10 Places To Look When Scrounging For Change

I have a pretty funny story about scrounging for change.

Two years ago, right before Christmas, I gathered up all of the lose change in our house and headed to a local grocery store.  My goal was to use the store’s Conistar machine and exchange my coins for an Amazon gift certificate.  I’m not sure exactly how much change I had when I arrived at the store, but I do know that it filled up a large  Ziploc bag.

I walked towards the entrance of the store, and I noticed that there was a rather sizable group of people – maybe fifteen or twenty – gathered to one side.  As I made my way onto the sidewalk, maybe ten feet from the automatic doors, the crowd parted, and a woman wearing a large Santa Klaus hat, ringing a bell, began to shout –

“Thank you Jesus!  Thank you Jesus!  Thank you Jesus!”

Everyone in the crowd began to look at me – and my big bag of change.  At first I was a little confused, forgetting for a moment that I was carrying seven pounds of coins.  Then it hit me.  The woman who was shouting was collecting donations – and she thought that I was bringing the change to her!

Needless to say, I never made it to the Coinstar machine.  Instead, I pored the entire contents of the bag into the donation receptacle, awkwardly accepted her repeated thank yous, hastily made my way into the store, walked around for few minutes with nothing to do, and then quietly left via a side-door…

10 Places To Look When Scrounging For Change

Under The Cushions

I always check for lose change that might be hiding under the cushions of our couch and recliners.  Don’t forget feel between the back of the couch and that little space where the cushions rest.  Sometimes I swear that the Denver Mint is storing reserves in our sofa.

In The Drawer In The Kitchen

Come on now.  You know what I mean when I say The Drawer.  We all have (at least) one drawer where we keep the phone book, pens, fingernail clippers, coupons, cards, letters, envelopes, chap-stick, scissors, glue – and the change that we take from our pockets each night.  No matter how hard we try to keep The Drawer neat and organized, it always ends up looking the same.  Thankfully, amidst all of the clutter in The Drawer, there are usually three or four dollars worth in change.

In The Ashtray In The Car

You know the drill.  You drive through to pick up something for supper, you break a $20, and you put thirty-seven cents in your ashtray.  My car actually has two places specifically designed for change, one to the left of the steering wheel and one to the right.  My car is just a rolling piggy-bank.

On The Floor Of The Car

My clumsy brethren will understand this one.  From time to time, the change doesn’t make it to the ashtray.  Instead, it falls to the floor of the car.  I like to check under floor-mats and between seats.

In That Old Purse

If you still have your old purse, go check it’s pockets.  More often than not, you will find some change.  How do I know this?  Let’s just say I’m married to a beautiful woman who has a thing for new purses.

In That Old Wallet

Did you finally grow up and replace that rad Transformers Velcro wallet?  Good job.  Before you throw it away, check it for change.  It will be located in the zippered-pouch.

In Your Golf Bag

I like to keep a few dollars worth of quarters in my golf bag.  Somehow, over the summer, that few dollars can become several dollars, if I’m not careful.  It’s easy, when on the course, to buy a snack for nine bucks and shove the change from a ten into one of the pockets of my golf bag.  I’ve even found change inside the part of the bag designed to hold my clubs.

In Last Months Envelopes

From time to time, the envelopes I use for managing my cash get worn out and they have to be replaced.  It’s important, before I discard the old envelopes, that I check for any change that might have been left behind from a previous month.

In The Envelope From The Bank

Do you know that little envelope you get from your bank?  The one that they give you after you make your deposit?  Before you throw it away, check to see if a quarter or two got stuck in the bottom.

On The Ground Near Where You Park

We have a one car garage.  I park my car in the yard, next to our house.  Once in a while, when getting in my car, I’ll look down and see that I have dropped a few coins on the ground.  I would not obsess over every square inch of your yard, but when sweeping our the garage or mowing the lawn, keep your eyes open.

After you have collected your change, put it into your piggy-bank, give it to your kids as allowance, roll it up and deposit it in your checking account, or take it to a Coinstar machine and get a gift certificate.  Or, do what I did.  Wait until Christmas, and then make a forced donation under the threat of public humiliation and societal scorn!

As a side note – The above post was written with tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek.  It felt great to make the donation that I made, and I would not trade the experience, or the story that came with it, for anything in the world.  As for the rest of the post, I feel that all of us are a little worried about the state of our economy, and I needed to write something that was none-to0-serious.  Rock on.

