And The 2017 Found Change Challenge Total Was . . .

by Katy on January 8, 2018 · 74 comments

Long time followers of the blog know that I host a Found Change Challenge every year, which is another way of saying that I save all my found money in a jar and then count it up when the year is over. It’s been as high as $56.54, due to a twenty dollar bill that I found blowing around the streets of Manhattan, which isn’t exactly a sustainable monetary plan.

2017 was kind of a bust, which I attribute to having an empty nest and not being out and about as much as previous years.

I only found $15.17.

Here’s the breakdown:

And here are my totals from previous years:

2018 is already looking to be a banner year as I’ve found one quarter, one dime and two pennies so far. Woo-hoo!

I deposited that $15.17 into my sons’ college account as we have yet another $8000+ tuition payment due at the beginning of April.

Now, if I could just get someone to drop an $8000 bill on the ground . . . .

Did you participate in the Found Change Challenge? If so, how much did you find? Please share your stories of found money in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

FrugalStrong January 8, 2018 at 10:57 am

We pick up found change but I always just put it in my change purse with my other change, so I don’t have a total. I often find change at the gym, especially at the leg press machine. I’ve trained my kids well because they always look when we’re out and about and get so excited when they find something.

This is the last double tuition payment you’ll have to make, right? I hope you find that $8k bill!


yvette from down under January 8, 2018 at 11:03 am

I was in a hard place in my life, not working due to injury and stressed out with worry about my future. Out walking my dog I passed an older man and noticed a $5 note on the ground, I picked it up and ran after him thinking he had dropped it. He smiled at me and said ‘not mine, you keep it’, I still believe it was his but he chose to let me have it!!! A random act of kindness I won’t forget. An encouragement that God sees me and could make money materialise when I most needed it. ‘For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me ‘❤️


Julie C January 8, 2018 at 12:26 pm

this is one of my favorite hymns !


karen January 8, 2018 at 5:28 pm

Lovely story.


Karen B. January 9, 2018 at 6:43 pm

Oh mine as well!


Nance January 8, 2018 at 8:46 pm

Cool story! TY for sharing.


Madeline Kasian January 8, 2018 at 11:11 am

Who do you get to count your coins? The machines take a big %. Our bank does not want to do this anymore??


Julie C January 8, 2018 at 12:28 pm

I count ours and roll the change and then take it to the bank to cash it it.


Reese January 8, 2018 at 1:19 pm

The Coinstar machines only charge if you ask for cash back. If you stick it on a giftcard, you get the whole amount! (I’ve seen Katy do that a few times and then gift the giftcard). In this instance, not certain… maybe her financial institution? 🙂


Jenny January 8, 2018 at 2:19 pm

If you are a member of a credit union, or some banks, they may do this for free. Both of our financial institutions do this for us, and of course, we would NEVER use a bank that charged for their services! So, FREE! If this wasn’t an option, I would do what was mentioned above: either just count it myself and keep track and spend it, or use a machine that didn’t charge a fee.


Lisa January 8, 2018 at 2:51 pm

I use Coinstar because I also have 2 boys in college — so I take it in the form of an Amazon gift certificate, and use it for their book rentals. That way there’s zero fees, and the book rentals/purchases are not quite so painful.


Lea January 9, 2018 at 6:07 am

Our bank’s machine counts for free IF you deposit the entire amount in your account. So that’s what we do. We bank at a very large national chain here in the US, so there may be others who do that too.

When we banked at a smaller bank, I rolled ours by hand and deposited them. Our bank would give us a few sleeves at a time for the coins just for asking.



Deb January 11, 2018 at 10:24 am

Our bank has a money counting machine that is free of charge as long as you have an account there. I didn’t realize this isn’t true for all banks. I feel fortunate now.


Amy January 8, 2018 at 11:13 am

My mom and I have a friendly little competition each year and she always wins. This year was no different.
I found: $2.76!!!!

3 quarters
12 dimes
6 nickels
51 pennies

My mom, an 83-year-old whippersnapper, found: $14.36.

And she’s already ahead of me this year. I’ve found a grand total of one penny and she’s already found two quarters, a Canadian quarter, a couple dimes and some pennies.


A. Marie January 8, 2018 at 11:28 am

My 2017 found change came to $19.31 (including two $5 bills). My NY State deposit container total (read: bottlepicking income; NYS deposits on sodas I buy for myself don’t count) was $255.35, which is down from earlier years because of leg/ankle injuries and bad weather from October through December–but still a decent sum.

And an alternative answer to Madeline K’s question about counting coins: I keep my found change in the fanny pack I take with me on thrift shop runs, and spend it there. (The cashiers are almost always delighted to get small change, as long as I’m not holding up a line while counting it out!) The containers get cashed in at Wegmans or at the bottle return place next door to one of our Rescue Mission stores.


