Sunday, October 26, 2014

Unclaimed Money Scams

We've written about unclaimed funds before, and the fact that you don't need a go-between to find yours.  Like a tasty onion, unclaimed funds have many layers: federal funds like unclaimed pensions or federal mortgage insurance, state funds like unclaimed insurance funds and bank accounts. We've even done a piece on local unclaimed funds like jury duty pay.

But some low-down scammers are trying to get more than money for something you can get for free--they want to steal your identity. According to a story in the Columbus Dispatch, scammers are calling people, telling them that they may have unclaimed funds IF they can just give them a Social Security number...

People, never give your Social Security number to anybody, and remember that nobody from a government office will contact you about unclaimed funds. You need to search them out yourself, using some of the sites listed here. And good luck.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Union Plus Benefits--Beyond Scholarships

In a previous post, we discussed scholarships available to union members and their families.  But there are more benefits available to union members. AFL-CIO members can find out about other  benefits at the Union Plus website. Some are for holders of Union Plus credit cards, or Union Plus mortgages. These include small grants of your union has been on strike, or if you have become disabled, been hospitalized, or suffered a natural disaster.  Check out this page for more information.

Families of AFL-CIO members may be eligible for some benefits, too, such as scholarships, discounts on wireless phone service, rebates on heating oil, and various discounts on car rentals, medical bill negotiating services, health club memberships, and more. The whole list and eligible family members are listed here. For more information, call 1-800-472-2005.

If you aren't a member of the AFL-CIO, but another union, check out your own union website for information.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Another Way to Get Money for Funerals--Crowdfunding

Our most popular posting is on the topic of money to bury the dead. It makes sense--it's expensive to live if you are poor, but even more expensive to die and be buried. 

But if the public burial of the poor is one of the oldest social services, then it is also the cause for some of mankind's oldest crowdfunding.  What is more firmly rooted in tradition than the envelope with money for the deceased's family? 

So don't hate on crowdfunding as the latest innovation in funeral monetary assistance. Some websites that were created for other crowdfunding ideas have embraced the funding of funerals, like GoFundMe. However, some were created to help out in time of personal crisis, like and In each case, you create an account that directs contributions to PayPal or WePay. In the case of Funeralfunding, the campaign can last a maximum of two weeks. 

If you want more than the bare burial or cremation provided by the state for indigent, you might want to consider crowdfunding.  See this story in Forbes for more insight.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Communication Equipment for Low Income People with Sight and Hearing Loss

Right now I'm in San Francisco at a Foundation Center network convention, picking the best brains in nonprofit funding. Among them is Sally Freaney of the Public Library of Youngstown-Mahoning  County. Her library's website included a link to I Can Connect, a federal program to put low income deaf-blind in touch with communication equipment and people who can train them to use it.

In this program, "deaf blind" means that the person has enough loss of hearing and sight to hinder their ability to communicate and use communication equipment.  Likewise, the income guidelines are more generous than you might think--as much as over $40,000 for individuals, and more for families. For more on the guidelines on who is eligible for free equipment and training see their website. For more information or a referral to a partner in your state, call 1-800-825-4595.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Opportunities to Buy a House at Auction in Detroit

There are a number of opportunities to be an urban homesteader in Detroit, a city struggling to get back on its feet. One is the auction of properties by the Detroit Land Bank Authority, which has taken possession of hundreds of homes deemed to be repairable.  They are now auctioning off these properties.

These are not for lollygaggers: according to the ground rules, you must either have a contract with s contractor to make the house loveable within 30 days of purchase, or have bought the materials to DIY.  You must have a certificate that the house is habitable within 6 months--9 months of it's an historic home.

But there are sources of financial aid, since many homes will have rehab costs that will dwarf their auction price. The Land Bank has a list of such deals. They include forgivable loans for homes in the Marygrove area, financing for homes in the Boston-Edison and East English Village, and more. And side lots are for sale for $100.  Check it out.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Time Running Out for Ohio Veterans of Iraq. File for Bonus by the End of 2014

The Ohio veteran's bonus is continuing, with a deadline for applying for those veterans who served more than 90 days in Iraq from March 2003 through the end of 2011 coming up. Those veterans, and their survivors, have until December 31, 2014 to file for their bonus.  You can apply online, but if you mail your entry, it must be postmarked by December 31st.

For veterans of Afghanistan there is currently no deadline, and will not a deadline until U.S. involvement is over.

For more information, see the websites or call. 1--877-644-6838.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rain Harvesting Financial Incentives

While reading a fascinating story on a couple who built themselves an eco-friendly tiny home, I noticed that they got a financial incentive to put up a green roof of growing things. Intrigued, I checked it out and found that Seattle did that sort of thing. There is, for instance, a rebate program for creating rain gardens and cisterns that prevent water from gushing back into the sewer system.  And there is a $5 per square foot incentive to put up the green roof.

There might be such things in your city. Toledo used to have financial assistance for rain gardens before the funding ran out. Increasingly cities are trying to give local residents and businesses some incentives to reduce water runoff. Even when grants and incentives don’t come from the government local nonprofits may get grants to help home and business owners. 
You can find out about other possible programs from organizations like American Rivers, or from Harvest H2O, which has a great state listing.  Or google the words rainwater harvesting incentives to see what else is available.