Don't keep money at home

We’re not talking about a few hundred dollars for emergencies here. We’re talking about people who stash a major amount of cash hidden in secret places and/ or ordinary items (such as books) around the house.

When the Money Is Under the Mattress. Or in the Freezer. Or a Shoebox.

Older people who stash large sums of cash in their homes think it’s safer there than anyplace else. But they could be creating huge headaches for their heirs.
By Martha C. White, The New York Times, June 8, 2024

While throwing hidden cash in the trash is a very real risk of keeping money at home, it is far from the only one, advisers say. Valuables kept in the home can be stolen, destroyed by a disaster like a fire, or surreptitiously appropriated by a family member…

People who keep cash at home lose the considerable wealth generation that can take place over decades if that money were invested…

Without a paper trail establishing ownership or a detailed will, determining inheritances can be difficult. …

Clients who inherit valuable but illiquid items, such as artwork, should have them appraised. Establishing the item’s value at the time when the owner died and the inheritor assumed ownership can be important, particularly if the item in question became considerably more valuable over the years… [end quote]


Add to that the fact that significant cash is not normally insured.

Near the end of her life, my aunt warned me to look in all her books for cash, before donating them. Of course, her dad lost his life savings in a bank failure, in the 20s, before the depression. I am sure the idea behind Federal deposit insurance was so people would trust banks. But what happens when a government decides that such prior promises are a “burden”?



Steve Goodman wrote a song about Paul Powell.

“Although Powell’s government salary was never more than $30,000 a year, shoeboxes, briefcases and strongboxes with over $750,000 in cash were found in his hotel suite residence at the St. Nicholas Hotel within days of his death.”


A little cash at home is always a good idea, just enough to take care of a few things if you have to. But, I get the premise of the article; don’t hide your hoard. You may forget it’s there! Funny story, an old lady I once knew hid a hundred dollar bill in a toilet paper roll, one of the first things a person would throw out! She had dementia, though, poor girl.

I worked with a guy whose father-in-law hid money everywhere in the house. They found several thousand dollars hidden in books, socks, drawers and so on. While he was in the garage he looked up and saw an electrical junction box in the attic. It struck him odd that there wasn’t any electrical wire or conduit running to it. He got a ladder, climbed up to it and opened it. He found $180 in there.

Additionally, if you’ve been planning an exit strategy from a marriage months (or more) in advance and you’ve been purloining cash from the joint business…be aware that the memsah’b might stumble across it, load it into a safe deposit box in case the legal fees become too onerous. Also, the forensic accountant and the IRS might want some sort of reconciliation (tinkering with Quickbooks might’ve conned a few people briefly…but only briefly)

Or, so a friend told me​:wink::crazy_face: