Reader Success Story: $10,000 in Found Money in 7 Months

by Julie on February 9, 2015 · 3 comments

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I love getting comments and emails from you guys about the things we talk about on the blog, and last week I got an email from a reader named Elise, who gave me permission to share her story. Here is what she wrote:

I just read your updated found money post and wanted to leave a comment. I am a regular reader of your blogs although I don’t comment often. I have learned so much from your posts and just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate this blog.

Last July I began keeping a “found money” spreadsheet after reading one of your posts. It has been transformative! I cannot believe how much the small money piles up. In the last 7 months we have accumulated over $10,000 in found money.

None of it has been unusual – just little things – which makes me cringe when I think of previous years when that sort of money was just absorbed into our regular budget and we have no idea how it was spent. Keeping that spreadsheet and directing that money to specific purposes has been exciting.

Isn’t that just the best? I am so inspired by Elise.

A couple of things from Elise’s email stood out to me because they mirror my experiences:

First, she uses the word transformative. I completely get that. It’s such a simple thing, but looking for found money and putting that money to work on your financial goals can definitely transform your financial life.

Second, she describes their sources of their found money as just little things. In fact, in my experience, found money can be so ordinary that you may think you don’t have any, but if you begin to look, it’s there.

To illustrate, I asked Elise to give us some examples of her sources of found money and she offered these:

  • A contact lens rebate ($100)
  • 1 day refund from the cabana rental company that we use when we go to the beach ($20)
  • An amended state tax return from 2 years ago ($58.39)
  • Recycled iPhone ($200)
  • Our new home/auto insurance company only bills 10 months out of 12. When the first month rolled around I put the normal budgeted amount into our found money savings.
  • Our son is in his high school’s marching band and they take a trip every year. When the time came to make the final trip payment to the school I realized that I had over-saved by $32.63. Found money!
  • Our health insurance company offered a $50 Visa gift card per adult if you would take a health assessment survey on their website. I used the Visa gift cards to buy groceries and transferred $100 to our found money savings account.

She went onto say that:

These are just a few examples. With 2 exceptions everything that I put into that found money account was under $250 each.

I was curious what Elise’s family is doing with their found money; here’s what she says:

We have put every dime in our “found money” account toward paying off debt. We will make the last payment (a car loan) this month and then will be completely debt-free except for our mortgage. Hip hip hooray! That found money will then go toward funding a substantial emergency fund. The fun part now is to begin discussing and planning for future uses of this money. I had no idea that accounting could be so much fun. :)

Debt-free except for the house? A large emergency fund? These are such perfect examples of little bits of money doing BIG things. And it is fun to discuss what to do with found money. It’s like discovering an income stream you didn’t know you had.

Thanks again to Elise for letting me share her story. Are you inspired? Do you have a found money success story? I’d love to hear about it.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Holly@ClubThrifty February 10, 2015 at 7:17 am

That’s so awesome! It really is amazing when you start tracking your spending and seeing where it is all going. If you’re not paying attention, it’s so easy to fritter it all away.

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Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com February 13, 2015 at 12:16 pm

That’s really cool! It is really found money plus saved money, but very neat to track the progress and see how things begin to pile up!

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Alexis February 17, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I’ve been paying more attention to where my money is going and it’s astounding how much more money I spend when I’m only using my cards. Swiping is so much easier than actually handing over tangible money!

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