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Clear out the Money Clutter (Frugal Friday)

Posted By Jessica Fisher On January 12, 2012 @ 7:31 pm In Frugal Friday | 18 Comments

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 [4] 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 [4] 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 [5] last year which shares real life stories of folks who reclaimed monies they didn’t even know they had. Visit Unclaimed.org [6] 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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[4] your financial goals: http://lifeasmom.com/2012/01/setting-financial-goals-frugal-friday.html

[5] a series on unclaimed funds: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/unclaimed-money-lying-tips-finding/story?id=13207837#.TwpksW9Woxw

[6] Unclaimed.org: http://www.unclaimed.org/

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