6 Ways To Find Free Money

by Jason on February 9, 2010


What are the two words that people love most?  Oftentimes it’s  free and money!

Who doesn’t want to get free money? 

What’s amazing is the number of people who I run into on a regular basis who continue to leave money  on the table!

If you woke up this morning, got your cup of coffee and went to the front porch to get your paper and instead found a nice, crisp $100 bill – would you pick it up?

Of course you would!  You wouldn’t pick up your paper and say, “Oh a $100 bill” and turn and walk into your house, and yet thousands of people are doing just that.

 

One of the best feelings in the world is putting on a pair of pants or a jacket and reaching in the pocket only to pull out a crumpled $10 bill that you forgot about!  I love that! 

So, let’s find some free money: 

Company Match

The number of companies that are matching employees 401k contributions has gone down since the start of the Great Recession, but there are still plenty of employers that are matching.

It amazes me the sheer number of people I run into who are unsure of what their company matches or even if they are contributing enough to maximize the full matching potential of the employer.

If the company says, “we’ll match dollar for dollar up to five percent” and you’re only putting in three percent, that is just plain silly!

Review your company’s plan to determine if there are some matching opportunities that you’ve left on the table.

Rebates

How many of you bought a product with a nice little rebate only to forget to send in the form along with proof of purchase and receipt!? 

According to the National Consumers League, “only 2-3% of all those who buy a product with a rebate ever end up receiving the funds.”

Rebates are easy to forget, but worth remembering.  Every little bit counts towards getting free money!

Missing Money

So technically this doesn’t have to do with finding free money, but it does have to do with finding your own missing goods.

MissingMoney.com is a national database established by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).

MissingMoney.com enables owners to perform comprehensive searches for lost assets required by law to be turned over to the states. 

Just go to the site, type in your name and state and see if there is any unclaimed property waiting to be returned to its rightful owner. 

My coworker actually told me about this site after he found some goods on here that he was missing.

Not Joing a Rewards Program

I know there is hot debate over credit cards rewards programs.  I won’t get into that here. 

But, what I do know is that there are plenty of grocery stores, gas stations and the like that offer free “rewards programs” or loyalty discounts if you sign up.

One example is the Speedy Rewards from Speedway Gas Stations.  This is not a credit card.  It is simply a loyalty rewards program where you can accrue points to spend on free items.

We have a lot of Speedway’s near us and yet my wife and I still haven’t signed up for their rewards program!  We have friends who tell us how great this program is, so we need to get signed up and start swiping at the pump!

Leaving Money in a Checking Account

This is basic, yet it’s amazing to me how many people leave large chunks of money in their checking accounts earning ZERO!

Even if you moved some of the money to a savings account that only earned 1/2% you’d be better off!  Every thousand dollars earning a half percent gets you $5!  No, it’s not great, but who wouldn’t take $5?

There are plenty of High Yield Savings accounts out there that can help earn an extra 1 or 2% as well.  You’re leaving free money on the table

Not Deducting Charitable Contributions

Maybe this is more common for Christians who think they shouldn’t deduct their charitable contributions because they are seeking a “heavenly reward” rather than an “earthly one”.

I think this is a silly argument.  Remember the parable of the talents?  The master was not pleased with the servant who just buried his talent and earned nothing.  He said, “you should’ve at least put it in the bank and earned some interest”.

Now, I’m not saying the context applies here, but the principle does.  Take advantage of opportunities to grow the money or receive free money that the IRS allows!

Why not get that money back on your taxes and give THAT away too!?

Other Ways to Find Free Money

What are some of the ways you’ve found free money?

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle C. February 9, 2010 at 7:56 am

Another place to find money is your states unclaimed property listing. A quick search just now in my state revealed my mom/dad have $75.60 in unclaimed cash just sitting their, still. I have told them about it before and they still haven’t claimed it. I should get a finders fee or something. Checkout your states treasury website and see if they have a section where you can search for unclaimed property.
.-= Kyle C.´s last blog ..Lending Club $25 Investor Bonus and Reduced Loan Rates =-.

Kevin@OutOfYourRut February 9, 2010 at 9:07 am

Interesting statistics on rebates–I’ve always suspected that this is why companies offer rebates rather than discounting at the register. Seeing the firey hoops you have to jump through in order to comply with some rebate programs you can easily see why people just give up. Having to spend 2-3 hours preparing paper work, then following up over the next 30-45 days is enough to make you give up and declare “I have better things to do!” Then the instructions are very specific that if you fail to comply with one jot or tittle, it’s goodbye rebate.

