Saturday, October 11, 2008

31 Things to do before Christmas - Reclaiming unclaimed funds

(This is #2 of 31 in the 31 Things to do series)

Get what's coming to you at Christmas

So it's Christmas again, and money is short. This is a great time to start collecting the money that's due you. Just about every body has something or somebody out there who owes them, so let's think about it and see if we can come up with some extra cash for Christmas.

  1. Health Savings and Dependent care savings accounts. Do you have an HSA or FSA and have outstanding receipts you need to submit for reimbursement? Earmark one of those reimbursement checks for your Christmas expenses if you can. This will put a nice dent in it, especially if you have a reimbursement coming for child care expenses. Or pay yourself the tax that you saved by using the plan. For example, if you are reimbursed $250 for childcare expensees, and you saved roughly 30% ($75) in taxes by using the plan, pay yourself the $75 to use towards your Christmas expenses.

  2. Store returns. It is so easy to hold on to stuff forever that you will return to the store, "the next time you go". (right) The problem is, you put it in the trunk of your car and you forget about it. I have at least $20 worth of merchandise right now that I was supposed to return to Target and WalMart at least since February of this year, but I keep forgetting. Well now is the time. $20 isn't much but hey, it could be two $10 gifts.

  3. Consignment shop payouts. I'm a fan of consignment stores, for buying and selling stuff. Problem is making it there to collect my payout, since the shop I deal with only does payouts on a few week days of the month. Never on Saturdays, so I can only go if I am off of work on those days, or if I can arrange my schedule to get there. So some months, my payout rolls over until the next month. That is cool, but around the holidays, I need to make it my business to get there some kind of way to receive my payout. Do you have payouts you have forgotten about or just haven't gotten around to going to collect? This is a good time to get there don't you think?

  4. Rebates. I'm not big on rebates because I either don't buy the products that are offering the rebates, or don't buy enough of the product to qualify for the rebates. I've only succesfully done about 5 or fewer rebates in my life. And it is a pain jumping through the hoops they make you jump through (send labels, all of the original receipts with the date of purchase circled, fill out a form, give your name, maiden name, mother's maiden name, your blood type, your first born child). However, those that I have benefitted from have been worth it, red tape and all. So if you happen to have one you have been putting off sending off for, stop procrastinating and do it now before they expire (that's another reason I have missed out).

  5. This one is not exactly claiming new money, but making use of the money that's right under your nose. It's the obvious.... cash in those coins. I know it's time consuming to roll coins, and nowadays I don't even know if people take time roll coins anymore. But it just doesn't seem right to save pennies and then pay some crazy percentage to cash them in. To me that's as bad as paying someone to get my money out of my account, but anyway, I digress...... If you don't want to fool with the coins, you can do what I've been doing the last year, start spending them gradually. I used to never use any of my coins and I would roll them all at the end of the year (around the holidays). But this year I've been using them when I make purchases. Sometimes the customers in line behind me don't appreciate it since it seems most people don't even pay with cash, let alone coins. But more often than not, the cashiers thank me for paying them in change, they usually need it.

  6. Go on a spending "fast". For the next month (or couple weeks), only buy what is absolutely necessary, and nothing else. Most people have a lot of room to work with in their grocery expenses. It is possible to spend $25 bucks a week on grocery and feed a family of four, I've never done it but I have been told. Lots of people have enough food in the pantry to eat well for the next couple months. Use up what you have.

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