TGIF: A Case for the Emergency $20

Remember how last week’s TGIF was an ode to the fact that travelling is oh, so not glamorous? Well, I might’ve willed a little more bad luck into my life, with that statement. Sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, I lost both my debit card and credit card in Toronto. I remember using my credit card to pay for lunch for my boss and I, then emptying my pockets back at the office… and I don’t know what I did with my cards after that. I didn’t need to use them after work, at all, which is why I didn’t notice they were gone until Saturday morning. After ripping apart my purse and luggage, I knew they weren’t in my possession and I hit straight up panic mode.

Losing a debit or credit card anytime is scary, but losing both while travelling is terrifying. I had no cash on me. Maybe $3 in change, max. I was so mad at myself for losing my cards, and then all the “how am I going to pay for this or that” thoughts started to rush in. How am I going to pay for breakfast this morning? How am I going to eat at all? How am I going to get to the airport on Sunday? How am I going to pay the checked baggage fee when I check into my flight? Omg, how am I going to check out of long-term parking? I booked online and used my credit card to get into the lot! It went on like this for a while.

Fortunately, my early morning breakfast plans with Dayle actually saved the day. I didn’t want to cancel, so instead asked if she could pay and I could email her money later. She said of course. When I arrived at the restaurant, I was obviously a bit scattered, trying to think of what I was going to do… and that’s when I remembered I still had my debit card from the credit union I don’t do my daily banking with anymore (but still have a free chequing account with). “Just send yourself an email money transfer,” Dayle told me. Yes! An email money transfer! Coast Capital didn’t use to do those (they’re a little behind in the times) but now they do… and thank goodness.

Still slightly worried that the airport parking lot would charge me $$$ for not having my original credit card to check out with, I emailed $300 from one of my Tangerine accounts to my Coast Capital account, then sucked up the ATM fees and took out some cash at a bank. I then cancelled both cards and was living on cash until Wednesday afternoon (I hate cash!). When my credit card finally arrived, I had to update all my pre-authorized bill payments, etc. which was a bit of a hassle. But it’s done. Everything is fine. And I have good friends + that second debit card to thank.

This incident, coupled with the 7 hours I was stuck at LaGuardia with no cash while their credit system was down, has proven the importance of keeping an emergency $20 bill in your wallet. In fact, I think I’ll keep $20 CAD and $20 USD in there… just in case!

The low of my week was getting a hip arthrogram + MRI done. The MRI part wasn’t bad, but the hip arthrogram? I won’t describe it, in case you’re squeamish… but you can read about it here, if you’re  not. It was freaky and not very pleasant. Still, I’m glad the test was done. Results now, please.

The high of my week was having dinner with Sarah and Jess on Monday night. Individually, they are hilarious and always make me laugh. Together, I was in a fit. I’m glad Jess is in town for an extended period of time, so we can repeat that once more!

A blog post I loved was Why the Woods by Frugalwoods. Lately, I’ve spent too much time worrying that the life I want doesn’t match with what our society says is “normal”. This post was a good reminder that I need to trust my gut and do what aligns with my values.

The best money I spent was $30 on two tickets to the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Gardens. I wanted to go last year, but no one seemed interested. This year, I decided to take matters into my own hands, by purchasing two tickets and telling my friend Kasey we were going!

My plans this weekend include going to my old job’s Christmas party tonight, having afternoon tea at the house with our extended family tomorrow, Skyping with Gail on Sunday and probably helping Mom finish some last-minute shopping.

Only 6 sleeps until Christmas! Are you ready? And what are you up to this weekend?

Flickr: nayukim

  • Morning! 6 sleeps :):) I’m totally ready!! Shopping as been done for awhile… I’m having a girls’ Christmas lunch and Secret Santa at my house on Sunday…really looking forward to that!

    I got to see my nephew finally this week… He’s 4 weeks old today and I hadn’t seen him since he was 5 days old thanks to a cold + a really busy month! He’s just the CUTEST!

    I am a big fan of the emergency $20. I’ve probably had it in my wallet for a year or two, can’t remember. I’ve never had to use it (yet) but it is really good peace of mind! It’s enough to be able to get food if I’m starving, make an emergency phone call, or get some gas in my car, especially if the systems are down for some reason.. I just keep it folded up in a separate section of my wallet so I don’t even know it’s there.

    Have a great weekend!

    • Sounds like a great weekend, Dayle! Enjoy! And thanks for the inspiration to keep more cash in my wallet ;)

  • Just because society says something is “normal” doesn’t mean it’s the best thing. If what you’re doing isn’t harming anyone else and makes you happy then go for it!

    As for Christmas today is baking day! Tomorrow is the get the last of the gifts including the one the boyfriend’s parents have asked us to get. We don’t have to worry about paying for it because he has a credit card that his mom gave him for stuff like this. And then it’s gearing up for the work week because this will be our busiest week all year (I work for a Cobs Bread) with Christmas Eve will be INSANE.

    • You’re right! It’s just hard when you’ve grown up being told you should do one thing, and you realize that’s not at all what you want to do. But that’s ok.

      Hope you had fun baking yesterday!

  • I’d also suggest a $20 (or more — enough for food and cab fare to the airport) that’s not in your wallet when travelling, in case you lose your whole wallet.

