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Personal Finance Archive

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Does the government have your property?

Have you moved around much in the past? Is there any chance that you might have left behind some of your unclaimed property in the moving?

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) is a non-profit organization that organizes part of the effort to reconnect owners with their lost money or property; states individually run their own databases on the NAUPA site.

According to NAUPA, did you know…

  • All states have unclaimed property programs that actively find owners of lost and forgotten assets – Unclaimed property refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for one year or a longer period. Common forms of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes.
  • Unclaimed property is one of the original consumer protection programs – Each state has enacted an unclaimed property statute that protects your funds from reverting back to the company if you have lost contact with them. These laws instruct companies to turn forgotten funds over to a state official who will then make a diligent effort to find you or your heirs.
  • Claims can be made into perpetuity in most cases, even by heirs – Some businesses may offer searches for a fee, but the same information is available free at MissingMoney or NAUPA’s site.

If there’s a chance you might have left some money behind, take a look at the sites to find out how to claim your money!

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Breaking free from Chase Once-Free Checking

For those of you who were once Washington Mutual customers, or long-time Chase customers, you may have been notified of an upcoming change in the terms of your free checking.

In order to avoid a new $10 monthly service fee, you must meet at least one of the following criteria: – Have at least 1 direct deposit of $500 or more (and multiple deposits that add up to $500 does not count), – Keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more in your checking account (calculated at day’s end), – Keep an average balance of $5,000 in deposit or investment accounts with Chase (savings, checkings, or Chase Investment Services Corp.), – Pay $25 in “qualifying” account fees (excluding the monthly service fee).

Personally, I resent any checking or credit card account with fees, and will be closing out all accounts with Chase except my oldest one immediately. The oldest one still has a pile of useable checks associated with it and I could easily link up a direct deposit-like payment from an ING Direct account to it which should qualify as a direct deposit so we’ll see if that’s sufficient to avoid the $10/monthly fee.

Since I use two other banks which serve more of my needs and don’t charge fees, it wouldn’t be a hardship to switch entirely, it’d just be a bit inconvenient. Having the Chase app to deposit checks via the iPhone has been useful every so often as well, when checks come in and getting to the bank has to be scheduled for the third Saturday of the next month.

Will you be making any changes if you’re an existing Chase account holder? Are any similar changes coming to your bank or have you already seen fees applied to formerly free accounts?

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GCal wishes me a Happy Valentine’s Day….

to ask: Have you paid the DMV?

Valentine’s Day happens to coincide with Chinese New Year this year but that’s not my excuse not to celebrate.  I’m not a V-day sort of gal, generally.  For me, the Hallmark Day of Love is simply a reminder that it’s time to send some sugar ($$$) to the DMV to renew my car registration. That and some Valentine’s Day cards if I’ve got something fun cooked up.

Sadly, my car registration is one of those few remaining irksome bills I can’t automate.  They’ll allow online payments, thanks heavens, but it’s a single mailed statement several months in advance and woe betide those who forget to renew on time!  Last year I managed to forget about both “holiday” and due date, and ate a whopping parking/expired tags fine as a result.

Determined not to File and Forget again, I added the bill payment reminder as an event on Google Calendar with an emailed reminder set a week in advance.

This reminds of me a decidedly clueless boyfriend of years past who deliberately scheduled our first date on a numerical date matching that of my birthday. He’d theorized that doubling up on “significant” dates was a surefire tactic to stay out of anniversary trouble.

That was probably the single smartest thing he did in the years we were together! ;)

For those of you who are fond of acknowledging the day, remember that the stores are about to run out of affordably priced flowers, Russell Stover’s chocolates are a glaring red flag that you’d forgotten about it, and truly, a sincere gesture doesn’t have to cost you the rent money.  But I’m sure you already knew that.

How is everyone spending their Valentine’s Day?  And does anyone else use nationally significant dates as a reminder of something in their personal lives or is that just quirky?

[My name is Revanche and I’m the writer and owner of the personal finance blog A Gai Shan Life. Feel free to come on by, and subscribe if you like what you see.  I also help out around here a bit.]