The Found Change Challenge Total for 2023 Was . . .

by Katy on January 4, 2024 · 42 comments

The new year is upon us, which means it’s time add up my found change for the previous year. I’ve been doing this Found Change Challenge since 2011, a year that filled my jar with an extra $23.77. Sadly, times have changed. (Yes, pun intended.) People carry less cash with every passing year, plus there’s the issue of shopping less at brick and mortar stores, which all results is fewer coins falling to the ground.

Either way, here I am dropping my 2023 money into my credit union’s coin counting machine, which feels a little like Vegas, baby.

C’mon, lucky seven!

Nope. $5.19, and here’s the breakdown. Sadly, this year was all coins, no folding money, so this is the entire total. 83 measly coins

However, I’m never someone to scoff at free money. Even when it’s just $5.19.

Here are my totals from previous years:

• 2022 — $7.71
• 2021 — $11.91
• 2020 — $9.41
• 2019 — $11.80
• 2018 — $19.65
• 2017 — $15.17
• 2016 — $56.54
• 2015 — $23.73
• 2014 — $37.90
• 2013 — $35.60
• 2012 — $28.50
• 2011 — $23.77

I know I did the Found Change Challenge in 2013, 2019 and 2020, but I give up trying to find those posts. Update: A Reader found my missing years, which I’ve added to the post. Thank you, Jenn!

Have you been saving your found change?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

A. Marie January 4, 2024 at 10:40 am

As just noted near the bottom of the latest FTFT comments, my 2023 “underground economy” totals were $428.20 in NY State bottle/can deposits and $24.86 in found change, both personal bests.

Finding $9 in bills and a lot of Canadian coins–usually accepted at U.S. face value here–definitely helped with the found change total. And if NY State ever gets around to raising the container deposit from 5 to 10 cents, I will definitely have me a side hustle!


Katy January 4, 2024 at 11:01 am

Oregon has 10¢ bottle deposit, so maybe you should consider moving.


A. Marie January 4, 2024 at 11:21 am

Alas, that would involve leaving my paid-for house, my lovely street, and my excellent neighbors–so, in the end, I don’t think it’d work out.


Kara January 4, 2024 at 12:30 pm

I found 59¢ last week. It’s rare that I find change. CA just included wine bottles in their bottle deposit. So I’ll get a bit that way this year. My daughter works for a winery and she regularly brings over bottles she got for free. Sometimes she staggers in with a whole free case and says “I have to get rid of this, I have so much”


A. Marie January 4, 2024 at 1:38 pm

And if NY State would include wine and liquor bottles, as well as tea, juice, and sports drink containers?? (Pinch me, I’m dreaming!)


Christine January 4, 2024 at 5:58 pm

Like you A. Marie, I’m waiting for the day Massachusetts puts a deposit on every bottle, including water bottles and those pesky nip bottles I see everywhere. A lucrative side hustle indeed!

Jeana January 4, 2024 at 10:49 am

Found a dime on the floor at the LIDL checkout this morning. Two other shoppers passed right over it.


Pam January 4, 2024 at 11:18 am

My 2023 found change total was $2.49. Have been keeping track for nine years- not my lowest and definitely not my highest total.


Lynda January 4, 2024 at 12:12 pm

Thanks fort the reminder. I need to cash mine in. I know it’s much lower than in the past.


Ava January 4, 2024 at 1:26 pm

I am always thrilled to find money but it almost never happens in the places I hang out. I have been saving found change for 5 or 6 years. I haven’t counted it. My estimate is maybe $5.


Marilyn January 4, 2024 at 3:07 pm

My found change came to $3.21. It was mostly pennies, nickels and dimes, but I also found (for the first time ever) one 50-cent piece.


Camilla January 4, 2024 at 3:37 pm

Usually my found change is minimal, at best, but this year, we hit the jackpot when my youngest son and I went on a class trip to Washington D.C. SO much found change, a couple dollars worth in less than a week, a lot of it quarters!


