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Are you too embarrassed to pick up money like pennies off the floor?

I’m not talking about $1 coins in Canada, or banknotes, but after reading Girl Meets Debt’s post on growing a thicker skin to pick up pennies off the floor, this is news to me that it could be embarrassing to pick money off the floor.

I guess I never thought about it, or bothered to look around to see if people were snickering at me.

All I can think is: “TAX FREE MONEY!!”

Or maybe I’m just bloody clueless.



The only time I DON’T pick up pennies is when I am about to exit the streetcar or subway, or roll off the escalator, and the penny is RIGHT IN FRONT of me, but there’s a horde of people behind me.

Then I just think it’s rude and dangerous to do it.

…..but I do get this pang of ‘lost opportunity’ guilt welling up in my chest.

I really just want to wait, dash back and pick up that penny, but sometimes I have to let it go and get on with my day.

(I know, it’s sick.)

Where I REALLY draw the line is in a disgusting place like in a huge rain puddle and I’d get dirty swishing around for a penny.


I mean, maybe people think that others who pick up pennies or equally small change off the ground are ‘poor’ or cheap.

(For the record, I’ll take any label you want to put on me, as long as you leave money on the ground for me to pick up. I even found a $20 bill last month!)

I don’t think anyone can call me poor (unless you compare me to millionaires and billionaires), so that particular label doesn’t stick very well.

Come to think of it, even hobos (the homeless) on the street refuse pennies.

It just never occurred to me that picking MONEY off the ground could be shameful.

Maybe I need to have a little more shame put in me. ( Or not. 🙂 )


Most people would calculate that as $0.01 every second being about $36 an hour. Not too shabby!

I make about $100 – $120/hour on average when I have contracts…but could I really make more money?

I mean, in between projects I am benched, so I have nothing better to do with my time.


I blog (as evidenced by my daily blogging of late), I eat, I cook, I sleep.. that’s about it.

If I don’t have time to smell the roses and pick up pennies, and if I always have to put my nose to the grindstone, I might as well go get a job and a cubicle at some company.

I don’t really see it as lost time, bending down for 3 seconds to pick up a penny.

If someone told me: “You can choose to have this contract for $100K, or pick up that penny“, I am obviously going to go for the contract.

(And then secretly walk back to pick up that money if it’s still there.)

But really those choices never exist. In fact, I’m probably still going to be picking up pennies WHILE earning $100 an hour.

The way I see it, I will be $0.01 richer than I was before I bent down to pick up that penny.

…and as I am probably riding on the subway or waiting for my turn in the checkout, I have nothing better to do than to get rich.


It also reminds me of the time I was in a grocery store when a woman was arguing over a penny.

In Quebec, you can basically get the item for free because it scanned incorrectly (this Price Scanning Policy is pretty much enforced in almost every store, but has certain rules around it).

Anyway, this old woman was arguing over a penny with the young cashier, and when the girl said:

OH WAIT this is just over a PENNY? Here, take it.

The old woman’s eyes widened and she said words that I will never forget:

“Only a penny?


Are you SO rich that you can afford to leave money that you’re entitled to?”

She’s right, and props to her for sarcasm as well, seeing as that girl was earning minimum wage and obviously was not in any position to refuse money.

I guess I’m that old woman, just in a younger body for now.

Every penny counts, because as they say, “a penny is the start to a million”.


As Ann reminded me, you can also just say: “LUCKY PENNY!” and no one feels embarrassed for you.

Plus, when I pick up money in front of clients or a boss, it might even work to my advantage that they think I’m in need of the money. They end up giving me more money, and extending my hours. 😉

If you pick up coins, do you ever feel embarrassed about doing so? 


  • django

    not embarrassed at all. I love picking up coins, even pennies. they’re money after all.

  • ThreeGunFish

    i like picking up pennies. I find then almost everyday when walking my dog around the neighborhood.

  • Tania

    That’s embarrassing? I had no idea. I’ve had my skirt straight blow up while crossing the street in the downtown business district area during the lunch. I’ve walked around all afternoon with my maxi skirt tucked into my underwear in the back. Fallen down in a crowded bar on a Friday night. Blurted out unrelated TMI for no apparent reason other than my feeling nervous.