Jenny January 8, 2018 at 2:22 pm

In Illinois, we don’t have any bottle or can deposit-return programs (sadly) but we do pick up cans and take the aluminum to the metals place for cash- maybe $100 a year. The glass and plastic bottles we put in our curbside recycling container to be good citizens.


Christine January 8, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Years ago an older gentleman used to come around to a garden shop I worked at looking for the employees’ empty cans and bottles. I heard he put his two daughters through college by collecting cans and bottles. Not bad.


JenniferK January 9, 2018 at 2:40 pm

In Connecticut where I grew up, there is a state bottle bill (cans and bottles are charges a 5 cent fee at purchase, and empty cans and bottles are returned for 5 cents each to a recycling center.) When I was in college in the 1980s some of us would collect the “empties” around campus after Thursday partying nights and weekends. We made enough to pay our phone bill every month.


Queen of Fifty Cents January 8, 2018 at 11:34 am

My big find of the year was a dollar bill last January, a couple of weeks after finding another single. Doesn’t sound like much, but I did a blog post on what a dollar can mean to a thrifter.


Jennifer January 8, 2018 at 12:12 pm

I found $25. A twenty dollar bill and a five dollar bill. Our business is right down wind from a busy restaurant so on a windy day I make sure to scurry down the alley a few times. I have found random coins this past year but I use my coins at self checkouts so I don’t keep up with the amount.


Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life January 8, 2018 at 12:20 pm

I’ve never kept track of found change, honestly, but I’m also not out and about enough to have opportunities to find it. It does remind me of a funny story a friend told me when she got into work one day, though. She was walking and listening to music on her earphones when she saw a dollar bill flutter to the ground in front of her. And another. Then another. Then it was a $20! She was so startled, she looked up to see a baby perched on her mom’s shoulder, reaching into the backpack and throwing the money out of the wallet she’d found!

She caught up to the nonplussed mother and handed her quite the wad of cash. 🙂


Christine January 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm

LOL! So funny! It wouldn’t have been for the Mom when she went into her wallet to grab some cash though. Glad those bills came fluttering down in front of an honest person…you.


Larissa Stretton January 8, 2018 at 12:33 pm

After finding your blog and reading all the archives, this was one of my favorite things and I decided to give it a go. I live in a small town, and work in the same town, so I don’t get that far of field. At first, I didn’t think I was going to find much, but I DID find $12.01-$9 of which was paper money! It was much better than I would have thought and it was just so fun to participate in!

Off to a good start myself, so far I have found a quarter and a dime!

Happy New Year!


Julie C January 8, 2018 at 12:35 pm

Our amount for the year (which goes from Oct to Oct–I was late getting into the game) was $30.65. I have trained my kids to keep a eye on the ground. 2 of my kids each found $5.00 bill at the ball field. I give the kids the final say on what we do with the $$. (Last year was just under $9–so they chose to eat at a fast food joint—which I never take them to). This year they chose to donate the $$ to a children’s charity.


Christine January 8, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Good kids you got there!


Pam January 8, 2018 at 12:44 pm

2017 Found Change–$29.71.
This included a still-valid $25.00 gift card for Target found in the street while walking the dog.
Have found 3 quarters and one dime so far this year……..
Happy 2018 everyone!


Nan January 8, 2018 at 1:19 pm

I just keep all my change in a container. Some years I have a lot but since I mainly use my credit card now, not as much- $67 this year. I gave it away to Special Olympics and am starting fresh.


Jenn January 8, 2018 at 1:38 pm

16.95 here last year for my son and I.

Already up to 47 cents! He loves it and is always on the lookout (he’s 11).


K D January 8, 2018 at 2:04 pm

I found $11.61 in the second half of 2017 and from late September 2016 through the first half of 2017 I found $53.62 (including a $20 bill in the street and a few one dollar bills). It seems there just isn’t money to be found these days (credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay, etc.). I have found $.12 so far this year.


Bee January 8, 2018 at 2:26 pm

I always pick up money when I see; however, I rarely find any. I think that I too live in a part of the world where other types of payment are used more frequently. I have often wonder how much money the beachcombers find when using metal detectors.


Nancy from mass January 8, 2018 at 2:41 pm

Bee, did your son hear that Mount Washington was 100 below with the wind chill??? A couple got engaged a week or so ago on top also. Brrrr


Nancy from mass January 8, 2018 at 2:33 pm

2013 my total was $4.80 and a NH token (found on a snowbank in Boston about 10 years after they stopped making them!!
2014 $5.07
2015. $7.59
2016. $11.29
2017. $7.62 plus 4 wheat pennies, one from 1943 that looks like it was made with silver. Its definitely not a copper penny.
So far this year I have found a quarter and a penny.


Ruby January 8, 2018 at 2:43 pm

Pennies during WWII may be zinc.


