Free Money!

David Writes

We started walking a few years ago while we were still living on St. Croix and the last chick was still in the nest. A lot of our planning for the post child raising years was done while ambulating along the roads and shores of that beautiful island.

Luckily we lived in an area where we could walk to stores or the post office. I even walked to work. It was good for us and good for our relationship. We also inadvertently stumbled upon something else.

One day while we were walking to the grocery store, Veronica looked down on the side of the road and, lo and behold, a five was laying there. A few more steps and there was a twenty!

Here’s the deal, once you spot money laying around, you automatically look for more. Needless to say, we haven’t been finding twenties, or even fives or ones on the shoulder everyday, but coins are almost always around.

We got in the habit of looking while we walked. Theories developed. Where were the best places to find this lost cash?

— Parking lots. Outside of grocery stores and quick marts are usually good. Change seems to fall out when keys are removed. The parking lot of a bar the morning after a big night is a really happy hunting ground. Crocked customers either don’t notice or don’t care when coins fall from their pockets. While we appreciate their donations, next time call a cab, nimrod.

— The side of the road. Like the $25 Veronica found, it seems that money sometimes accompanies litter out the window of some slob tossing crap out of his car. Thanks, but no thanks, dude. Next time try keeping that Burger King sack inside your ’88 POS where it belongs, OK?

— After the snow melts. Coins have an uncanny ability to disappear through the snow when dropped, so hunting while the ground is covered is futile. However, once the snow melts, viola, several weeks or even months worth of money ready for the gathering. Cold hard cash.

— Look around vending machines, especially under them (that’s right, we have no shame). Repeat after me: “I will never see that person who is laughing at me again AND I just found two quarters.” Checking pride at the door is pretty much a prerequisite when digging nickels out of the gutter.

Since embarking on our empty nest travels around the mainland, we have learned a few more things about scouring the streets for cash.

Tourist areas, amusement parks and the like can be good, but New York City is a terrible place to look. My theory is that any loose funds get scooped up long before some wandering GypsyNester can get their mitts on them.

We haven’t had much luck picking up stray Euros in Europe either.

These days we have taken to riding bicycles more often. Fear not, rogue riches can be spotted while pedaling along too. Yes we will stop, even turn around and go back, for a shiny circle of coinage in the road. Sometimes it’s just a bottle cap but more often Washington, Jefferson, F.D.R. or Honest Abe are looking up at us waiting to be picked up.

The more we looked, the more I got to thinking, how much of this abandoned abundance is out there? Let’s do a little simple math, shall we? I promise this won’t hurt (trust me, if it was some sort of intense algebraic equation, I never would have come up with it).

There are over 300 million people living in the USA right now, if each one of them has dropped at least a dime somewhere then there would be about thirty million dollars laying around. Wait, what? 30 million? Yup.

300,000,000 people x $ .10 = $ 30,000,000

That’s right 30 million dollars! Probably more since a dime each seems pretty conservative to me. Still, eliminating couch cushions and car floors, washing machines and behind the dresser, I’d still confidently go with THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS scattered about the sidewalks, byways and parking lots of America.

That’s a lot of dough. Now if we could figure out how to find it more than 27 cents at a time.

UPDATE: Click here to find out what happened when we found $100 on the side of the road! Our current record!


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10 thoughts on “Free Money!”

  1. Free money is great, but the last time I found some it got me in a whole mess of trouble! I was hiking with the wife down by the river near where I live, and we spotted some really amazing feathers scattered around the path. That got us looking more closely – and lo, right there in the tall grass beside the walk was a $50 dollar bill. Cha-ching! Jackpot! Right? … Fast forward to the next day when I tried to deposit it at my bank. Turns out the note was a very, VERY well-crafted forgery, and they did NOT take too kindly to me depositing it. Much explanation later, they let me go without involving any law enforcement. Thank goodness…

  2. I find many coins when walking my little terrier through the alleys in our suburb. I also find lots of wine corks. Apparently the squirrels dig them out of the trash cans because they can smell them, but then they discard them as inedible. I’ve got a really nice collection of wine corks after 4 years of collecting!

  3. Sidewalks, especially below movie ticket windows and/or the curb by parking meters are good spots. Restrooms by towel dispensers or under sinks. Taking the stairs is not only good for your health, it can be good for your walking around $ too. On occasion i’ve found the odd $20 or $5 in addition to coins 😀

  4. I try to, sadly we live way down a highway thats been barely used now cause of the new highway and it would cost more to drive into town than we ever find lol

  5. Thats awesome!! I also look for coins, collect them in a bag and then when I have accumulated a pile I put them into a charity box at the charity shops in the village

  6. We are also among the cash observers when we’re out. I think parking lots of fast-food joints are great spots for picking up a little loose change:)

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