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Man Finds $45,000 Cash In His New House

by J. Money on Monday, May 23, 2011

Then he returns it!! WOW… How’s that for being a good Samaritan? I saw this on ABC News this weekend and was just floored. Can you imagine going in YOUR garage and finding bags and BAGS full of cash hidden away? I don’t even know what I would do. I’d like to think I’d give it back to the original owner too, but I gotta admit I’d be tempted… at least until the initial shock went away and I could think straight ;) (Check out the pictures of all these bags of cash, it’s so sexy!)

Here’s why the guy did it:

“I’ve got two boys and we teach them to be honest and to do what is right and I knew this was a teachable moment that I would never get back again … So I thought we would have fun with it. We would do something courageously honest with it. Something awesome. It’s been a great thing for us and our kids.”

That’s true – you’ll never get that exact same chance again! haha… Man, how crazy… It reminds me of the time I found this bag full of coins and dollars outside a Food Lion parking lot once. I opened my car door and almost stepped on it. “Out of alllll 300+ parking spots, how on earth did I manage to park in THAT exact one?” I thought to myself. Which was followed by “Is someone watching me right now?? Is this a trick??” Haha… I didn’t even think I was being punked, I immediately thought some bad guys were waiting to come after me or something ;) Which obviously shows how bad my guilt can be! (So yeah, I would def. return that $45k once I got my head on straight, even if I didn’t want to. I’d go bonkers inside!).

As it were, however, there wasn’t a soul in sight. There may have been 3 other cars in total, and def. no one around at all. I guess I could have walked into the store and asked around, but I just remember thinking there’s no way someone would have announced they lost a bag of cash to anyone there. So I just stuffed it in my pocket and dreamed about how much was gonna be in there when I’d open it back up later at my house. And you know how much there was? $90+!!! Freakin’ awesome! And to make myself feel better about the person who lost it, I just pretended he was a drug dealer ;) Haha… is that wrong?

This also reminded me of something *else* I saw over the weekend. Any of you all watch that recent Oprah episode where she reveals her favorite guests? Well, they brought out the mom of that little Saint boy, Matte, and among other things she recounted a time when he had found a nickel at their local thrift store. He, too, felt bad about keeping it since it mean someone had lost it, so he went up to the cashier and told him about his findings. The guy thought it was awfully sweet of him, and told him to keep it and to go find something there that he likes at the shop. And guess what he picked up? A copy of Oprah’s bio! Which he then promptly devoured, and realized he just *had to* meet her one day. And they did, and then became close friends thereafter!! :)

All this stuff just fascinates the pants off me.  I don’t really know what the point of bringing it up today is exactly, haha, but it does give you something to think about and question yourself.  If you were in that father’s shoes, would you have returned the $45k too? Knowing how much that could have changed your lives? I’m interested to see how the original owner’s family responds.  They’ve received the long lost cash by now, but has yet to respond with anything back… They’re probably scared some bad guys are playing a trick on them too! ;)


{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John May 23, 2011 at 7:37 am

Man, all I got with my new house is a burned up Central Air unit.

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2 Rafiki May 23, 2011 at 8:07 am

I’m surprised the original owner just didn’t drop by and ask about it. How do you forget 45k in your garage? I’d return it but something seems strange about that story. Got a question for you as well.

What if you bought the house of a recently deceased person and found 45k in cash. What would you do then?

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3 No Debt MBA May 23, 2011 at 8:27 am

I’m with Rafiki. who forgets about their $45,000 cash stash when they sell a house? The process can take months! You’d think at some point they’d remember. Seems weird. An estate sale seem like a more legitimate place to have thousands of dollars randomly show up.

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4 Steph May 23, 2011 at 8:31 am

I found a wallet full of cash (several hundred $$) outside the little municipal complex in our town. At that point, I was a single mom and could barely afford the tag renewal for my car and it was sooooo tempting to keep.