I usually avoid rebates unless the amount is significant and then I pay attention to every detail. That’s why I avoid them in the first place. While I agree in principle that we’re leaving money on the table by not pursuing them, it’s easy to see why. The whole rebate process borders on scam.
.-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..7 Reasons Super Bowl Monday is THE Day to Start a Diet =-.

Jason February 9, 2010 at 9:54 am

Hey Kyle, thanks for that tip! Here’s the site for any Hoosier’s out there – unfortunately I got nothin’!

Jason February 9, 2010 at 9:56 am

Hey Kevin, I agree it does wreak of scammage! But certainly some of the larger ones are well worth it. My wife does a great job keeping track and keeping on top of any rebates.

I like the rebates from Staples – you just go online, type in your info and it’s on its way!

Deacon Bradley February 9, 2010 at 1:39 pm

For most people creating a written budget and sticking with it is like finding free money! I buy more clothes and games now then when I was budgetless because my money is working so much harder for me! Lame one, I know. But try it!

Paul @ FiscalGeek February 9, 2010 at 2:16 pm

My bank Wells Fargo has a cashback program for using their Debit Card as a Credit card and you can build up rewards quickly that way all without using a credit card. I prefer not to use it at local retailers that way though since I know they pay more for the credit over debit.
.-= Paul @ FiscalGeek´s last blog ..What is a Good Credit Score? Should you Care? =-.

Jason February 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Deacon, that’s a great point. Budgeting is actually more freeing than constricting because you are in control of your money rather than it controlling you! Nice addition.

Jason February 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Paul – thanks for the comment. I’m sure there are a TON of rewards programs out there that we just simply don’t even know about. Thanks!

Thebondgurl February 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Well written article. I agree with you that less than full participation in a company’s 401k is silly but Its not free money. Its a part of your compensation. I think people should look at it that way instead of it being “free money”. you work hard for it, spend 40 hours of your valuable time per week to get it, all you have to do is make a few clicks and then its yours. The company isn’t giving it to you because they are nice. They are giving it to you because you earned it.

Jason February 10, 2010 at 5:08 am

Bondgurl – I’d argue semantics on that one, but your point is a good one, which makes it even MORE silly not to get it because you’ve worked hard for it! Bottom line: Sign up for that match!

Khaleef @ KNS Financial February 10, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I have always told people that not fully participating in your company’s 401k plan (at least up to the match) is just throwing away free money! Great tips!
.-= Khaleef @ KNS Financial´s last blog ..Planned Valentine’s Day Spending in 2010 =-.

Jesse February 10, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Awesome list Jason. I was so irritated at my bank when they dropped the interest rate on my checking and savings account and didnt tell me about it. I usually keep at least a thousand in there as a buffer but it used to pay, now I have to change my whole system!
.-= Jesse´s last blog ..9 Unusual Valentines Gift Ideas =-.

Lillie February 11, 2010 at 9:17 am

Wow! I’m batting a hundred. I am currently doing all of the points that you mentioned, especially with the 401(k). My current employer does an excellent job of matching contributions and I take advantage of it to the max. I definitely deduct my charitable contributions and as you stated, find a way to give back.
.-= Lillie´s last blog ..Looking for good financial advice on a budget? =-.

Jason February 11, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Jesse – that is frustrating. Hopefully you can find something else to give you a little cash. Great job in keeping tabs on that.

Jason February 11, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Lillie – Keep up the great work

Khaleef – keep encouraging your folks to take that money off the table!

ParisGirl111 February 12, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I take advantage of my company’s 401K match. It’s like rejecting free money if you don’t. I also love the grocery game web site because it allows me to combine my savings on my customer loyalty cards with ocupons. Free money! I love it!

Linda February 12, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Thanks!! I just found $60.

Jason February 24, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Lynda, good call – I’m sure there are a lot of folks who have forgotten about some gift cards. To my pleasant surprise, I just found a Starbucks one in my wallet the other day with some credit still on there!

Richard Stooker February 5, 2011 at 12:15 am

Sometimes I hear people things such as, “It’s only $X” or “Saving $X is not worth the bother.” I’m amazed. I don’t see them taking $X out of their wallets and throwing it to the wind. Or, better yet, giving it to me!

Another example is refinancing mortgages. The airways of my local radio stations have been saturated for years with commercials of competing mortgage refinance companies.

Sure, interest rates have been trending down, but why are there still prospects for these services. After interest rates go down 2 points, everbody with a mortgage should be refinancing. There should be no prospects left after three months – until interest rates drop again.

Yet statistics show many mortgage owners are still paying Clinton-era mortgage interest rates. Small wonder they’re squeezed in this economy. And then they blame everybody else.

Holloway Lodging

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