Found Change Challenge — An Update

by Katy on August 6, 2012 · 29 comments

You may (or may not) remember that I am putting aside all found money for the entirety of 2012. And let me tell ya, it’s been the easiest challenge to keep up with. I find money, I drop it in a jar and enjoy watching it accumulate. My goal had been to find $65, which is the cost of staying at our friend’s beach cabin for a night.

Here, see for yourself:

Or, if you’re the type who wants to see it all spread out, I also have this angle:

Pretty, right?

So how much money have I found this year?


I’m not exactly on track to hit my $65 goal, but you never know if there’s a twenty-dollar bill just floating around the Trader Joe’s parking lot just waiting for me.

Picking money up may not seem like an impressive financial plan, but I am a firm believer that financial responsibility is built on paying attention to those daily small expenditures. Plus, once you’ve spent a dollar on beautiful artwork, it makes it kind of hard to waste those precious pennies.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Reese August 6, 2012 at 9:57 am

Ooooh. That little ol’ mason jar is GORGEOUS. And there’s nothin’ I love more than a jar filled with money!

Ok. Maybe pudding. OR chocolate sauce. Or custard…


Katy August 6, 2012 at 10:03 am

Or chocolate mousse?

And yes, it is a gorgeous mason jar, which reads “Economy” on the side. It was 49¢ from Goodwill. I also have three full-sized ones that I traded for some vintage knobs.



Carla August 6, 2012 at 10:49 am

Not bad! 🙂 Lie you said.. Never know what’ll happen! Still have time!


Carla August 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

Lie = Like. (sorry!)


Diane August 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm

That $20 bill could happen. I once found 2 $ 2os on a walking trail.


Beth R. August 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I love this idea! The most I’ve ever found was a little over $0.80 in a Safeway parking lot. But hey, 80 cents is 80 cents.


Kate August 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Finding money is my 10-year-old son’s latest obsession. We went to New York City last weekend and I kept thinking of you, Katy, as he seemed to find coins everywhere we went. I only had to remind him to look up and enjoy the view a few times. 😉


Erin August 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

You’re doing pretty good! I was SOOOO excited when I found a dollar on the ground in the parking lot the other day. The benefits of being the first person to the office 🙂


Renee CA August 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

We found $300 in an unmarked envelope several years ago. I felt bad that someone lost it, but there was no way to find out who. I don’t count on that ever happening again.


Anne August 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm


Yes, sometimes you can return it and often you can’t. Once my husband found a pile of cash in a bank parking lot. He picked it up and stood by his car for awhile. Soon somebody came back frantically searching the parking lot for his lost cash and hubby was able to return it.

A year ago I found an entire 100 roll count of stamps in the Costco parking lot. I picked them up and waited a few minutes to see if anyone would come rushing back to look for them. No one did.

Was quite a score for me, but I felt sorry for the person who lost them.


Laura August 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

You gotta remember there may be other things worth money lying on the ground – we were hiking at the park and I found a solid brass turnkey thingamajig, and was able to sell it at the recycling place! That’s why people bike around looking for cans… I found a wallet at the fairgrounds, with $20 in it – and two “joints” so I figured that was GOOD found money, because obviously no one was gonna claim THAT one!
We make it a point of saving all our change, it isn’t really “found money,” but nonetheless it does add up…


Katy August 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Were you not able to track down the owner of the wallet?



Anne August 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm

She possibly should have checked the snackbars!


Donna Besst August 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Inspired by you Katy, I started saving my change in January this year. So far I have $88.65 and I think that’s pretty great! I don’t have any plans for it. Perhaps inspired by you again, I’ll open an ING account this year and add to it…Maybe my extra grocery money each week. Pennies really do add up!


Pollyanna August 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Never before and never since — but years ago in Disney World I found a $20 bill and so did my husband (separate locations, separate days).


Jessica Wolk-Stanley August 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I always wondered how much a reasonably observant person could find. I did find a $50 once, when I happened to be really broke.


Jo H. August 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm

When our daughter was younger she noticed a $20 bill on the floor at the mall. We left our telephone number with the office in case someone realized they’d lost it. After a week, no one had, and she was free to keep it with a clear conscience. We felt it was important to try, within reason, to find the owner – it’s what we’d want if we had lost it. Imagine if it was a pensioner’s food money, or the long-time savings of a child, or a mall employee’s only cash for their lunch?