All I could think of was the possibility of the man who lost the wallet not being able to feed his children because he had a week’s pay in his wallet. So, I went inside the building I found it in front of and turned it in. I really hope the man claimed it, and that the employees didn’t take the cash themselves. I would never be able to sleep at night if I had kept it.

And yeah, who forget’s about $45k in CASH??

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5 Trinnie May 23, 2011 at 8:45 am

Yeah…like everyone else, I don’t know how I’d “forget” $45k. And for right now, I’m just going to ignore the question as to why the hell they had $45k is CASH! Why wasn’t that at least deposited into some sort of an account?!?!?!

I have to admit, at first, it would be difficult for me to give it back…but because I truly believe that karma is a b*tch, I’d have to give it back…don’t want that biting me in the you-know-what later…plus, like the man that found the money, I have 2 boys (a 4-yr old, and another on the way) and would love to teach them “the right way” of things….

what a dilemma!

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6 CityFlips May 23, 2011 at 8:51 am

@Rafiki and No Debt MBA. The original owner didn’t forget about it. He died a while back and no one else knew about his stash. Which in my mind only makes it cooler that the new owner gave it to the old owner’s kids! Way to go, Good Samaritan guy!

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7 Stephanie May 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

That is a crazy story, but he had a way to track down the rightful owner, so that’s cool that he did. My husband found $120 on the ground at a concert once…no way to figure out who it belonged to (because, you know, in the middle of a crowd asking if someone dropped $120? Yeah, that won’t get crazy!), so he kept it, much like the $90 you found.

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8 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com May 23, 2011 at 9:53 am

To me, the bigger the amount of money, the more likely I am to turn it in. If it’s $10, I might just keep it to avoid the trouble of finding the owner. If it’s a substantial amount, then I’m going to do what I can to find the owner or just give it away. It wasn’t my money in the first place, so why would it be mine after I found it?

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9 Philip May 23, 2011 at 11:14 am

Wow… Makes me want to go searching around my attic some more! Don’t think there was anything like that but you never know.

I would have a REAL hard time returning it. I am just pondering how I would get it to the bank without looking like a drug dealer or something. Does the bank say something if all the sudden you make a $45,000 deposit in cash out of nowhere?

The person that saved it had passed on, so it was only his kids getting it. Still understand it would be tough though.

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10 J. Money May 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Forgot to mention that the original owner had died, so the money finder delivered his findings to his kids :) Maybe the guy hid it even from them for some reason? Or maybe he forgot to tell them cuz he died suddenly or something? Who knows… hopefully we’ll find out soon though if they do a follow up story!

(also, you should totally check out the original story on ABC’s site – it’s pretty cool:
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/utah-man-finds-45000-house-returns-rightful-owner/story?id=13648293 )

@John – Haha… maybe you’ll get luckier on the next one ;)
@Rafiki – Funny you should ask that – that’s exactly what happened ;) To answer your question, I’d probably do that same thing. Give it back to the remaining family members. But secretly hope they give me a reward for doing so ;) Haha… actually, I always secretly hope for that whenever I give something back. Makes it kinda exciting, even if you don’t get anything in return. Feels good doing the right thing sometimes usually.
@No Debt MBA – See above comment :)
@Steph – Awwww that was so NICE of you!!! Esp in your current state, man – that takes willpower :) I hope the owner came back and claimed it too. WITH all his money in it still!
@Trinnie – You and I are pretty similar so that doesn’t surprise me ;) Except I’m still “practicing” to have kids! Haha…
@CityFlips – Yup! You read the story, good job ;)
@Stephanie – Yeah, it definitely changes things if you have no way of tracking down the owner… in those cases, we consider it a nice present from above!
@Kevin @ Thousandaire.com – True that, good sir! I agree w/ the higher amount of $ too – it def. helps lock in the next steps. Thx for sharing bro – hope things are going well for ya over there :)
@Philip – Hmmm… that’s a good question actually. I gaurantee they’d be checking to make sure they aren’t fake bills, but not sure how they’d handle that one. I bet they call over the manager and they ask a few questions nicely to see what they can learn… like, they joke “what did you do, rob a bank? haha…” and then secretly hope you tell them how you really got it ;) That’s what I’d do! haha… wonder if legally they’re allowed to ask you certain questions though. Damn, now you’ve got me interested!