Nancy from mass January 8, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Yes, I actually just looked it up. pennies in 1943 were steel plated in zinc.


Ruby January 8, 2018 at 2:42 pm

I used to find a lot more when my son was little. He had an uncanny sense for dropped change. This year I found a couple of dimes in the parking lot st my old job and a haul of 78 cents at one time at the new job, plus a quarter and two pennies in the grocery store parking lot.


Su Mama January 8, 2018 at 4:51 pm

Ruby, it may come as no surprise to learn that from the time she could walk, the already-observant Katy was spotting coins on the ground. Obviously, she still does!


Pam January 8, 2018 at 3:32 pm

My 4 year old figured out (on his own!) that most people don’t check the coin return on CoinStar machines. Our grocery store has 2 of them and he’ll frequently find up to 50 cents. A few weeks ago he found $3.12 at one time! He was so excited to put it in his piggy bank!


JennyS January 8, 2018 at 8:00 pm

And we used to check pay phones coin-return slots!


Jennifer January 9, 2018 at 5:14 am

I still check soda machines and around car vacuums for change. I have lost so much money in those over the years that it’s nice to find a random coin sometimes.


Liz B. January 9, 2018 at 3:32 pm

People who use the local coinstar at my Kroger must be oddballs….it’s usually empty when i check it. (Sad face)


Linda January 8, 2018 at 3:50 pm

My best find was a $20 note at the bottom of a lake! I spotted it from our 2-man kayak, but my husband (in the back) didn’t believe me. Although he scoffed, he offered to go in after it if it really was there, so we circled around above it again. Sure enough, there it was,caught under a branch below us, so he kept his word and went into the very cold, 2 metre-deep water and retrieved it. What a hero!


A. Marie January 8, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Linda, your story reminds me of the time my SIL found a $50 bill on the bottom of the Trunk Bay underwater trail when she, her then-DH, my DH (her brother), and I were vacationing on St. John, USVI, 20 years ago. She’d been a little leery of snorkeling and free-diving up to that time–but seeing old U. S. Grant down there was a powerful incentive. She returned it to the local economy by investing in a couple of Caribbean lobsters at a nearby restaurant that night. (And telling this story reminds me that I still need to make a donation to USVI hurricane relief.)


Vickey January 14, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Loved both these stories – and the impetus-to-action connection it made for you, A. Marie.


Linda @ A La Carte January 8, 2018 at 4:12 pm

I haven’t kept up with the amount, but I always split found money between the piggy banks I keep for my two Grands.


Kim Davison January 8, 2018 at 4:29 pm

I am going to try to save the money I find this year. So far I’ve found a dime, a nickel and two pennies.


Christine January 8, 2018 at 4:37 pm

I’m going to start too. My husband handed me a dime the other day that he found on the ground so that will be the first of hopefully a good amount found in 2018. Frugal fun and games!


Christine January 8, 2018 at 4:43 pm

P.S. Wish I had started this at the beginning of my mail carrier career. I had a walking route and would find lots and lots of coins, a few dollar bills, one ten and the jackpot was a twenty. All you fellow frugal bloggers…get ready to cringe…I got so accustomed to seeing coins on the ground that after awhile I would not bother bending down for pennies. My rule was to only stop for nickels and above. Shameful! LOL


JennyS January 8, 2018 at 8:03 pm

I remind myself it’s good exercise- lol.


Christine January 9, 2018 at 7:09 am

Good way to look at it!


Cathy January 8, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Yes! This was my first year doing the challenge.
Went to my credit union last week (hooray for free CoinStar machines!), and deposited a grand total of $24.62. I also have a small bag of foreign coins that still need to be exchanged, as my CU does not after that service. I’m figuring all of those coins will total ~$4.00.

I’m up to almost $0.50 so far in 2018.


Jenny January 10, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Where would be a good place to check on the value of foreign money, both coins and paper. I have a little stash (some old) and really don’t know how to get the best deal.


Debbie January 8, 2018 at 5:09 pm

I found 46 cents in the Costco parking lot the other day, and thought of Katy! I used to keep a small box of the coins I found when I was in high school, but it didn’t add up to much. The best was when I found a $50 bill on the sidewalk in front of my house when I was a kid. It didn’t belong to either of my parents, so I got to claim it.


Tonya Parham January 8, 2018 at 5:20 pm

My total was $10.47. About $6 of that was quarters from Aldi carts people didn’t return or get the quarter back.


Sarah. January 8, 2018 at 6:04 pm

I didn’t participate but I found $20 on the ground before Christmas. Since I was on my way to pickup my Husbands dry cleaning, I spent it on that, with some left over. I’ll have to start keeping track. Besos Sarah.


momsav January 8, 2018 at 6:49 pm

We kept track just the first year. It was 14$ and change. Anymore, we put in in a small dish. When it’s full, with pocket change, too, we put it into a bank bag. When that gets heavy, we turn it in.


