Last July I started a “Spare Change Challenge”. Basically, for the last year, any money that I’ve found (outside of my house, car, and laundry), I’ve put in a jar. This experiment could also be aptly named “I am looking for ways to break up the monotony of slowly paying off the debt.”
Anyhoo, besides just setting aside any spare change, I also challenged myself to increase my chances of finding spare change. I started walking more, taking a short walk before work, on lunch if I could get away from my desk, and in the evenings with my boys. I also started paying more attention to my surroundings when I was walking. I quickly realized that I spend a LOT of time daydreaming, texting, looking at social media updates, and generally NOT paying attention to my surroundings when I’m walking about. It has been really refreshing to walk around and observe my surroundings. AND it has paid off….
In the past year, I’ve found $21.63 worth of dropped money including a $5 in a storm drain inlet, another $5 in a wad along a sidewalk, and a soggy $1 bill at the playground. My little experiment added more to my wallet than the interest on my emergency fund with the added benefit of getting me walking regularly. Aside from the cash I also found some cool and expensive sunglasses, a couple small car toys, a fitbit/ bracelet (the actual fitbit was broken but I kept the bracelet so I can have a spare), and a gas gift card with $2.96 left on it.
Here are a few tips I can give after my year of finding spare change:
· Walk more!!
· Increase path of travel such as parking farther away from building entries and creating walking loops instead of walking back and forth along the same route.
· Walk along the edge of the sidewalk and pay attention to the edge of the road at the curb line especially at paid parking spots
· Walk where people partied the night before… I feel pretty confident in saying that the $5s I found were dropped after an evening of excess as they were found around known nightlife spots.
· Also, pay attention in places where people frequently have cash out like shops, festivals, parking meters, etc.
· Keep your eyes open and mind on the surroundings, I was surprised at how easily I space out when I’m walking about and had to make a concerted effort to stay alert to my surroundings.