Penny, nickel, dime, quarter…

How many times have you seen a penny on a ground and you just keep walking?  What is the minimum amount of money you need to find to stop and pick it up?  Is it a nickel, dime, quarter, dollar bill, five dollar bill, or maybe even ten dollar bill?  Over the past two years I challenged myself to pick up all change (i.e., penny, nickel, dime, quarter) I stumble upon.  Any currency I found would be placed into a glass jar I had sitting on my nightside table for safekeeping.  Recently, I sorted the glass jar and counted my findings.  The total came to be $54.72.  Not bad for two years worth of change I just found.


The break down of my findings is as follows:

  • 133 Quarters – $33.25
  • 129 Dimes – $12.90
  • 97 Nickels – $4.85
  • 372 Pennies – $3.72

$54.72 does not sound like a large number, but remember this was roughly only two years of findings.  At this rate of finding change, in ten years you will have gained $273.60.  I am concerned how there is so much money on the ground.  Within two years, I found over 731 individual coins on the ground.  Are people just throwing change on the ground?  I do not think most people are intentionally throwing money on the ground, but in many cases if the change slips away from their hands, they may not be inclined to pick it back up.  I have actually observed individuals drop change and not feel motivated to bend down and pick it back up.  Isn’t this littering?

I have found a decent amount of change at the gym under benches where someone was probably laying down lifting weights, and the change just dropped out of their pockets.  They may not have been aware the change fell.  Another scenario involves individuals getting in and out of their cars.  Again, when they are getting into the sitting position or getting out of the sitting position from their car seat, change may slip out from their pockets.  Their loss has been my gain in this experiment.

Finding a penny was good, but finding a nickel, dime, or quarter would be great!  Finding a quarter was like finding 25 pennies.  Or finding a dime would be like finding 10 pennies.

In the past two years, there has only been one instance where I had to let the quarter go and not pick it up.  I was in a locker room before one of my ice hockey games.  Behind the toilet in the locker room I saw a quarter.  Unfortunately, the quarter looked very dirty and slimy from unknown bodily fluids.  I did spend a moment asking myself whether I should pick it up and I ultimately decided it was not in my best interest to pick it up.  This may have been the only time within the two year challenge where I did not pick up change.  Even if I missed it, sometimes my wife would point it out to me since she knew about my experiment.

This may not be the best way to generate money, but it cannot hurt if it does not take more than 5 seconds to pick up some free money.  It also is kind of exciting to find money laying around.  So I have to ask myself, what did this teach me?  Did it actually teach me anything?  Was this experiment worth the effort?  On average I was finding 1 coin per day.  I cannot say this experiment has taught me anything groundbreaking besides the fact that there are many coins to be found.  I plan to continue picking up change when I find it because it can only help my financial situation.

Key takeaways:

  • Picking up change off the street is helping keep our streets clean
  • Free money is never a bad thing
  • Finding on average $27.36 per year can purchase you 15 coffees at $1.75 a piece
  • You may get some good exercise picking up 365 coins on average per year

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