The process of breaking bad is full of trial and error. Walter White transformed from a mild-mannered, well-coiffed high school chemistry teacher into a terrifying, internationally-renowned bald drug lord in only five seasons—we should cut him some slack. But that doesn't mean that we can't learn from his mistakes. Here are six places Walter White shouldn't have hidden his money—and some much better tricks you can use to keep your money safe.
FIRST SCORE IN THE HEATING VENT
FORTY-SEVEN GRAND IN THE VACUUM CLEANER
CASH IN THE CRAWLSPACE
STACKS IN THE STORAGE UNIT
LIFE SAVINGS IN BARRELS IN THE DESERT
BILLS ALL OVER PEOPLES' BACKYARDS
You'd think that, with all he gave up to get it, Walt would have taken better care of his first batch of money—but sadly, you'd be wrong. First he put it in a heating vent, where it got blown all over the place. After that, he stowed it behind the basement insulation (sure, he's got cancer already, but that stuff's pure asbestos! The rest of us want to smell our money without risking death). There's got to be a better way.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: WALL SAFES
Hiding something in a wall vent seems sneaky up until you realize that anyone can break in (including, say, air). But a vent-shaped safe, with reinforced hinges and a combination lock, will keep everyone out of your stash.
If you missed the pre-season-2 Minisodes, take five minutes and watch "The Break-In"—it's the funniest of the bunch. After Skylar sells an old vacuum cleaner in which Walt has hidden $47,000 of drug money, Walt recruits Badger to help get it back. This short is chock full of anti-burglary tips—for example, never keep the key under the mat!—but the most important is probably this: don't hide anything in a vacuum cleaner.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: DIVERSION SAFES
As a hiding place, vacuums suck—even if yours doesn't get sold out from under you, it'll chop your cash to smithereens the second someone turns it on. Luckily, your home is full of other ordinary objects that do make great hiding places. Check out these lifehacks from Simple Dollar for some fresh ideas (we particularly like the cat litter trick). Even better, invest in a diversion safe—they look like soda cans, CD cases, or flowerpots, but have hidden compartments for your valuables. Some, like these hollow books, even have combination locks (bonus: no incriminating inscriptions).
By Season 4, Skyler has undergone her own criminal transformation—into a first-class money launderer. One of her bright ideas? Storing the excess cash in a crawlspace beneath the White house. It works fine—until Walter and Skyler, in last-ditch efforts to save the family, each promise the whole haul to different people. Whoops. At least she didn't use it all to buy turkey bacon.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: SECRET ALERTS
In order keep a better eye on his money, Walt should sign up for a home security system that tells him whenever someone else tries to touch it. If he set up a sensor at the crawlspace entrance, he would get a handy text message anytime someone tried to access it, giving him plenty of time to rectify the situation. He could then order as many hits as he needed with complete peace of mind. A win for the Whites — but a loss for Breaking Bad fans, who would have missed out on the best flip-out in television history.
By the time Season 5 rolls around, there's EVEN MORE money—way too much to fit inside any nook, cranny, electrical appliance, or weird house addition. So Skyler starts keeping it in a storage unit, gently dehumidified and tucked under a sheet. It even doubles as a bed, so Walt could sleep there next time he gets kicked out of the house.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: A HIGH-INTEREST BANK ACCOUNT
A storage unit is great if you're trying to get your drug dealer husband to cool his jets a little by physically showing him that he's made "more money than we could spend in ten lifetimes." But if you're hiding your legally-gotten gains (as we hope you are), you'd do better to just put your money in the bank—maybe in a CD if you don't plan on touching it for a while. It will get interest, and you won't have to worry about Storage Wars snoops, crooked henchmen, or silverfish.
What did Walt do when he could no longer put his trust in the storage unit? Like any good Ozymandias, he turned to the desert. After a night spent burying barrels of his bounty deep in the sand, he left the geographical coordinates for his family to find, hidden in plain sight on a lottery ticket. Bets are on as to whether they ever get any of it—or, if they don't, who does.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: SAFE MONEY TRANSFER
If you want to get money to someone safely and quietly, an online transfer is way better than Ed the vacuum salesman. You can wire money from bank to bank, buy an online money order, or use an e-commerce payment service like Dwolla, which has a small flat fee of 25 cents per transaction. If you really want to be untraceable, try Bitcoins. Any of these options is legal, discrete, and efficient. And way less sandy.
As nutty as Walt seems for squirreling his nest egg away in the desert, Jesse does him one better by throwing his share all over the street. You know you're not making wise financial decisions when a homeless dude won't take your money.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING ELSE
This is not a solid hiding place, investment strategy, or charitable giving technique. No matter how sad you are, just don't do it. Don't throw it in your pool, either.Got any more tips for stashing your cash? Share in the comments!