Where To Find Free Money: Parking Lots

This morning I was crossing a well-traveled parking lot and while dodging oil spots, food wrappers, and heaven knows what else, something shiny caught my eye. It was a dime. Sweet – I found free money! I bent down to grab my treasure coin and put it in my pocket.

A lady returning to her car noticed my discovery, and asked, “A lucky penny?” I replied, “No, ten times luckier…it was a dime.” She remarked, “I don’t stop for anything less than a quarter!”

We laughed and she went on our way. I’m not sure why that short exchange stuck in my head, but since I began sharing thoughts on personal finances I have become more aware of others frugality, or lack thereof. So I began to ask myself the question, how much free money would I stop to pick up?

The lucky dime I found this morning represented about a month’s worth of interest on a $100 savings in a passbook savings account. It doesn’t sound like much, but considering I earned the same amount in about three seconds it wasn’t a bad use of time.

The dime covered sales tax on my few grocery items. My purpose for running to the store was to pick up two cans of chili for hot dog topping, which I found on sale for $0.79 each. At our current sales tax rate for food, my lucky dime paid the sales tax portion of the purchase total.

So ask yourself, how much free money would you stop to pick up in a parking lot? A penny? A nickel? A lucky dime? I guess a lot of it depends on your value system. If you are the type who pumps quarters into video games, or dollar bills in lottery machines, chances are you will pass up any form of coined currency.

However, if you are a fellow follower of a frugal lifestyle you recognize that money is your ally. Thanks to compounding interest, even seemingly insignificant amounts of money will work for you years after you rescue it from the asphault.

Ask the readers: Know any other great places to find free money? Under drive-thru windows? Vending machines?


  1. Um . . . I’ll actually stop for a penny. I read an article a couple years ago about how the U.S. loses millions every year in lost pennies, and ever since then, I pick them up. I figure that I’m not only gaining $.01 (which is a ridiculously small amount), but I’m also helping the U.S. economy. I keep the pennies in a jar on my desk, and once it gets about half full, I put it in my savings account.

  2. may be picking up a penny should be consider a real free money…and it don’t really come evey day….