See the end for more information about this series and resources.
I recently posted about some of the places to hide money from an abusive husband or wife. Because bank accounts have issues with addresses, taxes, statements, etc, I suggested that if you want to get one you do it under a friend’s name.
My dad just suggested to me another hitch that people might run into with bank accounts—withdrawing the money.
For example, I can only withdraw a few thousand dollars from my ATM on a given day. It just won’t let me withdraw more…the account basically freezes. So if you’ve saved up $4000 in escape money, you’d only be able to withdraw $3000 on the day you escaped. Maybe that’s ok because you can simply hit another ATM the next day for the rest.
But here’s another hitch. Banks notice that kind of thing. Not too many people do it, and it’s often a sign that someone’s trying to steal money.
So the bank may freeze your account—the last thing you want—while it tries to get in contact with you. If you didn’t use your home address and phone number, then at least your spouse won’t be involved with their calls. But you may not easily be able to get them to unlock your account again.
For example, when my father used his debit card to buy a $2000 violin for me (I didn’t have a debit card at that point, so I’d deposited the cash into his account vs. carrying it into downtown Philly), we got a call from the bank that afternoon. I don’t know what they would have done if they hadn’t been able to reach him, quite possibly they would have kept his account locked until they made contact.
I don’t know what they’d do if you withdrew all of your $500 in savings. That might not be a problem, since you wouldn’t need that account anyway.
On the other hand, physically storing the money in a safe, safety, deposit box, or PO box means that when you take it you can take all of it. You don’t have to worry about limits or the bank freezing your account. You are only limited by access.
Ideally, any safes you have would be in locations you can access 24/7.
Safety deposit boxes limit you with the bank’s business hours (which may put a hitch in your escape plans). Check the hours and memorize them so that you can work it into your escape plan.
Most PO boxes are more accessible, as post offices will leave that part of the building unlocked later into the night. When considering that option, you’d want to check and see if your post office allowed you to come in at all hours (early morning, late at night) to remove whatever you’ve been hiding in the PO box.
A while back, I asked for peoples ideas on how to hide money from an abusive spouse/parter. I realized that my site didn’t have enough information for someone in a real predicament and wanted to remedy that. You responded wonderfully, and I’ll be doing a short series about it. I’m not an expert and this isn’t professional advice. If you are in an abusive situation, there are ways out. Every situation is different, but I don’t believe any is hopeless. At the end, I’ll include some resources I discovered. And if you can’t save money, you can still get out.
The Halton Women’s Place has a list of ideas and options for abused women who aren’t able/ready to leave just yet.
End Abuse has a Get Help page with some resources and safety-plan templates.
From the BBC, some information about how to tell if you’re in an abusive relationship. Rule of thumb: If you wonder that you might be, you probably are.