Additional Places To Look According To Readers

On The Top Of Vending Machines (submitted by ben)

As a shortish dude, this would never have occurred to me.  Yet another advantage for you tall people!

In Your Toiletry Bag (suggested by Brianne)

I can’t believe I forgot this one.  I am always finding change in my luggage and my gym bag.

Inside The Pockets Of Your Jacket (suggested by Grace)

It never fails that when I take my suits to the cleaners, I inevitably find a buck or two in the pockets of my suit coats.

In An Old Piggy Bank (suggested by The Passive Dad)

Jokingly, The Passive Dad mentioned looking in your kids’ piggy banks.  Honestly, this isn’t a bad idea, especially if you kids are like mine and they each have two or three piggy banks in there rooms.  At the least, it might be a good idea to consolidate all of their change into one place.

A Contest Suggestion From A reader

Who Can Collect The Most Change? (suggested by Grant Baldwin)

Grant suggested that we see who could find the most change. I think that this is a cool idea.  I’ll look through the 10+ places mentioned and see how much change I can find.  If you would like to participate, get to scrounging!  See how much you can find and then leave a comment letting us know your total.

29 thoughts on “10 Places To Look When Scrounging For Change

  1. I look in my kids piggy banks 🙂 No, seriously I’ve found change in our cushions in our couch and my wife’s old purses. She always has some quarters, dimes and even dollar bills stuffed in pockets.

  2. In the summer, I’d go through the pockets of my winter clothing and inevitably come up with several dollars and reverse that in the winter. I don’t stick as much money in my pockets now as I did when I was a lot younger so more often now I’ll find a tissue rather than a dollar.

  3. Being tall, I usually have luck on top of vending machines, which is usually where I need change the most and don’t usually don’t have enough.

    Also, if you are really strapped, and live in a building with coin operated washer/dryers there are usually a couple hiding underneath…

  4. I found nearly $5 in quarters in a toiletry bag because I’d last used it when we went camping and needed quarters for the showers. I suppose I should have left it there, but who knows when we’ll go to one of those types of campsites again.

  5. We all know that seemingly useless change can add up in a hurry! Maybe we should have a contest to see who can round up the most change from those 10 places?


  6. Love the impromptu donation story!

    When my mother died in 2000, there were envelopes all over the house marked with things like “Grace’s grad. gift,” and “granddaughter 12th b’day.” Hmm–I graduated high school in 1967 and college in 1973. Depending on which granddaughter, that last one was 1986 or 1993. Altogether, there was nearly $3000 tucked around the home.

    I think you left out jacket pockets–as a parent, I’ve made a bundle just doing my kids’ laundry–the rule is “if you left it, the laundress gets to keep it!”

  7. I find the most change in the coinstar machine, in the rejection area – the coinstar machine makes so much noise, people don’t hear the money clunk down into the pocket below and forget to check when they leave. I am usually able to get between 20-75¢

  8. Just added up my change jar this past Sunday – $71.51. Then I poured it all back in because I don’t have coin rolls and refuse to pay CoinStar to sort it. :o)

  9. When I was a little kid, I used to love going to stores that had the candy racks right in front of the counter because I’d get down on my hands and knees and look for change that had fallen down under them. I almost always found money!

  10. My granny works at McDonalds and she picks up the change people drop and are too lazy to pick up. In a little over three months, she had over $100. She puts the change in piggy banks for my son’s college fund.

    They recently aired a story on the local news of a family who looks in parking lots for stray coins and wound up with over $1.000 in a year.

    I find the most in the washing machine. We are really bad about emptying our pockets completely before tossing pants in. Even when I think I’ve gotten it all I find more.

  11. My daughter is one of the best ever at spotting coins. She does very well in the grocery store at the checkout aisles – people drop change as they get out their wallets. She also goes to a local toy store and invariably finds change on the ground by the register – it helps that this is a toy store that’s near a college campus and is open at night, so often is patronized by tipsy students.

    And speaking of benefiting from the carelessness of the tipsy, when my brother and I traveled in Ireland about 20 years ago, we found TONS of money around the bars. They have these really heavy coins called “punts” worth over $1 that apparently jump out of people’s pockets. There were times I paid for my entire night’s entertainment from scrounging on the floor.

