Storing emergency cash in a car safe

We’ve been pondering the best place to stash a little emergency cash, and we’ve come to the conclusion that our new car may be the best place, if we can protect the money from smash and grab types.

I’ve found a safe by Tuffy that is made specifically for our vehicle.  It would be screwed in (to plastic, I confess) and covered by the console lid.  It is legal for safe gun storage (not my issue). It doesn’t depend on a cable to secure it.

We live where burglary is a very low likelihood, and we never go anywhere, except to the grocery store mostly, so the vehicle has little exposure to theft or vandalism.

I would very much appreciate opinions on this idea!


  • Comments (30)

    • 2

      Dogpatch, could you share a link to the Tuffy safe so I can see what it looks like and give you my thoughts on it? 

      How much cash are you thinking of storing? Anything else you want to store in the safe?

      • 2

        Henry Tubbs, thanks for your interest. We’re thinking 2K ready cash.  No other valuables. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q2FN3WY/?coliid=I1XQCTT9E9DP6X&colid=187SCCJTEWFNA&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

      • 1

        I may be wrong about the “safe gun storage legal” remark.  I’ve looked at so many portable safes…

      • 3

        I like how the Tuffy safe looks like it is part of the vehicle and won’t be easily pried out. For even more security, you can conceal the entire safe by placing a piece of black fabric, carpet, or plastic over it and hide the entire thing. Then you can place things like pens, chapstick, and loose coins on top of the cover.

        If it was a smaller amount I might consider hiding the cash in various locations around your car such as behind a speaker, under a piece of loose carpeting, or behind a panel on your dash. But I would write down where you put everything so you don’t forget when you sell the car or when the mechanic is replacing the glass in your door and finds a wad of $1000. 

        If you have an Apple Air Tag and an iPhone, that might be an additional thing you could place in your safe as a very cheap form of lowjack. It won’t be nearly as good as a dedicated GPS unit, but for $29, it’s better than nothing and may possibly help locate your stolen car someday.

        I would get the safe if I were you. Looks to be a good investment.

      • 1

        a crook that’s up on his game has 24V battery op tools – he’d cut his way in there like a Budweiser can …

        nobody uses a manual bolt cutter they cut or pry the lock /chain >>> a hydraulic port-a-power isn’t uncommon – they raid a shop to steal one – they stretch industrial side door frames enough to bypass the door catch and any throwbolts ….

        there’s the new battery oped chain saws – I’m expecting any day now to see a crime report where one was used to gain access ….

      • 1

        True… true… It’s not going to keep out a determined thief with the proper tools. But it is out of sight, and mostly secure against the smash and grab thieves. 

        He lives in a low crime area and doesn’t travel much so I think this will be a good solution for him to implement and have a bit of extra cash on hand outside of his home.

    • 2

      In no way do I want to come across as one of those jerks, buuuuut,… what happens if your vehicle is stolen? What then? Best to have a fallback plan and a fallback to that fallback.

      • 2

        Nope, didn’t read it that way. I tried to emphasize that I think the likelihood of the vehicle being stolen/vandalized is fairly minimal – very little exposure, and our home is in a very low-crime area (as in, out in the country – most crimes seem to involve people who know each other).  Lots of stuff could happen to the house, but the vehicle would theoretically always be with us.

        We’ve tried to think of everything, but of course one can’t. We just can’t think of a safe cache that we can access immediately. We probably wouldn’t die if the cash was stolen, but I’d probably die emotionally if the new truck was!  LOL!

        So, what do you think of the safe?

      • 1

        What do I think? I think you’ve already decided.

        Like you, my concern would be the vehicle being stolen, then the money -in that order, exactly.

        Were I to decide to install a safe, I would first take a good, long pause and try to look at my new truck with a different perspective.

        How attractive is my vehicle to someone who’s desperate? What about someone who might also be involved in some emergency or crisis? What about that random someone who stumbles across your property while evading the law, or evading rogue community members hellbent on bloodshed?

        What can another person deduce about you or the vehicle’s potential contents? Got a gun club sticker? One of those firearms manufacturer logos? There might be a gun and ammo inside for me to use! Do you have something signaling your affiliation with a certain group or cause?  Is there anything that could potentially identify you as a prepper -maybe a ham radio antenna, an extra gas can, travel rack, extra lighting and off-road packages? Got a toolbox?