    A harrowing tale though! Glad it worked out in the end — nice to have friends in the places you’re visiting!

  • Oh no! Losing both cards would be tragic! Glad you figured it out. While the fees suck – it was truly an emergency.

    We were reminded of the need to have cash on our trip last month. One day in Spain we realized our credit card was no longer working. Fortunately we had enough Euros to do what we wanted. Later in the day we called the credit card company. Turns out, even though we had a traveling alert on our card – the company had basically cancelled our card. fortunately they could fix it and after about 15 min we had our card back.

    We rarely use cash as we have a great points card, but I do always try to have $20 just in case.

    • Oh man, that would be so scary! But thank goodness it was as simple as the credit card company basically having to flick a switch to turn it back on. This was also a reminder for me to carry two credit cards at all times. I do have a second card, but not with me that trip. Won’t make that mistake again!

  • Good call, I also keep $40 in my car in a secret spot. I have been at the gas station before and left my purse at home. It’s always a good idea to have cash on you at all times, just in case. I use credit and debit for everything, but when there is an emergency or the machines are down; cash always wins.

    • Ahhh, I like that idea, Savannah. I have a little emergency kit in my car (blanket, flashlight, granola bar, etc.) but $20 couldn’t hurt.

  • I never carry cash on me, but maybe I should start to carry an emergency $20 (A ten, two fives, and ten ones!) That should take care of any emergencies where I need cash, like parking garages that don’t take cards.

    • That’s $30, but yes! Great idea, Bailey. If ones and twos weren’t coins here, I might do the same. A simple $20 for me.

  • Worst feeling ever losing your cards :(
    I have my credit card emergency number programmed in my phone, as well as my credit union’s because this has happened one too many times now ;)
    Happy Holidays!

  • We’ve run into a few small issues with not having cash at home (thankfully nothing as panicky as your situation!) so we’ve learned to keep some cash on hand, too. I don’t know what I would have done if that had happened to me!

  • When I travel, I usually carry a small bill just in case. But I also bring a few extra credit cards, it doesn’t make me spend more and it helps me sleep at night. I travel a lot overseas and my way of thinking is the following: if I need to get home quickly, from wherever on the globe, I need to be able to, so credit cards are essential.

    • Totally agree. My second credit card expired in November, and for some reason RBC sent my new one to my parents’ house!? They’re happy to send bills to my condo, but cards… nope, the parents get that for some reason, haha. So I just picked it up, when I came home this week. I’ll definitely keep two on me at all times, though, after this!

  • Isnt Coast Capital part of the Exchange Network?
    I checked and it is.
    Then you can use any ATM that is part of the network without paying fees.
    Most credit unions are part of that network.

    I used this feature transferring money back and forth using a joint account with my parents credit union that’s located across country.

    My scary vacation tale in regards to banking was when I was on vacation out of province this fall. We had been there for a week and I go online to check my balance and discover someone had written and cashed a stolen check from our account. In addition to getting ready for the brother in laws wedding we had to close the account, transfer payments, report the theft to police.

    I hope to head to Butchart Gardens.

    • I know about the Exchange Network. There aren’t many credit unions in Toronto – at least nowhere near where I was staying – so I had to pull the cash out at RBC. No biggie. I was more than happy to pay a few bucks, in that situation.

    • Thanks, Mark! I’m also going to toss $100 cash (maybe more soon) into my fireproof safe at home… just in case!

  • when you lose card is terrible, honestly I prefer use cash more often is possible instead card, so I’m quiet sure that budget is work and see material money hang out from wallet helps to avoid shopping temptations….

    • Interesting. If I have cash, I spend it. And I am terrible at keeping receipts, so then I have no idea what I spent it on…

  • Since we’re now blog-turned-IRL friends (yay!), I figured I’d catch up on your blog and this post struck me. I always kept an emergency $20 in my car (when I had a car) but over the past few years I NEVER have cash on me – everything on my credit cards,please! I’ve tried to be better about this more recently and tend to have about $20-40 on me…but I just realized that I keep it in my wallet which also holds my credit cards and debit card. So, if I lost my wallet, I’d be SCREWED. Time to keep $20 at home, at the office and in my wallet…? (Btw, the boyfriend ALWAYS has cash on him, chastises me that I never do, and was our savior when we drove through a storm before Thanksgiving and had to get towed up the hill where the tow truck guys were asking for $60 cash. He’s got a point!)

    Glad you have great friends and were able to figure it all out! At least you didn’t lose your entire wallet and purse, right?!

    • Eek, sounds like boyfriend is good friends with the emergency $20! Sounds like we should both take the hint from him, haha. And yes, thank goodness I didn’t lose everything! I would’ve had nothing but my passport (which was back with my luggage).

  • Another option is to carry a few travellers cheques with you. Then if you get robbed, or just lose them, you can get your money back. (so long as you keep track of what numbers they were in a safe place like at home). If you belong to CAA (and some banks) you can get Cdn $$ travellers cheques for no fee. Most places will still take them, especially taxis, airport parking etc, and especially if you plead an emergency. Most banks will cash them, too, although some will charge a small fee.

    That said, I always have some cash. Having younger children, there’s a steady need for cash for school requests.

    • Ahhh yes, I imagine money flies in and out of hands, when you have kids! Maybe I’ll keep an emergency $100 whenever that day comes. ;)

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