How Far Would You Go For a Dollar?

by J. Money - Published June 13, 2016

Would you pick one up in the middle of a street?

How about in a pile of trash?

Would you pick one up off a bathroom toilet?

The other day I was bored at a coffee shop so I decided to find out :)

I went into the men’s room, whipped out my load (of bills), and then strategically placed a beautiful George Washington in perfect view for the next lucky gentleman.

dollar bill toilet prank

“How long would it take for someone to grab it?” I wondered.

“Would they think it was a prank?”

“Would they know it’s real money?”

“Would anyone track it back to me and make a scene in front of the entire cafe?”

I had a lot of questions, but unfortunately only one answer: 48 minutes.

That’s how long it took for it to disappear – give or take 20 minutes of looking away and trying not to draw too much attention to myself ;)

I wasn’t able to pinpoint the new owner of this free dollar bill, but I’d like to think it gave him an extra bounce in his step and plenty of commentary to share on his Facebook page.

In fact, we had no small shortage of it either as I was live-tweeting and facebooking it myself:

“Are you going to stand on the toilet in the other stall and watch until someone takes it?”

“You should have soaked a 10 in some water and stuck it to the back of the toilet to make people think hard about it.”

“Tell me the address – I’ll pick it up!”

“Silver dollars in the urinal would be better.”

“I wouldn’t touch it… no telling what the sick person who put it there was thinking! ;)”

But the fact of the matter was that it was FREE money sitting there for the taking! And while we usually only find change on the ground – and pennies at that – we all know that this $hit adds up.

Just last week I tallied up my spare change and had a little over $105.00 saved up. This beating my previous records of $101.62 (back in 2008), $84.76 (2011), $76.48 (2010), and then a far cry behind that time I cashed in $901.54 (2013) when I kinda sorta cheated. And let’s not forget the $22.67 I found simply by scooping up cast away money on the ground during our Challenge Everything mission either – including a $20 bill!

So is it worth taking a hot second to pick up FREE money littered around? You bet it is.  Is it worth getting a little dirty/germy in the process? Well, only you know the answer to that :)

Just know that it all adds up, and if anyone wants to prank me the next time you’re around, you can bet I’ll fall for it every single time… although I get quite paranoid in the process.

(I once found a ziploc bag stuffed with dollar bills in the middle of an empty parking lot, and could have sworn someone was gonna come after me for it! But I took the chance ‘cuz there was like $85 in it!)

Happy Monday Money!

******
PS: The next experiment: slipping a $5.00 bill in dog poop.

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Green Swan June 13, 2016 at 5:16 am

48 minutes? Any idea how many passed it up?

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2 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 7:07 am

I only counted 4 guys, but couldn’t keep my eye on it the entire time and also got distracted once when a friend stopped by to talk to me :)

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3 Joe June 13, 2016 at 10:04 am

My kid would swipe that up in a minute!
Were you standing around in the restroom for 48 minutes? Ewww…

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4 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 10:09 am

Oh hell no! Haha…. I stealthily watched the front door from the table I was blogging at :) I’m not that crazy…

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5 John June 13, 2016 at 6:06 am

That ziploc bag sounds like it may have been a drug deal in progress. For your personal safety, I’d stay far away from that next time!

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6 Slackerjo June 13, 2016 at 6:22 am

As a cleaner, I find money all the time.

At Christmas I found $10 on the ground and then a few days later when I was taking the second floor office garbage out of the big can to place the bag by the freight elevator and a nice crisp green picture of Queen Elizabeth caught my eye among the coffee cups and yogurt containers. A nice $20 bill!. I find change too and kept it in my office until enough accumulates to buy a treat. I spray disinfectant on stuff I find and all is well. No wait, I don’t, leave it all disgusting and I will take care of it!!!

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7 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 7:10 am

Haha… I started wiping down books I get at thrift stores now with baby wipes cuz my fingers always feel grimy after touching them :)

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8 Brian @DebtDiscipline June 13, 2016 at 6:22 am

48 minutes seems like a long time, I’m sure it was all about the location or maybe you shouldn’t hover next time. :)

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9 whiskey June 13, 2016 at 6:26 am

Only 6 mo’s in and we have right at $300. I think its the largest we’ve every gotten up to. No where near the 900 you had, wow!
I don’t have a problem pickin up money. Itll dry out, it can be washed off, it can air out and I can always go clean up. But the amount does depend on how far I will go to get it. The larger the amount, the more Ill probably do to get it.

