How to Find Out if You Have Unclaimed Funds
My father recently sent me a New York State Office of Unclaimed Funds claim form in the mail that he had stapled to a partial list of names of people with unclaimed funds in New York. Among the names was mine (just a couple names down from a Susan A. Sarandon). It turns out I must have overpaid a Verizon bill before moving out of one New York apartment in 2005 to another. Now, I just need to get the form notarized and send it in to claim my money.
I'm not alone in having unclaimed funds. Each state maintains custody of unclaimed property and, according to this New York Times article in February, the New York comptroller's office has custody of $9.9 billion in unclaimed money across some 23 million accounts, averaging $430 each, that all must be handed over to those with a legitimate claim. And that's just New York.
But how do you go about finding out if there are unclaimed funds sitting around with your name on them? For me, the process of finding out was easy — I just opened my mail — and I had never bothered to check myself because it hadn't even occurred to me that there might be unclaimed funds in my name. That's all the more reason it's worthwhile to check to see if you have any unclaimed property. If you have five minutes to spare, here's how to quickly find out if there is any unclaimed property you're entitled to.
With most states now offering searchable unclaimed property databases and online claim forms, all you need to do is search the databases of states where you have lived. The nonprofit National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators offers nicely organized links to such databases here. Just click on the map where you want to search. (I got to the New York office from the map and easily found the online record of my unclaimed funds. After reading an article about unclaimed funds in New York, my father had searched this same database with my name and my sister's and found my unclaimed funds). Elsewhere, About.com also has links to all the state databases here and more information about unclaimed funds here.
Once you find out if there are any unclaimed funds in your name, the process of claiming them varies by state. You should be able to find that information on the state sites as well. You also may want to periodically check the state databases from time to time depending state laws governing how long property has to sit dormant for it to be considered unclaimed.
Five Key Auto Loan Terms
If you feel like the guy across the desk at the dealership is speaking another language when you sit down to bang out a car purchase agreement, you need to take a crash course in Auto Finance-ese.
Here are five of the most important terms and what they mean to you, the consumer:
1. Dealer sticker price. This is the public price of an automobile. Plastered to a car's windshield, this number is the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). It is meant to be the jumping-off point for the negotiations that lead to an eventual selling price. Sometimes, consumers do pay the sticker price. Saturn, for one, has a policy of always selling for sticker price. Sometimes, when cars are highly sought after, they even sell for more. But in general, if you pay the sticker price, you might have been able to negotiate a better deal.
2. Dealer invoice price. This is the price that the car dealer pays the manufacturer for the automobile. The difference between the dealer invoice price and the MSRP is the dealer's profit and the amount you can haggle over. One thing to remember: the MSRP can often be padded as well, sometimes by $200 to $500. The size of the gap depends on the make of the car. The dealer invoice price is determined by the manufacturer and is prone to adjustments over the course of a model year, as the manufacturer tries to manage its profits and the demand for the vehicle fluctuates.
Some Firms change - Some companies will contact you and offer to do a search for a fee. There is no reason you should waste your money. Doing an Internet search is quick and easy. If you are lucky enough to locate some funds, just complete and submit a claim form.
3. Annual percentage rate. The annual percentage rate, or APR, is a rate of interest, calculated yearly, that includes all the fees and charges associated with a loan. It is always tied in with a loan term. It might be, for example, 1.8 percent for 36 months, or 2.8 percent for 48 months. A lender will calculate monthly payments that reflect the APR over the term of the loan, and may include taxes, registration and closing costs, as well as destination charges if financed by a dealer. Since dealerships and other lenders charge different fees and expenses when they finance a car, the APR is the best way to compare one financing offer to another, according to Mark Bryant, LendingTree's Director of Auto Product Management.
4. Rebate. A rebate is a gift to buyers, extended by the manufacturer (or, sometimes, the dealer) to encourage them to purchase a particular make and model. Typically, rebates are stated as a reduction in the selling price of the car, but they may also be expressed as an offer for a better rate of financing. These are called either-or offers. Rebates are most often attached to the slowest-selling vehicles. Sometimes, they're a seller's solution for dealing with a surplus of one make and model and surface as the end of a model year approaches. You should always ask about rebates and other incentives on a model you are interested in.
5. Dealer financing. Car dealers realized they were missing an opportunity by simply selling consumers cars, rather than selling them cars and the money to purchase them. Thus dealer financing was born. Consumers considering financing their cars this way should proceed with caution. Sometimes a favorable APR goes hand-in-hand with a bulked-up sticker price. Also, watch out for long loan terms and very low monthly payments. You'll probably pay a higher finance charge over the long run and may go upside-down on your loan. The tradeoff is convenience: you get to buy your financing at the same place you buy your car. It's best to check out the rates you can get from other sources before signing a deal, says Bryant. 
What to Expect as a Social Security Income Recipient
Being approved to receive Social Security Income (SSI for short), is not the end of the journey. In fact, in many ways, it is the beginning of a long relationship with Social Security; one that lasts as long as your disability lasts. As such, it is important to know what to expect from your Social Security office as an SSI recipient.
