Finding Money vs. Earning Money

$0.45. That’s the amount of change I’ve found on the ground in the past two months. 1 Quarter, 1 dime, and 10 pennies. And every single time I see one of those shiny little friends my eyes grow wide and my heart happier!

$100.00. That’s the amount I was paid last week for a 1 hour consulting session on blogging. Also very exciting and warm in my belly, but oddly enough only 50% as much as finding stray coins? ;)

Weird, huh? This is the thought that crossed my mind this morning as I was out there scanning the streets w/ Baby Money like we do every day. I couldn’t help to notice how much MORE I look forward to finding free money on the ground over earning it. Especially when talking about blogging and social media are some of my all-time favorite things to do! (Whether I’m paid for it or not)

The best guess I came up with is that finding money on the ground comes as a nice *surprise* you weren’t really counting on, whereas going out and earning it is more of a routine based around every day scheduling. Not that I count my mentoring money as something solid and essential, or that it doesn’t feel GREAT to tget the business, but it does all go into the “life’s bills” pot vs. the “holy crap, a free dime!” one.

So then naturally you start asking yourself – “How can I capture even MORE free money and awesome excitement?! There’s gotta be a way to ramp this thing up, right? What if I take 10 walks instead of 2 every day?? What if I just walk around the entire city for 8 hours straight? How much will that net me??” :)

But the problem with this line of thinking, of course, is that life doesn’t work that way. Yeah I’ll have a grand ol’ time dicking around the city and making a “thing” out of it for a day – and maybe even triple, or better yet, quadruple my findings! Imagine that! – but come day two and day three, it all starts turning into a “job” again and you’re right back to where you started from. Except down three solid days of hustling and real income-generation.

These are the things we entrepreneurs think about :) Always trying to find that *perfect* hustle out there that nets us tons of (recurring) cash, while at the same time immense pleasure. Where we can say things like, “I don’t work for a living – I play!” Or, “Look at all the smart passive income I have! I barely work at all and watch it all flow in!” Even though, contrary to belief, we DO work more than the average person out there and it’s rarely ever passive.

I used to tell people all the time I make passive money from this blog until some (much wiser) person asked me how long it took for me to write my post today.

“Um.. two hours, why?”

“And how long did it take you to knock out those emails? And then respond to everyone’s comments? And market your site?”

“Um… ”

“Yeah. Very passive.”


The truth is, there’s rarely any free money out there for the taking. And even less chances of doing nothing for it, yet magically becoming rich later on. We can dream and scheme all day long about it, but it’s probably best not to quit our day jobs anytime soon. Unless you’re the guy who created the Pet Rock. (Genius!)

I guess that’s the point to all this rambling today. It’s great to think about cheating the system and reaching your goals faster, but you also have to remember that most good things take time. And everyone around you is sitting there in the same boat along for the ride. You’re certainly not alone.

So, to all my pretty little budgeters out there, I say keep on working hard!  All that time and energy you’re putting in WILL pay off big time down the line. You just gotta keep on hustlin’ and enjoying those small wins along the way :)

And, if anyone would like to have some more J. Money in their lives anytime soon, please do let me know. If I can’t survive off the pennies from the street, I can at least go for the next best thing with the consulting! :) Just imagine all we can talk about in an hour! The joys are endless!

PS: That’s a real snapshot of all the coins I found up there, along with an old school $100 bill… They may not be pretty, but they’re still FREE MONEY!!

UPDATE: I’m now up to $.55 found – woo! Came across not one, but TWO shiny nickels on my late afternoon walk today. That’s a 25% bump in one scoop! And what funny timing :)

(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)

Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!


  1. jestjack September 16, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    Good article…I too get somewhat excited when I find money. I recently found over $3 in change in a rental unit that just about filled a coffee cup. Side note…the tenant that departed…NEVER paid rent on time….and ALWAYS paid a late fee. This sounds like a good subject for a grad student’s thesis on human behavior….IMHO.

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Ouch. If only the tenant left about 100 of those cups full of change!

  2. kelly @stayingonbudget September 16, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    Great read–found money is fun but earned money is better!

  3. Financial Independence September 16, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    I’d rather find $1 than earn $1… the found money is tax free, whereas the earned money must be declared on a tax return and I’ll only end up with about 65 cents.

    There definitely is a rush with finding money that doesn’t occur when earning it though, perhaps we become desensitised to earning over time?

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      We totally get desensitized to earning money over time. At least I know I have. It takes more and more to REALLY get me excited these days, unlike before. Though, I’m also like that with everything in life ;) Luckily small things – like finding pennies on the ground – excite me as much as normal things.

