The importance of building an emergency fund has been so well documented by financial experts and money websites that simply googling “emergency fund” will return somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 million results.
Most of the focus is on building a fund that will help get you through the next three to 12 months should you suddenly lose a job or other source of income. Less attention is paid to keeping an emergency cash fund on hand to pay for essential expenses out-of-pocket, but it is important as well.
Having access to ready cash could prove critical in case some major calamity shuts down the banking/financial system, such as a natural disaster or widespread computer hack. How much you should keep around depends on your own financial needs, but some financial experts recommend saving at least $1,000 to $2,000 in cash on hand to cover your essential expenses.
The question then becomes where to hide all that cash to keep it safe and secure around the house. The key here is to think of hiding places that would-be thieves might not think of — while also making sure you don’t hide the money so well you forget where it is.
Here are seven creative places to store your emergency cash, based on suggestions from various home and financial websites:
- Counterfeit containers: As the name suggests, these are containers that look like something real, whether it’s a can of Coke or a jar of peanut butter, with real brand names. However, they are actually empty containers you can store cash and valuables in. Chances are thieves won’t waste time opening jars and cans in your cupboard looking for loot.
- Fake books: If you have a lot of books on your bookshelves, using fake, hollowed-out books to store cash in is an effective way to hide it. Just make a note of which book(s) hold the money so you don’t accidentally take the wrong one to the local book exchange.
- Tennis balls: This can be a very effective hiding place because who in their right mind would think to check a tennis ball for cash? You’ll need to cut open a slit in the seam just big enough for the cash to pass through. To retrieve the cash, squeeze the ball at the seams to open it up. Keep it with other tennis balls in a canister — but don’t forget which one holds the cash.
- Old shoe: Obviously, you want to use shoes that wouldn’t be a target for theft themselves (no Guccis or Louis Vuittons). Use a well-worn shoe that has a removable sock liner, which is the foam pad your foot rests on. Slide cash under the liner and then put the liner back in place.
- Paint cans: As with books, you want to make sure you keep plenty of paint cans around the garage or basement so they all blend together. Also, make sure the can is sufficiently dry and empty so no wet paint gets on your cash and possibly ruins it.
- Chair bottoms: Many dining chairs have a false-bottom box space just below the seat that works well for storing large amounts of cash.
- Behind the washer or dryer: Because these are heavy appliances that thieves have no interest in, they make good hiding places for emergency cash. Put the money in an envelope and duct-tape it securely to the back of the appliance.
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