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You May Have More Money Than You Know

Recently, a friend made me aware of a New York State website that matches people with lost funds: old savings accounts, checks that were not cashed, forgotten or closed accounts, etc. Just for the fun of it, I went to the website (go to Google, type in nys unclaimed funds) and lo and behold- I found me! If you are not a NY resident, just substitute "ny" with the initials of your resident state. In less than 5 minutes, I filled in my current address and social security number, and three days later I received two checks totaling $89.00. The funds were apparently lost checks that I never cashed from an insurance company, and now I have $89.00 more than I had before! A further search found monies from my paternal grandfather who passed away over 30 years ago. Since my brother was the executor of the estate, he is in the process of claiming the money. There are hundreds of millions of dollars just sitting, waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners... are you one of them? Be aware... don't just look once and forget it- the site is updated weekly, and something you don't see today could be posted tomorrow. My friend has found unclaimed funds 3 times in the past year. Don’t give up- check on everybody in your family and all your friends. Be a hero!

There are plenty of places that you may find lost money. Starting with the obvious- a 401(k) or similar retirement fund program from a previous employer. We are constantly retrieving funds for clients from former places of employment. If you were working for a company that had a retirement fund, you may have left money behind. Once you leave a place of employment and you had contributed to the retirement programs, you have three choices of what to do with the money in the plan. The first is to leave it in the existing plan, managed by your former employer. The potential downside to this choice is that you are limited to the investment choices contained in the plan; however, it may be attractive because of the potential minimal fees and costs of the plan. Depending on the assets held in the portfolio and the performance, this may be the most attractive option. The second choice you have is to roll the funds into the plan of your new existing employer, thus consolidating your accounts for simplicity- the old employer and new employer funds combined. What are the potential disadvantages? The same as your first option- you may have limited choices of investment vehicles and the plan may lack flexibility. The third choice- if appropriate- is to roll the money into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). These types of accounts, as a general rule allow you much more investment choices. Before making this choice however, you should consider the costs and fees associate with IRA accounts (i.e. is there an initial set up fee, transaction fees or commissions, annual maintenance fees, and in some cases, liquidation/withdrawal costs). The cost of an IRA may be higher than the employer sponsored plan. In a self directed account, you can open a brokerage account which gives you the choice of placing the funds into a large variety of investments, or in investments not available in the employer sponsored plan, as long as they are IRA approved investment vehicles. The selection of a self directed IRA managed account allows you to direct how the money is to be invested. This article is not meant to give you advice as to how to invest your money, but how to find it. The choice is yours, as well as the responsibility of managing it. You can also hire an investment manager to assist you (usually for a fee) - as always make sure they are qualified, experienced and you feel comfortable working with them.

Check and see if you have monetary "ghosts of Christmas pasts." Perhaps many moons ago someone gave you a toy or Barbie Doll™ still in the box: you'd be amazed at the value of some old toys. Maybe you have something your grandparents left to you that no longer has sentimental value- to you its old stuff; to another it's a collectible. People collect everything from Howdy Doody dolls (you DO know who Howdy Doody is, don't you? Who was his trusted friend?) to old lunch boxes. You'd be amazed and wealthier by looking around for things you take for granted, but others would kill to own. Did you collect stamps or coins as a kid and they're buried somewhere in the house? Drag them out and get them appraised, or go down to a local bookshop and appraise them yourself- it's money in the bank. EBay and Craigslist is a wonderful way to sell things fast- just be careful who you meet with, and be knowledgeable on what you are selling. There's a buyer for everything, believe or not- even what you may consider junk! As they say, "one man's garbage is another man's treasure..." why do they always pick on us men? Let me know how you make out!

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