Lindsey January 4, 2024 at 3:38 pm

It is hard to add to the found money jar when for over half the year here coins get welded into the ice. I do sometimes try to dislodge them with the toe of my boot, but mostly they just lie there, frozen in time until April. Thus, I am compelled to “find” change in the husband’s pockets. I consider it proactive finding, since otherwise I will find the coins from his pants in the bottom of the washer.


MB in MN January 4, 2024 at 4:09 pm

“Proactive finding” – so funny!


Selena January 4, 2024 at 8:19 pm

I squirrel away money found in items in hamper (occasionally washing machine if I spazz out and don’t check pockets which doesn’t happen often). When we moved, my stash was found but I started it again. I have a stash spot near the laundry room and when that gets full, another stash spot – which is getting full. I’m now motivated to count it.


MB in MN January 4, 2024 at 4:11 pm

A quarter was the highest value coin I found. Without keeping track, I’d say I found $2.00 and change last year.


Christine January 4, 2024 at 6:49 pm

A meager $2.68 was found by me in 2023, but it’s money I didn’t have to work for. I do think Katy is correct in her opinion that people are using money less and less as time goes on which makes it scarcer.


Mary Ann January 4, 2024 at 7:01 pm

No change. In fact I try to give my change in tip jars and charity buckets. I will also it add it to my husband’s coffee can but he will only accept silver.

I did “find” $65 by taking five minutes to transfer my emergency fund from my checking account to a CD at the same bank. 2 months at 4%. The bank was going to make me come back for an appt and I knew I wouldn’t. I looked on my phone and realized I could do it myself simply. I then went to the cashier to double check it was right. This is big because I just got out of a year online CD with ALLY. It was so non-user friendly and the fact that it had no brick and mortar made me uncomfortable . Using my own bank is a good stretch for me. I also didn’t like my money tied up for a year.

The best diet one is the one you can stick with. The best way to find money is the way that is easy and comfortable. Yeah us!


Ashley Bananas January 5, 2024 at 11:56 am

That’s awesome. Do you do credit hacking? Would love recommendations of good promotions.


Vickey January 19, 2024 at 3:24 pm

Yes, please!


texasilver January 4, 2024 at 7:55 pm

I just started doing a change challenge the past 2 years. I found around 40$ this year. I find quite a bit of change in the drive thru lanes of various businesses. Last week I curb picked a purse that contained around 1$ of change in it. I found a 10$ bill in the bushes outside a Taco Bell & a one dollar coin on the pavement outside an Ace Hardware store. Today I found 16 cents on the sidewalk. I walk a lot, so I think that is why I find the change. In the summer I found 80 cents in change in the coin return at Walmart, but the Walmart employee made me return it to her. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.


Selena January 4, 2024 at 8:22 pm

If there is a dry cleaners on your route, keep your eyes open. In the days before I worked remote, I occasionally walked by a dry cleaners. One time I found a $5 dollar bill. I forgot I parked in another lot but it paid off.


K D January 5, 2024 at 3:23 am

2023: $19.33 (part of that is DH checks Coin Star machines if he is with me). Also a Home Depot gift card with ~$70 on it.

2022: $43.60. That must have included finding bills.

2021: $73.24. That included DH finding $60 outside the airport (in traffic).

2020: $10.34. Didn’t go many places during much of the pandemic.

No good annual records before that.


Michelle H January 5, 2024 at 2:56 pm

I always check the coin star at the store – I usually find something in there! A few years back I was frequently finding silver coins in there that I would take to the jeweler and sell for melt value, but haven’t gotten any silver in at least a year.


Vickey January 19, 2024 at 3:25 pm

Very impressive!


Susie's Daughter January 5, 2024 at 5:58 am

I found a soggy $20 bill in our yard on Christmas morning! It is entirely possible it blew out of one of the grownups’ pockets in our household, but still it was a delight. We are VERY rural, but adjacent to a paved road so I suppose it could have come from there too?
Other than that it was mostly pennies which I always consider a hug from my Nana, who was the most frugal person I’ve ever known. (Susie’s mother for reference 🙂


Blue Gate Farmgirl January 5, 2024 at 8:59 am

We are dirt road, farming community. Our driveway is 1/2 mile long. I do walk our rural road and find more dollars than cents. I am sure this is change that flies out of the roaring trucks that frequent our road as it is a short cut from one highway to another.
This year I am going to keep track of dollars found as well as change. I only go to the big town every 3 to 4 weeks.
2023 brought 47.19. Where I cleaned up a wreck on the County road a few months back, I found crumpled dollar bills and change mixed into the gravel.
Yesterday, as I was walking into Costco, I park in the farthest corner, I found .87. In front of a Dollar store I found .40, so yesterday was a great start to 2024.
Did you hear about the dog who ate $4000?


