Money, Hidden or Forgotten

I had an odd habit of hiding my money in random places as a kid. I’m assuming that the majority of children who don’t have their own bank accounts would put the money they received on birthdays or from grandma in some sort of piggy bank, but I scattered my money all over the place.

I would put $5 in a jar, bury it in the backyard, and then would carefully count the paces from the burial location to the screen door so I could later note it in a treasure map I’d draw up on computer paper with colored pencils. I’d stick a few dollars here and there in coats and pant pockets, and then immediately try to forget about it so I could later experience the small joy of discovering money in your pockets. I’d stick the money in cracks I’d find in the wall, or under loose flooring, and in-between the pages of books, and then spend the following day marching around the house with a flashlight, making sure each bill was still in its secret location.

I eventually got a velcro wallet and decided I was too busy to hide my money anymore, and then opened up a savings account when I was about 14, and deposited everything I had. These days, the only money I keep around my apartment is the standard jar of spare change I keep on top of my dresser.

The reason I’m recalling these memories of hiding money is because there are actual grownups in the world today who still hide money in their homes, most commonly, under their mattress, which is probably the most obvious place to hide money because that’s where everyone jokes about hiding their money.

In an interview with the Irish Times yesterday, a burglar revealed all of the places he found money when breaking into and stealing from people’s houses:

“You find it [cash] anywhere; under the bed, in a biscuit tin, a coffee jar. I got a roll of notes once in an ice cream box in the freezer; no ice cream in the f***ing thing, just cash. Sometimes they even leave it out on a counter . . . I don’t do old people’s gaffs, but if you do the money is always under the bed.”

If I were the sort of person who owned jewelry or had deeds or insurance papers I needed to lock up in a fireproof safe, I’d probably put a few hundred dollars in cash in there too because you never know when you need quick access to cash. But for the time being, it’s all in the bank. But, I still get excited when I find a twenty dollar bill in my coat pocket.

One of my favorite stories of people finding money in their coat pocket is from this chat that Oprah had with her best friend Gayle. Gayle recalls a time when her husband was in law school, and she was the sole income earner in their household. The couple was finding it difficult to find extra money in their budget to do something simple like go to the movies. She remembers sitting with Oprah, who reached into her pocket to discover that she had $482 in cash that she had forgotten she had. Here’s Gayle and Oprah:

Gayle: She goes, “God, where’d this come from? You want it?” And I went, “Oh, no. No. I’m good. I’m fine.” But I’m thinking, “God, that would pay the light bill, the phone bill, the gas bill.” And she just puts it back. It’s probably still in that damn pocket. She was just extending a gesture, just being nice: “Oh, you want it?”

Oprah: But years later, she said, “You remember that time you pulled out the $482?”

Gayle: I said, “I wanted that money so bad!”

Oprah: “I needed that money so bad, but I wouldn’t take it.” You know what that’s like? That is incredible for somebody like me who lives in a world where everybody wants a piece of you. I mean, people feel they deserve a piece of you. Strangers think that.

It’s probably still in that damn pocket. Amazing.


Photo: Shutterstock/Jill Battaglia


23 Comments / Post A Comment

sony_b (#225)

Did you find all the money you buried? That would be my biggest fear. Or maybe the most awesome thing ever for some other future kid who finds it.

Mike Dang (#2)

@sony_b There may have been a few dollars that I couldn’t retrieve from the cracks in the wall!

Dancercise (#94)

A good friend of mine comes from a family that hides money. When her grandmother died, they found thousands of dollars stashed in her home and backyard when they cleaned out the place. My friend does the same thing, and not even her husband knows about all of it.

EmmaG (#1,023)

There’s always money in the banana stand.

ThatJenn (#916)

I love pulling out my winter coats for exactly this reason. I also sometimes throw my change into the back pocket of my purse, so when I’m “broke” (usually not actually broke, just need to pay for something in cash and haven’t hit an ATM recently) I raid that pocket. Once I found a $20 bill – I think I stuffed it there when someone at the farmer’s market said they didn’t have change and instead took the smaller bills/coins that were in that pocket. Awesome surprise, though.

