by Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil

No, I’m not talking about an emergency supply you may have in a kit for a natural disaster or the like (in which case you SHOULD stash your money!), I’m talking about those of us who have a habit of keeping our cash around the house. It’s even more understandable given the recent collapse of banks and all this uncertainty, but consider the example – albeit extreme – of the woman in Tel Aviv who had stashed $1 million in cash under her mattress (literally), which was then hauled away to the dump. The cash still hasn’t been recovered.

According to MSNBC, statistics on the number of people in the U.S. who stash cash at home are hard to come by, but a 2007 survey of 1,500 British adults by Virgin Money found 8 percent of them stash between approximately $500 to $1,650 around the house, usually tucked within a drawer, mattress or safe.

Utilizing a safe may be one thing, but too often cash-stashers don’t secure their loot behind a combination lock, which can lead to all kinds of problems – the money accidentally being thrown out, donated (when stashed inside a jacket pocket for instance), or stolen. Then you have the risk of fire or even forgetting where you put it!

An exercise I suggest in my book to people who have unhealthy relationships to and with money is to figure out their financial Imago, which I discuss in my book Financial Infidelity – which deals with peoples’ romantic relationships as well as their relationship with money.

Depending on your stage in life, and your stage in the relationship, there are crucial questions you need to answer. How do you feel about debt? How much debt do you have? Are you a risk-taker or are you risk-averse? Will the kids go to private school? Will we fund their college education in its entirety? Who will pay when we go out? How often will we go out and how often will we eat in?

Of course, these are only a few, sample questions to touch on before you head into significant life changes, but they are a good place to start. Many times you many not even know how to answer those questions yourself, much less how you will answer them as a couple. And just as often, you will have a knee-jerk reaction as to how to answer them that may be completely opposite from your partners. It’s always best to get those reactions out in the open before you find yourself “in the heat of battle!”

If you uncover that your passion for stashin’ is somewhat hereditary, you may want to go around emptying out drawers of heirloom dressers … JUST KIDDING!


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