A. Marie January 5, 2024 at 9:37 am

Yes, I did see that story on Boing Boing. Not much to do about it, really. (But this does give the phrase “filthy lucre” new meaning.)


Jill A January 5, 2024 at 9:06 am

I found two cents on ground near the grocery carts at Aldi. It occurred to me that this might be a good place to look. Everyone’s always scrounging for their quarter for the cart.


A. Marie January 5, 2024 at 9:40 am

My other tip for finding coins–besides regularly checking the Coinstar machine at my local Wegmans–is to check the parking spaces at my nearby Dollar General, especially the spaces closest to the store. The folks who park closest to the store are also the folks least likely to retrieve dropped coins, in my experience.


Christine January 6, 2024 at 5:25 am

Yesterday I found two pennies on the floor in a store. The beginning of my 2024 Found Money. Into the old jar it went.


Teri January 6, 2024 at 11:01 am

I agree with you on the lack of lost coins…however this was my biggest year ever due to 2 folded bills: $125! The $5 was all in coins and of course, mostly pennies.


Julia January 6, 2024 at 12:06 pm

I’ll need to keep track of my found money for 2024!
I find that when it’s raining lots of folks don’t retrieve their 25 cents from the Aldi’s shopping carts. They just shove them in the general direction of the cart rack and run. I usually find 2-4 quarters on rainy days.


Jenn January 6, 2024 at 12:19 pm

Check your Instagram DMs, I just found your missing totals for 2013, 2019 & 2020 🙂


Kim in Maryland January 7, 2024 at 8:30 am

My 2023 total was $43.16. I found a $20 bill on the floor, under an adjacent register in the self checkout area of a grocery store. I happen to glance over and saw something totally under the register stand. There was no one else there, not even a grocery associate. I was traveling out of state so it was a nice little bonus!


Katy January 7, 2024 at 6:24 pm



Vickey January 19, 2024 at 3:34 pm

I have, at long last, a wee bit of found “change” to report. If I can include the two dollar bill discovered folded up and lying on the asphalt as I walked across Mordor’s (aka WalMart’s) order pickup section in the parking lot. That and the dime and pennies bring my total to over $2! 😉 I live in a chronically economically depressed area, AND COVID seemed to drive most everybody to using plastic.

I did used to sweep my hand in my credit union’s coin sorter reject tray, but quit the day that a tiny, elderly male teller looked at me after my sweep and sighed sadly. It occurred to me that he had been hoping to harvest it himself, and I know they’re none of them well-paid.


Katy January 20, 2024 at 2:55 pm

Wow, I’ve never found a two dollar bill!


Cindy Brick January 21, 2024 at 9:51 pm

I just tallied up my found money for 2023 — $1.54. That counted change found in the cashout machine’s bin — twice. And I couldn’t snag change I saw on the floor at secuirty in the airport. (In one case, the TSA employee was standing on it.) But I also found $45 in bills in my underwear drawer that I’d forgotten about!

2022’s total was $2.32. Husband, the Brick, thinks this fascination with picking up pennies, nickels and dimes is very funny. But it amuses me — and the extra always comes in handy.


Donna January 23, 2024 at 10:28 am

A fellow frugalist! I’ve been picking up and saving change (and, more rarely, greenbacks) for decades. Each year I count it up, round it up and donate it to a food charity.

One of my readers suggested that I come read this post. I’m glad that I did.

If it’s allowed, here’s the link to this year’s report:


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:30 am

Sisters in thrift! I found a dime yesterday and it cheered me right up.


Nancy January 24, 2024 at 8:35 pm

What great finds!


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