Where to Check for Unclaimed Money

Mar 12, 2018 by

Found money is a gift. And with the internet, it’s easier than ever to find it.

Unclaimed assets may be sitting somewhere in your name, waiting for you to find and claim them. With some simple online searches, you can look for unclaimed money in seconds and possibly find a windfall.

Unclaimed money can come from a family member who has died. They may have a life insurance policy, retirement benefit and other policies you may not know about that are legally yours as an heir. Here are some resources for finding missing, unclaimed money:

Two websites offer free, multi-state searches for unclaimed property:

Both are simple to use. You only enter your first and last name, and the state where you live—a free government search for missing money in your name is done in seconds.

Missing Money is a database of governmental unclaimed property records. They include bank accounts, safe-deposit box contents, stocks, mutual funds, unwashed checks and wages, insurance policies, CDs, utility deposits, and escrow accounts.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has a free database to search for bank accounts or safe deposit boxes in your name or the name of a loved one who has died.

Paper Statements
Those overstuffed filing cabinets and drawers that you or a relative have been meaning to organize for years may be full of old paper statements from banks, life insurance companies and other businesses that may be holding money owed to you.

Anything that was reported to the IRS on a tax form could be an area where unclaimed money could be hiding. Also, be on the lookout for pay stubs, pension deduction and 401(k) contributions. They may show if a former employee owes a benefit.

An Old Pension Plan
If your former employee offered a pension plan but the company has gone out of business, you may have unclaimed pension benefits waiting for you.

Contact your former employer if you can find it. The company should also be looking for you. If it can’t find you, the pension money goes to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a government agency that protects retirement income.

Go to the PBGC’s unclaimed pensions database to see if you’re on its list from your former employer or as a beneficiary.

Life Insurance Policy
There isn’t a national database of life insurance policies. The Insurance Information Institute has 12 ways to make finding life insurance documents for a deceased relative easier. They include searching for insurance-related documents, contacting financial advisors, contacting previous employers and contacting state insurance departments, such as through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Life Insurance Company Location System.

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Tax Day is Here! Now, What Should You Do With That Money?

Sep 25, 2017 by

Well, April 18 has finally arrived, which means that we should all have our taxes filed, signed, and sealed by midnight tonight (unless, of course, you’ve filed for an extension). Whew! What a relief to have that done, right?

While there’s quite a bit to be said for adjusting your withholdings to avoid a tax return altogether (goodbye to the government’s 0% interest loan on your money each year!), many folks are grinning ear-to-ear as they eagerly await that direct deposit in their checking accounts. So, what should they do with all that money?

tax day2

This wouldn’t be a personal finance website if we didn’t at least encourage you to think very carefully about your plans for that windfall. With the average American receiving about $ 3,000 back from the IRS each year, there are a number of options for your tax season cash boost. Plus, it’s not like it’s “bonus money” anyway… that cash was yours all along. The government has just been holding onto it all year – interest-free, of course – so you should really make the best possible use of it now.

Related: What to Do About a Tax Bill You Can’t Afford?

Here are a few of our favorite ideas, and reasons why you should choose one of them before going on a shopping spree or buying a new car:

Build (or boost) your emergency fund

Another statistic for you: more than half of Americans don’t have enough cash on hand to cover an unexpected $ 500 expense. A whopping 63% of them said that they would have to take out a loan, charge to credit cards, or significantly cut back on spending if their car broke down or the dryer went day save

What does this really mean? Not only does it say that most Americans are only one broken arm or blown transmission away from digging a debt hole, but it is clear that less than half have a solid emergency fund.

Taking your IRS refund check and putting it into a high-yield savings account is one of the smartest things you can do. Aim first at tucking away $ 1,000 for emergencies. If you can save more, do it… but try to get at least a grand in that account, in case of the unexpected. Then, only dip into it when something is a true emergency!

Related: How to Save for One-Off Expenses (Hint: They’re Not Emergency Fund-Worthy)

Save up a few months’ expenses

Once you have that emergency account funded, it’s time to think a bit bigger. In case of a really big circumstance – such as losing your job or getting ill – you’ll want to save up a few months of expenses. The end goal is to have between three and six months’ worth saved up, which will give you a nice buffer in case of the truly unexpected.

If you already have an emergency fund in place, it’s time to start thinking about funding this account.

