The Worst Place to Keep Your Cash

It's good to have a cash reserve. But hiding a lot of cash in your home (like under the mattress or in the freezer) is a bad idea.


When we talk about cold hard cash, that shouldn’t mean an actual hidden stash in your freezer (or anywhere else in your home).

In the new Money Matters Report from Acorns on financial wellness, 68 percent of people said the current political climate makes them want to save or invest. (Acorns and SurveyMonkey polled 3,403 adults in November.)

Another 2 in 10 said the current political climate makes them want to “put money under my mattress.”

Gah. No. Please don’t.

There are some smart reasons to have a bit of cash at home. It’s something that’s often on lists of items to have ready in case of a natural disaster, for example, in case there are power outages after a storm that mean you can’t access an ATM or pay with a credit card at the supermarket.

But it’s generally not a great idea to have a lot of cash at home.

For starters, the money under your mattress isn’t working for you in terms of interest or investment growth. In fact, it will buy you less over time due to inflation, points out Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at

“The opportunity cost of keeping it under the mattress is the highest it’s been in a decade, because interest rates have come up,” he says.

Your home stash isn’t protected, either, says Doug Boneparth, a certified financial planner and author of “The Millennial Money Fix.” Banks and credit unions typically insure deposits, he says. “So you don’t need to worry about bank getting robbed,” Boneparth says. “But you do need to worry about your house getting robbed.”

Insurance policies for belongings in your home or apartment tend to limit their coverage for cash to just $200. So if a burglar steals the life savings you put under that mattress or it’s destroyed in a fire, you could be in for some big losses.

Then there’s just the practical angle that you could lose track of that cash. Just this week, there was news of a book sale volunteer finding $4,000 inside a donated book. (The happy ending: Thanks to an address inside the cover, she was able to track down the owners and give them back that money.)

Boneparth sums it up nicely: “If you are going to do this, buy a safe.”

Here are some other key takeaways from this week to help you grow your knowledge:

Get comfortable talking about money: In another highlight from the Money Matters Report, 58 percent of people said they’d rather reveal their weight than how much money they have saved. We’re here to help you change that habit. Talking about money helps with everything from teaching your kids better habits to getting a great deal on your next car purchase and negotiating a raise at work.

Harness the magic of time. When it comes to reaching your financial goals, procrastination does not pay off. Democratic former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp offers us some insight on the benefits of compound interest in meeting your savings goals…and its downsides when it comes to knocking out credit card debt.

Make a plan for your tax refund: As we keep warning you, there’s a chance your refund could be a bit smaller this year. (Other folks can expect to see a bigger check.) Big or small, your refund can be a great help in shoring up your financial safety net. We’ve got tips to help you make the most of those dollars.

Avoid a gold digger. Some love interests really are out for your cash. Grow contributor Bob Sullivan has the lowdown on an increasingly common scam involving online romances, and what red flags to watch for that might indicate your sweetie is a criminal in disguise.

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.