    Find a penny, pick it up is just good luck as far as I’m concerned.

  • Cassie

    I used to be embarrassed, but that has flown right out the door. I’ve gotten the occasional egging for it, but at the same time I’m the person who finds large quantities of money on the ground along with the little quantities. Their loss 😉

  • ani

    Oh how things change in different countries and cultures. In western cultures found money is “it’s the lucky penny”, but in Indian culture its bad luck to profit from someones bad fortune, to pick up and keep someone’s lost money. We consider money as blessing from the Goddess of wealth so money is not left on the road to touch dirty feet. The best thing to do here is to pick it up and give it to a beggar or a place of worship.

  • tomatoketchup

    As a kid, my cousins and I would always check the coin return thingies in public pay phones everywhere we went. Occasionally we would find coins that people left behind. Though I don’t do that anymore, the only time I don’t pick up change is at the drive thru when I accidentally drop some pennies out the car door while getting my burger. If I drop a quarter, I’m opening my door and getting my coin!

  • My FI Journey

    I pick up change of all denominations. I have an ongoing game to see how much money I can find on the floor of the gym each week. It amazes me that so many people are that careless with their money, and that so many other people don’t even bother to pick up quarters let alone pennies.

  • debtperception

    Never! And I have never been in the company of someone who thought less of me for doing it. I guess I don’t know too many rich people!

  • Ann

    Nope, not embarrassed at all! I grew up with the notion that it is a good omen to find money on the streets, for me it simply means that things will go well, so even if I’m in a company of friends I’ll just pick it up and tell them that it is for good luck and nobody even blinks at that, ever.

  • sense

    no pennies here in NZ, no nickels either! it’s 10c or above, so yes, I usually stop and pick them up. There are heaps laying around and I always find money! Sometimes I don’t, though, like in front of clients or my boss…then it’s just weird.

    also, outsource that shiz:

    Now that’s what I call passive income after an initial investment!

    • Mochi & Macarons

      We’re moving the way of NZ 🙂 No pennies here any more. Only nickels and above.

      My saying that I use when picking up money in front of a boss or clients, is that it’s lucky. *shrug* They can think what they want.

      It’s even better actually, they think I’m so in need of money, that they give me more.

  • Joe

    It’s not an embarrassment issue for me. It’s the fact that a penny is so incredibly worthless relative to my income that the risk of getting sick isn’t worth it. I do, however, return lose shopping carts when they still have a quarter left in them. I shop at the cheap grocery stores like Freshco and No Frills; it never ceases to amaze me how many people leave their carts lying around.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      I guess.

      But if you think about it, all money that you touch is pretty disgusting.

      They’ve done studies where they’ve looked at what was left on bills and coins (even ones not picked up the floor), and some were covered in feces.

      I always wash my hands (and avoid touching my face) after touching money, or coming home, so it’s not a huge deal. Haven’t gotten sick yet from picking up money, in almost 30 years…

      It always amazes me about the shopping cart. Or when people don’t bring reusable bags and get slammed with the $0.05 fee each time when it is CLEAR they could use the money.

      Have you seen the people who take cabs to these grocery stores?

      • Joe

        For sure. In a city with bad transit I can understand. In Toronto, I find it a remarkable waste. A car is like a washing machine. It’s a moderate investment that results in massive time savings or, if you’re predisposed to save time with a cab or laundry service, a massive money savings.

  • Girl Meets Debt

    Bahahaha only you Mochimac could say I grew thicker skin by now picking up pennies and I wouldn’t get offended 😉

  • Michelle

    I LOVE finding money. I pick up change almost every single day and can’t get over the fact that people will pass by money laying on the ground. When I was in Argentina you never found change on the ground because there was a huge problem with the government not producing enough coins so Argentines hoard them and are reluctant to spend them. I also find a lot of bills. This year I found $5 and a few years ago I found 5 twenty dollar bills at the same time. It was the day that I voted in 2008 it felt like an instant rebate!!

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