There are a number of reasons for hiding money in your home. Perhaps your side hustle pays in cash and you don’t have time to get to the bank until next week. Perhaps you need a cash buffer to get by in the event of a natural disaster (without electricity, the banking system shuts down). Maybe you just really like Girl Guide cookies and need to stock up next time they come knocking. At the end of the day, keeping money in the bank is safest but it comes at the cost of convenience.
Unfortunately, as well as the risk of inflation eating away at your purchasing power there are a number of other concerns when hiding money in your home. The biggest of these concerns is the risk of theft or burglary. This article contains a number of tips to help you stash your money safely.
Avoid hiding money in common spots
Twenty years ago, the first place that thieves would search for your valuables would be under your mattress. With the rise of the internet it has become easy to search for new hiding spots for your money, but remember that criminals can use google as well. The more common a hiding spot is, the more likely a thief knows to check it. Hiding money by taping it to the underside of drawers or inside a hollowed out book might have worked in the past, but have become too common to be effective.
Diversion safes have become a popular way of hiding money in recent years. A Diversion safe is essentially a fake object – fake coke cans, bic lighters, chicken noodle soup and even lint rollers used to hide valuables in plain sight. If you decide to use one of these items, keep in mind that it needs to look like it belongs. Money hidden inside a fake drain cleaner bottle under the laundry sink is much less likely to be discovered than hiding money inside a fake soup can on the bookshelf in your bedroom.
Diversify and consider a ‘decoy stash’
If you want access to $500 in emergencies, isn’t it better to hide $100 in five different places than the whole amount in one spot? This reduces the risk that a criminal might make off with your whole stash, but can increase the risk of any one hiding spot being discovered. If a criminal finds one of your hiding spots, they may think that they have found your entire stash and stop looking. For this reason some people set up a ‘decoy stash’ – hiding a small amount of money in a fairly obvious spot (envelope in the bottom of the sock drawer?) to trick thieves into not tearing the house apart looking for more money.
Consider Access Time
A thief wants to get in and out of your home as quick as possible. They are likely to check common hiding spots, but will always be keeping an eye on the clock. At my old home I used to keep a spare few hundred dollars hidden in my roof cavity under some insulation. It was inconvenient to get to, but luckily I never needed to access it until I moved out. In order to get to the money you had to get a ladder from the garage, carry it across the house to the manhole and then crawl across the roof space. Even if a criminal knew exactly where to look, the whole process took about ten minutes. Is a burglar really going to risk getting caught because they spent too long crawling through a roof cavity?
I have often heard of people hiding money inside their freezer, thinking no one will ever search the freezer. Burglars know this spot, and while it isn’t likely they will open every frozen meal on each shelf, if your cash is just sitting in a ziplock bag in the freezer door it won’t take long to find. It also won’t take thieves long to tip your bookshelf over to see if there are any fake books hiding money.
Don’t get your valuables stolen accidentally
My home was broken into a number of years ago and they stole my laptop amongst other things. What annoyed me more than losing my $500 laptop was losing my $1,000 professional quality soundcard which was in the front pocket of my laptop bag. The whole bag was sitting next to thousands of dollars of audio equipment which was untouched, so I believe they stole the soundcard ‘accidentally’ – not specifically targeting it and only realising what they had stolen after they left.
When telling a friend about this incident he told me a similar story – when he was younger he would hide his money inside the battery compartment of his discman. One day his house got broken into and they stole the cd player – probably getting a nice surprise when they went to check the batteries. Hide your money inside something which is unlikely to get stolen. Hiding money inside a computer case or amongst your power tools might be a bad idea, but you know what never gets stolen… those rubber bits that stop your doors banging into the walls. If you purchase a diversion safe (see above), avoid purchasing fake beer cans to avoid the risk of ‘accidental theft’.
Consider the risk of fire
Theft isn’t the only risk involved with hiding money at home. Fire can quickly sweep through your home and destroy your money – good luck trying to convince your insurance company you had $1,000 hidden inside a hollowed out leg of your dining table. Consider using a fire pouch inside your hiding spots, or even a fireproof box if you have space. This will greatly reduce the risk of your savings being destroyed by fire.