Recently, I read about a guy who has a hobby of looking for money in gutters, parking lots and other public places—and keeps a running tab. He routinely goes over $100 in a year. Not bad! Just imagine if he knew about other places that harbor free money just for the taking.
VENDING MACHINES. Start paying attention to vending machine coin return compartments. Luckily, most of them are clear plastic so you can see into them without getting down and reaching to feel around. Winter is the best time to clean up on coins as people are often wearing gloves and don’t feel the coins they leave behind.
JUNK JEWELRY. Toured your jewelry box lately? Gather up all of the broken chains, mateless earrings, bracelets, rings—all of that gold from the ‘80s that you don’t wear anymore. If it’s at least 10k gold, it’s like cash. Go in person to three jewelry stores to see what they’ll pay you for it, then go with the highest bid. Never mail your junk gold to a “gold dealer,” and be wary of the popular gold parties.
PENSION FUNDS. If you or a family member worked for a company with a pension plan and were terminated because the company went bankrupt or was bought out by another company, you may be eligible to receive benefits from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Last year, PBGC held $133 million in unclaimed benefits for 32,000 people. That averages nearly $4,200 per person. To see if you have anything coming your way, search the PBGC database, https://search.pbgc.gov. “Finding a Lost Pension,” may also be helpful.
MATURED BONDS. More than $15 billion worth of savings bonds have matured and are sitting unclaimed by their owners, according to the U.S. Treasury. The department’s Treasury Hunt search engine allows you to search for matured bonds using your Social Security number.
UNCLAIMED ASSETS. You or someone in your family may be missing money because you lost track of a refund, a rebate, security deposit, insurance dividend, or proceeds from a class action suit. It happens. To search online check out this government site as well as Unclaimed.org and MissingMoney.com.
DRAWER PURGE. Everyone has at least one junk drawer. Go through yours on a gift card hunt. Call the number on the back of the card to find out how much value remains. That’s cash being held hostage on plastic. Use it or you may lose it.
TREASURE HUNTING. Remember that cool metal detector you got for your birthday umpteen years ago? Dust it off and take up metal detecting, a hobby where the more you participate, the luckier you’ll get. Want to increase the fun of metal detecting? Join a club. Find other enthusiasts. And make sure you keep a journal of your successes. Find community and detecting how-to, where to hunt, forums and just plain fun for metal detectors check out 25 Best Metal Detecting Sites.