The Found Change Challenge Total For 2018 Was . . .

by Katy on January 6, 2019 · 45 comments

As longtime blog readers know, I run a Found Change Challenge, which is a fancy way of saying that I save up all the found money throughout the year and then add it up on January 1st. I encourage readers to do the same, and I’m always amazed to hear how much people are able to glean from their sidewalks and abandoned coin returns.

My total for 2018 was $42.65, which includes one twenty and three one-dollar bills. This receipt breaks down the different coins from my credit union’s free coin counting machine.

Of course, the machine rejected all the foreign coins, including this 1944 British half crown, which is obviously my favorite 2018 found coin!


Here are my totals from previous years:

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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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer January 6, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Great job, Katy. I have found a lot of change this year but failed to keep up with the amount. I frequently go to Kroger very early in the mornings and since I am often the only one in line, I will feed change in the self-checkout instead of using my dollars. I have a small purse so it helps it to stay light of my shoulder with less change.


Bethany M January 6, 2019 at 2:58 pm

My kids are the first to spot any loose change! One just paid for a 48 count box of crayons with her change. My husband had no clue she meant she had $3 in change. Hardly any quarters either. He was so amused when she went to pay the cashier!!!


Ruby January 6, 2019 at 3:04 pm

In coins, mine was under a dollar and mostly pennies that went in our penny jar. I did find a $10 bill in the office that no one claimed, but gave it to the office cleaning lady when she ran out of SNAP funds before the month was over.


Lisa M. January 6, 2019 at 9:51 pm

I would like to thank you for your compassion for the office cleaning lady who was out of SNAP funds for the month. Perhaps that $10 bill was found by you for a reason…


susanna d January 7, 2019 at 9:41 am

I agree, and I would like to thank you as well for your generosity in giving the found $10 bill to someone in need.


Christine January 7, 2019 at 10:18 am

Well done Ruby! Nice to hear stories of compassion whenever I can. You made my day!


Diane C January 6, 2019 at 3:05 pm

I’m responsible for collecting the coin from my library’s passive book store.
I do the Coinstar gift card for me and then move the correct amount of money from my checking account. What I love about CS is that the silver coins do not process. But neither do the foreign coins. After three or four years of this, I now have quite the collection and have no idea what to do with them. Anyone have any ideas?


Ruby January 6, 2019 at 4:05 pm

A coin dealer might give you some money for them. An Etsy artist who make coin jewelry might like them as well.


Juhli January 7, 2019 at 9:25 am
Juhli January 7, 2019 at 9:26 am

And you could have the library put them out in a bowl with a sign about “Taking a foreign trip? Take some local coins with you”


A. Marie January 6, 2019 at 3:17 pm

From abnormally warm Upstate NY, the 2018 totals are (drum roll, please):

Found change: $16.35. (Clearly, I don’t have Katy’s knack for reaching under the coin machines.)

But: NY State bottle/can deposits (from containers collected off the streets, not from soda/beer we buy): $255.30. (Actually, this was an off year for me. The container total is usually around $300.)

And both containers and found change are off to a good start in 2019. In particular, I found a dollar bill this morning, so the found change for the new year is at $1.49. Woo hoo!

The best part about the change hunt is that it’s giving DH much-needed mental exercise: Even he is scanning the ground for change now (and picked up a dime in the Wegmans parking lot on 1/3). Trust me, it’s a lot more fun for him than Sudoku.

And I share Katy’s delight in her half-crown. My own favorite UK coin from a Coinstar machine was a 1947 shilling (this was the last year George VI was Emperor of India, so it was the last year he was described as “George RI”). I found this the day I was notified that I’d been chosen to give a presentation at the national conference of my Literary Society, so I told all my friends that I’d “taken the King’s shilling.” (Google that phrase for some British Royal Navy history.)


Kristi January 7, 2019 at 8:48 am

Your love and care for your husband inspires me every time you post. You are really something special.


Jenn January 6, 2019 at 3:29 pm

My 12 year old son and I do this with all the proceeds going to him.

$10.56 in change. Not a stellar year but a little more in the savings account for his 2020 Europe trip.


Lynda January 6, 2019 at 4:06 pm

I wish that half crown could talk; love to know how it ended up in your neck of the woods!


