Recently, a close family member asked me an important question:
“I want to take a large amount of cash out of my savings account. How can I do this without going to jail?”
At first blush, a person not paying attention to what’s been happening over the past couple of years would think this sounds like a crazy question for an American to ask …
After all, don’t we live in the Land of the Free?
Not so much …
You see, this family member had read numerous stories published over the past few years titled things like “How To Take Your Money Out Of The Bank Without Going To Prison“, etc
Are these just clickbait titles or is this a real concern?
Yes and No. Unfortunately, this is a part of living in America today. Here’s the story …
Why Would Anyone Need a Large Amount Of Cash Anywhere But Their Bank Account?
Because this was intended to be the “Land of the Free” so if I want to hoard a bunch of cash to swim through in my bathtub like Scrooge McDuck then, damnit, I’ll do it. So “just because” is a great answer.
But seriously, there are many reasons to have a large amount of cash on hand …
Sometimes you just need cash. There are certain situations where writing a check won’t work (or isn’t fast enough) and you can’t swipe your credit card (think friend-to-friend money exchanges, or some other such trival nonsense). I believe in accounting they call this “Petty Cash”.
For most of my readers, I think you want cash because you’re worried about some type of disruption in the normal operations of life, the banking system, and the economy (whether that’s short-term or long-term).
Remember when socialist extraordinare President Franklin D Roosevelt declared a “bank holiday” and closed all the nation’s banks for about a week?
In an economic crisis, cash really is king. Bank withdraws are usually limited to a certain amount per day. ATM’s (if you can find one that’s not empty) limit the amount you can withdraw per day. Stores stay open but they stop accepting credit cards. And Cash really is king.
The people in Argentina, once their banks opened back up, saw their money devalued by the government to help pay the government’s debt. In Cyprus, they pioneered the “bail-in”, where they simply took the money out of accounts over a certain amount.
How Banks Are Now Unpaid Government Spies …
Simon Black of Sovereign Man explains …
” … senior official from the Justice Department spoke to a group of bankers about the need for them to rat out their customers to the police.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that banks are already unpaid government spies.
“Federal regulations in the Land of the Free REQUIRE banks to file ‘suspicious activity reports’ or SARs on their customers. And it’s not optional.
“Banks have minimum quotas of SARs they need to fill out and submit to the federal government.
“If they don’t file enough SARs, they can be fined. They can lose their banking charter. And yes, bank executives and directors can even be imprisoned for noncompliance.
“This is the nature of the financial system in the Land of the Free.
“And chances are, your banker has filled one out on you—they submitted 1.6 MILLION SARs in 2013 alone.
“But now the Justice Department is saying that SARs aren’t enough.
“Now, whenever banks suspect something ‘suspicious’ is going on, they want them to pick up the phone and call the cops:
“[W]e encourage those institutions to consider whether to take more action: specifically, to alert law enforcement authorities about the problem, who may be able to seize the funds, initiate an investigation, or take other proactive steps.”
“So what exactly constitutes ‘suspicious activity’? Basically anything.
“According to the handbook for the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council, banks are required to file a SAR with respect to:
“Transactions conducted or attempted by, at, or through the bank (or an affiliate) and aggregating $5,000 or more…”
“It’s utterly obscene. According to the Justice Department, going to the bank and withdrawing $5,000 should potentially prompt a banker to rat you out to the police.”
Obscene may not be quite a strong enough word for this behavior. But this is the world we’re living in now. Here’s how to deal with it …
Step One: Be Aware Of This. But Please Remember, You Are NOT a Criminal!
If you’re not a criminal, then there is no reason to feel like one. That’s the first step. Unfortunately, the Government does a good job of making you feel like one just for living and breathing and doing a simple thing like dealing in cash.
It’s your money that you’re ALLOWING the bank to hold and make money with, until you want it back.
THAT is what banks are.
Don’t forget that.
Second, they work for you. Your bank is your employee. You are the one who owns the money that you so graciously allow them to use (to again, make money with).
So you should be aware that you may be treated like a criminal but you are NOT a criminal.
Step Two: Develop a Relationship With Your Bankers
If you’re using a small town bank, or from a small town, you probably already do this.
Talk to your tellers, be nice. Ask about their kids, talk about yours. You know the deal. Be a normal person because that’s what you are. You’re not a criminal. You are a free American.
But don’t discount the power of personal relationships.