  4. Renee s September 16, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    I LOVE finding money! I have found a few twenty dollar bills and there is such a rush :) haha I also recently had a $150 win playing craps at the casino–I wish I could do that every day!

    In regards to side hustles that pay while letting you play–I have a great babysitting job (I love kids) that makes me $100-$200 dollars extra a week for about 8-18 hours of work. It’s pretty awesome AND it really doesn’t feel like work–I just play with them and most of the time they are sleeping so I can catch up on my cable TV (haha I dropped cable at home, so I watch my shows at their house). It’s the perfect situation :)

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      Perfect! Sounds like the ideal hustle :)

    2. Aimee September 16, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      Babysitting is the BEST job!! Kids think every idea you have is great. My landlord has 3 little girls and she’s always telling them to stop bugging me but I love their giggley candor. I’m waiting for the day they ask me to babysit…

      1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:40 PM

        haha they DO think our ideas are great! And I actually think theirs are too :) they’re nice and pure and innocent and not jaded by the world yet, haha… Those little boogers.

  5. John S @ Frugal Rules September 16, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Good post J$. I love finding money as opposed to earning it, but then you have to look at the time it took to “find” said money.

  6. Debt Blag September 16, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    I totally agree that there’s a big difference. To me, “finding” money feels like I’m pulling one over on the system… and who doesn’t like doing that? :)

  7. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle September 16, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    I used to find pennies some times but the Canadian government has eliminated them so my found money total for the entire summer is zero.

    People used to toss their beer bottles out on lawns but that source of income has dried up too. Drunks are being more responsible with their money and cashing their bottles in themselves.

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 12:36 PM


  8. Romona @Monasez September 16, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    Finding money is the most exciting feeling ever. I got to be honest though, I rarely pick up the pennies. Also, I love when I find money in clothes that I haven’t worn in a long. Sometimes I find $20 and $50 bills. Surprisingly I didn’t miss it at all.

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      $50??? Wow. I don’t even know anyone who CARRIES $50 bills around, no less forget them in pockets, haha… what exactly do you DO over there for a living? ;)

  9. Brian September 16, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Found money is always better. On the earned side I think residual income is the key. Finding a niche to making residual income over linear will give you more time to look for pennies. :)

    1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      Please do let me know once you find one :)

  10. Chad September 16, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Nice article! I agree 100% that many of us (myself often included) always seem to be looking for that magic idea that will make us money without us having to “actively work” for it. As you pointed out, this isn’t realistic. This is why it is so important to make sure your active work is something you are truly passionate about. Make sure that thing on which you are spending more than half your waking hours is worth it!


  11. Kali @CommonSenseMillennial September 16, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    I’ve never really thought about it before, but I definitely understand what you mean – finding money always makes me more excited than being handed my paycheck. Which is just silly, as the money I find most often is some change and MAYBE a dollar bill or two in pants pockets that are about to go in the wash.. meaning it was already mine to begin with! Funny the way our brains work sometimes :)

  12. Michelle September 16, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    I also get excited when I find money. The other day I found ONE DOLLAR on the ground and had a giddy look on my face all the way to my car haha.

    1. J. Money September 16, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      YES! AWESOME!! Finding bills laying around is even more magical! Congrats!

  13. Giddings Plaza FI September 16, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    You’re funny! I love finding money on the ground. I walk alot (I gave up my car, so I walk a ton more than I used to), and I find coins almost every single time I’m out and about. I think it’s the universe’s way of saying “keep walking!”

    1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:41 PM


  14. Retire By 40 September 16, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Ha! My kid found $22+ in loose changes over the summer. You gotta keep a better lookout. :)
    I love found money too, but working pay off much better for me.

    1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:41 PM

      Wowww your kid is GOOD!

  15. Sense September 16, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Found $50 recently! It was the BEST feeling ever initially. Then I just felt guilty and had to donate some of it to alleviate the guilt. After all, some poor person lost it…There is a certain amount over which the guilt >> elation of serendipity for me (and yes, I tried to find the owner of the $$ but there isn’t much you can do when it is cash on a sidewalk…).

    The best thing about found money is that it is TAX FREE!!!

    1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      Huzzah!!! Win-Win for everyone involved except for the one who dropped it :( But just pretend they were a horrible person and that they deserved it, haha…

  16. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life September 16, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Have you ever found “big money”? Meaning actual dollar bills or even a fiver. I have and it makes me anxious. With coins I think YES! FREE MONEY. With bills I think, oh no, this isn’t mine and I don’t know who to return it to.

