You can’t maximize your money if you don’t know where it is or what’s happening to it. And that’s why you should start focusing on funds you’ve forgotten or neglected.
If you’re looking at the screen sideways, thinking there’s no way you have money out there that’s forgotten or are that you’re ignoring, you might be right.
But then again, you could be wrong.
And if you’re wrong, it could be costing you.
A True Story of Unclaimed Money
One day, I was going through a storage bin full of old papers and pictures, and I found a paycheck stub from a conference resort where I used to work. Looking it over reminded me that I had a 401(k) account when I was there. But when I left the job, I left that money.
Knowing that retirement funds are highly regulated, I figured that money had to be somewhere. When I tried to contact the company, I found out that resort has changed ownership and management companies several times. But eventually, I tracked down my money. It was in TCF Bank, which I’d never heard of.
Hmmm, at least now I know where it is, I thought and I pushed the whole thing aside for a while.
A few more months passed and I decided to look at what was actually going on with that account at this bank in the Midwest.
What I found was that in the 10+ years that that money has been sitting around, the account hasn’t grown. In fact, the balance was steadily declining.
While I neglecting my money, TCF Bank was siphoning off fees. And those fees were far more than the pitiful gains I was getting from being their customer.
My negligence had cost me hundreds of dollars. And I was paying for nothing. Just to have my name listed as an account holder.
It cost me more money to sever my relationship with TCF Bank, but now I am in the process of moving those funds to investment firm where I have active accounts. That way, I can monitor and manage those funds better and hopefully see them start to grow.
And that isn’t the only money I’ve forgotten.
I also found two H&R Block Emerald cards in an old wallet. I got those cards to access my tax refunds back in the day. But otherwise, I didn’t use those accounts. When I called the phone number on the card to check the balance, sure enough, one of them had some money left on it.
That remaining tax refund was less money than I had in that retirement account, but it was my money and it wasn’t being handled wisely.
I don’t think the money on that debit card was getting stripped down by fees, although it could have been. But it certainly wasn’t benefiting me by just sitting there.
I could have used it to cover the cost of something for my business. Or I could have had it in an account where it was gaining interest or growing in the stock market.
Finding Forgotten & Neglected Funds
Before you dismiss the idea that you may have money just sitting around, realize it’s more common than you think.
There is all sorts of money out there people have either forgotten or aren’t paying attention to: proceeds from estates, unclaimed tax returns, old bank accounts, security deposits, deposits for utilities, and the list goes on.
If you know you have money you’re neglecting, now is the time to reign in those funds and find ways to put that money to better use.
If you aren’t sure, there are resources to help you figure it out.
And USA.gov has this unclaimed money page with resources to help you find money from things like FHA insurance, credit unions, SEC claims and foreign governments.
What you find could change your circumstance in small or major ways.