4 Old School Money Hacks – A Trip Down Memory Lane.

Phone booth trashedI had a flashback yesterday of all the ways I used to find money back in the day.

I’d probably still do some of them if they crossed my mind at the time, but for the most part I’m gonna leave it to the younger generation to keep alive. I’m a little too old (and lazy) now to pull some of these off. That being said though, it’s a good reminder to keep on searching for new ways to save!

Here are the 4 old school hacks that came to mind:

1. The Non-Collect Call. (“Hey-Mom-Pick-Me-Up!”)
Hahaha…. this was definitely by far my favorite. When you didn’t feel like wasting a quarter you’d just call “collect” and use the 3 second interval allotted for your name to get across whatever it was you needed! So if you were stuck at band practice, or your soccer game was over and you needed a ride home for example, you’d just call up and say “Hey-mom-pick-me-up!” as your “name” and then hang up once you knew your mom heard it ;) It wasn’t illegal, per se, but you know the telephone companies hated it. Do collect calls even exist anymore?

2. Searching pay phones for quarters.
Oh man, I’d stick my fingers in those grungy metal slots time and time again poking around for coins! Even when my success rate was a mere .5%. The ones at my school never had any in them (probably because of all the collect calls!) but the Malls were crazy rich with coins. You circle the 5+ phone banks there on a busy Saturday afternoon and you’d easily come up with a dollar or two – maybe even $3 if had a few hours to spare.

3. Crawling under clothes racks & tables at stores.
You could only get away with it as a kid, but you’d be amazed at the stuff that falls under those things. Sunglasses, toys, dollar bills, all sorts of goodies. The smaller you were, the better too since you could slip right under them and have enough time to thoroughly inspect before getting caught ;)

4. Scouring the bottom of pools & lazy rivers at amusement parks.
I kid you not, I once found a diamond ring at the bottom of the lazy river at Kings Dominion! I turned it in of course, but you better believe I went back to see what else was down there. And just as I suspected it was rich full of coins! My biggest “score” was $10 in half dollars – 3 hours after finding that ring ;) Although 2 hours after that I realized all my friends had left me…haha…

So yeah, the good ol’ days of hustlin’! It wasn’t as lucrative as working a part time job or mowing lawns for a summer, but it sure got our creative wheels turning. And that’s really the point of all this today – to keep searching for new and improved ways to reach our goals. We don’t have to turn into shady bastards or anything, but there’s usually more than 1 way to get from A to B. (perhaps you’d like to share some of YOUR secrets, now?)

Photo credit: stevendepolo

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  1. Lillie February 9, 2010 at 9:13 PM

    I always make it point to view my surrounding for even a coin on the ground…and I never worry if it heads up or heads down. You'd be surprised how many people won't pick up a penny or a dime off the ground. I still live by the saying, "A penny on the ground is mine once it's found."
    Some people still call collect. Unfortunately, they are in jail.
    My favorite coin finder used to be the cup that my husband would leave by the bedside, of course, just for me.

  2. J. Money February 10, 2010 at 2:32 AM

    hah! you know, that makes sense about the jail thing. when I was trying to find a video of someone doing the "mom pick me up" call all that popped up were jail stuff! guess it makes sense…i like that saying too, never heard before ;)

  3. Kris @ Debt-Tips February 10, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    Funny, when I mention pay phones to my kids they give me a blank stare. Such a foreign concept to them. But I wish I could do the Brady Bunch thing with the pay phone in the house rather than paying the cell phone bill every month!

  4. J. Money February 10, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    Cell phone? what's a cell phone? (that's what we'll be saying one day!)

  5. JoeHx April 19, 2019 at 11:34 AM

    It’s somewhat similar to the pay phone thing – Coinstar and similar coin machines will often reject a few coins, but people tend not to check. So there’s a little coin slot that will sometimes have coins in them. Common rejected coins are foreign coins and coins worth more than 25 cents (e,g, half dollars and dollar coins).

    1. J. Money April 19, 2019 at 2:25 PM


      I know a lot of coin collectors who scavenge through those looking for old – valuable – coins it spit out :) Great tip!