So many frugality and PF blogs talk about whether or not you pick up spare change you might see on the street in your travels. I’ll admit – sometimes I pick up spare change, although rarely pennies. But it happens less and less now, and there are actually a few odd reasons why!
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I work in a casino. A government run, highly regulated casino, with cameras everywhere. (No, it’s not quite like they show it on TV or in the movies, but yes, there really are cameras just about everywhere except the bathrooms!). In our casino, we have very strict policies for how to handle “found” money. The fact is, our policies & procedures, while designed to protect both the corporation and the public, are a complete PITA when it comes to small change. So the general rule that all the staff follow is, if you see coins on the floor, you pretend you didn’t. Yes, I’m serious. Things were different back when slot machines actually accepted coins, but now that they are bills/tickets only, loose change is just annoying, so we ignore it.
Aside from that, one of my earliest jobs was working in the cash room of a large supermarket. I loved that job – really! This was back in the day before debit cards even existed (yes, I’m that old!), and our grocery store also did not accept credit cards, so all transactions were paid by cash or cheque. On a busy payday weekend, we could count over $100,000 in cash!
You know what I found out about money? It’s dirty. I mean, really, really dirty. Filthy! I would leave that cash room with my fingers just black from counting drawers of coins, and handling paper money too. While I’m not a complete germophobe, I will admit to being a bit weird about getting dirty. So if I’m going somewhere that I know I can’t wash right away, I might bypass picking up small change (depending on how it looked). I mean, a shiny quarter or loonie on a dry sidewalk? Sure. Pennies sticky with soda or mud sitting by a sewer, probably not.
Finally, I’m a runner, and all too often, the money I see is while I’m out running. If I’m running for speed, I’ll almost never stop to pick up a couple of lost pennies. If I’m not though, then it again depends on what condition the coins are in, and if I have some place to put them so I don’t have to carry them in my hands for miles!
I’ve definitely noticed I pick up a lot less change since I started working at the casino though. In fact, it was a dime in the casino parking lot yesterday that triggered this post – I instinctively went to pick it up, only to realize where I was – then I just kept walking. I still find something so fun and satisfying about “finding” money, even just a little bit.