Do You Always Keep the Money You Find?

By Xin Lu on 13 March 2008 32 comments

I am pretty short so I am close to the ground, and oftentimes I spot a coin or two and keep it. However, there are times when we find larger sums of money laying on the ground. What do you do then? Here are some of my stories and general rules.

When I find wallets and purses I always try to find identification in them and call the owner. I always return this kind of found money because I have lost a purse once and it was a pain in the butt to replace every identification and credit card in it. I think it is just common courtesy to try to return purses and wallets.

When I find small amounts of cash on the ground with no identification. I generally keep it. The largest bill I found was $100, and I kept it because there was no way to tell who lost it on the street. I do pick up pennies when I see them because coins really add up. Of course, since I drive now I pick up a lot less coins. I think finding coins is another reason why I love public transportation .

However, I would definitely try to find the owner of a larger sum of money with no identification. One of my relatives actually found an envelope with over a thousand dollars in a shopping line. She posted flyers at the store with her phone number and noone came to claim the money. Most police departments and cities have ordinances that say if noone comes to claim lost property after the finder tries to find the owner for a certain number of days then the finder may keep the found property. So my relative kept that money, and now every time she goes into that store she stands what she calls her "lucky shopping line". It is sort of sad because that is someone's "unlucky shopping line". If I do find a very large sum of money, I would probably do what I can to find the owner.

I also think that it is a bad idea to keep an extremely large sum of money without identification. Chances are it came from some unscrupulous source that could hunt you down. So how about you? Do you always keep money you find?


Average: 4.2 (6 votes)
Your rating: None

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


32 discussions

Add New Comment

This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Guest's picture

I usually keep money thatI find. However, I have never found a large sum of money or a wallet without identification, so I can't say for sure how much the sum would be before I would try to find the rightful owner.
Obviously if it was in the thousands of dollars, someone will certianly be looking for it.

Guest's picture

My mom found a very large amount of money in a bank parking lot. She hung up posters and turns out it was a family with a new baby that took all of their money out of checking to get stuff for the baby. They were very happy to have it back!

I found $40 at blockbuster. I actually keep my money just loose in my back pocket and when I pulled out my license I thought I dropped something and the money was down there. I picked it up, thinking it was mine, and then went to my car. I was going to put everything in my wallet and then I realized it wasn't a one or five like I thought, it was two twenties. Because I am a skeptic, I didn't want to give it to the kid behind the counter, but I went back inside and "browsed" for about thirty minutes thinking that the rightful owner would retrace their steps back to the store and ask "has anyone found any money?" They didn't so I felt I did enough. I donated $10, and planned on keeping the rest. I have to say, I didn't feel right (I know, I tried)so I ended up donating the other $30, too.

But if it is a dime, penny--heck, even a dollar--I'm keeping that sucker!

Guest's picture

I left over $2500 in cash one time in a car at Enterprise. I totally forgot about it till about 20 min before I was to board the plane. I had also lost my cell phone on that trip (bad trip, long story, didn't get that back) so I had to find a pay phone and call over to Enterprise to see if they had found it.

One of the gentleman at the desk went out to the car while I was on hold and found all the money. I rushed back over and every single dollar was there. I was very thankful because he could have either said it wasn't there or only half of it was there, but the gentleman was honest. I was so relieved. I'll always rent from Enterprise...

Guest's picture

I recall a survey from about a year ago in which many people said they wouldn't stoop to pick up a nickel or a penny. A quarter or dime, yes. But the smaller amounts were deemed not worth it, based on the amount of work it would take to stop walking, stoop over and pick up the coin.

I found that interesting and expect that attitude to shift greatly now that the economy is falling apart. Oh, and I pick up pennies.

Guest's picture

This one time, I found a twenty dollar bill in the parking lot. It was the best day...

Guest's picture

I try to donate it to a worthy cause (and no, that worthy is not me!).. or give it to someone who looks like they need it.

Guest's picture

Does everyone but me actually find money this frequently? Wow...I need to start paying more attention I guess!

Guest's picture

I have this sentiment that if it wasn't my money to begin with, its not mine to keep. So, I've been collecting all the money I have found over the last year, and after the years is over, I will donate it... havent figured out to what charity... but this has been my goal the entire time. I havent found any large sum of money, but the total for the past six months is ~$16-$17.

I've lost(or had stolen) my purse/wallet multiple times, so if I were to find someone elses, I would certainly be returning it completely intact. Its stressful to go through the entire process of canceling everything and monitoring credit in fear of something popping up!

Guest's picture

One time I dropped $80 in a supermarket parking lot. The person who found it brought it to the counter in the store, and they saved it. When I called the supermarket, they said they had it (I could identify it was 80 bucks in four twenties). What a bunch of heroes they were!! (honest store workers, honest person who picked it up.)

Guest's picture

My wife declines to keep any bills that are found. She feels it wasn't hers, so she will leave and let the owner come back or someone else can have taking the money on there conscious.

I a more lenient, but as I get older I want to do more and more to help find the owner. I am more willing now to leave money at a desk with a clerk with my name and phone number. Most stores will offer to call you after a week or two.

Guest's picture

During the Christmas season, my mom found a $100 bill on the ground at a liquor store. She picked it up quickly, and looked around the busy store to see if anyone looked like they were missing it.

Just a few days before, she heard that it was lucky to give found money away, so she was tempted to just donate the bill to the Sally Anne kettle at the storefront. Instead, she decided to give the money to me so I could afford presents for my sisters.

She made me promise not to tell them she did that, so I hope they aren't reading this blog!

Guest's picture

In the 1980's a professor at the University of Idaho began a found money fund. He asked that coins found on the ground be turned in. With investments, today there is over $250,000 in the fund. I don't know just what will be done with it.

At the high school where I work, I have a cup on my desk with a note asking the students to contribute money they find lying on the sidewalk. It will be a long term project, but I tell them that someday their contributions will be a part of a scholarship program. So far, we have less than $15.00, but it will continue to grow. I hope to help make the students aware of what is around them and that even small amounts can make a difference.

Guest's picture
Cindy M

and kept it because I walked by it maybe 4 days in a row. It was in plain sight for anybody to see at the end of a driveway, kids playing and ignoring it. It looked cheap but turned out to be gold, nothing wrong with it, and yes, I kept it, as I did the time I found a $5 bill the same way. I'll occasionally find a dollar bill or change and always keep that. Again, it's always been in plain sight. I find keys occasionally and always turn those in (library once, store another time).

Guest's picture

I believe one should ALWAYS bend over to pick up a penny, nickel, whatever; regardless of whether it is heads up or down. Finding money is good luck no matter what denomination it is. I believe it is bad luck NOT to pick it up. I started tracking my findings last year on March 27. To date, I have picked up $4.51 in mostly pennies and a few nickels, dimes and quarters.

I once found $40 on the sidewalk in front of a business where I was receiving a service. I wondered if the person ahead of me had dropped it on the way in, but I did not want to come right out and ask. When it came time for that person to pay, I watched and listened carefully. If that person had started digging through her pursue or made any comment about not being able to find her money, I would have spoke up right away. But she paid and left as if nothing were wrong, so I did not say anything. I did keep that money.

I also had a $5 bill blow right up to me on the beach one night while camping.

David DeFranza's picture

maria40nc, I couldn't agree with you more about picking change.

I always keep an eye out for change on the ground and always stop to pick it up if I find it. My friends make fun of me but I don't care.

Guest's picture

A couple years ago, around Christmas time, I found a one hundred dollar bill on the ground in front of a Walgreens. It was on my way out and once I picked it up, I immediately felt tingles down my back. I was a teenager in desperate need of a gaming system so I ended up buying a Nintendo Gamecube and Super Smash Brothers bundle.

Guest's picture

I find a lot of coins on the ground, and I always pick them up, even the pennies. But I don't know how people are finding all these large amounts. Maybe I should be looking in some more lucrative locations!

Guest's picture

If you own stocks then you can't afford to get news later than everyone else. Try for a week and you'll see what I mean. There is no fee and no make money now and sign up for

Guest's picture

The law in CA states that you have a duty to turn in the found money to the police and let them handle the lost & found duties. If after a specified time has elapsed (I think 30 days), then the money belongs to the finder.

I don't know people that obey the law or even know the law, but then again, it's not like anyone has enforced this law either to my knowledge...

Guest's picture

Today I found $160 in a book.

Thinking about it. I realise that I couldn't go around 'asking' people if they lost any money because they would just say 'yes'...

So what I did was take the money and left a note in the book saying that I found it. If it's yours to contact me and I'll give it back. If no one claims it, well then it's my good luck :)

Of course I would have to verify it with them to check 'how much it was'... and if what they say matches what was in the book then I'd be more than happy to give it back.

