17 04 2010

i felt sort of bad leaving them there… but there is something even too gross for me about picking up pennies on the mall bathroom floor. also, how does one skirt the stigma? place was packed. am i emotionally resilient enough to overhear mothers tell their young daughters how dirty i am?

add it up.

16 02 2010

i’ve found them in hotel bar couch cushions, underneath potato chip racks, chipped them out of the ice with a ball-point pen, and rescued them from laundromat lint trays.  i’ve scanned sidewalks and check-out lanes from portland to jonesport (and all stops in between- and a few below), and dodged sideways glances from people who either thought i was a complete weirdo, or were jealous they didn’t get to it first.  all in all there were:

885 pennies

56 nickels

177 dimes

51 quarters

8 pieces of paper money (2 twenties, 1 five, & 5 ones)

1 golden dollar

*i also found 9 canadian pennies, 2 chuck e. cheese tokens, 1 boston subway token, and a few other assorted pieces of undefinable foreign currency.

for a grand total of $93.10. that’s roughly $.25 a day. not bad.

which means that cassie– with your guess of $89.50 (the closest without going over), you are the winner! woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot! good times.

p.s. extra props to the boyfriend who counted and cataloged every last penny of it on his day off.

best found money story- discuss.

8 02 2010

this morning,  a reader (thanks cindy- you’re awesome!) left me a comment about how she found an amazing wad of dropped cash ($80+) at a garage sale. lucky! and then i rebounded with a story about how my friend found a $50 at arby’s (random!). and then in my head,  i started writing a book of short stories about people finding money under different circumstances (i tend to get carried away like this a lot).  in short, i want to hear your stories. big or small pennies or hundreds… it’s reader show and tell day!

here’s  a little story from me to get it started:

after a full year of change collecting, i am starting to notice some odd patterns. i’m not particularly superstitious, or even inclined to believe in fate, but sometimes i feel like the universe is rewarding or punishing me via the nickels and dimes i find on the street.

a moment of rare self awareness… a shiny quarter might appear in an unexpected place (on top of the yellow line dividing the right half of congress street from the left at the exact place where i’m crossing the street).

a cranky grumpy selfish day… a fistful of pennies covered in green bugs. or more likely,  no pennies at all.

about 3 years ago, i was getting ready to get married to someone that i knew i shouldn’t be marrying. and i was FREAKING OUT. i decided that the remedy for this was to get a tattoo (as it turns out, not the remedy- but that’s a whole other story). i wanted to assert my independence. give myself a permanent reminder of my autonomy- my past existence as single allie, and the life that i was feeling very much not ready to give up. i didn’t have the money, but it felt like necessity at the time, so out came the credit card. except that tattoo parlors aren’t like restaurants. there isn’t a tip section that pops out at the bottom of the receipt where you can just fill in the amount.  you’re supposed to tip in cash, and i didn’t have any. none. my plan was to overdraw my checking account and deal with the consequences later, but on the way to my appointment, there it was. a crumpled twenty just hanging out in the middle of a vacant lot that i happened to be cutting through.

i think at the time i thought the universe was telling me “getting a tattoo is a good idea!”, although maybe “if you’re afraid to lose your autonomy, maybe you’re not ready to let it go yet!” would have been a better translation. but again, that story needs a blog of its own.


see a penny.

2 02 2010

i just wanted to thank everyone for the phenomenal response i’ve gotten from this month’s giveaway (especially you money saving maine-iac!). anyway, i thought it might be nice to do a follow up post that’s less about my story and more about what i learned during my year of change hunting. like a “how to” for aspiring hoarders.

top 5 places to find dropped cash:

1. parking meters. people in a hurry are always dropping change in the hunt for quarters. portland is especially great for this. plus, pennies blend into the bricks on the sidewalk.

2. in front of cash registers. basically, anywhere that people take money out, they’re likely to drop it.

3. couch cushions. i’ve had the best luck at bars & restaurants that have upholstered furniture and lots of traffic. once i found $3 in quarters in a wingback chair at a hotel bar. score!

4. in & around vending machines. the cardinal thing to remember here is that people are fundamentally lazy, and if it’s less than a quarter and requires bending at the waist to pick up, they’re leaving it behind. it’s your job to capitalize on this.

5. parking lots. when people are digging into their pockets to get their car keys, their loose bills and change are trying to escape. i found $4 in the CVS parking lot, and $1 at the st. john st. strip mall. it can happen to you.

so now you know where to get it, a few small things to keep in mind:

1. get yourself a sweet container that you can enjoy watching fill up. you don’t want your street change to mingle with your common pocket change (scandalous!). plus, it’s the best way to gauge your progress.

2. carry hand sanitizer. the hazard of picking up things off the ground is that they’re generally pretty unsanitary. i’m not particularly squeamish, but there was that time i picked up a handful of change that turned out to be covered in tiny green bugs. plus there’s always the surprise “sticky penny”. proceed with caution.