Learn More: Where to Put Your Emergency Fund

Pay off credit card or student loan debt

Debt-free. It’s something we all should strive for but many Americans can’t comprehend. Considering that the average household carries over $ 16,000 in credit card debt alone, it’s easy to see why the black cloud of debt hangs so thick. There is a way out, and it starts with a single dollar (or IRS refund check, as the case may be).

tax day ccIf you have credit card or private student loan debt, the next place you should be putting your money (after the aforementioned emergency fund) is toward paying down these account balances.

The average private student loan balance carried with it an interest rate between 9-12%. Credit cards are considerably higher, with an average of 16.2%. Throw in a late payment or two, and these rates can shoot up closer to 30%.

If you were to put your tax return to good use and pay off a credit card with an average 16% APR, you would not only be improving your credit score, building your net worth, and working toward a debt-free life…. You would essentially be “earning” a 16% return on that cash this year versus letting it sit in your checking account. And that’s one guaranteed investment that you should definitely jump on.

Fund your IRA or 401(k)

If you don’t have any high-interest debt and have a solid emergency fund, it’s time to start looking at retirement options for your IRS refund.

No matter how much you think you need to save for your latter years, taking full advantage of your retirement accounts is a smart move. Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are tax-advantaged, meaning that as long as you stay within your annual contribution limits, these pre-tax dollars will work for you now. Your Roth IRA, on the other hand (assuming your income qualifies), will work for you later, especially if you are in a higher tax bracket further down the line.

Related: What to Do When Your Employer’s Retirement Plan Sucks

Take that tax return, and use the extra cash to increase your work-sponsored 401(k) – especially if you have an employer match – or IRA contributions. Or, do what I did: front-load your Roth IRA, up to the $ 5,500 maximum, and don’t worry about it for the rest of the year.

Invest it!

Only go the investment route if you’ve already taken care of your debt priorities, have an emergency cushion in place, and are on track to max out your retirement accounts for the year. But if those are in place, look into investing that return invest

Regardless of your asset allocation, you can generally plan to earn around 7% on your investment each year. (Of course, this varies greatly, but that’s a general rule of thumb.) This means that if you take your $ 3,000 average tax return and invest it, you could expect to end up with about $ 3,200 come next tax season.

Of course, investments have varying degrees of risk and return involved. You could wind up with a 0.25% return or a 40% return this year… that’s the name of the game. However, adding to your portfolio when you can is a great idea, especially if you’re in for the long game.

Pay down your mortgage

One of the more important ideas for a successful retirement is the elimination of your monthly mortgage payment. This not only builds your net worth with a substantial asset, but it also minimizes your monthly expenses and allows for a home equity line of credit, which can be called upon if ever needed.

tax day houseUse your tax return to make an extra mortgage payment this year, and every year thereafter, and and watch the principal dwindle. For example: on a $ 200,000 home with a 30-year fixed mortgage at 5%, you are paying $ 186,512 in interest over the life of the loan. Well, that’s if you’re making 12 monthly payments a year.

Take your IRS check, and use it to pay a 13th payment each year, then watch the interest tower crumble. Imagine that you make just one extra monthly payment every 12 months on that same mortgage loan. You’ll instead pay off the home in only 26 years and you’ll only be paying $ 153,813 in interest over the life of the loan. That’s a substantial savings of  $ 32,699!

What could you do with an extra $ 33k in retirement?

Contribute to the kids’ education fund

College isn’t cheap, and student loans aren’t something most of us want to see our children struggle with. If you’re able to set money aside now for your kids’ future education expenses, you’ll be grateful down the day education

Whether putting the cash in a 529 account or starting an IRA, you are able to save up cash tax-free. Not only does this save you as much as 35% (depending on your tax bracket), but it will also grow and earn interest over the years. Plus, of course, you won’t be hit with a tuition bill tens of thousands of dollars high. When your high schooler comes home with applications to a private university, you’ll be thankful you thought ahead.

Schedule a consultation with a CPA

Do you feel like you’re in a good place with your finances? Maybe you don’t have children and your home is paid off – where would your money be best served?

Take part of that tax return and put it to good use by scheduling a consultation with a financial advisor. They can take an objective look at your money situation and let you know exactly where you stand, as well as whether you’re on the right track to financial freedom. They will have suggestions as to where you should focus your efforts first, especially if you are aiming for a higher goal, like early retirement.