Finding money is good luck/karma. However, if the person who it belongs to asks for it... then you must return it. Otherwise it's bad karma.

Guest's picture

Back in the late 80's my twin brother bought a '79 Z-28 Camaro from a dealer and after driving it for several days he got around to detailing it inside, (We owned a detail shop at the time), and found three $10,000 money market certificates under the console glove box! He also found some other papers that had the previous owners name on it and we were able to track him down in the phone book. After asking him if he remembered leaving something in the car he kind of freaked out and told my brother about the certificates. We told him where our shop was and he came to get them.

Guest's picture

Wow, you guys are lucky. All
I've ever found was a $5 dollar bill. I got to start looking more...

Guest's picture

A funny thing happened to me 3 years ago. My boyfriend and I were driving home from grocery shopping and I was complaining about how much money we just spent on groceries. As I am driving, he start yelling, "Stop! Stop!" It totally freaked me out. I thought I ran over some animal, but he told me to back up the car and park. Low and behold on the side of street by the curb there were money just blowing in the wind. I got out and start grabbing the money like crazy in a frenzy. I looked around me thinking someone was bound to say it's their money but and no one was around and no one came running out of their houses to claim it. Everything I grabbed from the ground came out to be $109 dollars total. We decided to use the money to upgrade our old computer with more memory chips and other accessories. The upgrade didn't do much to improve the computer so we decided to just buy a new faster computer.

A friend said she wanted our old computer because she didn't have a computer. It was still good and operating. So I gave her my old computer with the speakers. Three days later she reports back to us that the computer we gave her was stolen from the back of her trunk. The computer is gone. Is this karma? Whose karma? My friend's or my boyfriend and mines? We found the money, we used it as we saw fit. We did a good deed by giving it away and then it gets stolen. Did the thief who stole it have a "good" day in his twisted line of work? Is this how "found" money works?

Guest's picture

How the **** could they hunt you down if you found money somewhere? It's not like they have a found money radar going, or were watching the place the money was... If nobody is around then nobody knows it waa there etc. They are not out to find you when they don't know their money is in a place that it was found. That is the definition of lost money... not knowing where it is. I think it's stupid to be afraid of large sums of money. Most police departments say to contact them on sums over a certain amount, let's say you found 5 grand in a bag or something. You turn the money in to the cops, if nobody comes looking for it after a certain amount of time you get it back and it's yours. Most drug dealers and the like are not going to go looking at a police depratment for their lost money from a deal gone bad etc. They chalk it up to oh well and move on most of the time. That way, if anyone knew and snitched, they'd just be able to say that person turned it in to the po po's. That would be an end to their search right there more than likely. They are not dumb.

Guest's picture

Even if it is just a penny, I would not touch it. It's not mine to start with.

Guest's picture

i found 125 dollars and idk wat to do wit it

Guest's picture

Here What i think I think you should keep it if u don't find the proper Identification I mean Whats the point if u post it [Someone will take it even though it isn't theirs]. I mean 10/1/10 My son lost 21$ Somewear And now its gone.

Guest's picture

I found a $20 dollar bill on the ground today next to 7 11 it wasnt there a few minutes ago and then it was lol it was awesome

Guest's picture


Guest's picture

Today I found a $20 bill in a parking lot. Last year I found $15 inside of CVS. Four years ago I found a $100 dollar bill in a parking lot. I've also lost money. When I was 16, I lost $80 inside of Nike Factor Outlet store so I guess sometimes we are the recipients and other times the losers. I always look around to see if someone is looking frantically on the ground before I leave the scene. Beyond that I don't go around asking people because you'll never know if they are lying about whether the money is really theirs.

Guest's picture

a man infront of me.. once took money out of the machine and left without the money.. when i wanted to put my card in the machine the money came out by me.
it was a big packet of money mabey 500 euro's or more. i had no money that month. but i still called the guy.. its the right thing to do.. it was just a horrible feeling holding that packet in my hand while i had nothing. anyway i keep on finding money these days.. i found 5 euro's again today so strange. i have found now in 3 months 40 euro's always in notes of five. ;) and i have a job now .. so everything is good :)

Guest's picture

i keep all money i find . no matter how big or small . the bigger the amount the better . pete

Guest's picture

If you found money and you know it is not yours, the righteous thing to
do, is to try and find the owner, or turn it in to the store, so the person
who lost it can get it back, this is honesty on your part, and your rewards
will be noticed from high above, and who knows maybe you will be given
a reward from the person who lost it.