Our two children used to argue over who found what change on the ground – until we got them to agree that all found money would go in a jar and periodically sent to the SPCA – with a matching donation by us.


Lisa August 6, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I once found $64 dollars wrapped in a grocery store receipt. Some of the stores around here have club cards that print your name on the bottom of the receipt but this wasn’t from one of those stores. It was in my neighborhood and I ran up the street looking for people carrying groceries, but no luck. So I kept it. I figured I did what I could to reunite the owner with the lost cash.


Katy August 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I am loving reading about how everyone has found large amount of money, so I guess I should add to the conversation.

I once found a twenty dollar bill in the parking lot of the Abluquerque airport, and I’ve found two diamond rings in the return container of the coin counting machine of my credit union. Both times, I turned the rings in even though they never found the owners. I wish they’d let me keep them in this case, but they don’t. Being ethical is sometimes a bit of a bummer. 😉



Jo@simplybeingmum August 7, 2012 at 5:12 am

Ever since I read your coingirl post a couple of years back I have been saving the money found in a little black and white piggy bank I purchased at a charity shop (goodwill). I collect Nov-Nov and then when the BBC do Children In Need (Fundraiser) each November my Daughter takes the cash into school and makes a donation as part of the ‘dress down day’ they do in support. I’ve just done a check and we have £1.32 (way off your $20+) and 5 cents (euro)… in fact now it’s all laid out on table I may as well photograph and link to this on FB!


Jo@simplybeingmum August 7, 2012 at 6:17 am

As an aside… I’m doing a similar challenge with selling stuff. It’s been reported that in the UK homes could have £600 of redundant (saleable) things. It’ll go toward a holiday!


Katy August 7, 2012 at 6:54 am

Great post. I bet that Americans have even more “Redundant things” than you Brits as our houses are bigger.

Thanks for sharing!



Paula in the UP August 7, 2012 at 6:19 am

I generally only find change, but my hubby is our “coinman” he finds money all the time. I’m sure it has partly to do with the fact that his job takes him to grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores.

My biggest find was a diamond ring. I found it some product that was returned to our company. The problem with tracking down the owner of the ring is we don’t know how long it may have been sitting in our warehouse before I discovered it, which of our sales or delivery people brought back the return and where it was brought back from, so I kept it, it fit me perfectly, but I do feel for the person who lost it. I have lost 2 good rings in my past and always hope who ever found them is enjoying them! All I can hope for!!


Cheapchick August 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm

You inspired me to start my own found money jar. I started back in June after reading your posts about it, am up to .45 cents. Not much but I will save it up until I can do something entirely fun with it. Like icecream cones, or a movie out.


Katy August 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Great, keep us updated! 🙂



Jennifer August 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I have found less than $1 in the past year. I always keep what I find, but could never have a lofty goal like yours! and if my kids are with me, I point the money out to them and they get to keep it.

I do save my change though and tomorrow will be depositing $44.50 into my bank account from change collected over the past few months.


Susan Wollenberg August 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm

A wee bit off the subject, but when my daughter was around 4 or 5 years old, I told her that I would match the money she had in her cute little piggy bank. Of course, I assumed she had pennies, nickels, dimes, etc. Imagine my shock when she pulled out $1’s, $5’s, and $10’s!! She still reminds me to this day that I haven’t give her the match yet. She’s 12 now and has $500 in the bank.


Lili@creativesavv August 10, 2012 at 6:41 am

We have a found change jar, as well. We use it to help someone else out. When we accumulate about $5, we put it in an envelope, put that envelope in the car, and when we come across someone needing a bit of financial assistance, we hand it to him/her. I always feel that God put that money in my vision, because He knew that I would use it to help someone.


Charmaine August 24, 2012 at 10:32 am

I bicycle to work everyday, and I often would see coins on the street. One day I decided to start picking up the coins and keep track of how much in a year that I would find. At the end of the year I added up like $13.00! I was pretty surprised! I’ve continued the “tradition” ever since, and deposit the full change jar into my savings account. My siblings laugh at me, but they see that it can definitely add up!


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