Connie B January 6, 2019 at 4:16 pm

Total of $18.37. The largest part was a $10 bill stuck in a melting snow bank at church last winter – it was promptly given to the food pantry. The rest was a few dimes and soooo many pennies in parking lots. Also, a few loonies on the sidewalk (I’m in southeastern PA, so that was odd but also fun!)


K D January 6, 2019 at 5:37 pm

In 2018 I found $48.41, most of it was found in the first half of the year (including bills). I don’t have yearly records before that. Thank you Katy for convincing me to keep annual records of this fun past time.


Nancy from mass January 6, 2019 at 5:54 pm

$11.35 in total this year. 58 of those were dimes.

I found other coins not included in that total. Jamacain dollar, a Chinese or Japanese coin and a bunch of coins totaling about $3.


John Benton January 6, 2019 at 6:20 pm

That half crown is 50% silver. It has a bullion value of about $3.50.


Teresa January 6, 2019 at 6:36 pm

Well I guess I’d better start looking down! I found 2 cents since January 1st (the second coin was possibly the first one, fallen out of my pocket when I grabbed my keys… but I counted it as two since it was the second time I found it.)

1. Starting off the year by using up food in my cupboards and freezer.
2. Have been picking/eating organic veggies from work — they are free to me.
3. Got the go-ahead to continue picking oranges from my neighbors tree — she doesn’t eat them (they are delicious!)
4. Friend brought me a home-made flan as an Xmas gift (deliciosa!)
5. Need to stop focusing on food if I want to lose weight this year.


Morgen January 6, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I am going to claim just over 18.00 in change AND a 10 dollar bill… but I definitely cheat in that it also counts any spare change I get through the year. It’s extremely rare for me to use cash so if I stumble upon it, into the jar it goes.


Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early January 6, 2019 at 7:51 pm

We’ve started this with our kiddo who’s almost 4, and he gets so freaking excited when he finds a “free” coin to go in his piggy bank (otherwise he gets a quarter for feeding the dogs twice a day). He would be over the moon with that kind of haul 😉


Laura January 6, 2019 at 8:11 pm

I can’t believe you found a $20!


Teri January 6, 2019 at 9:16 pm

$31.76 including one $20 bill and one $1 bill. This is 2/3 what I’ve found in the last two years. My family thinks this is due to more people using pay pal, venmo, etc. Essentially not carrying cash.


karen January 7, 2019 at 3:59 am

This was such a fun challenge! $23.77 was my total. That included 1 one dollar bill. I did have help from my husband too!


K D January 7, 2019 at 4:10 am

I do sometimes find foreign coins in the CoinStar, which I give to my husband. I don’t count them as I don’t redeem/spend them.


Mrs. Picky Pincher January 7, 2019 at 4:44 am

Not a bad haul at all! Any plans for the extra funds? 🙂

I don’t do a change challenge, per se. Hubs and I just wait until the change jar is full. Then we take it to the bank’s free coin counter, and add the funds to our account.

I think the best we ever did was $40 in coins. Not bad, eh? It just goes to show that the little things really do add up.


ellen January 7, 2019 at 5:03 am

43.61! But funny story, we only started this last year. So to make it a bit more fun, before we count our change, we all take a guess on how much is in the jar.
This year my Husband, guessed 43.61! How did he do that?!?!?!
I also had 1-20.00 bill and one single. My daughter and I have fun hunting all year for change!


Susie's Daughter January 7, 2019 at 5:43 am

We are in a very rural area so change on the sidewalk is hard to come by (as it would necessitate a sidewalk 🙂 ). Like A. Marie, most of my “found money” comes from picking up returnables on the roadside and redeeming the bottles and cans left by renters in our short term rental unit.

My goal for the last two years has been $52.00 (or 1 dollar for each week of the year). This year my total was $49.05. This also includes the small number of returnables we personally have during the year and any loose change I do manage to find. (The car wash in town is a good spot for pennies.) Based on my record keeping it looks like $33.40 of that total came from ‘found’ returnables. Our ‘found money’ most frequently goes to paying for trips to the movies or to the ice cream stand in our village.

My Nana picked up every coin she could in her life and DS is now an avid coin finder. So when he finds a penny he often says Grandnana sent it for him. It makes my heart happy.