3. don’t be self conscious! nobody is paying attention. and even if they are, they’re probably just jealous that you saw that nickel first.

4. watch where you’re going! a lot of looking at the ground, means a lot of not looking in front of you. the world is filled with telephone poles and pedestrians. look out!

5. change walking is great exercise. when it’s not -10 wind chill, i spend most of my lunch breaks spiraling around the city streets on the change hunt.  the more time you spend out on the street, the more change you’re likely to pick up. plus, i hear that exercise is good for you or something.

life on the ground.

2 02 2010

as of february 11th, i will have been collecting street change for 1 full year. not pocket change (i have a separate jar for that)- sidewalk change, floor change, gutter change, snowbank change… abandoned money, dropped accidentally or cast aside by people who didn’t think it was worth the effort to bend over and pick it up.

when i first started this little project, i wasn’t really sure how long it would entertain me. and at first i felt extremely awkward about people seeing me picking up dirty pennies on the street (i tried to be so slick about it at first). and then i found $20 in front of the porno store on congress street, and all my awkwardness faded away (now i’m completely shameless about it). what i learned this year is that A) nobody is really paying attention anyway, and B) there is REAL MONEY on the ground. i found not one but TWO twenties this year. 5 ones. and 1 five. and a golden dollar coin wedged in the couch cushions at bubble maineia. that’s $51 before i ever had to pick up my first dirty penny. all left behind by their previous owners and trod on by people in too much of a hurry to look down.

did i tell you about that time i found a check for $57,000 made out to a local microbrewery? sopping on the ground in a rainstorm, i walked it back to their office and was gratefully gifted with a free case of beer (really good beer). so now we’re up to $51 and a free case of assorted microbrews.

seriously yo, change hunting is awesome.

to celebrate my first year of collecting, i am dedicating my february giveaway to the practice. everyone now knows that i have at least $51 dollars in my found money jar (pictured above). leave a comment below guessing the total amount, and win a sweet prize. here are the rules:

1. one comment per person.

2. price is right rules- the winner will be the closest without going over.

3. the game begins right now, and ends on february 15th.  the winner will be notified via email on or around the 16th, and a celebratory post in their honor will let the losers know that they’re the losers (sorry guys!).

oh, and the prize is this totally hilarious bank that looks like a giant save key (below), pre- stuffed with a crispy $20 bill. that’s right, sweet bank & twenty bucks. it could be you!  let the guessing begin!

what the f? it’s 2010.

1 01 2010

what was supposed to be a champagne soaked evening on my couch, somehow turned into snowy half-drunken romp around portland. sadly, the boyfriend had a tummy ache, and rather than watch terrible friday night tv and then hit the sack at 10 (as was the boyfriend’s plan)- a friend of mine had invited me to to join her in a little something called a “hash“. fortunately for me, i caught up with them just at the tail end of things- and didn’t have to do any running. i just got to partake in the drinking and the naming ceremony of a runner who had just completed her 5th hash- a raucous and embarrassing ritual that involved asking the one to be named a lot of really pointed personal questions, and then yelling out possible names based on what they have disclosed.  clitberry cuntcake i congratulate you! (although frankly, cabin beaver was still my favorite). i will most definitely be attempting to join their next event (that is, if they’ll have me).

next on to bubbas to meet some friends for dancing and some more whiskey. i used to go there a lot in my younger days, but the crowd seems to have changed a bit. lots and lots of creepy old people trying to recapture their youth on the dance floor in the most obscene way possible. hell hath no fury like a couple of drunk 40somethings bumping and grinding to bon jovi. apparently desperation smells like axe body spray and polyester halter tops. but really, save for the smarmy guy who danced through our circle just to cut a big fart, and the fat guy who kept sticking his dirty dancing ass where it didn’t belong, it was a really good time. we rang in the new year rocking out to journey (as well we should have). i forget sometimes how much i love dancing. oh, and did i mention that i found $20 on the ground in front of the bar? drunk people are the best.

anyway, happy new year to all! may 2010 kick more ass than ever!

let it snow.

7 12 2009

so, after an unseasonably warm fall that i hoped would never end, winter has finally barged in- arms flailing, and settled in for a while (about 5 months usually). we got snow! which seemed pretty for a minute until i realized that i still don’t have a door mat, and that snow season is gravel and salt season. and that it’s cold. and slippery. and that i still don’t have appropriate winter boots.

but enough of the bad parts, i also chiseled my first ground penny out of the ice and was reminded that snow season is also prime street change season! before it started, i really thought that the summertime would pave the streets with gold. tourists with bulging fanny packs seeding the streets with their loose change…  but i was totally wrong. this summer was pretty lame for found money. i think maybe it’s the upswing in transient population- plus an increase in low-to-the-ground tourist children who never pass up a free penny. it was seriously slim pickins. slim!

