Broker Check
#18 A Holiday Celebrating Free Money? How To Claim Your Unclaimed Property

#18 A Holiday Celebrating Free Money? How To Claim Your Unclaimed Property

May 12, 2023

Every February 1st, there's a little known holiday that raises the awareness of state websites dedicated to finding your lost money: Unclaimed Property Day!

Tune in to this episode to find out what Unclaimed Property is, why you might have some, and how to retrieve it!

Episode Resources

Unclaimed Property Article


February 1st of this year, and every year marks a little known holiday designed to get money in your pocket that you didn't know already existed. In this episode, we tell you how to get it in your pocket and 10 other areas in your budget where savings might be hiding. Let's get started
Hello, my name is Brenton Harrison of New Money, new Problems, and your host for the New Money New Problems podcast. I wanna thank you for joining us in this episode, which is a version of our What's in the News segments. And I want to use this as an opportunity to give you a more lighthearted article that I came across. And also open up the airwaves for those who have tuned in as viewers and listeners. As a thank you for helping us, as our viewership and listenership has increased, we want to give you the opportunity to submit stories, articles, even topics that you'd like us to discuss or people you'd like us to interview. And you can do so by emailing us to And you may see that article or that topic [00:01:00] covered in a future episode.
And if so, we will alert. When we cover it. So I was up late last night and I was reading this article and it was funny because it brought to light something that I already do, but did not know that there was an entire movement behind, and that is checking unclaimed property.
Reading from an article on Business Insider entitled 70 billion in Unclaimed Property Held by States belongs to 33 million Americans. Here's how to see if you're one of them. Now, what they're talking about is unclaimed property, so let me tell you how that works.
If you're doing business with an entity and they're paying you, maybe you are in sales, maybe you get paid by three or four or five or six different companies when you steer customers to their organization. Or you could be a consumer who has something like a security deposit or health insurance reimbursements. Those companies typically get you your money in one of two ways. They have a bank account on file to which they will deposit funds [00:02:00] directly, or they will mail you a check to your most recent address on file.
Now in one of those instances, if they have an incorrect routing number, then that bank won't even get the funds in the first place because they've sent it to the wrong institution, or there's one that just doesn't exist with that number. Or if they send it to that number and the account number does not match the name, it could be rejected and returned to the sender.
Conversely, with an address, they may have an address on file that has a number or two off, and instead it goes down the street or it doesn't get delivered in the first place. Or you might have moved and after the period of time, which your forwarding of mail has stopped, there's no way to get you that money.
And in these instances, the money goes back to the sender for a period of time, and eventually they have to do something with it. They cannot just keep it and instead they send the funds to the unclaimed property division of most states' treasury departments.
So every year I make a practice of going to the unclaimed property [00:03:00] division on the State of Tennessee Treasury website.
And inevitably I find a hundred or a couple hundred dollars that I can claim, send in proof that I'm the owner, and I will submit that claim and receive a check in the mail of those funds.
But this also can happen if you have a loved one in your life who has died. If you have a spouse or a child or a parent, and you have not gone through meticulously of alerting all of the companies with which they did business that they have passed, that money is still going to an address on file or they're still attempting to get it to them.
And if there's no place to send it, they send it to unclaimed property. And you might have to give proof that you are the descendant or the heir to that person's estate. But if you can prove it, you are in line to receive the money due to that deceased person.
So when I do this for myself, I just take time while I'm sitting watching TV with my family and I search all my friends and family. I might find a couple hundred dollars here. I found a few thousand dollars here or there that people didn't know existed. [00:04:00] Take a screenshot. White out their address, send them a text and say, Hey, you've got some money at unclaimed property.
And it's just a nice way to spread some random, unexpected joy to the people I love. So I highly encourage you to check out unclaimed property, and if you're thinking that there's no point in doing so, because maybe it's two or $3, you would be surprisingly mistaken.
As a matter of fact, reading from the article, it says, 'the State Treasury Departments encourage Americans to search for their name on missing every February 1st, or on National Unclaimed Property Day. This is the holiday. February 1st of every year is National Unclaimed Property Day.
According to the site, the average claim is just over $2,000, but they range from pennies to thousands, and there is an estimated 70 billion in unclaimed property on the website. So this could be something that's really cool to do, or it may be very needed for you [00:05:00] to do. And after the break, I'll give you an example of an article that we wrote in the same spirit of Finding Found money, entitled, 10 Places Savings Are Hiding In Your Budget, and we'll go through some of these things to see if you could benefit from these tips as well.
Before the break, we talked about free money that you might be able to find on your state's unclaimed property site. And it reminded me of an article that I wrote way back in 2017, and I wanted to go through some of these things to give you an idea of things that may be relevant and things that have changed as time has changed, cuz this was six years ago. Number one on the list was subscription services. And by this point, you know that I feel strongly that most people could benefit from saving money by identifying auto paid subscriptions in their budget.
But that does not mean that the only way you can save that money is by eliminating them. As an example, maybe you signed up for the fastest, most powerful internet speed that your service provider has to offer, and you realize, you know what? I may be able to go [00:06:00] perfectly fine by lowering it a level and saving 50 or $60 a month on my monthly payment. And I'll test it out, and if I'm wrong, I'll go right back where it. That's a way that you could say with subscriptions, but number two gets more specific in terms of things like cable and internet packages. Now that cable and internet has changed, You might have streaming services that you've accumulated over the course of time. I have some good friends who came over to our house a few months ago and their daughter wanted to watch something called like The Proud Family, and it was on Paramount Plus. I downloaded it just so she could have something to watch while she was there.
