaster that affects a widespread area and knocks out much of the infrastructure.


I guess you can help me out here then. I can't think of a single scenario or event today where having paper cash on hand is the only thing to get me out of a sticky situation. Katrina was mentioned, but it was far enough in the past that cash was still pretty universally accepted, so ... what would such a situation be today?

 

Cash is not a viable plan B in 2022 when it's increasingly not even a viable plan A.

Message 21 of 30
Anonymalous
Frequent Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?


@iced wrote:

@Anonymalous wrote:

@iced wrote:


Power outage, hurricane, meteor strike, etc - none of it is going to make modern society go backwards to taking cash (or gold as I've heard more than one doomsdayer hope for) in a few years time. Even today, some merchants lack the infrastructure to even take cash (register-less) or deem it too great a risk (no secure way to store large sums, employees can't be trusted to not skim, etc).


None of that has any real relevance to what I've been discussing, which is the real disasters that occur on a regular basis, and the practicalities of emergency management and response.

 

Cash is a good fallback for a few days after a major disaster that affects a widespread area and knocks out much of the infrastructure.


I guess you can help me out here then. I can't think of a single scenario or event today where having paper cash on hand is the only thing to get me out of a sticky situation. Katrina was mentioned, but it was far enough in the past that cash was still pretty universally accepted, so ... what would such a situation be today?

 

Cash is not a viable plan B in 2022 when it's incre donasingly not even a viable plan A.


Hurricanes, major floods, earthquakes, winter storms, wild fires, and potentially terrorist attacks. This excludes things like tornadoes, because they typically don't affect a wide enough area to take down the local infrastructure. It's not about trivial blips like power outages, or post-apocalyptic nonsense.

 

If these disasters affect a large area, they often take down the infrastructure. This includes electricity, internet, clean water, cell phone service, roads, bridges, and more. Some are just overwhelmed, for instance that usually happens with phone service as towers are flooded with calls as people try to make sure their loved ones are okay. Others may have suffered cosmetic or severe damage, like losing main lines or trunks. Water often gets contaminated, and there may be boil orders or you may have to rely on bottled water. It takes a several days to bring in crews with chainsaws or pull in electrical utility workers from around the country, and have them clear roads, set up new towers, run new wire, and so on. In that period, you some services may be available, for instance internet using cellular data plans, while others are not.

 

Swiping a card takes power, and an internet connection. Even if every shop you go to has both, there are numerous verification steps, and a failure at any point means the payment is rejected. And that's assuming they weren't just turned off due to widespread theft or fraud. I guess a store could could write down the numbers for bulk manual input later, but that sounds like a terrible idea and I suspect most card processors will frown on that.

 

But cash always works. Despite your concerns about fraud and having too much on hand, people have dealt with those issues for decades. Cash doesn't need power, internet, or a cash register. But many stores will be closed. Typically the ones that will be left are convenience or general stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and home improvement stores. The big box stores will be the most reliable after the shelves get stripped, because they all have emergency plans and even EOCs and will be sending in trucks from outside the affected area to replenish local supplies, while local shops will have a tough time getting anything in. And with the widespread nature of the event, combined with curfews, damage to roads/bridges, and/or the prohibition of anything except emergency vehicles will make it very hard to just drive and get stuff yourself.

 

You'll either want to get out of the area, or stay at home. In the first case, you'll want cash for fuel, food, water, and lodging until you're out of the affected area. In the latter case, you'll want to hunker down for a few days, and rebuild/repair/clean (though that's stupid, if the disaster is ongoing). You'll want much of the same stuff, except it's less about fuel and lodging, and more about fixing and cleaning. If you get stuck without, you'll have to beg, borrow, steal, or find a shelter or a mass care distribution point.

Message 22 of 30
Kree
Established Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?

I have never once in my life experienced a cashless gas station or grocery store.

 

I don't believe they exist

 

 

Message 23 of 30
iced
Valued Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?


@Anonymalous wrote:


Hurricanes, major floods, earthquakes, winter storms, wild fires, and potentially terrorist attacks. This excludes things like tornadoes, because they typically don't affect a wide enough area to take down the local infrastructure. It's not about trivial blips like power outages, or post-apocalyptic nonsense.