but in winter, though you have to work a bit harder at it (yes, i’ve chipped a dime out of an ice block with a ball-point pen), change seems by far easier to come by.  i think because of the snow. people don’t always hear it hit the ground, or they just don’t want to be bothered to pick it up (picking up pennies with mittens on is a serious challenge!). plus, as soon as there’s a melt, the snow reveals all the change it’s been concealing for weeks! this is prime time to find quarters in front of newspaper boxes, or pools of pennies around meters. good times!

february 11th is my one year change anniversary, so i need to get collecting if i want to make an impressive showing. i stopped counting months and months ago- i wonder how much it will be? prepare yourselves for the grand reveal.

p.s. i found this funny article that calculates the value of ground money. cute, but weirdly accusing about whether or not it’s morally correct to pick up the penny (CRAZY TALK!).

people are lazy.

29 10 2009

photo(3)so i was walking to the post office today past my very favorite bank of meters *location top secret* for street change finding, and BAM- a quarter. but not just a quarter. two dimes and 2 pennies dropped right nearby. that’s $.47! are people so lazy, or  fat, or busy, or rich that they won’t bend down to pick up a quarter? do we as a society really value change so very little? is the act of bending over really that labor intensive?  i’m torn between being really disgusted about how (especially in this economy), people can be so reckless with their money , and being super psyched about finding $.47. the change jar is growing, and i still have 3.5 months to go *feel the excitement*.

the great wash out.

22 10 2009

DSCN2159oh. so that’s why they call it whole paycheck. i have a bad habit of letting my best laid plans disintegrate the moment i get tired or lazy (or sad, or angry, or grumpy…). planned for tonight- soy sausage jambalaya. after a long day at work chased with a pilates reformer session– i decide that i don’t feel like cooking and that a trip to the whole foods for dinner is the right thing to do. maybe right by my diet standards, but not so much for my wallet.

earlier this week, i sold a bosu balance trainer (that i had recieved as a gift and never taken out of the box because i will never exercise at home no matter how much i want to or think it’s a good idea) for $40 on craigslist. sweet. $40 up on my budgetary deficit for this month. except that i owed $20 to the street change jar from a prior time that i was busted and needed a loan. down to $20 which rested quietly in my purse all week…

and on to the fucking whole foods:

1 cup of corn chowder- $2.99
1 small green salad- $4.82
1 whole wheat roll- $.69
1 package paul newman peanut butter cups- $1.49

and then i get bored waiting for the boyfriend to pick a gelato… (and some sort of werewolf beer from lithuania) …. and i decide to pick up a few things that i always want but can’t get at the regular supermarket:

2 whole foods brand frozen tofu pad thais (best frozen meal i’ve ever had) @ $2.99/ea.

2 amy’s summer corn soups @ $2.34/ea. (it’s my very favorite flavor, and nobody carries it- and the coupons i scored for writing to amy’s and complaining about how they never have coupons are looong gooone).

total after tax: $21.32 (total profit remaining from craigslist sale- $0)

boo-urns! that is almost as much as i spent on groceries for the whole week! i did pocket a copy of “the whole deal“, which has a lot of great whole foods coupons that can be doubled up with other manufacturers coupons for reasonable deals (baton rouge mommy always has the most comprehensive whole foods round up). still, i’m really disappointed in myself. will i ever be good at this!?


11 10 2009

pennyjarin february of this year, i read this article on cnn.com about a family who collected street change for fun. wholesome! i’ve been struggling with my finances for a long time, and had some sort of crazy idea that starting to collect change on my own might make me more conscious of my own money. basically, if i’m going to throw myself into a mud puddle to get a nickel, maybe i would stop giving my own hard earned nickels away a little less easily.

for a while, i kept a really regular journal  about everything i found (i sometimes go under the name foxyboxing), and how much money i had amassed so far. at last check, about $45. but although i haven’t stopped change stalking, i did stop counting back in april. 

i try to take a couple hour long strolls around the city every week on my lunchbreak to look for dropped coins on sidewalks and around parking meters. downtown portland is covered with blocks and blocks of meters- so there’s much opportunity for penny dropping. i’ve also found a lot of change in sofas and chairs around town, in front of check out counters, left in vending machines, and under payphones (apparently people still do use them).

obviously, paper money is the most exciting find (although there was one time where i found a check for $58,000 on the ground that resulted in me getting a case of free local microbrew when i returned it to its owner), high value coins like quarters (or that GOLDEN DOLLAR that i pulled out of a couch recently) are usually as exotic as it gets. i maybe find a quarter once a month. today however, was a TWO QUARTER DAY. one on the floor of the laundry room in my condo basement, and another in the parking lot of kathy & dave’s where i enjoyed my very delicious breakfast.

i know, kind of ridiculous, but i swear it’s easier to be a happy person when there are little things to enjoy on sidewalks all over town.