Secret cash stash

179049772What would you do if you came home from hospital to find your meddlesome family had donated your battered, but beloved, sofa to a charity shop while you were safely out of the way? Would you let them know that you had stashed $40,000 inside it or keep the news to yourself and just let the awful truth eat away at you?

That’s exactly what happened to a 91-year-old widow from New York last month. ( Fortunately for her the students who bought her sofa for $20 from the Salvation Army shop her family had donated it to discovered the money a few weeks later when, bored, they decided to work out why the sofa was so uncomfortably lumpy and found the reason – cold hard cash had been tucked inside it in dozens of brown envelopes. Thanks to a bank deposit slip stuffed into one of the dozens of envelopes of $20 notes that had her name and phone number on it they managed to track her down and return it to her.

A great story slightly marred by the suggestions that the students could or should have kept the money under some bizarre “finders keepers” moral code. Could you, in all honestly have kept the cash and squared it with your conscience? Impossible – I can’t spot a bargain at Oxfam without getting into a guilty sweat. I’m still feeling bad about snaffling those vintage fish slices for a pound each at the school boot fair when I know she could have got almost a tenner each for them on eBay. (

But could it happen here? I doubt it – according to the International Business Times a third of pensioners haven’t managed to save a penny towards their old age. ( Those who have are probably using their pensions to bail out their (vintage) boomerang children who insist on returning to the nest between redundancies.

Dotty oldies stashing money away under mattresses is a cliché that I’ve never found to be based on fact over here. My mum may have been as scatty as a bat but she wasn’t daft enough to trust my sister or me over the banks when it came to hiding cash away. She pinned her two favourite brooches to the inside of the curtains, where they could be seen in all their glittery glory in the headlights of every car that drove past the empty house for two years till I discovered them. But when she died the only thing we found under her mattress was a note saying, “You found me then. Dead, I hope,” which for me beats a stash of used fivers any time.

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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