During my recent trip to Austin I continued my habit of picking up stray coins. A penny at the drugstore checkout. Two pennies and a nickel behind a bench at the bus stop. A dime on the airport floor.
No matter where I go, I’m an inveterate coin-grabber. Except maybe Phoenix, Arizona, where picking up a coin in high summer can burn like the dickens. I learned this important safety tip from my daughter, who lives in Phoenix and blogs at…
(wait for it)
I carry an old prescription bottle in my suitcase just for found money, which amounted to 24 cents on this trip. When I got home the coins went into an old pink vase that my daughter once got from the “free” box at a yard sale. My change purse gets emptied into a pink piggy bank that was a Christmas gift from Will Chen at the Wise Bread blog; this money gets wrapped every so often and deposited into savings.
According to a November 2013 survey from Coinstar, the average respondent figured he had a little over $26 in spare change lying around the house. In fact, the average trade-in at a Coinstar kiosk is $56.
(The smart money, as it were, is on taking this in the form of a nationally branded eCertificate or gift card, which are fee-free in most locations.)
The survey also noted that while 74 percent would stop to claim a fallen nickel, only 66 percent of respondents would bother to pick up a penny.
Stretching my giving dollars
Thus far this year I’ve lucked into both a $5 and a $20 bill, and quarters, dimes and nickels glint among the specie in the vase. The overwhelming majority of the coins, however, are pennies – some as shiny as the day they were minted, others with surfaces dark and tarnished, or roughened by tires that crushed them into crosswalks.
I can understand why people wouldn’t want to pick up a penny, or even a quarter. It’s lying on the ground where who knows what was lying before the coin came to rest. (Hint: Dogs gotta pee somewhere.)
Some people have bad backs or joint issues that make bending over painful. Or they think picking up coins looks low-rent. Or they’re just in a hurry.
But all of my found money gets donated to a food bank at the end of the year. The idea of someone getting supper – or, rather, possibly not getting supper – is what keeps me bending over to pick up those coppers or quarters.
Maybe a similar goal would make found money worth your while, too. Even a dime at a time might help you inch up that weekend-away or new-TV fund.
Fortunately, DF is fine with found funds. He doesn’t tease me at all if I stop to retrieve a penny. In fact, sometimes we do a joking “I saw it first!” routine when a coin is spotted on the drugstore floor or gleaming on the road during one of our walks. But all the coins go into the vase because, well, hunger.
Anyone else do this? And where does your found money go: Into the general fund, into a special account or into the next donation box you see?