Lynne January 7, 2019 at 6:51 am

$4.03 for 2018. I told my friends to keep dropping their change in 2019. I’m not too proud to pick up their money!!!


BW January 7, 2019 at 7:23 am

Found $114.32 in 2018. Part of this was $76 (bills) while walking my dog. On average, I find about $70 a year so this past year was a good one! All found money is going in to a college fund.


Stephanie January 7, 2019 at 8:10 am

That is really fantastic, and a great idea to keep a total! I used to find change all the time when I was walking regularly for exercise, and once I found a five dollar bill. I don’t get to walk that often these days, but next year I will (if my body cooperates, that is!), although from what I’ve seen, in this neighborhood people aren’t as careless as they were with their change in my last! So we’ll see. 😉


Ava January 7, 2019 at 8:24 am

People must skip down the street flinging money with abandon in your area. I average about a dollar a year and I look all the time.


Nancy from mass January 8, 2019 at 5:28 am

This actually made me LOL! I could imagine someone skipping down the street just tossing money left and right!


lynne January 8, 2019 at 6:58 am

I actually had a friend tell me his son would throw any pennies he received in change on the ground because “they weren’t worth it.” It drove my thrifty friend nuts watching his kid do that! 😀


Roxanne January 7, 2019 at 8:30 am

I decided to keep track this year and have found a penny. A friend found a crumpled $100 bill in an airport the other day.


Pam January 7, 2019 at 9:17 am

2018 total– $25.38.
So far this year I have found 1 penny….


susanna d January 7, 2019 at 9:49 am

Because I spend my found on the ground money in September (at farmers markets and a farm store) I don’t remember the exact amount but it was either $102 or $108. I wrote it down somewhere but forgot where! I think I’m safe in saying that I will never hit that amount (or anywhere near it) again. The reasons for this high amount are:
1. I found $20 bills on THREE separate occasions (including on hiking trails).
2. Coinstar machines were added at several new locations in our area last year, and people were not checking for returned coins. I remember finding $6 in quarters on one occasion, and over $7 in change on another – as well as many smaller amounts. Now that the machines have been around awhile, finding coins in the return is a lot more rare.


Tonya Parham January 7, 2019 at 12:20 pm

I had $31.17 this year which was pretty impressive for me. I can’t tell you how much of that was just people who didn’t take the quarters out of their Aldi cart, but it was probably at least $10! It’s like throwing money away! I don’t get it!


Val January 7, 2019 at 7:22 pm

I leave my cart quarter behind sometimes on purpose. To be nice. A pay it forward kind of thing.
Sometimes people give me their cart too, that they are returning, and they don’t ask me for my quarter.


Rosanne January 7, 2019 at 1:59 pm

I think a lot of people notice that they had dropped change, but could not be bothered to pick it up. Likewise, I am always amazed while shopping at Aldi’s at how many abandoned carts are the parking lot. I sometimes round up a couple near ones and pocket a quarter each.


Mary G January 7, 2019 at 3:16 pm

My husband and I found $12.95 – I think about half of it was found when he was cleaning out a rental house and the people just left it on the floor through the house.


Jen January 8, 2019 at 2:20 am

I am always tickled to find ANY money. Sometimes friends ask, as I am squealing and bending down to pick it up, “Is it Heads Up?” And I say any Found Money is Lucky. I do Mystery shops at my bank once or twice a month and need a “reason” to talk to a Teller so take coins from my husband’s dresser in to the free bank counting machine pretty frequently. This year I am going to keep track. Does money I find on my Teens bedroom floors in and the laundry (from my own family) count? This year it does!


Mary in VA January 8, 2019 at 9:31 am

I agree with you, Jen, any found money is lucky! My hairdresser lived in a house she was convinced was haunted because pennies kept appearing everywhere. One time she got out of the shower, wrapped a towel around herself, and a penny fell out of the towel. Must have been a frugal ghost!


Donna Freedman January 12, 2019 at 5:10 pm

My vase full of found coins is sitting on the kitchen table, waiting for me to count it (and write about it on my website). I find a lot less since moving from Seattle to Anchorage, Alaska.

Here’s what I do: Count it up, then round it up and donate it to the food bank. This year there’s likely more need than ever due to the federal shutdown.

In the past I’ve suggested that people use their findings as seed money for an emergency fund, or any other financial goal. How do you use yours?


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