When I was a small child I distinctly remember a day when I was visiting at my grandmother’s house. Her house was very mysterious to me. She is an immaculate housekeeper and I remember my mother warning me not to touch ANYTHING.
While mom and grandma were visiting my brothers and I decided to play in the basement. Grandma’s basement is situated in such a way that we could run from the stairs, down around the hallway, through the living room and end up at the stairs again. Like most basements there was very little natural lighting so it was rather spooky without lights on. This loop provided hours of entertainment in the form of races, monsters, tag and hide and seek.
On this particular afternoon we were playing hide and seek when one of my brothers poked his head out of a bedroom and furtively motioned me to him. Our other brother was seeking so I just assumed he was going to show me a good hiding place. What he did show me was amazing. He had found a small wad of cash hidden under a dresser in the bedroom. Being the little brother he wanted to keep it, being the snotty big sister I insisted we take it to grandma.
What we had discovered was one of Grandma’s secret cash stashes. I later learned that she had these stashes all over her house. From that point on most of my visits included a little furtive seeking for hidden cash. She promptly moved the stash under the dresser and I never found cash there again.
I was visiting with Grandma just the other day and reminded her of this story and asked her if she could share a little about her reasoning for stashing all that cash. The logic she and grandpa shared rang so true to me and convinced me that I need to be stashing cash too. Especially since I rely on my “cards” for just about every financial transaction. They basically said you never know when something might happen and you need cash but don’t have access to a bank. Simple.
- Think of an extended power outage. If all your purchase power was in your credit cards you couldn’t buy a thing till the lights came back on.
- I’ve gone to the store before with my purse and realize at the check stand that my wallet was back at home. If I’d stashed cash in my purse or in the car I may have been just fine.
- What happens if your credit card is stolen while on vacation? Having a little cash stashed would be a blessing to get you to a bank and a new card.
You really never know when having a little cash stashed away would be helpful. Sure, if the house burned down you’d loose it all and of course someone could find it and steal it, but there are risks associated with having all your money in the bank or invested. I believe the financial bigwigs call it diversification, but instead of spreading your investments between stocks and bonds you have a small portion in cash. Grandma doesn’t keep it all in one place at her house either. She has a little here and a little there improving the chance that a robber couldn’t find it all and she has plenty in the bank and invested too.
Here are some ideas of places to stash your cash:
- just inside heat ducts out of sight
- china sugar bowl
- deep inside dry bean (or other bulk foods) bucket
- inside a zipper couch cushion
- behind picture frames
- inside a clock
- between pages of favorite book
Boy: He usually tucks a few $100 some where between those pages. Girl: (looking at book) "Common Sense," how appropriate. Name that movie!
- decorative pieces
- behind drawers
- inside a fire safe
- under tables/furniture
- in the car
- secret compartment in purse
- in between mattress (Ha!)
- coffee can buried in backyard (kidding about that last one…I think)
Just think like a spy. Where would they keep their extra foreign currency and alias passports?
A good friend of mine stashed a $50 in the lining of her make-up bag when she was going on a cross-country trip several years back. When she got home she forced herself to forget about it and there it sits to this day ready for any emergency. That’s one of the tricks, forgetting about the cash enough not to spend it frivolously, but remembering it when there is an emergency. From experience I’ll admit it is much harder to spend cash enveloped, sealed and taped to the back of a picture frame than cash sitting in your wallet (begging to be spent…).
A few more tips:
- Just like your regular emergency fund at the bank once you dip into your cash stash you need to replace that money for the next time.
- Having a master list of where things are hidden might be helpful, just guard it like you would your passwords.
- Periodically moving your spots couldn’t hurt either.
- Small bills and coins are better than larger. They are easier to spend.
- Corral the cash in an bag, envelope or zip-lock and tape them out of sight.
My grandma hasn’t spent an actual quarter in over a decade, yet she pays cash for everything. All that change gets put in a piggy bank. Once full, the quarters are bagged and stashed. Those quarters add up fast and you don’t have to make a lot of money to put a little aside.
We joke that when Grandma dies we will have to be extra careful about searching everything and everywhere before we get rid of a single thing. We all know she likes to stash. But, honestly they are very prepared for any cash emergency. I’m working on gathering a little cash to have on hand at our house. I’ll build it slowly over the course of the next few months. Better safe than sorry, ya? And thankfully, as a bonus, when we chatted Grandma showed me all her hiding places so now I don’t have to wonder every time I visit if there is cash hidden in the vase.