26 Comments

  1. I don’t quite understand why your emergency fund needs a separate account. But if you want to explore something other than your local bank, why not leave the $21K where it is and use the remainder to start a new account? I’m assuming the remainder is a larger amount, but maybe I’m misunderstanding.

    As for the merchandise card, you’ve already done your due diligence. But if the guilt won’t subside give it to charity, or throw a party at school. I would not waste personal time on Craigslist, where you also risk inviting crazy into your life.

    • Our savings currently includes our efund (whatever that amount actually is), property tax money, insurance money, and all of our other savings (non-retirement investments). There’s a lot of in and out, which makes my skin crawl a bit. I think what I actually need to do is take some of the non e-fund money and open another investing account. Like five years ago. 🙁

  2. You’re e-fund number sounds good to me, but if you’re feeling uncertain you can always build it to that level and then reevaluate.

    As far as the found money, I think you’ve done your due diligence and there’s just no way to trace the owner. If using it yourself really feels wrong to you, you could donate the certificate or use it to buy things for donation. That way it doesn’t go to waste but you don’t personally benefit.

  3. Have you ever thought about having a line of credit instead of an emergency fund (or in addition to a small emergency fund)? It seems like you’re missing out on a lot of investment potential by having so much money in a low-interest savings account.

    • I am missing out on SO MUCH investment potential…because I don’t know what I’m doing. My plan is to actually move money into investment account(s) after I commit to something with this savings. We have a fully funded Roth and two pension plans (theoretically, until our state implodes). But yeah, I need to make some decisions fast.

      • Have you ever spoken with a financial planner? I’m lucky to have a great one who used to work with my Dad (prior to that my Dad was my financial planner), and I find it very helpful to have someone who can look at my entire financial picture (huge piles of debt!) and advise me on how to move forward. Apparently there are financial advisors who work for an hourly salary instead of commission, so that might be a way of getting financial advice that you can trust.

        • It’s so silly that I’m so opposed to working with a planner. I know that’s costing me infinitely more money in the long run. After I move my savings, I’m going to open a Wealthfront or Betterment account. But then you’re right. I probably also need to speak with someone else. Or keep reading. Or both! 🙂

          • I don’t think it’s silly at all to be reluctant to work with a financial planner. The costs are generally prohibitive. If you have your basic foundation (budget, emergency fund, retirement accounts) established and the underlying investments in your retirement accounts are low-cost index funds, what do you need a planner for?

            If someone has very specific questions or needs, particularly as they close in on retirement, there might be a need to engage a planner/adviser. At such times, I always suggest that people look for a fee-only, vice a fee-based, advisor. The difference? Fee-only advisors have no inherent conflicts of interest, they don’t accept fees or compensation based on product sales, and they generally provide more comprehensive advice. Many also carry professional designations which hold them to strict codes of professional and ethical conduct. Conversely, fee-based advisers can charge a one-time or ongoing fee, depending on the types of services they provide. The fees may be hourly, flat or based upon a percentage of assets under management. Also, fee-based advisers may charge both fees and commissions based on the products they sell.

            Better to keep and manage your own money.

  4. Running the numbers, Discover would be the better choice I think. Assuming the savings account stays stable, because life circumstances happen and then subsequent replenishing, it would take 10 years to earn back that $100 with the interest difference.

    Also, take the $47 bucks. You went a lot further than most people would have to help it find its owner!

  5. I’d vote for putting the money in Discover for as long as it takes to get and keep the bonus and then move it all to Ally for the higher interest 🙂

    As far as the gift card, you’ve done a good job trying to find the owner, but there aren’t a lot of good options left to try. Maybe it can go towards your donations!

    • Oooh. I like that idea. I believe Discover is only thirty days. If this switch isn’t too painful, I think I will look into switching to Ally. Good call!

