Editor’s note: Quorum is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this article and derives no benefit from these businesses for placement in this article.
Everybody’s dreamt of winning the lottery, but the odds are not favorable. You have a much better shot of finding extra money by looking in places where it’s been inadvertently left behind. Below are some popular places to look for unclaimed money.
Money Waiting to Be Claimed
If you think looking for forgotten funds in your name is a waste of time, think again: one in 10 of us has unclaimed property out there according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).
The best place to start is with your state’s unclaimed property database. Be sure to access it through the NAUPA interactive map to ensure sure you’re visiting the legitimate state site. These databases consist of money or property turned over by financial institutions, employers, utilities, insurance companies and other organizations that couldn’t find the rightful owners of accounts, wages, refunds or policies.
If you’ve lived and worked in multiple states, you can conduct a multi-state search for free at MissingMoney.com, a site sponsored by the NAUPA.
Beyond state databases, there are several other places to look for unclaimed funds:
- Federal Agencies:
- Labor Department: Check Workers Owed Wages to see if you have back wages from an employer cited for labor law violations.
- Financial Regulators: Search to see if you have any unclaimed deposits found by the FDIC at bank closures or by the NCUA at credit union liquidations.
- Treasury Department: Use treasuryhunt.gov to find mature savings bonds that you’ve yet to cash out.
- Pension Plans:
- Former Employers and Plan Administrators: If you’ve lost track of a pension plan from a previous employer, contact its HR department to find out how to claim it or how to contact the third-party administrator who handles the plan.
- National Registry: You can also search the free National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits (NRURB) to locate forgotten pensions.
- Insurance Policies:
- Veterans Affairs (VA): If you think you may have unclaimed funds as either a policy holder or beneficiary of a VA-backed insurance policy, try searching the VA’s Unclaimed Funds
- FHA: Ever had an FHA-insured mortgage? It might be worth checking the FHA database to see if you are due a refund for some reason.
- Life Insurance: Maybe you believe you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy of a deceased family member or other person. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a free service to help you try to locate the policy through its participating insurance companies.
Even if none of these sources uncovers money in your name, there are still other areas where you might be routinely leaving your cash on the table.
Cash Sitting in Limbo
Besides your bank account, here are three places where your money might be waiting for you to put it to better use:
Does your credit card pay you cash or other rewards when you use it? That’s your money in one form or another, so take advantage of it. Routinely check your rewards balance and decide if you’re better off continuing to build up your rewards or redeeming them.
Even travel reward credit card holders might find ready cash waiting for them because some issuers have adjusted their programs due to the lack of travel during the coronavirus pandemic. They are allowing customers to use accumulated miles to pay for other things. Check with your credit card company to find out your current reward options.
Venmo, PayPal and other apps make exchanging money between friends and family really convenient, but it’s also easy to forget about the positive balances in your accounts. Make a habit of transferring your balances to your bank account to help cover your monthly bills or give you a cash cushion.
Do you have a drawer full of unused gift cards? You can sell them on websites like Cardpool or CardCash, which say you can get as much as 88 to 92% of the value for the most popular cards. Just make sure you understand exactly how such a site works before engaging with them.
Dollars Spent but Not Used
Finally, it never hurts to do a routine review of your current memberships and subscriptions. Ask yourself whether you actually go to the gym, read the magazines or watch all the streaming services that you pay for each month. Cancelling those that you’re not using or enjoying is a quick way to ease the strain on your monthly budget or help you to save to reach your financial goals.