Jenser January 8, 2018 at 7:12 pm

We keep a coin jar on top of my husband’s dresser. Whenever I find money I put it in there. Once a month I take the change to the Credit Union where my kid’s have their Savings Accounts and I use the coin machine there to change it into “ice cream money”. We do once-a-month Mystery Shops at the bank so get paid $15.00 for the Shops. Win-win.


LaNell January 8, 2018 at 8:13 pm

$2.20 was all I found this year down here in Texas. Always keep my eyes open…I get so happy when I do find a coin…life’s simple pleasures.


Marcia January 8, 2018 at 8:59 pm

I haven’t looked but I’m guessing under $1. I put it in the bank I keep near the washing machine. I did better before my kids left home, but I walk very little because I live in a little town with almost no stores, etc. It’s a 10 mile drive to just about anywhere. I did find a few coins in the grocery store parking lot but very few and most were pennies. I’ll check next time I’m in the basement but I doubt I found much at all.


Mrs. Picky Pincher January 9, 2018 at 3:15 am

Great job! I need to be better about picking up found change. A little adds up to a lot if you keep at it. 🙂


Ellen January 9, 2018 at 4:19 am

I have been waiting for this post! My daughter and I did this for the first time this year! Our grand total was 34.32! I think it was a good score! We have already started this years! It was fun, and she is always looking on the ground for found change!


cc January 9, 2018 at 4:24 am

Be sure and look at the dates on your u.s. change. Pre 1964 has silver making it worth more than face value. I found a dime and gave it to someone who collects them. It was worth about $1 at the time. I now regular look at all change, especially coin star leftovers.


Jenny January 10, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Does that include nickels, dimes, quarters?


cc January 11, 2018 at 4:06 am

Hi, US dimes, quarters, half dollar, and dollar coins dated 1964 or earlier are 40% silver. Kennedy 1964 are 90%, 1965-1970 are 40%. You can google your coins to find out more information. This site explains.


Lisa L January 9, 2018 at 6:58 am

I work in NYC and I’m always finding change on the ground. I tried to keep a tally but that never seemed to work out. So I just pocket it. If on the rare occasion I find paper money, I give it to the next homeless person I meet.


Bethel January 9, 2018 at 7:08 am

I don’t have a total, because I throw any spare change I find into my car’s change-holder for the days when I really need coffee while out and about (or I just want a donut, lol) but don’t want to spend money out of our account.

I was at the airport over the holidays and saw a penny on the ground near security (almost right underneath the screening conveyor belts. I was going to get it, but there was a gentleman standing closer to it putting his shoes and coat back on, so I left it…but I did have the fleeting thought that Katy wouldn’t have passed it up!


Lucy S January 9, 2018 at 8:29 am

I have a good start this year. I found $80.00 in a Walmart parking lot. It was in a wet crumpled envelope. My husband asked, what are you going to do with it? I said, I’ll add it to my emergency fund. He said no, you should donate it to charity. And so be it.


L January 9, 2018 at 10:26 am

My 2017 total was $13.11.
I’ve only found $.02 so far this year.


ouvickie January 9, 2018 at 11:58 am

Good job!
I forgot to keep mine separated out. I have a jar for silver and a bank for pennies, but I haven’t counted the change in a few years now. Guess I need to do that. I’ve probably got a chunk I can throw into savings!


susanna d January 9, 2018 at 12:19 pm

My total was $13.42 back in August. I end my found change challenge in August each year – there’s a farm stand store that has some wonderful deals on their products. I take the found money and buy vegetables with it. Then I take a picture of the veggies and tell people “Look at all the food I found on the ground.” Okay, I’ll admit I’m strange.

I just counted up what I’ve found since then – $3.89. Not exactly on pace to match last year’s total, but I never know how much I’m going to find once the snow melts…


Ellie January 9, 2018 at 3:04 pm

$5.47. Not my best year. So far this year I have 1 dime. Mine goes to the food bank.


Laura January 9, 2018 at 7:24 pm

We found $56.40 in 2017! But we collect bottles/cans we find and that bottle deposit money goes into the found change jar, so this amount is mostly from found bottles.


Sea January 11, 2018 at 11:45 am

We live in a big city, so the kids and I usually find $25 – 40/year. My kids have been known to scrounge around on the floor in stores, and look around and behind the self-checkout machines!!! It’s a little embarrassing at times! 🙂

The policy in my house is that we save all the found change and then pick a charity to donate it to at the end of the year. This way, something bad (someone losing their money) turns into something good. But it really bums out my son when he finds that occasional $5 or $20 bill!


Bridget January 15, 2018 at 7:31 pm

I found a whopping $2.00!


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