What Do I Need to Know Before Storing Cash in a Safe for a Long Time?

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Ironically, storing cash in a safe is not always the "safest" way to keep it. Safes and safety deposit boxes are susceptible to elements such as fire and water. Also, keeping large amounts of cash in a home safe is always a safety risk to you and your family. Instead of hiding cash, consider letting it grow in a safe investment vehicle.

Misconception

  • Safes can never offer complete security for cash. Bank safety deposit boxes, for instance, are protected by the vault, not the casing of the box. Floods and fires can ruin the contents of a box. Two-hundred fifty safety boxes, for example, burned due to the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. If you keep the cash at home, you still risk losing it, because most homeowners insurance policies do not automatically cover cash or others valuables in a safe lost to a disaster.

Risk

  • Keep quiet about the cash in your home. Let a few people know about cash in a safety deposit box or safe. In case a catastrophe strikes you, someone needs to know the whereabouts of the cash. If too many people know, a thief might attempt a robbery. One business owner was robbed in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania in 2010 for $60,000 kept in a safe. The thieves did not crack the safe, but held the man's family at gunpoint.

Location

  • Should you opt for a home safe, do not put it in the master bedroom, because that is the most frequently checked location in a home by thieves, according to Consumer Reports. The optimal room to place the safe depends on the design of the house. Placing it in the basement, for instance, is a poor choice in flood-prone areas, while the upstairs exposes the safe to a greater risk of fire damage -- the number one enemy of home safes.

Tips

  • If you keep a home safe, add protection for the contents of the safe to your homeowners insurance policy, which probably increases your premium, suggests Market Watch. If you have a safety deposit box, keep in mind that banks are usually not liable for damage to the contents. Also, consider putting your cash into an account. Most banks offer up to $100,000 in insurance against loss through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. You could put in an investment that is nearly as safe as a savings or checking account. Some treasury bonds, for example, are indexed against inflation and pay interest. Sticking cash in a safe means its purchasing power decreases over time, because inflation lowers the value of money, so you are guaranteed to lose by storing it in a safe.

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