It's the day of the event, and everything is going well. Suddenly, the band asks for a dinner buyout, but expect a little bit more than you allocated for your budget. In addition, you might use some petty cash for emergencies (like extra guitar picks), and to cover some unexpected expenses from the venue. But after spending on all these items, you quickly run out of petty cash, banks are closed, and an ATM is too far away. What happens next?

You don't want to end up in this situation, as it can quickly snowball into more problems and stress. That's why it's important to have some petty cash on-hand to cover hidden costs and surprises. Here's our guide to figuring out how much petty cash should you allocate for each show.

What is Petty Cash?

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For new organizers, petty cash can be a new term to your event planning vocabulary. In general, petty cash refers to a fund of cash bills that will go to unexpected costs the day of the event.

This fund should be paper money in the local currency, and should equal approximately $200-$500. It should also be kept safe by the business manager, who might give money to a runner for important errands.

What might petty cash cover?

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$200-$500 might seem like a lot for an emergency fund, but it can really come in handy. For one, traveling bands or event planners might run into problems with their credit cards, especially with international travel. Some venues might have trouble accepting particular cards and occasionally, banks mistakenly freeze credit cards when too much travel is detected. While some of these scenarios are uncommon, have some cash on-hand the day of the event will save you a lot of trouble.

There are some typical unexpected costs that the petty money can be used for, such as:

  • Extra snacks, food, and drinks for performers and crew
  • make change for bands selling merchandise
  • taxi, bus, or train fares
  • car rentals
  • changes in hotel room accommodations
  • tips for hospitality (delivery drivers, waitresses, etc.)
  • last-minute photocopies (of important documents or PR materials like flyers)
  • supplemental materials (extra event bracelets, temporary passes, etc.)

In addition, it can also be helpful for last-minute emergencies. For example, a traveling band's van might get a flat tire on the way to an event. Having petty cash will help cover towing fees or quick fixes. Or, maybe a few microphone (XLR)  or guitar cables are missing, forgotten at a former venue. A runner might rent a car to buy the new cables in time for sound-check.

In contrast, not having petty cash on hand can create more problems for you. Since most credit cards only allow authorized users to use them, you might waste time trying to complete these simple tasks on your own, just because you're the only one who can use a dedicated credit card for event expenses. The cash therefore makes your job much easier.

Track Your Petty Cash

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Most importantly, petty cash should be accounted for each and every time it's used to cover an expense. For one, it keeps your entire event budget on track. Though $20 here for coffee and $30 there for a buyout doesn't sound like a lot, it can quickly add up. You should treat your petty cash as an important reserve, and limit who has access to the cash to an important, responsible person, such as your business manager. When possible, collect or track money by saving receipts or taking notes, and check the petty cash fund at the end of the night.

Overall, having a small fund of petty cash can help solve unexpected problems and cover costs and make sure your event runs smoothly the day of the concert or festival. For more event planning tips, contact us! We can help you make sure your event is as stress-free as possible.

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