    Of course, recently I have felt somewhat guilty about picking up all the coins I find (my daughter inherited her ability from me, I think). I thought about the biblical admonition to leave some of the harvest in the field to feed the poor. But I have decided instead that I have been given this gift to find money on the ground because the Lord considers me a wise steward – and I try to live up to that by giving away more than I find by many many factors.

  12. At our house, I used to find at least a couple of dollar a week in my husband and son’s pants pockets. If it makes it into the laundry, it is MINE.

    I’ve also found quite a bit of change in the break room at work. People are always leaving their change in the pop/snack machines. I roll it and put it into the annual fund for our Christmas family donation. Last year, that change bought almost a quarter of the grocery card donation (about $25 out of $100).

  13. When I was in college my friend and i always checked the couch and chair cushions in the student union…there was a commuters lounge downstairs that was pretty empty at night so we would check it out when noone else was around. And you could always find coins all over the place on the ground! We would start from our house 2 blocks away (near sorority and frat houses) and scan for $ all the way to the cafeteria. Usually you could find enough to eat on from just one trip! Also like mentioned before, around DT lanes at fast food restaurants…actually there is money almost anywhere if we just open our eyes!
    When I was young there was an elderly gentleman who walked around town picking up pennies…I used to throw mine down for him to find. He is long gone now — maybe I should pick up where he left off! I am going to see exactly how much I can find by actively looking over the next month!

  14. On a recent visit to my parent’s, I cleaned my father’s car for him. He said I could “keep the change.” I cleared just under $100 in loose car change (this is in Canada where there are $1 and $2 coins).

  15. Long story but right on point.

    Many decades ago during my misspent youth, a couple of friends and I celebrated our college graduation by driving to the western U.S. We were bound and determined to keep driving and camping until we either ran out of money or lost patience with each other.

    One day in New Mexico my friend Barry was driving and without checking with me stopped to pick up a hitchhiker. After a few hours we told him we were going to stop for lunch. We stopped in a small town and he then said he had no money for lunch but if we waited a couple of minutes he could probably get some and join us. Instead of heading towards a bank he started walking towards the town laundromat. Stunned, I whispered to my friend “Holy crap. I think he’s going to rob the laundromat.”

    We watched him as he walked into the laundromat and then up and down the rows of washing machines. Opening the lid of each empty machine he unscrewed the top of the agitator, lifted it up a little, reached down and came up with a handful of coins that had fallen out of people’s clothing over the years. He then screwed the agitators back in. The whole time the laundromat attendant basically ignored him.

    He walked up to my friends and I with about $7 in loose change. All he said was “alright lets eat”

    Turns out that he had been living on the road for a couple of years. When he needed real money he would pick fruit but if he just needed a couple of bucks he headed to the local laundromat. If the machines were the right type and the manager didn’t throw him out as a nuisance he said he could usually pocket from 2 to 12 dollars each time.

  16. Look under the drive thru window at any fast food restaurant … just dodge the oncoming cars. There is always a ton of coinage there.

  17. On my daily bicycling routes I often find lots of change just laying on the side of the road. Where there is one coin usually many are near it.

  18. You guys are so wimpy I have saved over 3,000 dollars in one of those big water jugs

  19. my freind has a fold up magnet and we just unfold it and wave it around under the vending machines……… usually end up with $50 in one turn.

  20. try going to junkyards and looking in old cars. you will come away with quite a bit. also, if u happen to own a metal detector, go to the park right after a celebration or to the ballfields all summer long. not only under the bleachers, but by the concession stands. or at the rodeo grounds or soccer fields. if you go to high school sporting events such as football or track, its everywhere. happy hunting!

  21. here’s a weird idea on a lazy day. go to garage sales/estate sales and look through purses, wallets, attache/laptop bags, backpacks, luggage that’s for sale. also books. if its too hot out, or not garage sale season or during the week, go to thrift stores and do the same thing. if people look at you funny, just say you wanna make sure there are no holes or rips in the lining. books? you wanna make sure there are no ripped pages etc. i started a jar for change i came home every nite with from my own money (jar a lot emptier lol. then i have another jar that i keep all the change i find everywhere. gonna use it to take a vacation (and find more money lol! im goin to the beach! you have any idea how much money and jewelry is lost at the beach on any given day? wow!

  22. Hey guys this looks like a fun idea and all, but I was just wondering why you`re collecting coins instead of doing work a d getting more money that you can be proud of to have gotten, cause if you take money from the house then it`s not really YOUR money as much as it is your family or household`s money.

Comments are closed.