        And I want you to understand, I’m not writing all this to drill my point home. I’m not a dick, nor am I a sadist. It’s an exploration of something of value to you, that you want to protect, but may only be viewing this through the very specific lens of your everyday life. This is just outside perspective; and, that is (really) what you’re asking for at the end of the day.

        So, is your truck brand new or relatively new? It it kept shiny and clean and in good repair? What about the other vehicles of those in your community, does yours stand out?

        You mention crimes around your parts mostly being committed by people who know their victims/targets. Correct, they usually are in your stated environment. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean a potential thief knows the ins and outs of your every day life. They just need to know enough about you to identify you on sight and know your comings and goings… and have a motivation and opportunity.

        Any money a thief could find would just be gravy.

        I keep money on my person and some squirreled away in a couple other trusted and safe ‘elsewheres’. I view money as a prep and wouldn’t dream of leaving my BOBs, weapons, ammunition, freeze-dried meals, etc in my vehicle. Emergent situations will be fluid, so, I don’t assume that vehicles are going to be the go-to response (or even an option) if the situation calls for falling back on an alternate plan. I certainly wouldn’t want to run out to wrangle my preps if the situation called for hunkering down and hard targeting up. Time lost could be life lost.

        Just wanted to provide another perspective. Not being judgy.

      • 1

        Thanks Matt. You needn’t be concerned that I’ll think you’re judgy or anything else.  No I haven’t made up my mind, that’s why I asked for opinions.  All our options are flawed in some ways.  I’ve never in my life looked at portable safes, and I figured someone on here must know about portable safes and wouldn’t mind giving me a primer. We’ve discussed an in-home safe and even those look greatly less than ideal safe storage solution.

        Our truck looks like ten million other cookie cutter trucks just like it. At the moment it looks like it’s been used to pull a plow in the dust bowl.  Unhappily. We don’t do stickers. There’s nothing in it but a bottle of hand sanitizer and some masks.

        Anyway, please know I highly value the time you’ve taken to share your thoughts with me.  I’m not an advanced prepper and it’s nice to have experienced advice.

    • 2

      Good morning Dogpatch,

      Ref solicited opinions:

      The BEST place to store some emergency cash is NOT in the car – especially if it’s a later model with electronic door locks. These vehicles can be accessed by the semi-human trash having some basic gadgets.

      IMO, the BEST place to keep ~ $2K is in a cargo vest next to the daily clothes you wear. Wear the vest over the T-shirt and under the usual shirt.

      Environments change; factor this into planning. Nice neighborhoods can change even if temporary.  I’ve lived in a nice … an ideal … place and it’s still super.  Yet, the recent migration of millions of immigrants brought both those seeking a place better than the hellholes they came from.  This influx also attracts the human smugglers and others not from the area.

      Do remember even at nice grocery stores in nice places, a parking lot accident can occur and it involves a fire. You can envision the rest of this example.

      “Prepare for realistic, worst-case scenarios.” FEMA

      • 2

        Hi Bob,

        I can’t even imagine walking around in public with $2000 cash on me.  

        I also understand the risk of stashing the money in a car, but in this case, there’s a bit of added security from storing it in a safe, which is the subject of my inquiry.  Defeatable, yes, but not so much a target of the smash and grab vandal. And I do appreciate the risk of fire, however I can identify any number of potential ignition sources in my house that are far more likely to cause fire than anything in my vehicle (barring driving it over tall dry grass and having the catalytic converter start a grass fire).  My stove, any number of appliances and fans (box fans are the #1 cause for barn fires in the US!), the wood stove, a wiring failure. The vehicle, on average, is in use for forty minutes, one day a week.  (Really.  We’re a couple of old hermits.)

        Just for fun I did a little comparison.  One article said there are about 171,500 car fires per year.  Another article says there are about 1,291,500 house fires.

        I really do appreciate your point of view!  Thanks for weighing in.

      • 1

        I too would feel more vulnerable carrying $2000 of cash on me. At least with a car they have to first break into the car, then into the safe. Where as all they have to do is hold a knife or gun to my person and say hand me your wallet and then I would give it over.

    • 2

      Having a car safe, especially hidden as well as the one you have selected is a smart idea. It can be your strong box when transporting cash from the bank to your home, or as a safer option when on a road trip than the hotel safe which employees have access to.

