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Money Hiding Spots From The Great Depression

2014 April 9

charlie_imageAfter the Great Depression, it was hard for lots of people to regain trust in the banks and the entire banking system. Most banks during the depression were over leveraged and had almost 99% of people’s money lent out in car, consumer, and home loans. As a result, when people started losing trust in the banks, then people started running to the banks to get their money out. Understandably, people were “once bitten, and twice shy” from the affects of this tough economic time in our country’s history.

As a result, people stopped saving their money in the banks, and resulted to hiding their money and valuables in their home. From talking with my Grandpa, he expressed how no one trusted the local banks. They were viewed as a bunch of crooks, and Grandpa still had a disgust for one particular banker who foreclosed on one of his dad’s properties.


Understandable, people started taking control of their money, and not allowing the bank to have it. That is the height of when people started to hide their valuables in their own home. Hiding them in the oddest places you’d ever think to look. Here are few of the places my Grandpa said his family hid their valuables, and others I found in researching this topic.

  • In the bed/mattress – this is the most common place you hear of the Great Depression generation hiding their valuables, and is most often where you find them left behind.
  • In the wall – in a lot of the old homes people had gone to great lengths to hide their valuables, and folks would cut holes in their wall in order to secure coins or cash. Here is a great DIY video on how to make a money hiding spot in your own wall.

  • Piano or piano bench legs – in recently talking with a co-worker he purchased an old piano and bench, and found 3 gold coins hidden in a hollowed out bench leg.
  • Backyard – have you heard of this story? A couple found $10 million in gold coins in canisters in their backyard [video]! Their dog dug up part of one can, and came to find a bunch of 1800’s coins. The couple wanted to remain anonymous after their new found wealth, which is completely understandable.
  • Attic – the place that people often go the least and is where robbers would most likely not look.
  • Door – really? Doors? Ya, a lot of people would hollow a hole in their doors and stuff cash or coins in them. I didn’t really understand how this would be possible, but found a great tutorial on burying coins in your door.
  • Cabinets – in a lot of old Victorian homes people would create secret hiding places in their cabinetry. Below is a long video of a guy walking through a Victorian home, and showing all the hiding spots you could find hidden money. Fast forward to 11:30 in the video and see the hollowed out cabinet.

Well readers, these are just a few of the areas that my Grandpa would tell me that his family would hide their money. I’m sure I’ve missed some that your family hid their money during the Depression. I’d love to hear from our readers on where did your family members hide money or what is the strangest place you heard of people finding money hidden?
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Charlie

An IT professional, Charlie also buys and sells liens, lives on the cheap, runs marathons and helps to run his family farm. In his spare moments, he raises 3 children, does the dishes and writes one post a week. His former blog, Frugal Retirement Plan, has been cited by US News and World Report.

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17 Responses
  1. Aaran permalink
    April 9, 2014

    With a little extra work, bedroom wardrobes can be made to have a hinged floor. Under here can be a great place to keep valuables. In my last house, I had a small floor safe installed under a built in wardrobe and a hinge put on the wardrobe bottom. To look in it looks perfectly solid. A couple of pairs of shoes etc. on top of it, and you’d never expect it was a door.

    I would avoid storing money in books, DVD cases etc. They seem like great places that are quick to access, but you’d be surprised how often charity shops can get books with “donations” hidden between the pages!

  2. Norlin Gutz permalink
    April 9, 2014

    Important that wife/or a kid knows about hiding spot. Story of one guy that did not inform his wife of his money being hidden in an engine block in the garage. Wife got tired of the engine taking up space and cleaned the garage out. $175,000 Gone! Ouch! Salvage guy say’s he didn’t find anything.

    • Charlie permalink*
      April 9, 2014

      Of course. I was thinking about this today that it really is important that only a couple of people know where your hidden money is at. Also it’s important that those people don’t ride in the same car or plane at the same time. :) That is when you get people who lose $10 million in your backyard! :)

  3. April 9, 2014

    Love this stuff! Thanks for linking back to Coin Thrill too – appreciate it :) I actually put together a post of my 10 favorite hidden compartments/safes too:

    http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2010/04/the-10-awesomest-safes-ive-ever-seen/

    My favorite being a “fake outlet” :) Probably stuff not around during the depression days, but still – pretty fun!

    Now time to whip out the ol’ metal detecter…

    • Charlie permalink*
      April 9, 2014

      J$ – I really like coinfrill.com!! It is a really good site, and is a rarity in the finance industry!

      Thanks for the links.

      • April 21, 2014

        Sweet – glad you like it! Thanks for letting me know :)

  4. April 9, 2014

    My grandmother (who immigrated to the US in the 1940s) hid money in coat pockets and in the lining of her dresses when she was on the boat over! My grandfather put all of his pension money in the lining of the couch!

  5. charlie Robbins permalink
    April 9, 2014

    Charlie the banks have never had the money in the bank. They loan out up to 10 times the deposits and charge interest on that “money” they don’t have. If there ever is a run again they’ll write you a check or give you a card or some such substitution. The money was never there.

    Absolutely take possession of your coins or bars. When things get ugly, when you need it, the bank will be closed. Safety deposit boxes are worthless.

    You can google money creation or email me and i’ll get something to you.

    Thanks,
    C

    • Charlie permalink*
      April 9, 2014

      I think the banks have the money required by the FDIC, but the total FDIC liabilities is too much. Also I think the derivatives of the banks is what will screw up the whole banking industry.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fTXw-a6niY

  6. Allison permalink
    April 9, 2014

    My family owned a business in Viet Nam and because it is a third world country banking institutions did not exist. So everything is cash based. My grandmother had her money in a dresser/amour and carried the key with her at all times. Brings back memory of me seeing her go to her “bank.”

    • Charlie permalink*
      April 9, 2014

      Haha…I think a lot of today’s generation is soon forgetting the problems of 85 years ago. Would you agree?

  7. Ron permalink
    April 9, 2014

    Had a good friend whose parents buried cash in their basement cement floor. Several newer areas of dried cement was the clue.

    • Charlie permalink*
      April 9, 2014

      That isn’t a half bad idea! If you put furniture or carpet over the cement, then people probably wouldn’t know.

  8. Sheila permalink
    April 10, 2014

    Place your valuables in a carefully opened and resealed tampon box.
    A whole lot easier and no chance you will move out and forget.

  9. Anita permalink
    April 10, 2014

    Besides where to store your valuables you need to consider what to store them in, a fireproof container of some kind is wise. What happens if you put a wad of cash in your wall and, God forbid, your house burns?

  10. Marya permalink
    April 23, 2014

    My grandfather hid his life’s savings in the furnace unbeknownst to my grandmother. In the fall my grandmother LIT the furnace, igniting the cash! She was furious! She took over handling the finances after that. She did very well – she invested in a few properties in Downtown Toronto! She lived a very comfortable retirement, travelling the world and leaving a little to her children and grandchildren.

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