There are a bunch of reasons you could be looking for how to save money without a bank account.
Maybe you have some money you need to keep as cash for a little while before a big purchase. Or maybe you just don’t trust banks.
Either way, you have some options showing you that it’s definitely possible to live without a bank account – at least for a time.
Of course, when it comes to the safest place to keep money, I’d still argue that a bank account may be your best bet, especially if you use a FDIC-insured account so your funds are protected, at least to a point.
That said, if you need to keep money safe at home (or even away from your home!), we’ve got some great ideas for how you can store money without a bank account while making sure it’s as secure as possible.
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How to save money without a bank account
1. In a safe
Probably the most secure option to save money without a bank account is to keep your valuables in a safe.
This safe is the highest rated on Amazon, with over 17,000 five-star reviews, so you know that it does the job.
That said, it’s not fireproof or waterproof. If you want that (and I’d suggest you should), then it’s going to cost a bit more, but at least you’ll sleep soundly at night. This safe is both fireproof and waterproof and, in the whole scheme of things, not that much more expensive than the first option.
It also comes with a bolt down kit, so you can literally secure it to the floor, and a reinforced door, all of which help to deter would-be thieves.
And, of course, there’s no point paying good money for a safe if the code isn’t secure enough. So stay away from obvious birthdays and 1-2-3-4-5-6, ok?
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2. With an app that rounds up the change
One good way to store money online without a bank account, so that you don’t have to deal with actual cash, is to use an app that rounds up your change.
Acorns is a great example of this. How it works is that if, say, you buy a coffee for $2.30, the remaining $.70 is then transferred out as well. Once your total savings hit $5, Acorns invests it for you.
This will involve having some sort of account, as the app can only work with non-cash purchases. But if you’re looking to save your money somewhere that’s not a standard bank account, Acorns can be a good option – especially as it involves you basically saving money without even realizing it.
Ideal for beginner investors
Want to start investing but always think that you don’t have enough money left over each month? Then Acorns is for you.
It automatically rounds up and invests your spare change, making it a great choice for starting to save and build wealth – without even noticing!
3. In a hidden item
You probably had the old “fake rock in the garden with the house key hidden under it” at some point in your life, but things have developed way more these days.
That is, there’s now a range of items out there that look like everyday products but that are hollowed out so that you can keep your money safe at home, hidden away in plain sight.
Some of my favorite ones are:
- This can of Coke – it looks completely legit and no one would think to check it in the back of your fridge for cash.
- A hair brush – who would suspect that you’d be keeping your cash just sitting on the bench in the bathroom or on your dresser in the bedroom? And as an added bonus, you can actually use it as a hair brush!
- An electrical outlet – this would easily blend right into your wall. As every home has plenty of these, who’d even know where to start looking, even if they knew you had one of these in your house?
- Pringles can – what’s great about this one is that there are actually real Pringles inside. This means that anyone who opened the can would see the Pringles sitting on top, so would really have to dig before getting to the money compartment.
- This dictionary – this one is probably my favorite, just because it feels like you’re in a spy novel being able to pull this off the shelf and open it up to the secret compartment…just me?
4. Investing it
Another smart way to save your money without a bank account is to invest it instead.
Everyone should have an emergency fund of around three to six months worth of expenses. Once you hit that point, it’s actually best not to keep any excess savings in a bank account, unless you know you have to spend it at some point in around the next three years.
The reason for this is that it’s true that investments do have an element of risk. This means that if, for example, there’s a market downturn, and you need your money to spend while the market has dropped, you’ll be losing some of its value rather than being able to wait for the market to recover, like you can with long-term investments.
But if that’s not you, you’ll make much more money from your savings if you invest them rather than keeping them in a standard bank account.
If you don’t know where to start with this, my absolute top pick is The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins. It will walk you through one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective investment strategies you’ll find anywhere. In fact, it’s exactly what I do with my own money.
Prefer to listen to your investing advice rather than read it? Signing up for a free 30-day trial for Audible lets you get one free audiobook – that you can keep forever, even once your trial ends!
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5. Bury it in the garden
Buried treasure isn’t just for pirates, you know! So you could follow their lead and bury your own treasure in a secret place in your garden.
