Monday, September 18, 2017

Five Reasons to Keep a Coin Cache Stash

I was reading an article the other day about having a cash cache as part of one's preps.

While I certainly agree that having cash on hand is a good idea, I don't agree with the author of that article that cash in the form of dollar bills is preferable to coins.  The author suggested that paper money is better, mostly, because the same amount of coins is heavy, which is absolutely true, but also, as I'll share in a bit, the weight of the coins versus the paper money could mean the difference between keeping your money and having it taken from you.

I suggest that having coins as one's cache is a better option than keeping an equal amount of paper money.

1.  Coins are more disaster proof than paper money. 

A few years ago, I read this article about this guy who had been given this windfall of cash - all in bills - which he had stored in his car.  Then, his car caught fire.  Everything, literally, went up in smoke.  I know it's silly, because what are the chances, but at the same time, paper money burns. Coin money doesn't.

Keeping coins is a little more secure from disaster than paper money, and fire isn't the only worry. Water can also damage paper money.  If I really wanted to secure my cash stash, I could bury my coins in a tin can in the garden under a painted rock.  If the lid of my container is broken or otherwise compromised and the coins get all wet, no worry.  I just dig them up, drop them in some vinegar to clean them up, and take them to the bank.  In fact, there have been coins recovered from shipwrecks that were still usable.  Not true of paper money.

2.  Coins have value beyond the denomination on its face.

When I was in elementary school we lived down south, and my grandmother, who was working on our family history came to visit.  During this visit, we went on a family field trip to visit Andersonville Prison, where she was certain she would find the name of one of my great-great uncles, who had fought as a Union soldier during the Civil War, had been taken prisoner by the Confederates, and had died at Andersonville.  She did find his name.

As a kid, I wasn't adequately impressed enough with what Andersonville represented and what it meant that my great-great uncle had been imprisoned there.  What I was impressed with was the replica Confederate currency, and my parents bought for me a package of about $100 in Confederate money for about $5 US currency.

The money weren't real Confederate bills, but even if it had been, they wouldn't have been worth much.  When I lived in Germany, I went to the Oktoberfest in Munich, and I found a 1000 lire note on the ground.  It was worth about $2 US.  Today it's worth nothing, because Italy joined the rest of Europe in adopting the Euro as their national currency.  Like the Confederate money, the lire note is valueless as a currency, because the nation which printed it no longer uses that money.

Neither of those two examples prove that keeping coins is better than keeping paper money, except that I have German pfennings that are worthless, as currency, but they still have value.  They are metal, and metal can be melted down and made into something else.  And that Lire note?  In an emergency situation, where I don't want a keepsake, because who needs more clutter, the best use for that money is next to the toilet.

The coin can be traded as metal, at very least, and that has value.

3.   Coins hold their value.

A few years ago, Argentina suffered an economic collapse.  The cause was a combination of many things, including government corruption and excessive government spending, but the result was that their currency wasn't worth as much as it had been.

I followed a blog written by a man who was living in Argentina at the time.  He was eye-witness to what it's like to live through such an event, and I learned a lot from him.  One of the big take-aways, for me, was the use of currency.

He said that there came a time when the paper money was all, but worthless, and some businesses stopped taking it as currency.  The coins, however, held their value, and if one had cash in the form of a coin, one could be assured of getting service.

When I think of emergency cash, for me, coins are the better choice, because if the shit really does hit that fan, chances are good that our paper money isn't going to be worth as much as that jar of pennies.

When I was a kid, my uncle gave me an 1800s silver dollar.  It was real silver, and it was worth a lot more than a dollar.

And that's the other part.  Dollar bills stay in circulation for a few months.  Coins stay in circulation ... well, forever, right?  I can still find wheat pennies, and still use wheat pennies as currency.  They stopped minting them in 1958.  Some of them (the 1944 one, for instance) are worth more than a mere penny.  In good condition, that penny, sold to a collector, can command $6.  So, $6 doesn't seem like a lot of money, but hold up - $6 for a PENNY is a lot of money.

4.   Some coins are spendable in other countries.

The other day I was sorting some coins.  Mixed in with my nickles and dimes were several pieces of Canadian currency.  The thing is that I can use my US dimes in Quebec just like I use my US dimes in Portland, and if I'm shopping in Portland, there's a good chance that the cashier will give me a Canadian dime in change.

While some stores in other countries will accept currency from the US, it's not a given that I can spend my dollar bills without exchanging them at a bank, first.  With coins, it's a little easier.

5.  Coins are more burglar proof. 

Like most people I have a change caddy in my car - a place where I drop loose coins when I go through the drive-thru.

Knock wood - my car has never been broken into so that someone could get to that visible stash of coins.

The thing is, coins aren't really seen as valuable.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  It's a great story about these two kids who run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  One of the kids gets money by taking it from the fountain every night when the museum is closed.

We just, literally, throw coins away, like they aren't worth anything.

There have been lots of articles written by former burglars to help us regular people understand how to better protect ourselves.  In one article, the burglar says that his goals were to:  1. steal money and valuables, and 2. get out of the house as quickly as possible with these goods.  

Coins are heavy, and if we have several containers of them, stashed throughout the house (including in the kids' rooms, which are the last place most thieves look for valuables), the thief is unlikely to find them all.

True, we can stash bills, too, but those look like money, and they're easier to carry out of the house than a gallon-sized jar of assorted coins.

A cash stash is really important, especially for those who are in the path of natural disasters.  Things like hurricanes can interrupt power for days, which means that the ATMs won't work.  Having some cash to be able to purchase a few essentials can be really important.

But also, we live in a volatile world economy.  It might feel good to have a neat stack of $20 bills hidden between the pages of your favorite books, but the reality is that paper money might seem more secure, but history proves otherwise.

The form in which one chooses to stash that cash could be just as important, and depending on the emergency, having coins rather than paper money might be a life-saver.


  1. Have you or your readers found it difficult to get coin? The last time I was in the bank and asked for a roll of quarters and a roll of $1 coin (I'm in Canada), the teller asked all kinds of questions about why I wanted the coin.
    I played along and answered her questions politely. I wanted to let her know what I really felt about her invasive questions. However, I didn't want to have that 'battle'. And, truthfully, I wasn't stockpiling, I was heading to the laundromat.
    Great article. I might have to get some more rolls for all the reasons you mentioned.
    Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC

    1. Sometimes I'll ask for gold dollars, stating that we homeschool and we're trying to collect all of them. A few years ago, they started a thing where they put the Presidents on the gold dollars. They did the same thing with the states and quarters. We collected all of the States quarters. Seems like they wanted us to do that, though. I haven't had tellers grill me on why I want them, but I am finding it more difficult to get gold dollars when I ask. They don't, usually, give them out by the roll anymore.

  2. I am going to pop over to your place to look under all the painted stones in your garden :) :)

    1. Ha! Ha! I wouldn't tell you they were there, if they were really there. Please don't dig up my garden looking for coins. We'll both be very disappointed.