Activity Idea: Free Money

Nov 11, 2014

Here’s a quick little activity to get students excited about the search for free money.  Got the idea from recent Ron Lieber column in NY Times as well as entertaining workshop by Peter Bielagus at the JumpStart National Conference.

So, what am I talking about.  Here goes (from NY Times):

There are tens of billions of dollars sitting in the unclaimed property funds that states run, just waiting to be taken back by rightful owners who have lost track of various stock dividends, tax refunds, bank accounts and the like.

Yes, you read that right; tens of BILLIONS of dollars going unclaimed.  So, here’s the activity:  have your students see if they or their family has some of this unclaimed property that is available to them.  What websites can they search?

At, you can search many states’ unclaimed property databases simultaneously. Check your own state’s individual site as well, just to be sure you picked up everything; you can find a link to it at

Let students have some fun with this and see if they can find celebrities with money coming to them too.  Enjoy!

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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