money on the table

Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

Every year people leave money on the table just by overlooking sources of funds. Don’t do that! Get your funds! Here are three common things most people overlook as well as how to get your money.

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You May Have Unclaimed Property

There is a lot of unclaimed money being held by states, the Federal government, and various organizations in the US; estimates range from $40 billion to over $60 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” This is money that is rightfully yours that Americans haven’t claimed.

How do we go without claiming that much money you ask? Easily. Some people move and don’t provide a new address to the IRS or state, so their refund checks get returned. Sometimes additional money is held from payroll and the Department of Labor can help recover these funds.

According to, unclaimed property can include ” savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes.” There are a lot of ways people forget about their property!

So how do you get your money? Agencies will not call you to inform you of money, so you need to search your specific state’s unclaimed property site, the Department of Labor, and/or the IRS to see if you have any unclaimed funds. You can easily find your state’s website by checking Missing Money. What are you waiting for? You could be one quick search away from increasing your net worth or at least putting some money back in your pocket, and your budget where it belongs!

money on the table

Don’t Leave Money on the Table by Declining the Employer Match on 401K

I cannot stress this enough, if you don’t take advantage of an employer match with 401K at work you are leaving money on the table. If you don’t think you can live without that minimum of 3 to 5% of your pretax income you have much bigger issues with your finances. The problem may be tied to your attitude about money and a greater desire to spend than save. It’s free money just to help you to save for your future!

Some big names in the debt-free and budgeting community will tell you NOT to invest for retirement until you are in debt, but I disagree. I recommend investing at least the minimum of the employer match while paying off debt. Time in the market puts you at an advantage, so I recommend signing up for the employer match from day one at any job and let that (free!) money work for you.

You Don’t File Cancer Insurance Policy Claims for Annual Exams

Do you have a cancer insurance policy? If so, you may be able to claim your annual exams and get money back! I recently remembered our policy offers this benefit and decided to file my claim for this year and last year’s visits.

Not only was I still able to claim last year’s exams, I now have claim checks in the mail. It took me almost two years to file, but only 24 hours to get them approved and paid! We pay a monthly policy premium for coverage we hope to never have to use, but we should take advantage of the benefits the policy offers for annual exams! It offsets the cost of a few months of premiums every year if you just file the claim. Make sure you understand your policies and take advantage of the benefits included for prevention.

Do Your Homework to Prevent Leaving any Money on the Table

Go ahead and use your state’s site to find out if you have any unclaimed property there. If you’ve moved check previous state(s) just to be sure. If you start thinking about it and aren’t sure you ever got a refund that year you moved, contact the IRS and see if they have your money. It is YOUR money. If you’ve had a previous employer shut down for shady business practices check with the Department of Labor to make sure you don’t have unpaid money there.

Make sure you withdraw all funds and close bank accounts when you stop using them rather than just opening a new one and pretending the old account(s) don’t exist. This could COST you quite a bit of money if you forget to update bill pay. Keep a record of all safe deposit boxes and what is in them in a safe place. Cash in matured savings bonds.

As with tracking your monthly budget, you need to keep track of where you have money. Understand your policies, file those claims, and keep up with your bank accounts. Make sure you don’t have any unclaimed property or funds floating around now and then keep track of everything going forward. With just a little bit of effort, you can recoup what you’ve lost and take advantage of the money available to you.

This post was proofread by Grammarly


  1. goatdogsimple says:

    Great tips! This is crazy but I checked the Missing Money link for fun. I’m great about keeping track of our household money so I didn’t expect to find anything. But… my husband has an unclaimed $25 rebate check in NC. Love unexpected money. Thank you! 🙂

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