 

If these disasters affect a large area, they often take down the infrastructure. This includes electricity, internet, clean water, cell phone service, roads, bridges, and more. Some are just overwhelmed, for instance that usually happens with phone service as towers are flooded with calls as people try to make sure their loved ones are okay. Others may have suffered cosmetic or severe damage, like losing main lines or trunks. Water often gets contaminated, and there may be boil orders or you may have to rely on bottled water. It takes a several days to bring in crews with chainsaws or pull in electrical utility workers from around the country, and have them clear roads, set up new towers, run new wire, and so on. In that period, you some services may be available, for instance internet using cellular data plans, while others are not.

 

Swiping a card takes power, and an internet connection. Even if every shop you go to has both, there are numerous verification steps, and a failure at any point means the payment is rejected. And that's assuming they weren't just turned off due to widespread theft or fraud. I guess a store could could write down the numbers for bulk manual input later, but that sounds like a terrible idea and I suspect most card processors will frown on that.

 

But cash always works. Despite your concerns about fraud and having too much on hand, people have dealt with those issues for decades. Cash doesn't need power, internet, or a cash register. But many stores will be closed. Typically the ones that will be left are convenience or general stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and home improvement stores. The big box stores will be the most reliable after the shelves get stripped, because they all have emergency plans and even EOCs and will be sending in trucks from outside the affected area to replenish local supplies, while local shops will have a tough time getting anything in. And with the widespread nature of the event, combined with curfews, damage to roads/bridges, and/or the prohibition of anything except emergency vehicles will make it very hard to just drive and get stuff yourself.

 

You'll either want to get out of the area, or stay at home. In the first case, you'll want cash for fuel, food, water, and lodging until you're out of the affected area. In the latter case, you'll want to hunker down for a few days, and rebuild/repair/clean (though that's stupid, if the disaster is ongoing). You'll want much of the same stuff, except it's less about fuel and lodging, and more about fixing and cleaning. If you get stuck without, you'll have to beg, borrow, steal, or find a shelter or a mass care distribution point.


The past is not the future, and emergency funds are about the future, after all.

 

Yes, cash has been a mainstay for centuries, but times are changing and changing fast. Cashless society is coming soon, with some thanks going to the pandemic. When the system supporting it fails, you won't be seeing a fallback to the old system of paper cash because the ability to manage it on the backend will have been gutted out.

 

Bringing the network online in disaster areas is already prioritized at the same tier as food and water. It's already an essential service.

 

As for cashless gas and grocery stations:

 

Many stations have periods where they are unattended already; during those, they are cashless. It's not long before many are only attended by security and maintenance. Looking further down the road (a bit beyond what we should for a short-term emergency fund anyway), gas stations will be charging stations. If that power grid is down, people aren't buying anything anyway. 

 

Amazon's already broken the barrier on cashless grocery, and the plans are ambitious. A few of the grocery stores I go to today have gone from 20 checkout lines to 12 with 10 self-kiosks to <6 lines with dozens of kiosks. Some of those kiosks have no ability to take cash. If the store has replaced all of its cashiers with kiosks, who exactly do you expect to be standing around taking paper money in a power outage? The answer is nobody; the store will be closed until the grid's back up (another reason it's prioritized to be restored).

 

Sweden's going full cashless next year: https://interestingengineering.com/sweden-how-to-live-in-the-worlds-first-cashless-society#:~:text=I.... It won't be long before other nations, even the obstinate US, follow suit.


We're getting a bit OT, so I'll end it there, but in 5-10 years don't be surprised when you find your $20 bill is harder to use than an AmEx travel credit.

Message 24 of 30
Janus
Senior Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?

Which I think will end up being a big mistake when we do have that major even that knock out the grid, now we have no physcial form of cash because it's all been done away with which means we're dendant upon whichever digital bank that currency is in to assist us in our time of need. And if history is any indication it won't come soon enough. 






Message 25 of 30
Anonymalous
Frequent Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?


@iced wrote:


The past is not the future, and emergency funds are about the future, after all.

 

Yes, cash has been a mainstay for centuries, but times are changing and changing fast. Cashless society is coming soon, with some thanks going to the pandemic. When the system supporting it fails, you won't be seeing a fallback to the old system of paper cash because the ability to manage it on the backend will have been gutted out.

 

Bringing the network online in disaster areas is already prioritized at the same tier as food and water. It's already an essential service.