Donate to charity

tax day charityTax return time is a great opportunity to give back to your community through causes you support. You could donate canned goods to your local food bank, take bags of kibble to an animal shelter, clear out the closet for Goodwill, or add a little extra to your church tithe. No matter where your heart and passions lie, having a tax refund boost can allow you to do a little more without feeling the usual pinch.

Be sure to save your receipts on charitable contributions, too, for when next tax season comes along!

How will you be putting your tax return to work this year? Let us know how smart you’re being with your money below.


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Put More Money in Your Pocket

Aug 22, 2017 by

Still using a shoe box to store your receipts? There is a better way. Use the receipt capture function with QuickBooks Self-Employed and you’ll never have to worry about losing a receipt again.

The post Put More Money in Your Pocket appeared first on RISMedia.


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Stop Leaving Money on the Table: 5 Tips to Monetize Rental Leads

Jul 27, 2017 by

As a real estate agent, you’re constantly reminded that leads are the lifeblood of your success. Even knowing this, many agents shy away from rental leads because they believe they aren’t worth their time or investment. However, there’s a major untapped potential to turn renters into buyers now and in the future. Here are five tips to begin working with this underworked audience.

  1. Start taking rentals seriously.
    If you’ve looked through your leads recently, you may have noticed that a large number of them are requests for rental properties. While millennials (the top buying age group) are moving towards homeownership, many can only afford to rent. This means that there is a large portion of potential homeowners at your fingertips. If you can work with these clients now to help them find the perfect rental property, you’ll know exactly when their lease will expire. This puts you in prime position to contact them about buying a home as their rental period comes to a close.
  1. Build the relationship.
    Before you start working with rental leads, set a price point (e.g., $ 2,000/month). This means you’ll only work with clients who are looking for a rental priced at $ 2,000 and above. If you don’t plan to personally assist in the rental search and are handing it off to another agent in your group, make the introduction, but make sure to stay in touch with the $ 2,000 and above renter throughout the process. After they’ve found their dream rental property and moved in, send a small gift basket to congratulate them. This sets up a warm relationship between you and them and will give you something to build on in the future.
  1. Prepare for the future.
    After your clients have moved in, add them to a drip email campaign so you can stay in touch. Invite them to follow you on your social media pages and send periodic emails with tips like “How to Save for a Down Payment” or “Top Ways to Prepare for Buying a Home.” Begin leading them down the path to homeownership. After they’ve been renting for nine months, contact them directly to ask if they’re interested in buying, since their rental contract will be ending shortly. Since you were the one who helped them find a rental, you know exactly what they’re paying, where they live, and what they were looking for in a property. This gives you a great advantage in helping them in their home search. If they seem a little wary, provide them with some properties you’ve selected and show them how much they could be saving by owning instead of renting.
  1. Sell the leads you can’t use.
    If you’ve set your price point for $ 2,000 and have a number of leads that don’t meet this mark, farm them out to other agents. Many agents who specialize in rentals or those who are new to the real estate industry would be more apt to work with these kinds of clients. Offer to sell these leads for a nominal fee ($ 5 each). Over time, they’ll begin paying for themselves. If you’d rather keep the leads in-house, these can be great for new agents who are still building their experience.

Rental leads can provide a great way for you to increase your client list in the long run. The best part is most agents are not focusing on these leads, so it opens up a new, untapped market. If you put these tips to the test and find your business thriving, you may have just found your niche!

  1. Many renters can qualify to buy now.
    Just because someone inquires about renting a home doesn’t mean they can’t buy one now. Many renters have great credit scores and savings, but since they have always rented, they don’t know that they may be able to afford a home. Turning away a potential buyer because they have indicated they want to rent is a critical mistake. If it turns out a rental client really does want to rent, you can always refer them to another agent—but what if you can show them that it is actually less expensive to purchase a home instead? You’ve probably done it before, and you know it works! Don’t dismiss leads simply because they are rental leads. You never know who you may be speaking with. There is a lot of opportunity in qualifying rental leads.

Ready to start building your client database? can connect you with quality rental leads in your area. Don’t let any more rental leads slip away from you; start connecting with them today.

For more information, please visit

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