After our Thanksgiving dinner one of my great-nephews counted up my found money. In the past year I found $13.81, considerably less than in 2012.
That doesn’t surprise me, since I spent a fair amount of 2012 traveling and moved to Alaska for the last three months of the year. I walk a lot less up here than I did in Seattle. That’s due in part to scary-icy conditions and also to the fact that I no longer live within strolling distance of shopping, banking and the like. While living down south I took a long walk most days, for health reasons but also to buy a bunch of bananas or take advantage of great deals on toiletries.
These days if I need to hit the library, the post office, the drugstore or the supermarket I either go with DF, borrow his car or take the bus. That means considerably fewer chances to find coins on sidewalks and in shopping centers.
Even so, I wound up with:
- Four $1 bills
- 16 quarters
- 38 dimes
- Seven nickels
- 166 pennies
In 2012 I found $21.31, which I rounded up to $50 as a donation for a local food bank. Due to the late unpleasantness at Microsoft I can’t afford to be quite that generous in my math this year. Thus the $13.81 will become a $20 donation. But since I have an automatic monthly donation to the food bank I don’t feel too bad about the pinch.
Some people are entirely grossed out by my habit of picking up found coins. They’re entitled to their opinion, and entitled to leave dropped dough where it lies. I pick them up because doing so stretches my giving dollars.
Who deserves that dime?
If the Feeding America website is to be believed, a dollar will provide ingredients for six meals. That’s a good enough reason for me to stop, stoop and retrieve.
If that’s the sort of thing that doesn’t bother you, why not give it a try? Save all the money you find for a year and see how it adds up. Give it to a good cause or, if times are tight, let charity begin at home and use the money on yourself: building up your pantry, say, or tipping a few extra bucks into your emergency fund or, better, your retirement fund.
Would that money really otherwise have been lost? Maybe not. Maybe someone else would have picked it up, or maybe it ultimately would have been swept up with leaves and refuse and dumped in a landfill. Some people have chided me for picking up money, saying I should leave it for someone who “really needs it.”
Here’s what I think: The line at the food bank is made up mostly of people who really need it.