Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hidey Holes! Secret hiding places!

Welcome to Part 3 of Hiding Money: Hidey Holes! Secret hiding places!

This is my favorite part of this series.

If you don't want to take a chance with possible deadbeat roommates, or if you have a financial second life, have your financial docs sent to a PO box. Don't worry about getting a bill for the PO box.  The bill for the PO box is sent to the PO box itself.

The best place to hide cash money and small items from roommates, nosy guests, burglars etc. if you are a little handy, is somewhere that looks like part of the house, like a fake outlet, a place a little ways down a heat register (tape envelope to wall of vent), under a loose stair tread (or vertical board on stairs), or the window or door trim. On wood windows, there are these guides on the sides. If you take the trim off that holds the window in (usually only held on by 2 or 3 thin finish nails) you can get at the guides and sometimes you can take them apart to get at the weights, for instance. You might be able to hide things in there if they don’t interfere with the weights.

You could hollow out a 2 or 3 inch deep trench in the top of your bedroom (or any other) door, and (maybe) put a strip of wood across it to hold stuff in. Use a paddle bit or router.

The back of a closet could be re-framed in and a second wall installed over top of the first one, leaving a semi-permanent storage space between the two walls.  Or you could put cedar paneling, which if you're clever about it could be removable, hinged with a hidden hinge and maybe a magnetic latch, etc.

If you can’t or don't want to get any piece of house trim off, then use or alter a piece of furniture into a hidey hole. Not under a mattress or cushion or your drawers. Those are the first place a burglar would look.  You need to get more creative than that. You could remove the lining from under an upholstered chair and stash something in the springs and replace the lining with Velcro dots or staples (get a staple hammer for $12 it’s easier than a staple gun). Often, though, this lining is semi-transparent. You could take apart a framed picture and hide documents or small amounts of cash inside it. If your curtains have a lining you can pin a small baggie between the layers high up near the rod. This is a good quickie hidey hole in a hotel room where you don’t want the cleaning staff stealing your stuff.

If you sew, you could make or alter a teddy bear or a pillow and put stuff in it in the middle of the stuffing. Sew it completely shut. You don’t want people looking at it and seeing a gap, and you want it to look professional. The more permanent it is the better. You also don’t want whatever it is you are hiding to rustle or make a really hard lump. The exception might be one of those talking stuffed animals, where maybe you could hide something hard next to or in place of the voice box. Your danger here is if in your absence your cat barfs on it and someone throws it out or washes it, or if your small child decides to take your toy and play with it outside.

A good place might be a piece of furniture that has tubes, like a futon frame or plastic shelves.

If you have questionable visitors or roommates it’s best to not put your money in anything that is pawnable like computer equipment or that they might nick like cigarette boxes. Instead, hide it in worthless looking things. Maybe under your Odor-Eaters, or if you are good with a needle and thread, make pockets inside your hat or coat sleeves or lining. Attach them only to seams so there is no pocket-shaped area of stitches.

I heard of someone hiding cash under the shreddings in their shredder bin. I dunno, if you have a neatnik spouse you could find it thrown out. (Then there was that stupid politician who was caught shredding his dirty money. Don't be him.)

If you are extremely handy and you need a semi-permanent hiding place for something small and nonperishable (gold perhaps), you can take up your toilet. There is dead space inside under the base of the toilet between the outside and the part that goes into the sewer line. The annoying part is you will have to reseat it afterwards with a new wax ring and maybe caulk, and this may be noticeable if you’re not reasonably good at it. The biggest danger is your toilet will leak or get clogged one day. Then perhaps your unsuspecting roommate or spouse while you're at work will call the plumber who will find your gold stash...

There is always dead space under your bathtub if it is the kind that goes all the way to the floor. If you are lucky you will have a trap door that attaches with screws instead of finished drywall; however, any kind of trap door is accessible by other people as well as by you.

There are many dead-space places inside appliances like the bases of lamps, the vacuum cleaner, clothes washer, etc. but you might need to get time to disassemble them unobserved. Any time you do this you have to take into account the possibility that your spouse or roommate might break the appliance and throw it out or have the serviceman come out, or that you might break it and have to account for its humpty dumpty condition, so be careful.

Plates over switches and outlets might also work in places like a public bathroom with one seat, where you can lock the door and remove the outlet or light switch plate with a screwdriver. So you could even hide stuff at a gas station bathroom or something, unless you think they might renovate it.

Also speaking of tubes, if you can find a chain-link fence with posts, the tops of those posts sometimes come off and you can hide things down those tubes if you can get away with doing so unnoticed. This is also a good place to leave messages for someone else, and such a message-leaving place is called a “dead drop”.

Another use for a metal fence is this: Take a PVC pipe. Fill it with silver coins, or whatever metal. Put caps on the ends. I would glue it shut with that PVC plumbing glue to make it airtight, but the advice I saw also said to heat it up a bit first, to drive out moisture so your silver doesn't corrode. Bury it about 3 feet deep next to a metal fence and plant a bush over it so you remember where it is. The metal fence will foil any metal detectors. In addition, you could bury hunks of scrap metal (old car parts?) here and there in your yard. That would keep any jerk with a metal detector busy for a while finding worthless scrap.