Six months went by without me realizing I was still paying for a Paramount Plus and I canceled it. And in evaluating what you're actually watching and using, the collective impact of these changes could be beneficial. .
Number three was coverage limits and deductibles. And beware because this can bite you in the butt if you actually do need your insurance. It bit me in the butt this year. I shared with you a few [00:07:00] episodes ago that we had a water leak in our house due to damage from a washer and dryer.
What I didn't share with you is that a couple years ago when we moved into this house, I increased the deductible on our homeowner's insurance from $1,000 to $2,000. Our homeowner's insurance went down about a hundred dollars a month when I increased that deductible. We've been in this home for almost three years, which means that I've saved probably in the neighborhood of $3,000 or so in payments to this point.
But that homeowner's insurance claim was the third claim we've had to file with our insurance since we moved into this home for various reasons. And what that means is I have paid $6,000 worth of deductibles as a result of those expenses. So the extra $3,000 that I've paid in the deductibles matches the savings that I thought I was experiencing by increasing that deductible in the first place. So it doesn't always work out in your favor, but there are things like increasing your health insurance [00:08:00] deductible, your auto insurance deductible, your homeowner's insurance deductible.
Where if you want to take the gamble or you think you have enough savings to cover you in the event of an emergency, that you can increase the amount of cash flow in your current budget by increasing your deductible as well.
Next was insurance rates. And there are some people that benefit by shopping insurance rates every single year. I'm not a big fan of that because by now a lot of insurance companies in particular have loyalty bonuses that you'll get by staying with them as opposed to shopping coverage. But there are ways that you can benefit by shopping coverage, and there are also ways that you can benefit by keeping the current coverage you have or staying with the same insurance.
As an example, if you have an old life insurance policy that's three or four years old, life insurance pricing is based on your age, your health at the time of application, but also the mortality tables the insurance company is using in that year to evaluate your likelihood of [00:09:00] dying.
And one of the things we've benefited from over the course of the last 10 to 20 years is that people are living longer. So believe it or not, the prospects your insurance company had on whether or not you would die four years ago may be more negative than what they feel about your odds now.
And if you're within a small window of time, you could actually save money by resetting your life insurance with that carrier and applying for new coverage at a lower rate. Along those same lines, disability insurance is another area where part of the price you pay is often dictated by riders that can exist on your coverage that cover specific types of disability. An example would be a student loan rider, which typically exist to protect the insured from having to make any student loan payments while they're on disability benefits. If you had that policy issued and at that time you had student loans that have since been paid off, your insurance company may allow you to remove that rider on your policy anniversary and save you money without [00:10:00] compromising the quality of your coverage.
Next we have income tax withholding. I'm not a tax professional, so we're not gonna spend a lot of time here. What I will say is by working with a tax professional, you may find that there are changes you could make to things from your income tax withholding that will make sure that more of your money is in your budget on a monthly basis as opposed to having to wait for that refund check at the end of the year. Next is bank account fees.
I'll put it this way, at this point in time, there is so much competition in the banking world, there's a higher chance than not that there is a way for you to avoid banking fees. I don't pay banking fees on any of my checking your savings accounts except for one. And the one that I do pay fees on is because of a relationship I have at that bank that I benefit from in a way that exceeds the fee that I'm paying in my opinion.
But I also don't pay ATM fees. My bank refunds those to me. This isn't an advertisement for my bank, so I'm not gonna give you with whom I bank, but the point is there are [00:11:00] many different institutions that will make sure that in a competitive landscape, you're not getting nickel and dimed on bank fees.
Next credit cards and student loans, and we're not gonna address that at all because in the course of this podcast, you either have gotten advice from me or you will get plenty on how to save money in those areas. But eight, nine, and 10, bringing this home. Number eight is your closet. If you're like me and in the pandemic, you had clothes that maybe fit before the pandemic. Don't fit after the pandemic, or a style of clothing that you wore before the pandemic and don't wear after the pandemic. You might benefit from selling some of those items. As an example, I still wear suits pretty frequently, but I may never wear dress shoes again, and I've got a whole closet of them collecting dust that I may be able to resell for a profit.
When it comes to restaurants and groceries, this is an area that's a bit unique cuz at the time that I wrote this, it costs significantly more money to go and buy [00:12:00] your food at a restaurant on a daily basis or a weekly basis as compared to shopping at the grocery store and even at the grocery store.
The thought of the day at the time was to make sure that you were eating more fruits and veggies and dairy and things like eggs that now may cost you $8 or $9 or $10 for 12 eggs. So this is an example of something where the advice might have changed. The point of all of these is that you need to find a way to keep an eye on your budget without having that eye on your budget all the time. We're just searching for ways to add a little money back in your pocket. Add a little joy back in your life in terms of unclaimed property, and if one of these things speak to you, check it out. And if it works for you, send it to someone else and you might put some random joy in their life as well.