No matter how much consumers try to stay on top of their finances, Americans still leave billions of dollars on the table. Here are two ways that you can get some of that money back.

Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment

If you think your home and land have been overassessed—and you turn out to be right—appealing your property tax can result in savings of hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. But it’s a complicated, time-consuming process:

1. Take note of the appeal-filing deadline, and the local process. Some locations may let you file an appeal only during certain times of year, and the local appeals board may meet only for limited time periods within the year.

2. Look for errors in the assessor’s description of your home. An overstated square footage, for instance, can inflate the assessed value. Or get a pro to independently verify your home’s value; the cost typically is a few hundred dollars. Find one at the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers (


3. Examine the assessor’s valuation of comparable local properties. You can find “comps” through a real estate agent or on real estate websites. Then research the up-to-date assessments on those properties at your municipality’s assessor’s office or on its website. If comparable homes have either sold at or were assessed above your home’s assessed value, it may not be worth continuing.

4. If you proceed, set up a file with photographs, records of recent sales, or your independent appraisal. An organized presentation will make your argument stronger. In some cases, the local assessor might examine your appeal and make a decision. Or you might need to present before a local appeals board. If you can’t convince either, consider appealing to your state property tax appeal board.

Get more expert advice from Consumer Reports on how to pay less for practically anything.

Search for Unclaimed Funds

This is as easy as typing your name—and its variants—into the search box at The site looks for that name among the unclaimed funds programs in some U.S. states, territories, and Canadian provinces.

All manner of personal accounts show up on unclaimed funds sites, including unclaimed escrow, forgotten safe deposit box contents and utility deposits, and uncashed checks and wages. You could be owed a dividend check worth a few dollars or a life insurance policy worth thousands. How does this money land there? When a former vendor can’t find you, it’s required to eventually hand over funds or property to the state’s unclaimed property program.

At, you’ll find more help to locate Department of Veterans Affairs life insurance funds, foreign claims, pensions from now-defunct companies or plans, and tax refunds, among other items.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the February 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.