    1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      Haha I hear ya… For me it’s more like “Is this a trick?? Is someone FILMING ME right now and I’m going to look like an idiot???” ;)

  17. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen September 16, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Finding money on the ground makes me feel like a kid! Haha…and its always unexpected too! I’m not constantly walking round scanning for money so when I do find it it’s a nice surprise! Plus the only thing I had to do for it is bend over and pick it up!

  18. Jacob | iHeartBudgets September 16, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    I’m the opposite. I LOVE earning money with side hustles, and coming up with new strategies to make it happen. I like the challenge! But finding money is awesome, and I usually just pocket it and spend it on something useless, because it’s unaccounted for. If it’s a big bill, then I’ll save it, but that rarely ever happens.

    And nice work on the blog consulting hustles. Might hit you up when i have some real cash :)

    1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:45 PM

      Earning money is definitely more *rewarding*, that’s for sure. Especially if it came from a single idea in your head and played out nicely in the real world for you :) Finding it is just pure sexiness.

      (And you’ve got an open door anytime, my man! For friends I cut the rate in half so you’ll only need to find half the real cash later ;))

      1. Jacob | iHeartBudgets September 17, 2013 at 11:51 PM

        Thanks Brutha! I’ll def. hit you up as soon as possible. Also, hope to see you at FinCon, I’ll be flying in Friday afternoon!


        1. J. Money September 18, 2013 at 6:15 PM

          Yessir! I shall be there nice and hyper as always ;) Look for the guy with the mohawk or beard. And perhaps, both.

  19. Aimee September 16, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    Found money is awesome because it’s a surprise. I’m never surprised when my boss pays me… well actually once I was. I thought sure he was going to fire me after one week. Sure enough he paid me and didn’t change the locks!

    Some one else mentioned bottles and cans… I’m becoming less and less ashamed to admit that I collect bottles and cans when I run. The other day I found a 30-rack of empties nicely packaged back up in the box! I didn’t want to run 3 more miles with a 30-rack so I came back for it with my car on my way to the store. In hindsight, running with a 30 would have got me more honks than running shirtless so maybe I should have done it.

    1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:47 PM

      Hahahhaah… Awesome! I was wondering if people still turned in bottles too as I had this genius/moronic idea that I could just go to all the houses around me and ask to pick up their recycling for them instead of the recycle people, haha… I have no idea what they do with it really, but I’d imagine they’re making money off it too and in BULK. Maybe that’s how the whole system works though? It cost the city to pick them up, but they make up for the money by turning them in for cash?? I need to look into that more.. I’m still pretty intrigued by it :)

  20. Taynia | The Fiscal Flamingo September 17, 2013 at 5:20 AM

    The last time my husband and I were in Vegas, he found a $20 bill on the ground. This is not uncommon for him. The man doesn’t gamble but he still beat the odds.

  21. Veachel September 17, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    You should spend more time walking beside gold nugget filled rivers ;p That would be some exciting finds!

  22. Christina September 17, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    I found $1,000 once. It belonged to a homeless lady who was more concerned about her missing shoe than the $1,000 that she left laying on the sidewalk. I returned it, but I still kind of regret it sometimes because I know that she lost it again within a matter of hours. Oh well, at least I did the right thing.

    1. J. Money September 17, 2013 at 6:47 PM

      What the what???

  23. September 17, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I love finding money too. I found €2 a couple of weeks ago and felt like I’d won the lottery!! :)

  24. Tushar @ Everything Finance September 17, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    I can’t believe I’m going to admit to this as a personal finance blogger, but I rarely pick up change. If it’s a quarter or larger, I usually will, but pennies, nickles and dimes – nope! I love earning money, though.

    1. J. Money September 18, 2013 at 6:16 PM

      You’re going to blogger hell ;)

  25. julia @ September 20, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    I LOVE, LOVE finding money on the ground!! But not change. I like to find the good, ol’e green stuff. You’re going to think I made this up but I swear that this is true. A few mornings ago, while ridding my bike to work (yes I ride a bike to work; I live a few blocks away and it saves gas money; and my husband takes our one and only car). I aw a man on his knees on the ground on the other side of the street. At first I thought he had fallen and couldn’t get up. I noticed his white cane after getting closer. I asked him if he needed help and he didn’t respond. Anyways it turns out he was actually blind and deaf (thank goodness I stopped). And a tree branch had knocked his hearing aid out of his ear and he was looking for it. We found his hearing aid, he gave me a nice thanks and I went on my way. Later that day, in another part of town, lo and behold, I found a 10 dollar bill lying on the ground with no-one in sight! It was on a street next to an empty building. What comes around goes around :)

    1. J. Money September 21, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      What a beautiful story!!! And so nice of you to stop by and help him – I’m sure he was pretty shooken up :( We need more people like you in the world!