/ Money

The £5.2bn cash-stash we’re hiding in our homes

Cash hidden under a mattress

A recent survey found we Brits have almost £5.2bn in cash stashed in our homes. But before we get overexcited looking for our retirement funds in the sofa cushions, this works out to an average of £200 per household.

I can certainly believe the research, but it’s still a pretty significant amount of cash to have lying around the house. And these stats don’t include the money you have kept in your purse or wallet – so where’s it all hiding?

For me, I have a confession to make – it’s everywhere. I’m a change collector. I save the pennies, but my problem is I never seem to spend them. When my purse reaches a certain bulk, I tip it all out into an assortment of jam jars, dishes and surfaces in my room, never to leave again. I’d be intrigued to see how much it all adds up to.

Why it’s handy to keep cash at home

So why are we keeping our cash around the house, and why don’t we put it in the bank?

Some people seem to keep a little bit of money around the house on purpose, for emergencies or convenience. On a previous Convo, commenter Dave told us:

‘I keep more “petty cash” around the house now than I ever used to, because putting it into a bank or building society would earn me about 10p a month. Not worth the effort and I pay less visits to the local ATM, and always have the cash for the pizza man etc.’

And maybe it is worth checking the sofa after all, as Jim M said:

‘I recently disposed of an armchair after 19 years. I opened it up and found a large number of coins down the back totalling £58.36. Hardly “super-rich”, but well worth looking…’

Is your cash covered?

If you’ve got cash lying around your house, you might be wondering if it’s covered on your home insurance. Contents insurance policies will generally cover you up to around £500 of cash in your home, with the odd few going up to £1,000, but this is likely to be high-end policies only.

Only a very small minority (2%) of the adults surveyed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) said they kept more than £1,000 in their homes. And I think that’s for the best – as while it might be sensible to have some cash to hand in an emergency, you could lose out significantly if something were to happen to it. The FSCS suggests you keep your savings in the bank, to make sure your cash is covered under its scheme.

However, the amount of cash we’re keeping under the mattress has apparently dropped £80 from two years ago – is this a sign of our tightening purse strings? How much cash do you usually keep at home?


I do voluntary work for a small charity and during the summer months I am often in charge of the donations and sales, which can be up to £200 a day when I am on duty. When I get home I pay in the money to the charity’s account via online banking and I’m left with all the notes and coins to deal with. I don’t have to go near a cash dispenser during the summer months and sometimes I accumulate a few hundred pounds of notes and my coin sorter is overflowing with change. Eventually I put the notes in my wallet and it soon disappears when I pay for groceries with cash rather than a card. Over the winter months I don’t have more than £50 emergency cash in the house, and that is out of sight.

I don’t think I have £200 of cash in my house, but it might add up if I tip out my giant plastic bottle of small change and a jar of foreign currency odds and ends. It might all come in handy one day (apart from the currencies that no longer exist – I’m looking at you, Austrian Schillings)!

Thanks for the reminder about travel money, Katie. I have a healthy collection of travellers’ cheques that have been in a suitcase for years. Hopefully NatWest will take them back.

Best of luck! I hope Natwest will be able to help.

H S Ainsworth says:
15 March 2013

After the recent issues with bank IT systems, I’ve deemed it prudent to keep a £200 slush fund hidden in the house in case I can’t get access to my money! Returns on savings are wretched anyway, so it’s not as if I’m losing out by not putting them in the bank.

Agreed it’s worth keeping some cash in the house in case of systems problems with a bank. It’s also worth having a small number, more than one, of cash card accounts, just because of the risks of losing a card, having the money stolen by a skimmer or having the bank unjustifiably block access. You can’t trust banks.

Fedupwithalloffthem says:
11 July 2020

You’re not wrong about trusting banks mate they are the second larges criminal organisation in the country second only to which ever government is in power at the time