ThatJenn (#916)

@ThatJenn P.S. Yes we still need winter coats in Florida, it gets well below freezing for a month out of the year, shush

Harriet Welch (#127)

@ThatJenn off topic. But YES! I live in Florida and I own a pea coat. I hate moving it, I hate the space it takes up in my closet, but for 30 days out of the year it is freaking blissful!

cherrispryte (#19)

So forty years ago or so, my grandmother’s great aunt died, and a whole bunch of her stuff wound up with my mom’s family. My mother has a great memory of my grandmother standing on the 2nd floor deck of the house and yelling to my mother and grandfather, who were fishing at the beach 100 ft away, “There’s money in the books! There’s money in the books!” There were $20, $50 and $100 bills hidden between the pages – I’m not sure what the total amount was, but it was not insubstantial.

I think there’s something about 1)emigrating from a country where you can’t trust the government and 2)living through the Great Depression that made people fundamentally distrustful of banks.

ElBlynx (#499)

I married into a family that buried money that was later mysteriously dug up and stolen by unknown person/s. There is allegedly more money buried in another state. Part of me thinks we should go on a treasure hunt while the other part thinks that is how you get pulled into movie where your life is turned upside down and NOTHING IS EVER THE SAME….duhduhdaaa!

ElBlynx (#499)

Also, way to make everything about you, Oprah. Sheesh.

kellyography (#250)

Hiding money seems so scary and unreliable. Unless you draw treasure maps (and don’t hide those), a person like me would forget ALL about it.

I also hate when people just leave money lying around, like on coffee tables and counters or dressers. My best friend does this and it drives me NUTS.

I have one place where I keep some cash (sometimes), along with my social security card and bank info, if I need to grab everything and run out in a fire or something, but I would never hide it from myself.

I don’t hide money in my pockets, but each of my coats or jackets has something weird in the pocket. I think my yellow trench coat has a picture of me behind one of those head-cut-out things with a mermaid body on it. It’s fun to find little surprises in the fall when I start wearing my jackets and coats again.

anonymouse (#1,984)

I used to do this with drugs.

Harriet Welch (#127)

I could never do this. I would never have the “surprise!” feeling. I always know exactly how much cash is crumpled in the bottom of my purse, in the pocket of those shorts in the laundry and the couple of dollars in change that are in my console.
This doesn’t mean I am good with money. I am just such a neurotic, tight wad that is chronically a quarter step away from first world poverty.
Interestingly, I regularly have nearly no idea how much is in my checking account. For some reason it doesn’t feel like money.

My great grandfather used to pay with gold coins (apparently that was still a thing in the 70′s in México) and after he died some of his friends told my father that he had buried them in his yard, and to look them up. My dad just laughs and says it’s not true, but i love the story.
And two years ago, when my granpa died (from my mother’s side of the family) his friends also told my mother and aunts to look for euros (he was from Spain and always saving to travel) in his pockets. THAT was really funny because he was poor and we knew we would’t find any significant amount.
So, old people: they think their friends hide money.

Megano! (#124)

“I would put $5 in a jar, bury it in the backyard, and then would carefully count the paces from the burial location to the screen door so I could later note it in a treasure map I’d draw up on computer paper with colored pencils.”
That is the cutest fucking thing I have ever heard.

selenana (#673)

I get excited when I find a dollar in a coat pocket.

Alex From Mars (#1,990)

In college I was a complete mess with money so as a method of taking care of my future self I’d occasionally stash a twenty dollar bill in a random jacket or the back of my underware drawer. I loved the feeling of finding it later, “thanks past me!”

I did the same thing with packs of cigarettes now that I think about it….

cmcm (#267)

A year ago my lawyer friend quit her job, and upon cleaning out her office she found (among many other strange and ridiculous things) a money order for $400. She used it to buy me a plane ticket to come visit her, because my friend is awesome.

mdegs (#974)

I used to stash a $20 bill in suit jacket pockets. I would remember for a while, but since I only wear suits a few times a year, I would eventually forget. Then I’d be at a wedding, or an interview, or a funeral, and find $20. Perfect! Cash is always handy when you’re dressed up.

BananaPeel (#1,555)

When I went away to college my dad took me aside and gave me two $100 bills to keep hidden away in my purse for emergencies. Six years later I was flying to visit a friend, my plane was super delayed (past midnight), and when I finally arrived my options were to take the late-night subway alone in a city I had never been to (NYC) or spend money on a cab. My dad texted me, “Do you still have that $200?” I did and I used $100 of it for a car to Brooklyn. More than a year later, the other $100 is still in the zippered inner pocket of my purse.

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