If you can get the trim off the baseboards of your kitchen cabinets, there is a lot of space under there. You could hide large amounts of money, guns, jewels, or coins; or just an overnight bag for the quick getaway. Be careful though: do not store paper money where mice might go. More people have lost their nest egg to a mouse nest. A best bet to keep the mice away from your stash is to store it in metal boxes. You could use a metal briefcase or any sort of other metal tin or box. Or maybe a PVC pipe like I described above.

If you can get the sheet metal of your heat vent detached so you can get into the space of the wall or floor outside the vent and then reattach the vent, that would make a great place to hide stuff you don’t need to get at often. Sometimes they are just screwed or nailed in.

Sometimes old houses have dead space in them, especially in the attic. You have to pay attention to the layout of rooms and walls.

hiding/protecting valuables from the maid and guests

I got this idea from writer and astrologer Anita Sands. If you have a maid, give the maid her own closet to lock, both of you have the key. Maybe a hallway closet?  The maid is to put anything she finds lying out (forgotten cameras, etc.) into her closet for storage until it's claimed. Then you put the stuff you don’t want her to get in your bedroom closet. Lock both the bedroom and the closet whenever you aren’t in them and don’t give her a key. Alternatively use a different room, like a spare bedroom in the same way.

hiding valuables from burglars

don’t put it in any obvious place in the bedroom, don’t put it in your mattress or dresser, don’t tape it to the bottom of drawers either. Hide it in an old piece of junk, broken toy, old decrepit TV or something like that. (if taking apart a CRT (the old kind) TV unplug it and avoid touching the flyback transformer which looks like a suction cup on the top of the back of the tube. You can use a plastic handled screwdriver to discharge it if you want though. It stores a big static shock but it won’t kill you.).

If you think you may be kicked out of the house, then don't stash your cash in the house.  You can hide quite a bit of cash inside your spare tire.  Deflate it, put the cash in, and re-inflate it.  If you don't want it banging around inside the tire, then duct tape it in a baggie to the rim.   I imagine this might make the tire not work quite right as a spare if you got a flat, unless it was just a few pieces of paper in there.  So you are taking the risk of getting a flat while hiding money in the donut.

I always liked the idea of taking something really valuable and encasing it in something that looked much less valuable that could be worn.  For example, baking diamonds into large Fimo beads, or sewing them into a tube like a choker band, and having the visible jewel for the choker be some obviously plastic thing.

Some people suggest that one should stash gold against the end of the world.  If I were going to do that, I would not buy gold bars.  I would buy simple gold jewelry like rings and necklaces, from pawn shops, where the price would be cheaper because the jewelry is used.  The reason for jewelry form is that these things are easier to sell or barter with, and since they are smaller than gold bars, their value is smaller.  Easier to buy as you go, and if the world as we knew it did end and mob rule was the only rule, I wouldn't be flashing a bunch of gold bars around.  Also unless you thought you might be mugged, you could wear your stash. Maybe under your clothes mostly.

A quick search of other people's ideas on the internet revealed these goodies as well:

Inside the toilet paper holder (I'm guessing they mean the spool part, which usually has a spring inside it)
In the kids' room - burglars don't usually bother with there unless perhaps they are looking for an X-Box?
In a locked file cabinet - a burglar is looking for things he can steal in 10 minutes or less.  File cabinets are heavy.  I like this one because it would deter casual thieves but if I died unexpectedly the money would eventually be found, unlike if I'd hidden it in some seemingly worthless object.
In a tampon box (great unless you want your teenage daughter or a female guest who is on the rag to find it)
In an empty toothpaste or better, a hemorrhoid cream tube (cut off the bottom, roll it up)
In a spice jar where it's empty but there is a layer of spices glued to the inside of the jar to make it look full
In the bottom of the kitty litter box
In a block of ice surrounded by fish fillets in a container in the freezer
Inside clothes hung in the closet (not in regular pockets, but glue extra pockets inside pants legs for example, which would make the clothes unwearable)
Inside a mostly used-up Chap Stick tube, under the little cup that holds the product.  I also like this one because if your date rifles your purse for cash while you're in the john they'll miss it.

Happy hiding!


Anonymous said...

My friend is totally blind and her hubby is a real jerk...She has tried to save $ to leave in the past but he keeps finding it! I would keep it for her, however I live away from her now, so she asked me to help her come up with a new plan for hiding it that he can't find. Any suggestions?

Penny Pincher Personal Finance said...

Here's some ideas that don't involve her trying to hide it in some cranny or leaving the husband:

She could open her own bank account and then opt for online statements only. Make sure it doesn't pay her interest (no tax form). This avoids having to involve you. She doesn't need to actually go online, it's just to avoid getting statements in the mail.

I'm also thinking she could get a prepaid credit card like at Western Union, and load it; but then she'd have to hide the card, which might be just as hard as hiding cash. But it would take up less room.

If she must keep it in cash, then she might want to get the help of a different friend who is closer to her. Or she could send you the cash, but then for her to get it back when she needs it, she might also need a mail box, or have you send it to a third person for her to pick up. The more people involved the more potential for problems.

If cash becomes worthless (hyperinflation) then if she can get some gold or junk silver, and then hide that, it would beat the inflation. A gold chain would hide nicely in the hem of a coat, and she can cut links off and sell them one by one. Junk silver takes up a lot more room, maybe hide it in the bottom of a tin of flour or something like that that the husband won't think to touch.

Don't break any laws.