Locating Cash When It Doesn't Want to Be Found

While there are hidden money contests around the country, your chances of stumbling across a cache of cash are pretty slim. So, where can you find “hidden” money when you need extra for household expenses, a special purchase or an extended vacation? There are a lot of ways to create cash reserves that don’t require a shovel and hard, physical labor.

Collecting Scrap and Selling It

One option is to collect scrap aluminum cans. Some states require a deposit on the cans, which you can redeem. In other areas, you only need 32 cans to make one pound, and purchase rates run from 45 cans per pound and higher. 

Look around the house and neighborhood for other scrap metal. Do you have a metal playground swing set that your children have outgrown? Sell it to the local salvage yard, along with any copper pipes you might have left from a recent remodel.

For a more adventurous take on scrap recycling, invest in a metal detector and start searching for missing treasures. Practice at home with loose change in and under the furniture and then head out for the park, the beach or another venue to search for lost jewelry or other missing possessions.

Cashing in on Old Clunkers

Companies like can turn that gas-guzzling, oil-dripping derelict car into quick cash. Often, it only takes a quick phone call to make the arrangements, and you’ll have the money in a very short time.

Finding Lost Money

One estimate says that more than $33 billion is tied up in unclaimed assets such as payroll checks, certificates of deposit, stocks and bonds, or items stashed in safe-deposit boxes. Sites like Missing Money can get your search started. 

If you had an account in a failed bank or if you had a savings or checking account that you never closed, you might be entitled to money there, as well. Money from failed banks goes to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and their website provides information about how to claim your missing bucks. For forgotten savings bonds, have yourself a treasure hunt at the Department of the Treasury’s website at

Also, don’t forget about rental or utility deposits and prepayments. If you've moved, be sure to check with the power, water, telephone, gas and cable companies to find out if you are due a refund.

Contact your bank, credit card companies and service providers to negotiate lowered or eliminated monthly fees. Many will waive the extra costs to retain you as a valued customer, especially if you have a history of prompt payment.

Unusual Ways to Raise Dough

Do you have antique or unusual framed photographs, prints, posters or mirrors? Contact local interior design companies, as these items are in high demand. Exchange your plasma for ready cash, or rent your extra parking space or the guest bedroom. If your hair is at least 10 inches long and has not been colored, you might be able to sell it for use in making wigs. Other options include returning purchases for which you still have the sales receipts, participating in medical research studies or baby-sitting or pet-sitting.


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