How to Find (and Claim) Your Lost and Missing Money

Follow our 5 steps to find money with your name on it that you never knew was missing—from refunds to reimbursements to lost wages to settlements.

Looking for lost money? Digging through your couch cushions is a thing of the past. In the digital age, you have to look in new places to claim cash, whether it's money you had and lost, or simply money you're not making that you could be.

From refunds to reimbursements, from lost wages to monetary settlements—all that unclaimed cash can really add up. Follow our five steps to find money with your name on it, wherever it may be.

01 of 05

Search for unclaimed funds.

The U.S. government's unclaimed money website makes it easy to find money you're owed such as tax refunds, life insurance, retirement benefits, and unpaid wages. Another place to find a little loose change is your state's unclaimed property office.

How does your money end up in the hands of the government? Well, banks, insurance companies, medical offices, and even credit card companies may have tried to refund you for an overpayment but, if you moved or closed a bank account, they might not know how to find you. To search multiple states at the same time, try running your name through If you have foreign property or have lived abroad, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service has your back. Don't forget to check for spouses and dependent kids, or anyone for whom you are an executor of estate.

02 of 05

Get reimbursed.

Did you know that many insurance companies will pay you back for over-the-counter items such as ibuprofen, prenatal vitamins, and Band-Aids? Some even cover massages and acupuncture. Read your policy's fine print and call the claims office to clarify. Health insurance payouts can be very counterintuitive. Don't assume that just because they don't cover eye exams they won't cover eyeglasses cleaner. Some do!

In many cases, you have to buy the goods upfront and submit the receipt for a claim. Take photos of your paper receipts or email digital statements to make online reimbursement requests even easier. If you're eligible for a Flex Spending Account, consider how you might reap tax benefits for health and childcare expenses. Those pay-now-save-later health plans generate lots of refunds each year.

03 of 05

Lower the cost of debt.

If you have debt, you probably know it's in your best interest to lower your interest. How? First, ask your lender if they'll lower your rates. They might agree to a drop with just a review of your credit score. If not, shop other lenders for a better deal. Use BankRate and SoFi to compare options to refinance your mortgage, restructure a personal loan, or transfer a balance to a zero-percent-interest credit card.

There are closing costs associated with refinancing a home loan, and there's usually a fee to transfer a balance, so do your homework to confirm the fees are worth it. Also, make sure you can pay off any loans before introductory rates expire. Last, if student-loan debt is weighing you down, don't give up hope. Check the Federal Student Aid site to see if your loan qualifies for forgiveness, cancellation, or discharge.

04 of 05

Take advantage of old (or young) age.

High Angle View Of Sunglasses With Hat And Camera On Yellow Background

Sure, in many circles it's considered impolite to ask someone's age—all the more reason to volunteer it when there's money on the line. For parents, keep an eye out for children's discounts like Amtrak, which offers 50-percent fares for ages 2 to 12. On the train and on most airlines, kids under 2 travel for free with a lap seat. If your kids are older, don't overlook student discounts for nearly everything under the sun, from flights to museum admission.

Youth discounts pale in comparison to the slashed rates offered to seniors. An AARP membership offers cut-rate deals, and sites like the Senior List and Senior Living post retail savings on food, retail, entertainment, and more. The only catch is that many stores and vendors don't offer these deals upfront—you have to tell them that you qualify. Keep photo IDs with birthdates handy so you can keep more of your hard-earned cash in your own pocket.

05 of 05

Request overtime.

Does your employer have an overtime policy? If so, you may be missing out. Many of us are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires U.S. employers to pay workers 150 percent of their hourly wage whenever work extends beyond a 40-hour workweek. Some employers offer up to 200 percent for weekends and holidays. Most employees hesitate to demand what they're owed, but how much is this silence costing you?

Check with your company's HR team to see if, instead of a one-for-one hourly swap, you can get cash in hand. Sometimes, supervisors prefer payment, because it lowers the risk that you'll take compensatory time off during peak seasons. Don't talk yourself out of claiming hard-earned employee benefits. Remember that if you don't know your worth, no one else will either.

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