      I don’t feel like it would be overly more accessible than a safe in your house would be to a determined thief. 

      • 1

        Thank you for your input Robert!

    • 3

      Away from home, power down, low on gas/food/whatever.

      Been there, done that (Northridge quake) so I think cash is a great idea. I’ve always had a few hundred squirreled away in my vehicles, when I had it of course, and never had it in a safe, just under the carpet or dash. To me it is a no-brainer, go for it!

      • 2


        One of our biggest potential threats is the predicted Cascadia Subduction Zone Quake, that is supposed to take out everything west of I-5 “when it hits”. If we were away from home, who knows if cash would even be relevant.  Cards sure wouldn’t be.

        Thanks for your input Pops!

      • 1

        If you are away from home and SHTF, you may not be able to get to an ATM or they may be down. Having that extra cash handy is a good idea to get what you need and get where you need to go to. Good point about it being a good reserve when you are away from home Pops.

    • 1

      I’m baffled – the car is safe from being stolen or even burglarized >>> but your home isn’t safe – ????

      I initially thought you wanted to have a few $100 stashed away while on your regular commute or perhaps you had some distance travel purchase that required $$$$ cash …

      those vehicle console safes are a joke when there’s time allowed and the crook has the will & way – concealment and preventing casual car rifling by parking attendants are the prime selling points …

      drink plenty of coffee – save the can – dig hole and bury that cash >>> better plan 

      • 1

        I have to agree.  Thinking a car is safer than a home seems counterintuitive.  The odds of a car being destroyed is much greater than a home.  A car can be stolen… a house can’t.

        I keep at least $500 on my person at all times.  Always have… always will.  I’ve never been robbed in my 65 years.  I keep extra cash in my home in multiple places but any real large amount would be in one of my fireproof boxes.  You can hide a fireproof safe in a large house much easier than hiding such a safe in a small car.  There are so many great hiding places in a home, that no thief would even consider looking there.

        I suggest getting a $12 fireproof money bag & storing the cash in your house.  Storing it inside say your suit jacket hanging in your closet would be rather safe.


      • 2

        Well, see what constructive conversation can achieve – I’ve never heard of or seen these fireproof bags. I thank you for this great tip!

      • 2

        I like this idea. I like it better when you put the money inside a dry bag inside the fireproof bag. Store it in the house or just bury it on the property.

      • 2

        Excellent advice, especially to store money in a safe that is not fireproof.

      • 3

        Not to poo poo your desire to keep your cash safe, that is a very admirable thing you are doing and I’m glad you are thinking and doing something about it, but those fireproof bags are not fireproof or even fire resistant. 

        Even most ‘fireproof’ safes on the market are just fire resistant and even not that good at that, and they are like multiple inches thick of fire retardant material, much more than the 2mm of plastic if these fireproof bags. 

        As shown in this video,These fireproof bags won’t give any protection against a house or vehicle fire.But can provide a bit more heat resistance if put in conjunction with a fire resistant safe. 

      • 2

        Thank you Gideon!

    • 2

      I live in a city with fairly frequent car break-ins. However, I’ve found that if the cash is tucked away out of easy reach and visibility, they never take it. Admittedly, I’m storing much smaller amounts of cash.

      • 2

        Good morning Jonnie,

        You’ve got real nice criminals – or very knowledgeable ones.

        Here, if a state inspection sticker is sought (Virginia still uses this useless program recognized by ~ 30 states as of no value), our criminals take the entire windshield.

        A break-in even if the $ missed or too small amount to waste time on, now requires getting the vehicle “sanitized” so no vapors from drugs – includes some marijuana products – are around. 

        The next routine traffic stop will then be safe….relatively speaking.

    • 2

      Safes are safes and often things professional criminals seek out in vehicles, especially in wealthier neighbourhoods, Putting cash into a fireresistant bag and hiding it behind a trim panel or under the spare is an alternative. My spare cash is in a nomex bag under the flip up back seat in the car, and under the quarter length roof lining in my van.

      • 2

        Hope you remember your hidden stashes when you sell the car. I don’t think most thieves are tearing up roof lining to look for cash, unless you live in a poor drug dealing part of town and they are looking for hidden stores of drugs I bet.

      • 2

        Have not forgotten since I started stashing prep gear out of sight behind panels about 1990 🙂