Keeping a Stash of Money at Home

Is it a good idea to keep a stash of money at home? If yes, how much and where?

When deciding if you should keep a stash of money at home, you need to consider how much money you want to stash, the reason(s) you want to keep a stash and how quickly you may need access to your money.

You also need to consider the risks inherent with keeping a stash of money at home. Does the benefit of having a stash of money at home outweigh the associated risks?

Legality of Keeping a Large Stash of Money at Home

It is legal for you to store large amounts of cash at home so long that the source of the money has been declared on your tax returns. There is no limit to the amount of cash a person can keep in their home, the important thing is properly securing it. 

Common Reasons to Keep a Stash of Money at Home

The reason many people keep a stash of money at home is for an emergency like:

  • A weather-related catastrophe.
  • There is a loss of electricity, water or gas to your community or neighborhood.
  • There is an out-of-town family-related emergency and you need to immediately leave home to provide assistance and support to this family member.

Many people like to keep a portion of their emergency fund at home. They feel more secure when they know they have cash on hand if they aren’t able to withdraw money from an ATM or their bank.

How Much Money to Stash Away

At a minimum, you’ll want to have enough cash to keep your household going for three days. Since a serious crisis might mean an evacuation on short notice, it’s a good idea to have enough money on hand to buy gas, food, and a couple of nights at a motel for your whole family.

For most people, $1,000 is enough to get them and their families through a short crisis. If you have a big family or unusual needs, such as a medical condition that requires special treatment, you’ll probably want to save more. Single folks without dependents can likely get by with a little less.

Where to Stash Your Money at Home

Keeping money under your mattress might sound like a good idea in the movies, but in reality, it’s one of the worst places to hide your cash. Not only is it the first place any burglar would look, but your mattress won’t protect your money from fire, tornado, flood or several other types of natural disasters. Here are some ideas:

  • A hidden safe securely bolted to the wall or in a slab.
  • In a hole in your yard. Protect your money in a double Ziploc bag, then put it in a jar or tin and dig it up outside. Make it as water-tight/ waterproof as possible so it doesn’t rot due to moisture.
  • Inside a sock or an article of clothing kept in a drawer with similar items.
  • Taped in an envelope under the cat’s litter box.
  • Taped in an envelope under a low shelf in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • In a crawl space. If your house burns, the crawl space is less likely to get damaged.
  • Inside a fake outlet. Make it look believable by putting it in a location where an outlet could go. You can hide the outlet with a piece of furniture. If you can’t hide it, make it more believable by plugging something to it.
  • In your bug-out-bag. Any go-bag should be equipped with some extra cash. A couple of hundred dollars in small bills should be plenty in case you need to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

The Worst Places to Stash Your Money at Home

  • In plain sight. The catch-all mug on your kitchen counter or pencil cup on your desk could be a convenient place to keep some cash — and that’s just the problem. It’s convenient for thieves, even amateur ones, and possibly too much of a temptation for you and any sticky-fingered friends or family members. Don’t create the opportunity for someone to steal your money.
  • In your bedroom. That’s where most people keep their cash, jewelry, and other easily grabbed valuables and it’s the first place many burglars head. So forget about your dresser, nightstand, bedroom closets or even under the mattress. Burglars will flip the bed over almost every time. They may also overturn other furniture, knowing that people sometimes tape an envelope of cash underneath.
  • In the fridge. Hiding cash in a refrigerator or freezer might have once been a good idea, but it’s a familiar trick to burglars. Expect them to ransack your fridge and freezer and dump everything on the floor.
  • Anywhere you’ll forget about. Crime isn’t the only thing that can separate us from our money. Our own faulty memories can do the job as well. So, wherever you decide to bury your treasure, make sure you’ll remember the spot later. Consider writing a note to yourself, one that you’ll understand but a thief wouldn’t. Or tell a trusted friend or relative. Otherwise, you could find yourself flipping your mattress or dumping out all the cornflakes, wondering just where you stashed your money.

Most of the above information can be found on most websites addressing this topic. However, there is one type of financial emergency that is rarely discussed … cyber crime.

A Successful Cyberattack to the Global Money System

A criminal cyberattack to the global money system would be catastrophic and would create immediate social chaos. When people don’t have any cash on-hand, and they cannot access money via ATMs, credit and debit cards, or visiting their local bank … social anarchy will ensue.

Such an event may require you to have a sizeable amount of cash on-hand until the global money system is back online and functioning properly.

To put the potential crisis in perspective, consider how your government (at all levels) were prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • What technical systems and human service programs were in-place and ready to be immediately implemented and deployed?
  • Did the government agencies have adequate supplies and equipment in storage for easy access and ready for immediate disbursement?

If our governments are as prepared for a successful cyberattack to the global money system as they were for the coronavirus pandemic, how long could the resulting crisis last?


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Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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