What do you mean by bringing the network online? Cellular? Phone lines? Internet? What type of internet? ISPs? Temporary satellite stations set up to provide wireless to disaster victims? Which to prioritize, individuals or businesses? How long will it take? These are all things that EM much take into account. Most of what you're writing seems to be technofuturism divorced from the practical realities. Yes, the world is moving toward an ever more cashless society. But currently only a tiny fraction of shops won't accept cash, and even if that number jumps, there's a big difference 50% or even 90% adoption, and 100%. It will take a long time to get rid of hard cash entirely. And even longer, given the technological and logistical hurdles and how robust the payment systems would have to be. Cash is necessary until infrastructure is restored, and is an essential component of any disaster kit. And will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Message 26 of 30
iced
Valued Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?


@Anonymalous wrote:


What do you mean by bringing the network online? Cellular? Phone lines? Internet? What type of internet? ISPs? Temporary satellite stations set up to provide wireless to disaster victims? Which to prioritize, individuals or businesses? How long will it take? These are all things that EM much take into account. Most of what you're writing seems to be technofuturism divorced from the practical realities. Yes, the world is moving toward an ever more cashless society. But currently only a tiny fraction of shops won't accept cash, and even if that number jumps, there's a big difference 50% or even 90% adoption, and 100%. It will take a long time to get rid of hard cash entirely. And even longer, given the technological and logistical hurdles and how robust the payment systems would have to be. Cash is necessary until infrastructure is restored, and is an essential component of any disaster kit. And will remain so for the foreseeable future.


POTS is already IP beyond the last mile, as is cellular, so all 3 are one and the same. Can't restore phone or cell service without Internet. That said, there can be selective restoration to prioritize certain services such as phone. The FCC has already mandated that remaining POTS networks be retired (http://potsreplacement.com/fcc-sets-the-ground-rules-for-shutting-down-the-legacy-phone-system/).

Message 27 of 30
Anonymalous
Frequent Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?


@iced wrote:

@Anonymalous wrote:


What do you mean by bringing the network online? Cellular? Phone lines? Internet? What type of internet? ISPs? Temporary satellite stations set up to provide wireless to disaster victims? Which to prioritize, individuals or businesses? How long will it take? These are all things that EM much take into account.


POTS is already IP beyond the last mile, as is cellular, so all 3 are one and the same. Can't restore phone or cell service without Internet. That said, there can be selective restoration to prioritize certain services such as phone. The FCC has already mandated that remaining POTS networks be retired (http://potsreplacement.com/fcc-sets-the-ground-rules-for-shutting-down-the-legacy-phone-system/).


The last mile is how people get service, and there's a vast difference between home DSL and a cellular tower. You're talking a lot about prospective future changes, and I'm pointing out the reality today. You said in a previous post that emergency funds are about the future, but I don't think an emergency fund that's only reliably accessible in some indefinite future is all that useful today.

Message 28 of 30
iced
Valued Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?


@Anonymalous wrote:

@iced wrote:

@Anonymalous wrote:


What do you mean by bringing the network online? Cellular? Phone lines? Internet? What type of internet? ISPs? Temporary satellite stations set up to provide wireless to disaster victims? Which to prioritize, individuals or businesses? How long will it take? These are all things that EM much take into account.


POTS is already IP beyond the last mile, as is cellular, so all 3 are one and the same. Can't restore phone or cell service without Internet. That said, there can be selective restoration to prioritize certain services such as phone. The FCC has already mandated that remaining POTS networks be retired (http://potsreplacement.com/fcc-sets-the-ground-rules-for-shutting-down-the-legacy-phone-system/).


The last mile is how people get service, and there's a vast difference between home DSL and a cellular tower. You're talking a lot about prospective future changes, and I'm pointing out the reality today. You said in a previous post that emergency funds are about the future, but I don't think an emergency fund that's only reliably accessible in some indefinite future is all that useful today.


The last mile being up is useless if the network it's connected to is down. Can't make phone calls, local or otherwise, without the IP network behind it also up.

 

Again, getting OT. Time will tell the story, and if you sleep better keeping more than petty cash in paper, then by all means do so.

Message 29 of 30
Anonymalous
Frequent Contributor

Re: handyRe: Best Place for an Emergency Fund?


@iced wrote:

Again, getting OT. Time will tell the story, and if you sleep better keeping more than petty cash in paper, then by all means do so.


It's not about time will tell. Emergency funds need to be accessible today, or they're pointless.

Message 30 of 30
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