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How to Find (and Keep) Your Money

This article was written by in Organization and Productivity. 8 comments.


Lost and found has been one of the big themes in my life lately. After finding bonds I’d forgotten about for years, I realized that I’d misplaced some very sentimental and irreplaceable valuables and spent an entire day searching.

It was a very bad day until about 6 p.m. when I finally located the items. Relieved, I photographed them for insurance purposes, then readied them for their own safe deposit box.

safeAs part of organizing yourself for the New Year, don’t forget to inventory (then update your homeowners or renters insurance policy!) and secure your valuables. If you’d prefer to avoid the ongoing cost of a safe deposit box, a personal safe may be a good investment. The safes sold at your local hardware store can be easily compromised, so beware, but if you visit your local locksmith, you may find that you can purchase a used safe rather reasonably.

On a recent visit, I spied giant, 300-pound used safes starting as low as $150. The most expensive was around $400. The locksmith has generally opened these safes (due to lost keys or combinations) but can rekey or recode them for you. I also saw some nice wall safes and even locking “bank desks” — safes which incorporate one or more file drawers for storage of important papers.

I prefer to scan and save my important documents on CDs and flash drives, which fit nicely into a safe or even a tiny safety deposit box. It’s a great idea to update these as part of an annual routine.

If you’ve misplaced some of your important documents, even bonds, all may not truly be lost. CNN Money recently posted some information about retrieving important documents. Here are the highlights:

* Federal Bonds – Savings bonds from 1935 onward can be retrieved at no cost simply by completing Form 1048 at treasurydirect.gov. Registered federal Treasury bonds require a search request letter.

* Stocks and Corporate Bond Certificates – Most of these records are kept at one of three major transfer agents: ComputerShare (781-575-2000), Wells Fargo Investments (866-243-0931) or American Stock Transfer & Trust (800-937-5449). You may pay 2-3% of the stock or bond’s value to retrieve it.

* Car Titles – These can replaced in just a few weeks for about $20-$30. Fill out an Application for Duplicate Title at your local DMV.

* Tax Returns – For $39, you can get copies of full tax returns at irs.gov.

Found Money in Lost Papers [CNN Money]

Image Credit: Rpongsaj

Updated January 20, 2012 and originally published January 4, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Along with her partner, Sasha owns and manage six residential rental units. Sasha endeavors to support the causes and organizations she believes in through more conscientious spending practices. View all articles by .

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar The Saving Freak

This is great advice. Most of the people I know do not update their insurance information often enough. My wife and I will be going through this process this month. Something we hope to make an annual habit.

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avatar Mrs. Micah

I’ve thought about getting a safe. Unfortunately, my mental picture of one is from this little safe-shaped plastic piggy bank I had as a kid. Not exactly what I need now.

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avatar That One Caveman

We have a safe, but not to protect from thieves. We have a safe solely to protect our items from fire. That’s why we got one just a little bigger than a briefcase. It’s big enough to hold the documents and rated at 1 hour protection. That $40 save should be good enough for home use.

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avatar Sasha ♦644 (Dime)

Mrs. Micah – I got one of the used safes I saw for $150, and it’s big, bright red, and has fancy knobs. It’s quite a monster.

Caveman – Safes for protection from fire are also a good idea. If you are worried about theft, though, even a smaller safe can be bolted down or even cemented into place. I like the idea of having something portable in case you ever need to evacuate the premises, but was also worried about it making it easier for thieves to make off with the thing if they manage to find it, so I went with a big heavy behemoth. My plan is to keep a small box inside it which I can grab quickly in case of evacuation.

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avatar Dan

Flexo, be sure to check your states unclaimed property database. Texas has their database online, and I used it to find that a former employer owes my father $80.

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avatar Dan

Flexo, be sure to check your state’s unclaimed property database. Texas has their database online, and I used it to find that a former employer owes my father $80.

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avatar Sasha ♦644 (Dime)

Good point, Dan–we actually found that the state owes my grandfather some money recently.

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avatar wormbuff

It might be worth checking your local bank to see if a safe deposit box is “free” if your accounts total more than a certain amount. For the local Bank of America, it’s $5,000.

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