Finding Money to Ease Money Stress

With the increase in inflation and stagnation in wages, we are all looking for ways to increase our income or create a gap between earnings and spending.  Finding money can help with this gap and ease some of the pressure.

There are 3 ways to find money, stumbling upon it, discovering an unclaimed bank balance, and analyzing your expenses.  While one method may be more predictable than another, used in combination, all 3 can add up to extra money in your pocket and ease money stress.

Stumbling Upon It

Stumbling upon money is the most unpredictable way to find cash. You never know when you will find coins on the ground or a $20 bill in a forgotten jacket pocket. There are hundreds of places to stumble upon cash if you’re always on the lookout.

The randomness of finding money this way can have a positive psychological impact.  It can really turn your mood around if all of a sudden you come upon money you weren’t expecting.

But with the decrease dependence on cash, and the increase in digitization of transactions there is less random cash out there to haphazardly stumble upon.

When was the last time you saw kids checking a vending machine or payphone for loose change? Are there even payphones around anymore?

Discovering an Unclaimed Bank Balance

The next way to find money can be much more lucrative than stumbling upon it randomly but may also be just as unpredictable.

Every year inactive accounts are transferred to the Bank of Canada (BOC).  They have a database of unclaimed balances. And a quick internet search can tell you how much you may be entitled to. 

At the end of 2021 there were 2.5 million unclaimed balances worth $1.06 billion. 93% of those balances are valued under $1000 with the oldest balance dating back to 1913.

Last year the Bank of Canada paid out $15.2 million to balance holders. Sadly, nothing came up when I searched my name in the database.  But if you are curious here are some more details.

Bank of Canada Unclaimed Balances Database

What Defines an Unclaimed Bank Balance?

Money is considered an unclaimed balance to be transferred to the Bank of Canada if:

  • It is a Canadian dollar account, deposit, or negotiable instrument (bank draft, certified cheque, money order, etc.) at or from a federally regulated bank or trust company
  • The account, deposit or negotiable instrument has been inactive for 10 years
  • The owner of the unclaimed balance can’t be contact or has been contacted but took no action

Unclaimed balances DO NOT include:

  • Currencies other than Canadian dollars
  • RRSPs and RRIFs
  • Life insurance policies
  • Credit union accounts
  • Unclaimed balances from companies (eg. utilities)
  • Safety deposit boxes
  • Stocks/dividends
  • Commodity certificates (eg. gold, silver)

There are no fees for recovering an unclaimed balance and the Bank of Canada holds your money for free.  

If the account was an interest bearing savings account, the BOC will pay interest for the first 10 years it holds your money.  Unclaimed balances of less than $1000 are held for 30 years and amounts of over $1000 for 100 years.  After that, the funds are transferred to the Receiver General for Canada.

The average processing time for unclaimed bank balances is 120 days. To get the process started, just search the database for your name and see what comes up.

And yes, this site is legitimate, so you don’t have to worry about being scammed by searching the Bank of Canada database.

Analyzing Your Expenses

The most predictable way to find money is to analyze your spending for gaps or “areas of improvement”.  But this method isn’t about cutting out things that are important to you, or depriving yourself. It’s about analyzing your expenses and spending a bit smarter.

The first step is to track your expenses to see what you are spending your money on.  Once you know that then you can look for ways to optimize and find money within your expenses.

Expense Tracking Workbook opt in graphic

For example, if you were paying $90 for your cell phone bill but could get the same service and plan for $45 then you just found $45 a month. Or $540 a year.

Often when we sign up for something it is easy to become complacent. But putting a little effort in can result in monthly savings.

So, if you’re not sure where to look at your expenses, here are some cost saving ideas for you. Use this list as a checklist as you go through your monthly spending.

  • Cut out any subscriptions that you’re no longer using
  • Downgrade any subscriptions that you are overpaying for (and not fully using)
  • Negotiate with your service providers to get a better rate
    • Insurance
    • Cable
    • Internet
    • Cell Phone
    • Others?
  • Shop around for better rates from service providers
  • Look for ways to share expenses
    • Can you share products or services with a neighbour, friend or colleague?

Final Thoughts

Finding money can be unpredictable, but with a bit of time and effort it can really pay off. You never know how much money you’ll be able to find with an hour or two of “work.”  

Imagine you could find even just a hundred dollars a month from one of the methods suggested above (or a combination of all 3).  That would be $1200 a year for a few hours of work. I don’t know about you, but that’s a much higher hourly rate than I’m earning at my day job.

I can appreciate that not every month will be a $100 month.  But if you’re able to find money in your monthly expenses that can provide you with an ongoing return.

And finding a little extra money every month can go a long way to easing money stress.

Now it’s your turn, leave a comment below with where you have found money.

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