If you’re struggling with a tight budget, here’s a fun fact to consider: Various government agencies and organizations are holding more than $58 billion in unclaimed money, according to CNN Money, and a piece of that pie could be yours.
This isn’t some nefarious plot to keep you from your money. Often, we are the ones who forget about that 401(k) plan where we saved some money during a job decades ago or that old bank account where we socked away cash from our teenage babysitting job. And don’t discount how much you might be owed. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators says one out of every eight Americans is due money and the average payout is about $1,000.
So how do you find your unclaimed money? Here’s where to look:
Pensions and 401(k) Plans
You might have been thrilled to make a clean break from a past job, but, when you walked away, you may have left some of your own money behind in the form of a pension or 401(k) retirement plan. In some cases, employees simply forgot about the money. In the case of some pension plans, the employer may have abandoned the plan because of a bankruptcy, for example. Aon Hewitt, a human resources consulting firm, estimates that as many as 30 percent of pension accounts are simply lost, according to the Wall Street Journal.
To find out if you have retirement plans that owe you money, you can ask your former employers and check these sites:
Unclaimed Savings Bonds
Maybe Great Aunt Bitty gave you a savings bond for your 16th birthday that you promptly lost. You can still get your unclaimed money. Fill out the U.S. Department of Treasury’s form for lost, stolen or destroyed United States Savings Bonds to claim it.
Bank and Credit Union Funds
Do you have a long-lost bank account from years ago? Or maybe a credit union where you once squirreled away your funds shut down. It’s time to claim your missing money.
Most people are waiting by their mailbox to scoop up their tax refund, but there are more than $1.4 billion in unclaimed federal income tax refunds out there because people simply didn’t claim them, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
If you didn’t file a tax return, the law gives most taxpayers a three-year window to seek that refund. And there’s no need to worry about a penalty. If the government owes you money, you won’t face a late filing penalty. But it is critical to get the paperwork filled out as soon as you can. If you fail to file during those three years, the money becomes the property of the federal government. There’s more information on the IRS’s website.
When a business has money to give to you, but can’t track you down, it often sends it to the state where it operates for safekeeping. The money might be from a security deposit that was never returned to you or funds from a check that you never cashed. Each state has a website that lists unclaimed funds and property. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators has links to each of them.
Could there be unclaimed money out there to solve all your financial concerns? Probably not. But it’s worth checking out these websites now to see if you do have missing money.
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