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10 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 7:11 am

$300 – that’s awesome!!

My $900 mostly came from me picking up rolls of coins to sort through when I first started coin collecting :) Though a few hundred of it was legit change…

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11 Matt @ Distilled Dollar June 13, 2016 at 6:36 am

If its a penny, I leave it be. Any silver or paper will be immediately picked up by me.

It would have been funny if anyone thought the same thing when they saw your $1 bill. They asked themselves how long it would take and dipped back into the shadows to observe.

On a similar note, I always wondered, would Bill Gates stoop down to pick up a $100 bill if he found it on the street? I mean, while he was reaching to pick it up, he would have already made that $100 a few times over.

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12 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 7:13 am
13 PhysicianOnFIRE June 13, 2016 at 6:55 am

I doubt I’d pass it up. Pretty much any used bill has been in a bathroom before. Heck, 9 out of 10 bills have cocaine on them.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/14/cocaine.traces.money/

Cheers!
-PoF

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14 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 7:19 am

Hah! Truth!

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15 Roy Largo @ Band of Savers June 13, 2016 at 6:59 am

My wife and I started a coin finding competition just over 5 years ago. After 3 years I was up to about $100 and invested it in a young company and it lost half its value. But all things considered I’m still at around $70 and my wife in somewhere in the $40 range just from making sure to pick up the discarded change that we find on the ground. http://www.bandofsavers.com/2015/10/i-bet-i-can-find-more-change-than-you.html

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16 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 7:21 am

So fun – love that idea!

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17 Thias @It Pays Dividends June 13, 2016 at 7:02 am

It wouldn’t have taken me 48 minutes haha. And you would have known it was me because I would have been the one carrying a dollar bill in a paper towel (just to be safe – who knows what you did to it! )

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18 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 7:22 am

You’d have to touch it at some point! :)

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19 Lindsay @ The Notorious D.E.B.T. June 13, 2016 at 7:13 am

It depends on what type of place you left it at! A movie theater or Walmart bathroom is a very different thing than a bathroom at a fine dining restaurant! :)

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20 Apathy Ends June 13, 2016 at 7:25 am

People probably thought they were on a hidden camera show, and they were about to get pranked

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21 [email protected] June 13, 2016 at 9:57 am

Haha, I think I would have thought the same thing. That dollar bill is placed so nicely on top of the toilet. Most people accidentally drop money on the floor.

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22 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 10:14 am

I was thinking about that too… How purposely I put it… Thought about going back in and moving it afterwards but didn’t want to get caught!

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23 Mike @ Blogsofstuff June 13, 2016 at 7:59 am

HAHAH sorry to be gross, but, we used to do this at the Ocean Drive bar in Sea Isle, NJ. Drop in a $10 or $20 into a shared urinal. It was always gone by “last call”.

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24 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 10:16 am

That. Is. Awesome.

I wonder if anyone took over your tradition since you’ve stopped? Someone head out there next weekend! :)

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25 Coolkit June 13, 2016 at 8:00 am

Every single time – I will pick it up, unless it is covered in something vile! I keep a thin plastic bag (the one used to bag produce) with me and use that as gloves to pick it up. Currency, by far is the dirtiest thing on earth, even before it hits the ground. How clean do we think is the bills and coins in your wallet?

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26 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 10:17 am

Haha true, true…

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27 Mike B June 13, 2016 at 8:35 am

There’s no way a $10 or $20 would last that long.

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28 Lisa O June 13, 2016 at 8:51 am

I bet it didn’t take 48 minutes to spend it! I will pick up money out and about…as long as it is a nice area! If it were in the toilet no way but on the back of a clean tank…yeah it would have made me smile! I do know that the $5 that you are going to do…no I think I would pass on that one!

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29 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 10:19 am

It would have made me smile too :)

So feel free to leave one anytime you ever visit my house!

