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Homemade Diversion Safes: Save Money by Making Your Own

If you're looking for homemade diversion safe DIY, then you're likely looking to stow away some of your valuables. Let me show you how to make your own diversion safe, as well as lots of other options.

Discovery Channel used to have a series called It Takes a Thief in which they filmed two reformed robbers breaking into a willing participant’s house so that the homeowners could see all of their property's security flaws and weaknesses.

rope with heart locks on it with text overlay "how to create a diversion safe"Watching this show made me realize that we have no strategy to hide our important documents, jewelry, or cash in our house.

Of course…this is mainly due to the fact that we don’t really have lots of valuable jewelry, lots of important documents, or cash just lying around.

But between now and when we build a small fortune large enough that we feel the need to keep cash everywhere (ha!)? I do have a college diploma, some important-looking papers, and a USB flash drive with all of my future articles that could use a good hiding place.

That's when I started researching diversion safe ideas.

What is a Diversion Safe?

A diversion safe is a safe you can use at home or keep on you, where you can stash your valuables (jewelry, money, important documents) in plain site. That's because the safe itself creates a diversion — it looks like a commonly used, and non-valuable household item. With burglars looking for common hiding places, they're more likely to pass a diversion safe over than, say, your desk drawer.

Homemade Diversion Safe DIY

You can purchase home security money safes (diversion safes), and I've linked to several great ones below.

But I thought it would be more frugal and fun to think of ones to make on your own!

And once you start brainstorming hiding places? You’ll probably start looking at everything in your home as a potential diversion safe.

Suddenly a toaster becomes a super stealth cash pan, a broken computer monitor from the 1990s becomes the most valuable asset in your garage instead of an eyesore, and even your VHS tapes start to shine again.

It’s quite fun.

Here are a few of my ideas as well as some I have found around the web.

  1. Stick Deodorant: You can remove the top part of most deodorants in order to store something in the hollowed-out canister. I tried this out by using a small screw driver to pry open the top after my husband Paul finished using his deodorant stick. You may wish to use a new stick in order to further confuse the burglar in case they happen to look in your toiletries closet (not likely).
  2. Book Safe: Instead of getting rid of/donating that book you really didn’t enjoy, make it into a diversion safe. This article is a great how-to (with photos). Think about all of the possibilities!
  3. Soup Can Safe: You can make this out of any canned food after eating the contents (and cleaning the can out unless you want your valuables to smell like beef stew).
  4. Tennis Ball: Slit open one of these and put some valuables inside. The slit is unnoticeable unless someone squeezes the ball.
  5. Ballpoint Pen: Unscrew your pen, take the ink cartridge out, and roll up a small amount of cash very tightly in order to fit it inside.
  6. Hollowed-Out Log: This is mainly for people who have fireplaces and/or fire pits (if you don’t, it would look suspicious). Pick a log according to the size that you need, and hollow out the center part. Keep the log in a basket by your fireplace, in a broken fireplace, or somewhere where no one will try to burn it.
  7. Child’s Toy: If you have children, choose a stuffed animal that your child will not mind if you use. Slit a hole in the back of the stuffed animal, and use this space to store any valuables. Store this stuffed animal up on a shelf where your child cannot reach. Since there are not generally electronics, money, or valuables in a child’s room, it is a great place to hide something (as long as your own child will not find it).
  8. Behind an Unused Light Switch: This would be a good area to stash some jewelry. If you do not have any broken light switches, you can also install a dummy light switch for relatively little money.
  9. In an Old Shoe: If you have an old pair of shoes you don’t want anymore, remove the insole and stash something in the bottom. Lay the insole back on top. You can also hollow out the heel from the inside for a larger space.
  10. Inside a VCR: Okay…we still have one of these. You could put a stash in a small cigar-like box and put it into the VCR like a tape (or in an old VHS tape — see below).
  11. A VHS Tape: Here’s a great how-to video on how to hack a VHS tape and make a small compartment for your valuables.
  12. Your Attic: A burglar only has so long to get in and out of your home. Think about stashing your valuables at the outer ends of your attic, especially if your attic is not easily accessible.

Affordable Diversion Safes You Can Buy

Maybe creating your own diversion safe isn't for you. No worries — there are tons of affordable diversion safes you can buy.

And honestly? I cannot BELIEVE how realistic these diversion safes look — they're so convincing, that I included a photo of each one.

Regular Diversion Safes

Diversion Safe #1: Can of Hormel Chili

This looks just like a can of Hormel chili. And who would think that there'd be money or jewelry stashed away in a can of that?

hormel can of chili, with bottom open showing hollow inside

Diversion Safe #2: Liquid Wrench Can

Ever thought about putting some of your valuables in a locked garage, inside a diversion safe? I sure wouldn't touch a liquid wrench can (you might even want to make it appear kind of dirty. I know the old bottles of stuff we have in our garage all look pretty worn/used).

spray can of liquid wrench, with bottom open revealing hollow inside

Diversion Safe #3: Diversion Safe Belt

Here's a belt where you can hide money (good for travel, as well).

black belt with inside pocket where you can stash cash

Diversion Safe for Travel

Diversion Safe #3: Hairbrush

This one includes a Stash It bag, so that you can also hide your jewelry without it rattling around when someone picks it up (that would be a dead-giveaway!). And since everyone packs a hairbrush when they travel, this one would be great to travel with. You can fit 30 rolled up bills inside.

black round brush with top off revealing hollow inside

Diversion Safe #4: Lint Brush

People definitely travel with lint brushes, and I like how this one is also functional. That gives you one more layer of protection in case someone actually wants to use your lint brush!

lint brush with top opened, revealing hollow inside

Please remember to make a mental note of your hiding places as you do not want to forget them and donate or throw out something much more valuable than an old suitcase.

Also, please make sure your family members are made aware of these hiding places so that they do not accidentally throw them away, burn them up, or sell them on Craigslist.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.

Tuesday 5th of November 2013

Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It's on a completely different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!


Sunday 13th of February 2011

You just gave the theives all the good hiding places!


Friday 28th of January 2011

My dog is certainly my first line of defense. She's actually afraid of pretty much everything but she makes up for it by making a lot of noise.

The problem in my house would be that my wife doesn't like having to remember things like the the money hiding places. She'd probably write them down somewhere. That would be kind of like giving the burglars directions to the cash (not that we keep much cash around anyway).


Wednesday 26th of January 2011

Interesting ideas! I have my places too. My first line of defense is a dog. He is not ferocious, but he will sneak up on you and scare you!


Wednesday 26th of January 2011

I just heard a story from a women in my dance class who decided it would be a nice idea to get her brothers shoes buffed/polished and resoled. As it turns out her brother had stashed a Rolex in the toe of the shoe (given to his father as a present from the President for flying an SR-71 in combat). Needless to say, the watch wasn't in the shoe when it was returned to her from the shoe place. So the moral of the story is that if you have family members that like to surprise you and clean your house (or anything in your house) while you are gone, tell them about your hiding places.

Amanda L Grossman

Wednesday 26th of January 2011

Wow that stinks! There have been a few of those stories I saw, like a woman who donated her husband's suitcase only to find that it was his stash of cash....eek! They did get it back, but talk about tearing your stomach up.