Clear out the Money Clutter (Frugal Friday)

Random bank accounts, loose change, odd amount gift cards, unclaimed funds are money clutter that you could make good use of in the new year. Clearing it up could help you focus on your financial goals and may just save you money.

Typically when folks talk about clutter, they’re referring to stuff. Physical stuff that takes up space in your drawers, cupboards, and closets. But, there’s another kind of clutter that we don’t often think about: money clutter.

Money clutter doesn’t usually take up much space. Most of us are not hoarding galleons in our closets or dollar bills in our mattresses. But, chances are we’ve all got loose change, odd gift cards, and random odds and ends of the monetary kind that are subtracting from our “bottom line” and could help us achieve our financial goals, if even in a small way.

1. Do you have money in random bank accounts?

Consider consolidating your funds into interest-bearing accounts. A random $100 or $50 here could help you get closer to your savings goals and be less to keep track of. It’s amazing how folks forget about where they’ve opened accounts!

2. How much loose change do you have?

FishPapa is a coin-magnet. It seems that we have always have piles and piles of coins all over the house. A few months ago I corralled them in one large cardboard mailing canister otherwise destined for the trash. I wrapped a world map around it for decoration and now it’s going toward saving for our trip to England. Someday….

But every little bit helps! And loose change is a painless way to save toward something.

3. Where are all those gift cards?

Last month I gathered all the gift cards in the house — and was surprised to stack them an inch high. Some of them are probably five years old if not longer, but still! That’s money that’s just been sitting around. I went online or called the number on the back of each card to find out the balance and wrote it across the front with a sharpie.

Now that I know what we have, I’ve got them in a little zippered wallet along with a list for easy reference. If I’m near the store in question or already planning to go there, I want to use the gift card first and keep the cold hard cash in my wallet. If it’s a store that we probably won’t go to, as gift cards often are, I can share them with folks who might enjoy a little freebie.

4. Claim your missing funds.

Unbelievably, there are billions of dollars sitting in government banks that belong to citizens who might not know it’s even there. Often the funds lie unclaimed because a bank account was inactive for too long (see point 1) or an institution folded and the funds were redirected to the state treasury.

Good Morning America did a series on unclaimed funds last year which shares real life stories of folks who reclaimed monies they didn’t even know they had. Visit Unclaimed.org to search all the states’ databases where you’ve lived. You will be redirected to that state’s treasury site  and have the opportunity to search your name for any unclaimed funds. I found cash for both my brothers by doing a simple search.

Deal with Money Clutter

Money clutter may not be terribly visible, not like the piled up magazines or overgrown clothes you may have stashed in a closet. But, in this case, it could prove to be valuable. Clear it up and make good use of it in the new year!



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Comments

  1. You’re saving your change for an England trip too? ;) We have a vase almost full of change that we keep adding to. It’ll take years to actually afford even one ticket at this rate, but until we have enough wiggle room in the budget to actually set aside funds each month, it’s at least a start, right?

  2. I’m probably not supposed be coveting your gift cards that are an inch thick am I?

    I LOVE gift cards!

  3. Dealing with money clutter was one of the things that the hubby and I tried to deal with over the holidays. All of the ones that you listed are perfect, but here’s another one. If you’re paying for cable with premium channels AND paying for Netflix or another DVD rental, you’re paying for the same thing twice. Eliminate the premium channels and watch the movies you want to watch, when you want to watch them.

  4. I found a little over $50 on unclaimed.org. Defiantly worth looking in to.

  5. While cleaning out our office this week, I found a notice from our state that we had unclaimed money in our name. When I went online, I discovered we had $100 floating around out there! That was the good news. The downside is, they don’t make it easy to get (a list of personal documentation, plus getting it all signed by a notery)…but I guess I’m glad that they won’t give it to just anyone. :-)

    Hooray for England…someday! Once the house is paid off, we’re hoping to travel Europe, including England. Change goes a long way. ;-)

  6. We save our change for our summer vacations.

    Thanks for the linkup. I posted:http://www.familybalancesheet.org/2012/01/resolve-to-lower-your-grocery-spending.html

  7. I would also suggest closing out any lingering credit card accounts you might have open. When I was single I had EIGHT credit cards. Yes, really. Most were department store and gas cards but still. They were all paid off when I got married but it took me a few years before I sat down and made all the phones calls and wrote the letters necessary to close all but one. I wasn’t attached to having them, I just never got around to it.

  8. Oh my gosh, I just found $35.09 from a UPromise account I forgot about! $35.09 closer to fencing in our yard for the kids, thank you so much for the link :)

  9. Old gift cards can be challenging. When you only have like $4.36 left on a gift card to a place where you can’t buy anything for under 20 dollars can be frustrating. Especially if it is a place that you rarely shop at, or if you only when there just to use the gift card. If that is the case, consider putting it up on Ebay. You will almost definitely get some money back for it and it will only cost you a stamp to mail it out.

  10. I went through all my gift cards last week. It’s amazing how they accumulate! Now I get to shop :)

  11. Great tips – especially the gift cards. I collected all of ours and put them in a baggie and I keep it in the car. Now, if we are out and about and decide to eat a meal or stop at a shop, we’ll look through the bag first!

  12. Thanks for the link to unclaimed property. I never thought we’d not know about some money but sure enough, there was one for my husband. I don’t know how much it is, just that it’s under $300 but whatever it is it will be nice to have in our hands!

  13. Love this post! Last year we got over $300 in loose change, totally used a bunch of gift cards for Christmas shopping this year, and I wrote a similar post about unclaimed money…found a family member an unclaimed pay check!

  14. I had no idea about the unclaimed money link! I searched myself in previous states and lo and behold found unclaimed money from 2005! Woo Hoo! It wasn’t a ton, but it’s something that is going into our savings account! :)

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