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30 Free to Pursue June 13, 2016 at 8:53 am

Noooo issues picking that up. No germaphobe here. Plus, there’s a good amount of fibres in money so unlike paper it cleans up nicely…and there’s a sink nearby. Besides, we know money is filthy already…probably because so many people run sick experiments with it. ;)

To boot, that $1 is $1.3 CDN to me right now. Woot woot!

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31 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar June 13, 2016 at 9:02 am

LOL You’re gross. But I’d probably still take it. After having kids, that dollar bill is probably clean. My daughter pooped on the carpet, screamed when I was holding her hands away from her dirty diaper, and then peed all over the carpet too. And that was just this morning. Awesome fun times. Maybe I’d give her that dollar as part of her 529!

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32 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 10:19 am

Hahahahhaa…. Sounds about right.

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33 Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes June 13, 2016 at 9:12 am

The world isn’t a clean place. There’s grime and bacteria everywhere. A bathroom stall wouldn’t stop me. It would have to be a lot nastier before I wouldn’t pick it up.

I worked for 15 years with some really nasty people…all for a few dollars. By comparison, this situation isn’t so bad!

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34 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 10:20 am

Hah!

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35 Ty @ Get Rich Quickish June 13, 2016 at 9:52 am

I would have snatched that up so fast! I’ve laid face down on a break room floor to pick up my dollar that I dropped and somehow glided perfectly to the most hard to reach spot under the candy machine.

Laying face down on a floor where thousands of people walk is nasty. Your dollar bill looked like Mr. Clean had left it there.

Next time you should leave it on a urinal. Or on the ground by a urinal in the splash zone – I bet that would last longer than 48 minutes!

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36 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 10:22 am

I think I’m gonna try it again actually and leave a note to this website and see if the person logs on and claims it :) Then we can ask them all the questions and dissect the psychology!

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37 FinanceSuperhero June 13, 2016 at 11:16 pm

Yes! Please do this. It could be your most viral post yet. :)

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38 Hannah June 13, 2016 at 9:53 am

My dad used to throw handfulls of coins into a lake, and let us keep whatever money we managed to scoop up. This would keep us occupied for hours and hours, to the point where my dad would often bribe us with even more spare change to get out of the lake.

Moral of the story? I totally would have grabbed the bill.

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39 J. Money June 13, 2016 at 10:23 am

One of the best games ever! My grandma used to do the same, only in a pool… Maybe I should get my kids started early by dropping some in the tub? :)

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40 CentSai June 13, 2016 at 10:24 am

This is pretty hysterical and very interesting. We agree! Pick money up off the ground because it really does add up. Thanks for sharing!

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41 Linda @ Brooklyn Bread June 13, 2016 at 10:33 am

Oh god… My germ-o-phobe husband would get hives just reading this. Forever unclean! #krollshow

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42 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:39 am

I think you need to find a way to trick your husband into looking at this, all the while filming his reaction and *then* blogging about it and further catapulting the awesomeness! You know you want to! DO IT!

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43 Fiscally Free June 13, 2016 at 11:26 am

This experiment is a little twisted. I like it.

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44 Noonan June 13, 2016 at 11:50 am

In the venue you selected, most people enter with the intent to make a deposit. But here you persuaded someone to make a withdrawal!

Great experiment!

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45 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:32 am

Bah ha ha….

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46 Donna Freedman June 13, 2016 at 11:53 am

Yesterday I found a penny on the floor of the women’s rest room at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Yep, I picked it up and washed it well and will add it to my “found coin” stash, which will get donated to the food bank at the end of the year.

While in New York last month I found a $20 bill in the middle of the High Line Park footpath. It, too, will go to the food bank.

And guys, ALL money is dirty. You have no idea where it’s been before it reaches your hands:
http://donnafreedman.com/2010/07/05/filthy-lucre/

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47 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:41 am

I love that you do this :)

If it wouldn’t cost more to ship it, I’d mail you the quarter I found in a back seat this weekend while test-driving cars… Unfortunately one of the highlights of the experience! Haha…

(But on a more serious note – if you ask me when we’re at FinCon I’ll donate some cash to your project!)

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48 Abigail @ipickuppennies June 13, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I’d totally pick up a dollar in the bathroom. It might be one of the BEST places to pick it up because you’re washing your hands right afterward. (You *are* washing your hands right?) As mom/Donna pointed out, most money is pretty dirty. So having soap right there is a good thing!