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11 Jen May 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I would totally want to keep it! But, I’m one of those people who always end up doing the right thing. So, in the end I would give it to them. Although, the compound interest would be pretty nice on that $ with a decent APY. No, no, no! I would give it back before I changed my mind. :-)

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12 christina h. May 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I heard something a few weeks ago that has stuck with me…Integrity is what you do when nobody’s looking. It runs through my brain at the oddest times, but I like it. It’s a good reminder. Yep, I’d return it. Wouldn’t want to. NOOOOO WAY. Man, that would pay off EVERY penny of these blasted student loans! But I’d do it.

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13 J Walton May 23, 2011 at 2:36 pm

@christina h. – I know what you mean. The integrity “definition” and similar sayings always come to mind when I’m facing “to do or nor to do the right thing”. I always default to do what’s right & I feel good about it.

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14 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager May 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I would return the money and hope that the original family would say thank you :) in some really nice way.

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15 Steph May 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Now the fact that the owner passed away changes things for me. It’s certainly a NICE thing to do to find the children who would’ve, could’ve (should’ve?) been the heirs, but I probably would have stopped looking when I found out the previous owner had passed away. I hope that doesn’t sound too selfish.

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16 blueMac May 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Am I really the only one who would keep the money? I would give half of it away and put the rest in my emergency fund.

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17 DIYMILF May 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Well, I would like to think that I would return it…………However, if I were (or someone else who had found it) were in a dire situation that warranted keeping the money (e.g. life-saving surgery that needed to be done, and you had no insurance………….or you were about to lose your house and–look!–here’s a crap-load of money), then I would say, KEEP IT. Finding money could also be a gift from God, particularly if you’re in a terrible financial situation. But I do agree with the previous person that it can make a difference in the amount–$10 found is easier to keep than $45K.

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18 Sense May 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Once when I was 6 or 7, I found $11 in an envelope on the ground outside of the local grocery store. When I was little, I was OBSESSED with money (big surprise that I write a blog about it now, eh?!) and my allowance was like 25 cents a week, so that $11 was like a fortune to me! I told my mom and she went with me to turn it in to the store manager. I lived in a poor neighborhood–my mom knew that someone was probably missing that money. In any case, my mom took that moment to teach me something, and I still remember it. Last week, I boarded the bus to find a whole bag of groceries left in my seat; I guess someone had forgotten it. It was probably $50 worth of groceries, stuff that I could use, but did I keep it? I thought about it and then the guilt took over…I turned it into the bus driver and felt good instead of bad about the situation. Thanks Mom! :)

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19 Kate May 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Darn. I only found 2 cents in a kitchen drawer after buying my house, and I kept it.

I would have to return the $45,000. I’d never get over the guilt otherwise. I would always wonder what it would have been like to keep it though.

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20 diane May 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I would have to give it back…Guilt would eat at me. I found Five hundred dollars once..in a white envelope at the store i work at. I ended up turning it in. However the lady did retrace her steps and came back for it. I didnt even get a Thank You from her..she just grabbed the envelope and was on her way. I would have felt better if she had thank me with a smile, or a hug but she was just plain rude.

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21 Laura May 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Of course I’d return it. It isn’t mine.

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22 Amy Saves May 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm

oh ok, so the original owner had passed away. I was gonna say how do you even know that the people he returned it to were the rightful owners?!

I dont know if i’d return the cash, i would def be very tempted to keep it.

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23 J. Money May 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm

A quick twist on things — Would it make a difference if you found out the rightful owner was an a$$hole? Haha… that’s not the case here, just wondering after reading Diane’s comment :) I bet half of us would change our minds, even though it’s still the “right thing” to do… Interesting, uh?

