How to Make Money

7 Places to Find Hidden Cash Around Your House

July 2, 2014
by Steve Gillman
Contributor
Image: Garage

While most people associate treasure hunting with pirates, Penny Hoarders know better. There’s treasure all around us; we just need to know where to look.

In a previous post on treasure hunting at home, we looked at eleven hidden places in and around your house or apartment. Once you’ve exhausted those secret spots, it’s time to get outside and expand the search.

Here are seven more places around your home to check. Who knows where you’ll discover hidden or lost valuables and money?

1. Garage

Not quite in the house and not quite outside, the garage is a common hiding place for all sorts of things. Look in the rafters, in the attic if there is one, and in any and all cabinets and containers.

In 2012, Carson City, Nevada, officials made some interesting discoveries while inspecting a house left behind by a recluse who died with no nearby relatives. They found $12,000 in cash in the house, but soon that amount looked paltry. In the garage, neatly wrapped in aluminum foil, was $7 million in gold coins.

Check out any old tool boxes you find in the garage. Some tools might be sold as useful items or, if they are old and interesting, as collector’s items. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!).

Then there are the other things that sometimes get left in a tool box. Consider the man in England who one day looked through his deceased father’s old tool box and found a handful of old coins he later auctioned for £30,000 (about $50,000 U.S.).

2. Backyard

When we were kids, my brothers and I filled a plastic container with little toys, coins, and other items, and buried it under a tree in the backyard. We planned to dig up our “time capsule” years later, but when we tried we never could figure out where it was. It might be there still, and if it remains there another forty years the coins and toys will probably have value as collectibles.

Valuable discoveries in yards are not uncommon. In early 2014, while hiking out of their backyard, a California couple found a buried treasure worth $10 million: six metal cans, each one filled with rare gold coins.

A metal detector can help you find buried valuables. Hidden currency is often in a container made partially of metal, like a jar with a metal top. People typically level the ground after burying things, and then the loose soil where they dug compacts over time, creating a noticeable low spot, so watch for small depressions in the yard. Burying things under the edge of a cement walkway or driveway is also common.

3. Garbage and Recycling Bins

Excited that the dealers from “Antiques Roadshow” were coming to his town, a man brought in a violin he had plucked from someone’s trash. Maybe it was worth a little something, he thought. As it turned out, once cleaned up, his junk-picked violin was worth around $50,000. Apparently it was a creation of Giuseppe Pedrazzini, a famous Italian violin maker.

If you see something interesting sticking out of a neighbor’s garbage bin, why not grab it? It’s fair game once it’s discarded. If you live in a condo development, as my wife and I do at the moment, watch that dumpster for treasures. Here, the residents tend to generously put anything of value alongside the dumpster instead of in it. I’ve sold some of the things I’ve found there, and we eat every day at a beautiful wooden table that was discarded next to our recycling bin.

4. Garden

Over the years I’ve read quite a few stories about buried treasures in gardens. I’m not sure I would want to hide valuables where people are likely to dig, but perhaps homeowners figure they’ll be the only ones digging in their garden. Plus, the soil is already loosened, so a garden is an easy place to bury things.

Use a metal detector to avoid having to dig up your whole garden. If you can find old photos of your home, you might discover parts of the yard that used to be a garden, and search these spots.

Gardens can be wild places, and sometimes things get lost in the weeds. Coins and tools fall from the pockets of gardeners, and on occasion even statues get lost. Wait… statues? That’s right — a man in England found a statue worth £20,000 (about $33,000 U.S.) behind overgrown bushes in a garden. Closer to home, a friend of mine found an entire wood-burning stove half-buried in the dirt in the garden behind his new house.

5. Barns and Sheds

Barns, sheds, and other outbuildings around a home are natural places to hide things, and good places to continue your treasure hunt. You might find valuable items left behind by previous owners.

When my wife and I bought a place in Colorado, the detached garage/storage building behind the house was bursting with random appliances and tools. My neighbor sold the scrap metal for me, but I still wonder about that classic oil stove. It looked old enough to be a collectible antique. I probably should have had it appraised before we moved and left it to the next owner.

People also purposely hide things in outbuildings. At a house I owned in Michigan, I had a shed whose floor was made of loose cement tiles. If someone lifted the one that was three back and four over from the southwest corner, and dug into the dirt a couple inches, they would have discovered my old coin collection in a plastic peanut butter jar. A simple metal detector would have revealed the location of that little treasure.

My coins are no longer there, but I’m certainly not the only one who has hidden a collection — and people who hide things often die without revealing all of their hiding places.

Old pump houses are another place to investigate. In years past, when people didn’t trust banks as much, they hid gold coins in false water lines. Look for pipes that don’t actually go anywhere or connect to others.

Who knows what might be out there in your shed or barn?

7. Foundations

Treasure hunters look at the foundations remaining at old homesteads to determine where the front steps and porch would have been. Why? That’s where people most often sat down to rest, so it’s also where coins most often fell out of pockets and got lost in the grass and dirt.

If your own home is old enough, there might be some valuable coins where people sat generations ago. Get out that metal detector and shovel.

If you expand your conception of treasure, you’ll likely find more of it. I recently helped a friend clean out a house he bought as an investment. Two guys in a pickup truck stopped by and offered to take many of the things that were in the yard, and we filled their truck.

They planned to sell the load to a scrap metal processor for a couple hundred dollars — something the previous owner could have done before he lost the house to the bank. You can do the same with any metal objects you find around your home. Whatever you discover, there just might be a buyer!

Your Turn: Have you found any treasures around your home? Let’s hear about it!

by Steve Gillman
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

Share Your Thoughts

Top Articles