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49 Lisa O June 13, 2016 at 1:39 pm

That is a totally good point Abby!

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50 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:42 am

HAH! Indeed!

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51 Crystal June 13, 2016 at 2:38 pm

I pick up all money. Hell, I spent 10 minutes doing a lasso thing with my belt to get a $5 bill out of a drainage grate thing (got it too, lol). I asked my husband if he would have taken that $1 from where it was and he said, “Duh. I would have taken it if it was actually in the toilet. It can be washed!”. ;-P

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52 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:43 am

That’s marriage material right there :)

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53 Gwen June 13, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Considering I once competed in a race for $50, I would’ve taken the dollar bill. The race involved no shame and bouncing on a giant cartoon blow up horse down the basketball court and back. I’m proud to say I won the $50. (thank goodness no video proof exists of this contest.)

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54 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:44 am

Hahaha… congrats on being more random than me today!

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55 Financial Slacker June 13, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Most people reading this are too old to remember pay phones (hah!). But it reminds me of when my brothers and I were young and we would go through every single phone looking for leftover change. Finding a quarter was like the holy grail.

Nowadays, finding paper money of any denomination has that feeling. I found $20 bucks in the grocery store parking lot the other day.

Is found money even better than passive income?

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56 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:46 am

YES IT IS!!! Much more of a thrill finding money than *earning it* (who likes to earn it these days? ;))

And I’m totally old enough to remember those quarter searching ways… I used to do the ol’ “Mom-Pick-Me-Up” trick to a la 1-800-Collect so I never had to pay to use the phone, haha… The good days.

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57 Done by Forty June 13, 2016 at 5:09 pm

If I saw a dollar placed that perfectly on a toilet, my first thought would be: how deep into some guy’s buttcheeks has that dollar been?

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58 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:48 am

That would be your first thought?? Haha…

I want to know your first thought when you first saw this blog’s name? :)

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59 Rob June 13, 2016 at 5:16 pm

This was a while ago, but I had gone to the theatres to watch a movie (don’t ask me which movie lol)… Anyways, it was a matinee, so that meant that you will see garbage bags on the floor as the staff was cleaning up. In between the garbage bags I see something brown (no people it’s not what you think, GROSS lmfao)…. It was a Canadian (I do live in Canada) $100.00 bill…. I made it nonchalant towards the bags and took me 20 seconds to take that. People were looking at me why my hands were within garbage bags…. BUT THIS GUY (me) made $100.00 that day =) ….. what does this mean? It depends on the severity: if the severity is over a 7 out of 10 then no thanks…. but if its manageable, soap, water, hand sanitizer will work wonders

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60 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:50 am

Nice!! You don’t see $100 bills laying around all too often – especially at a movie theater! I would have done the exact same thing… and then sold it to a Canadian friend at half the price :)

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61 Marie-Therese June 13, 2016 at 5:26 pm

I’d have picked it up; half the dollars in my wallet have probably been in worse places. I wash my hands a lot for a reason! :-)

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62 Doug @ The-Military-Guide.com June 13, 2016 at 8:51 pm

“PS: The next experiment: slipping a $5.00 bill in dog poop.”

Let me know the address and I’ll be right Rover, I mean, over!

I’ve pulled far worse out of submarine sewage systems…

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63 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:53 am

I bet you have! Haha…

And from now on I’m going to replace that surfboard I always associate with you with sexy new sewage systems instead :) You’ll forever regret this comment of yours!

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64 Get FIRE'd asap June 13, 2016 at 9:43 pm

I’m not too proud to pick it up but I’d try to be discrete about it. There’s nothing that a little soap and water won’t wash off.

Now, where and when are you going to be hiding the 5-bucks in the dog poop?

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65 J. Money June 14, 2016 at 7:55 am

Where do you live? I’ll get the cameras ready!

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66 Paul June 14, 2016 at 9:55 am

physical money is pretty gross already if you stop and think about it.