  6. I would recommend a slush fund and emergency fund. Your slush can be for all of the going in and going out. You could keep it at your current small bank. Then I would leap for that $100 sign up bonus at Discover and put my entire ER fund in it. That way it remains untouched. As far as the gift card, since there is no way to get it to its owner, use the funds to make kits with toiletries and snacks and give them to the homeless perhaps:)

    • Thank you, Latoya. I think Discover is the way to go! If it was a Walgreens gift card, I’d do that in a heartbeat. It’s a clothing store 🙁 I’m thinking maybe I can score some really inexpensive towels for my animal shelter!

  7. I think it’s totally fine to use the gift card. If you found that amount of cash on the street, you’d use it, right? It sounds like you’ve done everything you can to find out who the owner is (more than most people would have, by the way), so at this point it is essentially cash. Use it. Or, as Latoya suggests, use it to buy something you can donate.

    I googled this Discover card and learned that you need to deposit at least $15,000 to get the bonus. So I guess I won’t be opening one anytime soon. However, I can definitely recommend Ally. I’ve been using them for about a year and I’m always shocked when I open up my account and see the interest that has accrued — it’s great. They also have really reliable customer service by phone, and I have never had to wait.

    • That’s a great point about finding cash. Since all I ever seem to find is a few loose coins, I guess I never thought of it like that! Once, my grandma (the blog is named after her!) found a roll of quarters. She told that stories for years 🙂

      Thank you so much for your insight about Ally bank. The Discover bonus seems like a great deal, but I don’t know anyone who ever had a Discover savings account. I’ve heard lots of positives about Ally!

  8. I don’t think it’s silly at all to be reluctant to work with a financial planner. The costs are generally prohibitive. If you have your basic foundation (budget, emergency fund, retirement accounts) established and the underlying investments in your retirement accounts are low-cost index funds, what do you need a planner for?

    If someone has very specific questions or needs, particularly as they close in on retirement, there might be a need to engage a planner/adviser. At such times, I always suggest that people look for a fee-only, vice a fee-based, advisor. The difference? Fee-only advisors have no inherent conflicts of interest, they don’t accept fees or compensation based on product sales, and they generally provide more comprehensive advice. Many also carry professional designations which hold them to strict codes of professional and ethical conduct. Conversely, fee-based advisers can charge a one-time or ongoing fee, depending on the types of services they provide. The fees may be hourly, flat or based upon a percentage of assets under management. Also, fee-based advisers may charge both fees and commissions based on the products they sell.

    Better to keep and manage your own money.

  9. I love the irony. I also love Ally bank. They’re online platform isn’t as snazzy as I would like, while I love my Discover dashboard, but Ally’s customer service is incredible. I don’t know about Discover because I haven’t asked. Can you turn in the card to Walgreens? I would do that if I couldn’t get past the guilt to spend it.

  10. We like to have 6 months’ expenses in the emergency fund. We only have one separate savings account, our car fund, since we drive old cars and don’t consider needing to purchase a vehicle a true emergency since we can plan for it. Anyway, I think your number sounds good. And congrats on your found money. I understand the dilemma but if you can’t find the owner, what can you do? Maybe donate some of what you purchase with it?

  11. Well, I love the idea of a much larger emergency fund. It’s making me rethink my own number. I think the bank bonus is good, too. Those interest rates could change at any time, right? But that 100 bucks will help that fund grow!

    As for the found money, I like Our Next Life’s idea. I also think that you can just use it flat out. It is found money. I mean, the other options – Craigslist ad, Walgreen’s lost and found, a poster – all seem like a lot of trouble for nothing. If it were a bag of $100 bills, then maybe try to find the owner, but not through Craigslist. I love Craigslist for odd jobs and furniture, but it does seem like that you could open a can of worms.

    • What a terrific anecdote, Vickie! My husband just lost a merchandise credit, so I figure this is the universe’s way of evening things out 😉 He claims he will find it in a pant’s pocket. Not holding my breath!

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