Picking Up that Penny
April 2, 2008 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Are there any statistics for how much money (e.g. loose coin on the ground, forgotten change in a vending machine) one finds over a period of time?

I always stop to pick up a lost coin on the ground, even the pennys. Has anyone ever kept track of how much money s/he found?
posted by chase to Work & Money (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This New Yorker article includes some statistics relevant to your first/main question. It also includes this amusing tidbit: "Breaking stride to pick up a penny, if it takes more than 6.15 seconds, pays less than the federal minimum wage."
posted by Perplexity at 7:42 AM on April 2, 2008

It's not uncommon for me to find around $5-10 per year in coins, mainly pennies and dimes. Then again, many people have commented on my uncanny ability to notice small items (like coins on the ground), so I may be atypical. This doesn't count the random paper bills I've encountered - I've frequently found singles, but also came across a couple 20-dollar bills sitting on the street not too long ago.
posted by galimatias at 7:50 AM on April 2, 2008

There was an article around about a guy who trained crows to pick up change and rewarded them with food. This NY Times article about it states that $216 million in change is lost every year.
posted by sanka at 7:58 AM on April 2, 2008

I found $5 in the local Home Depot parking lot yesterday.
posted by caddis at 8:03 AM on April 2, 2008

We were recently discussing this on an email list of runners who run quite a lot, and at least one guy had logged all the money he'd found over years of running, and it was thousands of dollars, enough to pay for a vacation. Several other people had also logged sums well into the hundreds.
posted by OmieWise at 8:20 AM on April 2, 2008

I think you have to keep in mind that for practically every coin you find, you lose one yourself. Granted some people might be extra careful about change at all times and come ahead in the long run though. I, personally, hate pennies and don't really even care much for nickels. I am bound to lose a fair amount of money over my lifetime due to my indifference.
posted by ZackTM at 8:20 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

My friend Craig found a $20 bill among some leaves on the edge of a seedy tow-truck company parking lot.
posted by Caper's Ghost at 8:27 AM on April 2, 2008

I found $5 in the local Home Depot parking lot yesterday

Weird. I found a $5 in a Home Depot parking lot less than a month ago.
posted by dan g. at 9:17 AM on April 2, 2008

If $216 million in change is lost every year, and the population of the United States is 303 million, and assuming a 100% find rate, that means the average person living in the United States finds 71 cents/year.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:20 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

that means the average person living in the United States finds 71 cents/year.

I found $40 at Six Flags Houston once, and a $100 bill in a Philadelphia subway station once. So I'm already well ahead of that curve. Awesome.
posted by Zarya at 3:14 PM on April 2, 2008

well, that $5 I found, I probably dropped it on the way in. ZackTM is right.

I lost a $20 in the library when I was something like ten or twelve. That was really serious coin back then. We are talking 1970. Ouch, but then I was a rich little hoarder back then. I had hundreds in savings from working and allowance, mostly working. It was this weird conflagration of knowing how much money it was and being also aware that it was not a big part of the hoard. Man, I wish I still felt like that, can't bother to stop and pick up that fiver, I am too busy, making too much coin........, well, not really. I am afforded that opportunity every day, but I am never going back to those sixty hour weeks in search of mammon. My son barely knew I was his father. Everything in moderation. Moderation, has centered my life, no, it has saved my "life." Life is better than money.
posted by caddis at 5:04 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

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