We all dream of an unexpected windfall, and there may be no better way to kick start 2018 than with some extra cash to your name.
A treasure trove of forgotten cash
To begin with, many state government treasuries are filled with a trove of refunds and overpayments, unpresented cheques and even unclaimed proceeds of sale.
In New South Wales alone, the 2016/17 financial year saw more than 6,000 people reunited with a total of $15.4 million in unclaimed money. And there’s plenty more waiting to be claimed across Australia.
Most state or territory governments maintain an online database of forgotten cash. If some of the money is yours, it could mean celebrating the New Year with the sort of windfall we all dream about.
Just this week, a colleague of mine did a search of the NSW Office of State Revenue database and found an unpresented cheque for $173 belonging to her grandfather. That’ll bring some cheer to his Christmas!
Next, head to the website of the public trustee or state trustee for your state or territory. You could have an inheritance waiting for you from a long-lost family member.
Some of the amounts waiting to be claimed are nothing short of impressive. In NSW for instance, a number of unclaimed inheritances are worth well over $10,000.
These sorts of figures are a reminder to check that your own will is up to date.
$18 billion in lost super
The real cash prize lies in unclaimed super savings. The latest Tax Office figures show there is $18 billion – yes billion – in unclaimed superannuation, spread over 6.3 million different super accounts. Some of it could be yours.
Speak with your adviser to organise a search for lost super. If you find some, be sure to roll it into your main fund to save on unnecessary fees and prevent doubling up on insurance premiums.
More forgotten money
Okay, if you’re still drawing a blank on lost money, details of forgotten bank accounts, shares, investments and life insurance policies are held with our money watchdog ASIC. And it’s not nickel and dime stuff either. Around $1.1 billion is available to be claimed.
Unclaimed money deposited with ASIC earns interest, so you could have a decent nest egg that you’re not even aware of. The money can always be claimed – there’s no time limit for the rightful owner to recoup the cash.
But why let a cent of spare money sit idle? Especially at this cash-strapped time of year.
Paul Clitheroe is a founding director of financial planning firm ipac, Chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money Magazine.
Find your lost super
When you change jobs or move, your super fund can lose contact with you. Whereever your super happens to be, we can find it for you.
Check out these five hallmarks of a money-smart life.