@Jen – “Im one of those people who always end up doing the right thing.” Yeah, it’s annoying sometimes huh? ;) I’m the same way…
@christina h. – Love that quote! My mom painted that for me actually – have it hanging in my bathroom wall :) Although kinda weird since I look at it every time I pee… haha… no one’s watching then, that’s for sure!
@J Walton – You’re a good person )
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Like, by give you back some of it ;)
@Steph – Haha, no judgements here :) I bet a lot of people would keep it!
@blueMac – Ooooh now that’s an idea. People can’t hate on you if you give half away! Haha… that’s interesting…
@DIYMILF – I do wonder about that sometimes… if God drops blessings on us like that for us to take advantage of… but then I wonder if he’s doing it to test the crap out of us ;) One day we can ask him!
@Sense – Awwww that is sweet :) I love hearing stories like that! (I’m getting soft in my old age, haha…)
@Kate – It’s def. something you’d never forget!
@diane – Ouch. Now that would piss me off. I wonder if any of us would change our minds if the person was an a$$hole who lost their money? Even though it’s still the “right thing” to do?
@Laura – :)
@Amy Saves – At least you’re honest :)

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24 retirebyforty May 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Wow, I didn’t know the original owner passed away. The finder could have kept the whole thing. He is one honest man.
I really don’t know what I would do. 45k in cash is a lot of moola and pretty suspicious too.
I probably would turn it in to the police…

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25 Jen @ SheBloggs May 24, 2011 at 12:46 am

I had the same reaction when I first heard this story. I probably would have ended up returning it, but I would have definitely been tempted considering it would pay off my debt and then some.

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26 sandra May 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I’d definitely return it – the guilt would destroy meotherwise! I once found some money on the floor in Costco – not a lot, but still, more than I had. I tried to return it, but they aren’t set up to do that (and you wouldn’t believe how many people it took to determine that). Finally,as I couldn’t in good conscience keep it, I gave it to a university student that I knew was struglling with debt. Similarly, where I was a teenager, i went to use a phone booth (yep, I’m that old), and when I put my dime in, the change return part burst open and change went everywhere! I gathered it all up (over $100. back in the 70′s), and then tried to return it to the phone company. They wouldn’t take it…as I recall, I gave that away too.

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27 Kevin May 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Yes I’d return the money (I’d hate to say it) but there is a CATCH… depends how nice the original owners were, or are to me after I contacted them.

My current place I’m at now (2yrs now) the old owners STILL havn’t changed over their address for soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many things. I’m always comming home to new packages being left at my house for them anything from UPS, Magzine subscriptions, grocery delivies, and so on… (I really should keep the steaks, beer, milk, eggs and poptarts) But I’m too nice and I call them all the time to come get their crap and change the address in the system cus once again they have messed up.

I think the only reason I keep being so nice to them is that they bent over backwards and meet every demand I had at closeing, and when it came to the final inspection. They also left me tons of tools and what not.

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28 Jenna May 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Yeah, no way I’d be able to keep that with a clear conscience. I definitely would’ve done everything I could to get it back to its rightful owner (or a close relative). If I absolutely wasn’t able to contact someone to take it, then I guess I’d have to choose between keeping it and donating it. Sure, if I kept it, it might help change my life, but $45k to a nonprofit organization could change HUNDREDS of lives. That guilt factor always gets me…

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29 Ginger B @ Ask the IRS B*tch May 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm

I’m more than likely going to keep it… unless I feel really “honest” that day. Seriously.

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30 MariaN May 25, 2011 at 6:57 am

Returning the money was a very honourable thing to do to begin with. But what really got me is that this guy was not thinking do much about the money but about giving a lesson for life to his kids. What a guy, how lucky are these kids to have a Dad like that.

As to me – I would have returned the money. Keeping it would have made me feel that I did not cope with my financial situation, that I have not taken charge and brought me back to the position of a victim. I’ll never be a victim to money again – and this is not about whether I have it or not, or how much I have.

