The Best Places to Hide Money and Secure Your Valuables
Homestead Essentials: Simple Storage Solutions For Your Valuables
By Jim Cobb — Do you know the best places to hide money and secure your valuables? As you continue to become more independent at self-sufficient farm living, sometimes you will find yourself acquiring quantities of items you may wish to hide from casual view. These include long-term stored foods, firearms and ammunition, perhaps precious metals you’re storing to use for barter down the road. While there are many different styles and sizes of home safes, the better quality ones are pricey as well as cumbersome. A DIY, simple homesteading solution for keeping your valuables secure is to utilize hidden storage areas within your home.
Before we get into some ideas for the best places to hide money and valuables, and a few recommended storage solutions, let’s first go through a few of the places the bad guys often look. Sometimes, when we think we’re being clever, we’re actually just making things easier for thieves. Remember, criminals watch movies too. Under the bed is one of the first places they will look, as well as between the mattress and box spring. Closets are always rifled through and dresser drawers are dumped out on the floor. Bookcases will be swept clean, exposing anything hiding on the shelves behind the books. In the kitchen, cereal boxes will be emptied as that’s another common place to hide cash and other valuables. And here you thought you were being so sneaky, hiding your goodies in a box of Cheerios, right?
The Best Places to Hide Money and Secure Your Valuables: Where Do You Start?
There are many locations in the average home that lend themselves to storing items out of sight, while still keeping them reasonably accessible. Let’s start in the basement and work our way up.
Go downstairs and look up. If your basement is unfinished, you’re probably seeing pipes, wiring, and HVAC ducts. Do you think anyone would notice an extra run of that large diameter PVC pipe? You can purchase several feet of it fairly cheap at any home improvement store and use it to secure your valuables. Don’t forget to pick up the hardware for hanging it – if possible, try and match the same style or type of hanging hardware as what is currently being used in your basement.
To secure your valuables, rig up the PVC in an area of the basement ceiling on the opposite side of the home from where the existing pipe is located, otherwise it will look odd. The inside of this PVC pipe is great for canned goods, rifles, and ammunition. Seal each end of the pipe with a threaded cap so you can easily open it and remove the hidden items.
If you have a finished basement with a drop ceiling, you can still hide things above the ceiling tiles. Don’t rest them on the tiles themselves, of course, as odds are your stashed items will just crash through. Instead, consider using L brackets to install a narrow shelf between the floor joists above the drop ceiling.
Just about everyone has boxes of out of style clothing, old dishes, and other junk sitting in the basement. Consider adding a few more boxes to secure your valuables. Just label the boxes as “Grandma’s old clothes” or something else along those lines. You could even go so far as to toss a few old shirts or something on top of your goodies before closing the box, just in case someone peeks inside. Few burglars or other ne’er-do-wells are going to be interested in Grannie’s nightgowns or Dad’s work pants. Helpful hint, though—if you are hiding something heavy, such as ammunition, make sure the box is labeled as something equally heavy, like coffee mugs. (Ed. note: You might want to let family members know those boxes should never be given away, as they too may think it’s just a box of old coffee cups!)
The Best Places to Hide Money and Secure Your Valuables: The Main Living Space of Your Home
Some of the best places to hide money and secure valuables in your home can be found on the main floor, or in the main living space of your home. Moving up to the main living areas of the home, flat items, such as currency, can be hidden in photo frames, between the picture and the cardboard back. As long as the frames themselves appear to be cheap plastic, thieves will likely leave them alone.
The kick plate running along the bottom of your kitchen cabinets is usually removable. Many items can be stored under the cabinets, then reattach the kick plate using magnets or hook and loop patches so you can easily access your hidden treasure.
If you’re handy with tools, you could add an extra baseboard heat vent to secure your valuables. Simply buy the size vent you’d like, then cut out the drywall where you want to install it. Hide your stuff in the wall itself, and then cover with the vent. A variation on this theme would be to cut out a square of drywall, starting at the floor and going up, then, after storing your items, just cover the hole with a bookcase. Of course, moving a full bookcase to access your items wouldn’t be an easy task but in a true emergency you could just tip it over.
Inside most closets, just above the door, there is space where you can install a small shelf. While perhaps not as secure as some of these other suggestions, few people ever look directly above the door inside the closet.
Speaking of closets, if you have one that is particularly deep, and you know what you’re doing, you could construct a fake wall at the back of it. Place your long-term food items or your precious metals in slim boxes on the floor or on homemade shelves, then frame the new wall in front of them, sealing it all in with drywall. Paint the wall to match the rest of the closet interior. Naturally, this isn’t a great solution for anything you want access to any time soon. When the time comes, though, simply use a hammer or mallet to smash through the drywall and remove your stuff.
Best Places to Hide Money and Secure Your Valuables: The Attic
Let’s continue our journey through the home and head up into the attic. If this is where you store all of your old junk, the stuff you are convinced you just can’t part with despite the protests of other family members, you can utilize the fake box trick we talked about when we were in the basement to secure your valuables.
If, on the other hand, your attic is nothing more than insulation and joists, all is not lost. This could still be one of the best places to hide money and other valuables in your home – fairly light items could be hidden within or under some of that insulation. However, bear in mind that attics are subject to wide swings in temperature—very chilly in the winter and blazing hot in the summer. Don’t store anything here that cannot handle those temperature variations.
In addition to hiding items within the home, you could also consider constructing and burying a cache. A cache is simply a waterproof container in which you can store items such as firearms or survival supplies, then bury for long-term storage. Most commonly, caches are made using PVC pipe. One end is sealed with a cap, items are placed inside, then the other end is sealed. It is important to be double darn sure you know exactly where it is buried so you can find it later. One way of doing so is triangulating the location between three very stable landmarks—a tree, a boulder, and a property marker stake, for example. Another option is to use a uniquely shaped rock, one easy for you to identify, to mark the location. The rock should be fairly large, of course, and not easily moved. One more word of caution regarding caches. If you have metal items in the container, they could be easily found through the use of a metal detector. What you can do to help mitigate that risk is to bury the cache deep, say three feet or so. Cover it with a foot of dirt, scatter some bits of scrap metal, then finish filling the hole. The hope, of course, is a searcher finds the scrap metal and assumes that is what triggered the metal detector.
As homesteading today becomes more popular, people are looking for easy and inexpensive solutions to secure their valuables. Finding the best places to hide money and other valuables around the home can actually be rather fun. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I wanted to keep my “treasures” safe. Of course, back then those valuables consisted of things like cool-looking rocks and horror comics I didn’t want my parents to see. The point is, get creative and think outside the box when it comes to hidden storage locations and the best places to hide money and other valuables around the homestead.
Originally published in the November/December 2014 issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.