Just make sure it’s somewhere that you remember. There have been a bunch of cases of people digging up money and jewelry that was clearly buried decades before, with the real owner long gone.
You should also make sure that you put the money in a container that’s completely waterproof and pest-proof.
After all, we can all learn a lesson from Pablo Escobar, who apparently lost 10% of his money per year from it being eaten by rats or going mouldy from exposure to the elements.
For those playing along at home, that’s $2.1 billion gone – every, single year.
So maybe it’s worth spending a few dollars on a secure container, hmm?
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6. Putting it on a prepaid card
Another good option is to put your savings on a prepaid card. This isn’t the same as keeping it in a bank account, although it’s basically treated exactly the same way in terms of how you can use the money.
The only catch is that you’re not going to earn interest on the savings, although that’s true for almost all of the options on this list. You should also be careful that the fees for doing this aren’t too high.
Finally, check the conditions that apply for withdrawing all of the money, in case you change your mind for how you want to deal with this cash.
However, besides double checking those points, putting your money on a prepaid card really can be a good idea if you’re looking to avoid using a bank account. Many of them even have a routing number and an account number, so you can have your paycheck deposited directly to your prepaid card if you want. This makes this a great option to receive money without a bank account as well.
7. Contribute it to your business
If you’re in your own business or even if you’re thinking about launching a side hustle, a good strategy to scale this up is to add your savings back into this business.
When you’re just starting out, this can seem a bit scary, especially if this business isn’t generating any money of its own yet.
But it’s also true that you have to spend money to make money and, while it can be uncomfortable at first, putting your own money into the business can be a good way to really kick things off.
8. By putting it towards your debt
One smart way to save money without a savings account is to put it towards your debt. That is, the more of your debt your payoff, the less interest will accrue.
Over time, this can save you a ton of money on your loan. In fact, if you have high interest debt, like a credit card balance, it’s actually a better idea to save your money in this way rather than putting it into a savings account.
9. In a self storage unit
If you’re really concerned with the security of your money (as you should be!), are looking for how you can store money without a bank account, but don’t like the idea of keeping your cash in a safe at home, a good alternative could be to put it in a self storage unit.
One of the big benefits here is that most self storage facilities offer insurance for all items stored in them, so you’re protected in the event of theft. Just be sure that the insurance policy covers cash, as some treat that as an exception.
There are some downsides to this, one of the main ones being the cost. Hiring a self storage unit may be the secure option, but it’s not the most budget-friendly one given that you’re now committing to paying ongoing fees for this. You’d really want to be sure that the amount of money you’re keeping here makes this worthwhile.
It’s also not super convenient, as if you need to access your money, you’d have to go all the way to the unit to collect it. That’s fine to do every now and then, but if it’s your main source of day-to-day spending money, this could get tiring pretty quickly.
On the other hand, this could be a great saving strategy! That is, if you’re looking for how you can save money and not touch it, keeping it away from your house is one way to do this.
10. Under your mattress
It may sound like the most typical suggestion, but it’s true that for those looking for how to save money without a bank account, under your mattress is always an idea.
This has often been the option of choice for those who don’t trust the banking system or have some other reason for wanting to hold onto physical cash. Just be aware that thieves also know this, which is why you often see the bedroom trashed after a break in.
That is, if you know about hiding money under your mattress, so do they. So be careful with your money and if you choose to go down this route, don’t keep your life savings here.
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11. Ask a friend or family member you trust
If there’s someone you really trust to not run away with your money, asking them to hold onto your cash for you could be a good idea.
The usual warnings about mixing money and loved ones apply here. In fact, it could be doubly important in this case, given it’s going to be difficult to have any sort of recourse if they do take your funds. This means that you should make sure that you really do want to save money without a bank account, as plenty of relationships have been ruined due to financial issues.
Of course, you could trust them completely and everything will go fine. But just know that that’s what everyone thinks in these cases, so pick your person wisely.
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About the author
Anna is the founder of LogicalDollar and a personal finance expert, having been seen in Forbes, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, CreditCards.com and many more. She’s committed to helping others get on the path to financial freedom using the experience gained from turning $60,000 in debt into a thriving investment portfolio. Find out more.