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31 C May 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I would return the $45k since there was a way to find the owner. I did find $60 in a public/shared parking lot once, which I felt super guilty about keeping. (I donated half to charity to make myself feel better.) It just seemed pointless to pick one of the businesses that uses the lot, and then turn the money in to them, even though the owner may never have been there.

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32 myloverswife May 25, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Wow that’s a tough one. I would like to think that if I somehow left 45k behind, it would be returned to me. But really if you leave 45k sitting around, you must have more money than you can handle…so I would probably give it to mastercard!

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33 Bonnie May 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I would try to find the rightful owner, but this story really just sounds strange. He died w/ $45K in cash sitting in his garage w/o telling his kids or mentioning it in a will? My first thought is, Why? Was it dirty money? Did he steal it? In which case it belongs w/ the police. That’s the difficult part – figuring out who exactly the rightful owner is.

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34 J. Money May 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

@retirebyforty – Oh yeah, he could have def. gotten away w/ keeping it if he wanted! Unless one of the kids found out somehow down the road… maybe like having a “vision” ;)
@Jen @ SheBloggs – You’d never forget it either way, too!
@sandra – Wowww! That woulda been FUN seeing all those coins come out of the payphone!! haha… you are sweet. Good idea on giving it to someone in need instead of keeping :)
@Kevin – Wow 2 years?? That’s insane. They are LUCKY you are a good guy!! And I hear ya on the “niceness” of the people you’re dealing with. It’s always harder to be nice to those who are dicks to you.
@Jenna – Sometimes I wish I didn’t have that guilt factor ;)
@Ginger B @ Ask the IRS B*tch – Haha… would have to be a STRONG honest day too then, eh? That’s a ton of cash!
@MariaN – Good for you!!! I love what you said too – “I’ll never be a victim to money again” that’s powerful stuff :)
@C – Yeah, splitting 50/50 like that is a good idea for sure. Well done :)
@myloverswife – Haha… not if you had died and left it ;)
@Bonnie – Ooooooh now that’s interesting! Yeah, why didn’t he tell SOMEONE about it? We all assumed he saved it over time like a rock star, but you’re right – he *could have* very well stolen it or found it or who knows… I doubt it, but we’ll probably never find out ;) Fun twist though!

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35 Little House May 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm

If I found bags of cash like that in my new home’s garage, I’d be scared to death! I’d be thinking the previous owner (deceased or not!) was related to the mob or something. I’m pretty sure I’d call the police because who the heck leaves $45K lying around in garbage bags, seriously?!

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36 J. Money June 1, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Haha, yeah that’s true too ;) I’d probably get scared before I got excited – no matter what I ended up doing with it!

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37 ticktock June 4, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Hi, bought a house some years back and the garage & shed were full of clothes and props. As I had bought the property outright, I just dumped the lot.
2 months later the previous owner came back and asked for it, TOUGH luck mate I had to clear your rubbish so you owe me £xxx, needless to say he went on his way.

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38 peter genova June 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I would have kept the 45k right where it was; after 30 days or so if no one claimed it, it would be mine. Feeling guilty about things is childish and stupid; one mans loss in another mans gain, thats the way the world works; ask anyone in the stock market.

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39 J. Money June 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

That’s certainly an opinion :) Just wondering though – if it was your money you lost, you wouldn’t want anyone to return it to you?

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40 peter genova June 5, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Expecting some one to return 45k to you is naieve.
If someone returned any thing i lost, i’d be suprised and would think there is something wrong with him.

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41 J. Money June 6, 2011 at 12:59 am

Interesting… I always thought that was common courtesy.

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42 Laura June 6, 2011 at 2:51 am

J. Money, yes, it is common courtesy and good manners. I’m glad I don’t have peter genova’s nerve in my tooth :)

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43 peter genova June 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Common courtesy just cost you 45000.
You can keep your courtesy, i’ll keep the 45k.

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