Three places to find money you didn't know you had

Christmas is looming on the horizon, and it doesn't look like your pennies are going to stretch far enough. Sound familiar?

Thousands of people take out loans or credit cards to cover the cost of Christmas and other big expenses. However, research shows that thousands of us also have money - lurking here and there - that we've completely forgotten about! So, before you apply for credit, make sure you've made the most of the cash you've already got...
Here are three places to look for languishing funds:

Dormant bank accounts

It's estimated that there around 500,000 dormant bank accounts in the UK - with £500 million in unclaimed money sitting in them!

MyLostAccount is a search tool set up and run by the British Bankers' Association. It helps you search across all UK banks and building societies, to find funds that may be lurking in old, dormant bank accounts.

Can you remember which account you had as a child? And are you sure there aren't a few pounds still in it?

Unclaimed benefits

In 2008-9, £12.7 billion of means-tested benefits and £5 billion of tax credits went unclaimed. Within certain vulnerable groups in society - including low-income pensioners - there's a particularly low take-up rate.

This isn't scrounging - it's about pinpointing the benefits that you're legitimately entitled to.

EntitledTo is a website that helps you track down the benefits you should be claiming. It makes a complicated system much easier to understand, and includes a benefit checking tool, so you can work out what financial assistance to claim.

Forgotten gift vouchers and loyalty points

Recent research indicates there could be as many as £576 million worth of unused gift vouchers lying around in the UK. During the study - by - half of those with unused vouchers admitted they probably wouldn't end up using them.

And that's not including all the unused points just sitting on people's various loyalty cards!

So, dig through that bottom drawer and fish them out. If there's nothing you want to spend them on, perhaps you could use them to buy other people's Christmas presents instead?

And remember that - although most people spend their supermarket loyalty card points instore - they're actually usually worth more when spent online.

For example, the Nectar website often runs double or even triple value point deals which aren't on offer at your local Sainsbury's or Debenhams.

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