In the face of an uncertain future, it appears that more Americans than ever are keeping at least some of their savings in the form of cash. And among those who have cash savings, more than half are choosing not to store their finances in bank vaults or safety deposit boxes, but rather in secret locations around the home.
At least that’s the case according to a recent survey conducted by American Express, which found that 29 percent of Americans are now saving cash and coins, and that 53 percent of those who do are opting to stash it in safes or other hiding places in their homes.
The survey also revealed that millennials are even more likely to avoid banks — 67 percent of those from that generation who have cash savings prefer stashing, rather than depositing.
In a world where nothing is “too big to fail,” as we have seen proven time and time again in recent years, it’s no wonder that so many Americans have lost trust in the government and banking institutions as well.
American Express has reported an “uptick” in recent years regarding the number of people who are saving cash. Security experts have also witnessed a surge of cash-stashing that began during the 2008 financial crisis and is still continuing.
There are, of course, some risks involved in hiding cash in your home. One problem is that the typical hiding places — such as freezers, mattresses and sock drawers — are the first places a burglar will look.
CNBC.com‘s recent article on the subject cites a survey that revealed just how unimaginative most Americans are when it comes to choosing hiding places for their cash savings:[A] 2012 Marist College survey of 1,080 adults found that the most popular place–with 27 percent of the vote–is the freezer. A little less than 20 percent of Americans hide cash in a sock drawer, while 11 percent put it under the mattress and 10 percent secure it in a cookie jar. Another 9 percent keep their cash somewhere else in the house.
If you do decide to hide cash in your household, be sure not to choose one of those obvious locations. Be creative and pick a place where no one is ever likely to look, but be sure to let at least one person you know — someone you really trust, of course — where you hid your savings.
Too often, when someone dies, their savings are lost or discarded accidentally. The CNBC.com article relates a couple of horror stories, such as the Israeli woman who unknowingly threw out her late mother’s old mattress that reportedly contained around $1 million — her entire life savings.
The other big problem with keeping your savings in cash is the fact that any currency has the potential to become devalued. Many financial experts are warning of an imminent devaluation of the dollar, which could conceivably make all your hard-earned savings worth nothing virtually overnight. The recent collapse of the ruble is ample proof that no currency is exempt from sudden devaluation.
It’s a far better idea to invest your savings in things that have real world value, such as land, gold or even guns. There are a number of possible SHTF scenarios that could render cash obsolete and worthless.
It’s wise practice not to put too much trust in banks, but it’s also dangerous to have too much faith in the “almighty dollar” — there is a very good chance that our national currency may not prove to be as invincible as it once seemed.