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67 Mr Crazy Kicks June 14, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Picking up a buck in the bathroom, +$1. Knowing someone is checking up on what you did in the bathroom, priceless :)

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68 Keith "Shin" Schindler June 14, 2016 at 4:28 pm

I like the idea of making the dollar sort of “Yucky” to test how many folks would walk away from it. Me, I’d pick it up, wash it good in the sink, then dry it well, and then take the little fella home with me.

Little things add up; like change, as you mentioned. I’ve forgotten how many Crown Royal bags I have in the safes, loaded with change. I’m vaguely remembering almost $500 the last time I counted it. Selena and I have an awesome, one of a kind, ceramic Piggy bank that a friend made. Now when we drop change in it, we shout, “Feed the Pig!” I think we stole that from a commercial some time ago.

Thing is, little savings add up, as do small investment returns. That penny you picked up the other day, J. it upped your net worth!!

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69 J. Money June 20, 2016 at 7:13 am

Haha, you know it brother..

FEED THE PIG!!!

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70 Dividend Diplomats June 14, 2016 at 8:03 pm

On top of a toilet isn’t bad at all. I would have swooped that up in a second haha Now in the toilet, completely different story. I’ll pick up change or money as long as I’m not getting too dirty along the way. I can’t believe it last 48 minutes. Every penny counts, right? We have one of the coin machines that counts the money for you and we are sitting at about $150. Just waiting for a rainy night to bust that thing open and cash it in.

Bert

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71 J. Money June 20, 2016 at 7:15 am

I wish our bank still had them :( From what I hear more and more are getting rid of them because they cost so much to maintain and not worth the added benefit to their customers… Which sucks as I now have to roll them up myself! (Though I’m training my kids to do it which should speed up the process ;))

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72 Sarah @ Couple of Sense June 14, 2016 at 10:35 pm

Free money is free money; I have picked up anywhere from $5-$20 on the street. Money is dirty most of the time you touch regardless if you pick it up in the washroom, on a park bench or change at Starbucks. I say be open to all money in all forms.

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73 Millennial Moola June 15, 2016 at 12:12 am

The farthest I’ve ever seen someone go was on a Boy Scout backpacking trip. We had been on the trail about a week without seeing the comforts of civilization. One of the guys dared another to pick up a cow patty, take a bite, and swallow in exchange for a $1 ice cream cone when we returned to base camp. He did it, and swallowed. Most impressive thing I’ve ever seen

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74 J. Money June 20, 2016 at 7:16 am

BRAVO!! I hope he was automatically anointed an Eagle Scout upon his return as well :)

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75 Jacq June 15, 2016 at 10:11 pm

I read this post this morning, and saw a crinkled dollar on the table the one break room this afternoon, not one with a vending machine. At my job we have both salaried and hourly workers, temps, and interns. From the crinkle of the bill it looked like it had been stuffed in someone’s pocket, and all I could think is they could probably use it more than me. I told myself if it was there when I was leaving work it would be fair game, but ended up not walking out that way, so I’ll never know.
I feel like a work place is different from a public venue, store, parking lot etc.
My mom & I were in Walmart once and found $100. It was summer, and frequented by local camp counselors, campers, etc. We turned it into the store manager, in case anyone missed it. It was so long ago I forget what happened in the end.

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76 J. Money June 20, 2016 at 7:18 am

Awwww, love that you did that :) And what are the odds that bill showed up after you reading this?! Thanks for coming back to share!

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77 Josh June 16, 2016 at 9:13 am

I bet that next experiment’s gonna be the shit! :). Interesting to see what people value. A lot of my friends think that cutting $10-$20/mo in expenses isn’t worth the time. But those cuts can add up to a ton invested and compounded. I’d probably not pick up a dollar off a toilet. I’d wonder what happened to that dollar before it got there. That being said, I’ve picked up a beer that wasn’t mine and drank it so maybe I’ve got my priorities skewed :o

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78 J. Money June 20, 2016 at 7:18 am

Hahaha… I think beer changes ALL questions to life ;)

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79 ZJ Thorne June 16, 2016 at 8:31 pm

If no one is around and it is a small amount, I would take it. If there is a homeless person nearby, it goes in their cup. If someone is around, I ask if they dropped it. If it is a large amount, I don’t tell them how much before asking. If it is very large, I take it to the manager. Never came across money large enough that it felt necessary to return it to law enforcement.

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