One thing that you may expect is constant review of your disability and the situation surrounding your disability. These periodic reviews are called Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR), and are done in order to ensure continued eligibility for SSI benefits. The law mandates Social Security to conduct these reviews every three years. However, if your disability is such that recovery is expected before three years, then your CDR may be scheduled at an earlier time deemed appropriate by the Social Security representative in charge of your case. If your disability is permanent then your CDR may not be scheduled as frequently as the regular CDRs.
Apart from reviewing the status of your disability there are other elements of your claim that are also reviewed by Social Security in order to establish your continued eligibility. This includes a review of your income, resources and living arrangements through a process called Redetermination. Redetermination assists the Social Security office in determining if your benefit payment is too high or too low, based on the change in your circumstances. As such, being selected to go through the process of redetermination is not necessarily a bad thing, as your benefits may be increased as a result.
If you have been selected for a Continuing Disability Review, or for Redetermination, you must ensure that you can provide your representative with the requisite documents needed to establish continuing need. Therefore, for a CDR you must ensure that you have current medical reports that will provide evidence that your disability has not improved. If selected for Redetermination then you must equip yourself with copies of your bank statements and savings or checking accounts. You also need to provide copies of your income such as pay stubs and income tax receipts. You may also be asked to provide documentation for other resources that you own, as well as any household bills you are required to pay.
Though it may sound overwhelming the process is quite straightforward, and may be conducted in office, by mail or over the phone.
Real Estate Grant Money: Where and How to Find It
It's late at night, an ad comes on television, and all of a sudden you see someone screaming that you too can get free money from the government in order to buy real estate and you want to reach out and get that book or set of CD's right away. But when you buy it the information seems poorly organized and somehow you don't end up getting any grant money.
In this article, we'll tell you where you can really find real estate grant money without some costly and ineffective middle person.
1.If you're facing foreclosure, grant money is coming available. The Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Act of 2008 was recently signed into law. The bill will provide $4 billion worth of grant money that local areas will then be able to use to deal with foreclosed properties. The money will be granted to nonprofit housing groups. So if you have a desire to create such a group, or currently are in charge of one, you may qualify for this real estate grant money.
2. The grants site offers powerful search tools that anyone can use, and it should be the starting point for almost anyone interested in grant money. If you find a grant for which you believe you qualify, this website will also take you through the application process and allow you to track the progress of your application This website is especially helpful for private entities looking for grant money. Grant money is out there, if you're willing to look for it.
3. Are you embarking upon a small business venture? If you're involved in a commercial real estate venture, you can then apply for a small business loan. But don't forget to also apply for grant money that's freely available. You can even arrange for a twenty-minute session with a Housing and Urban Development counselor find out more.
4. Local Housing and Urban Development Offices are also great resources. At the Housing and Urban Development website, you can find grant money, money for faith-based initiatives.
Real estate grant money is currently available, and more is becoming available quite soon. Use these resources to locate the money you need for your projects.
5 Credit Card Tips
1. Read the fine print. If you receive an offer for a pre-approved credit card or if someone says they'll help you get a credit card, find out the details first. You need to know what interest rate you will be paying and for how long. Some credit cards offer low rates as "teasers" that are raised after a certain period of time or only apply to balances transferred from other cards. You also need to know about any annual fees, late charges or other fees, and Read More...
whether there are grace periods for payment before interest is applied. If the terms of the offer aren't provided or aren't clear, look for a credit card from someone else.
2. Shop around. Interest rates and other terms vary widely. There are also different types of cards, such as secured cards that require a deposit to cover any charges that are made, cards that can also be used as telephone calling cards, cards that allow you to either charge something and pay later or deduct the charge from your bank account immediately, and cards that can only be used to charge merchandise from a catalog. Make sure you know what kind of card you're being offered and what type of card meets your needs best.
3. Don't pay fees up front to get a credit card. Legitimate credit card issuers don't ask for money up front, unless you're applying for a secured card. If you are applying for a secured card, make sure you understand how your deposit will be used. Don't pay someone to help you get a credit card; if you have good enough credit, you can get one yourself, and if you have bad credit, no legitimate lender is likely to give you one.
4. Use your credit wisely. Many Americans are in debt because they have taken on more credit than they can handle or have not used credit responsibly. Don't apply for more cards than you absolutely need, and don't charge more than you can afford. To maintain a good credit rating, pay bills promptly. Avoid interest charges by choosing a card that offers a grace period and paying the entire balance due each monthly. If you can't pay the full balance, choose a card with the lowest interest rate.
5. Get help if you feel you're in over your head. Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a nonprofit organization, provides low or no cost services to consumers who need a plan to repay debts and improve their credit. To find the nearest CCCS office, call toll-free, 1-800-388-2227. 
American Credit Choices is an aggregator of unclaimed assets information and the information presented on this website is generated by a 3rd party. When you perform a search on American Credit Choices, you will see a series of advertising offers. These offers are optional. You are not required to participate in the offers in order to obtain government auction information. If you decide to purchase products or services from our advertisers, you may incur associated charges. Any total dollar amount in unclaimed funds or goods that we show is reported by the appropriate government agencies. This does not guarantee that this money is under your name or common variations of your name and is able to have a claim form submitted to be paid that amount.