Step Three: Decide How Much Money You Need Outside the Financial System …
First, you probably can’t deal the rest of your life in entirely cash (though there are many people that do).
So you need to decide how much you need in cash outside the banking system.
FerFal, the author of the Modern Survival Manual: Surviving The Economic Collapseis a guy who lived through the 2001 Argentina Economic Crisis. Here is his advice on “How much cash should I have?”
One month worth of basic expenses in cash. Think mortgage/rent, bills, car fuel and food.
One month worth of basic expenses + plane ticket for each family member to out of state/out of the country alternative location.
People have been forced to relocate abroad many times in history. It has happened to millions in recent history, it could happen to you.
Three months worth of expenses + plane tickets for each family member + 1month deposit plus two more months worth of rent in potential BO country.
This should cut you some slack to get settled and get back on your feet.
Three months worth of expenses + plane ticket per family member + 1000usd/gold eagle bribe per family member + deposit and three months worth of rent + money for ok used car
The more financial resources you have, the better your chances are and the less traumatic will the experience be. Some of this could be in the form of gold.”
Those are some pretty good guidelines, but again the decision is up to you…
Considering many Americans don’t have much in savings anyways, do with that info what you will. The first piece of the most BASIC personal finance advice you will ever receive is to create an “emergency fund” of cash savings (most of the time financial gurus recommend saving it in a bank though).
Step Four: Get That Amount Out As Quickly As Possible.
In short, your bank WILL file a suspicious activity report (SAR), or a cash transaction report, or whatever other surveillance state B.S. report they will file on you.
That’s what you have to realize …
The problem is that you are ALREADY in the system. The bank knows all your personal details about you and so do the Feds (thanks to the income taxes you’ve paid every year of your life).
You can’t hide anything from them at this point.
Further, you are at MORE risk trying to avoid the reporting requirements.
Here’s why …
Scenario A: Trying to be covert, our hero tries to make a withdrawel of $1,000 here … $3,500 there … and $2,000 a short time later. Not only does the bank file reports on him at every transaction, but now he–innocently I might add, because he’s not a criminal–can now be convicted of breaking “structuring” laws.
Structuring is the act of making an effort to avoid reporting cash transactions by breaking up one transaction into a series of smaller amounts.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Dennis Hastert, who — ironically — helped force through Congress stricter laws against anonymous cash transactions, actually got charged with this.
Former New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer faced the same charge when he was trying to withdraw less than $10,000 at a time to pay his prostitutes.
The point is, you can’t avoid having reports filed on you in this day and age of living in the United Surveillance States of America (OhMyGod! I think I just made up a new buzzword!)
The bottom line in this scenario is that by trying to be sneaky, a large amount of cash was still in this person’s bank account when they did draw unwanted attention and that cash will be frozen there, completely useless at this point. Worrying about an economic crisis is not even a concern, because now this person can’t even put food on the table or hire a lawyer to help defend themselves against federal charges.
Scenario B: You are not a criminal, but you understand the system is setup to treat you like one. You develop a personal relationship with your banker. You call and tell them ahead of time that you need to withdraw a large amount of cash for personal reasons on XYZ date, can they make sure that they have that much cash on hand for you?
Why no, you don’t want a cashiers check because you simply want to hold this amount of your savings in cash for personal reasons. You refuse their other veiled-or-not-so-veiled requests to keep your money in their bank. If they persist with the sales pressure, you kindly help them understand that, at the end of the day it’s your money and you really do need it and you’re very thankful for the help they’re going to give you to make this happen as easily as possible. Hopefully, your personal relationship with them will help.
You go in, get your cash, take the proper personal security precautions (because you’re now walking out with a large amount of cash) and all the money you want out of the bank is out of the bank.
If you do draw unwanted attention, and they go to freeze your funds, at least you have that money out so you can survive and feed your family while you find a lawyer to prove your innocence because–again–you are not a criminal. (But you do need a lawyer, watch “Dont talk to Police” for more.)
The Bottom Line?
If you’re going to use the banking system, and most people do need to use it in today’s world, then you need to know you’re already in the system …
The best you can do is work with it, to take the appropriate actions to minimize your risk.
Holding an appropriate amount of cash outside of the banking system is always a prudent thing to do.
Remember, you’re not a criminal and there’s nothing illegal about withdrawing your money from the bank. Simply go about it as logically and straightforward as possible and the most inconvenient thing will be resisting the sales pressure of the bank people trying to get you to keep your money in their bank (or give you a check instead of cash).