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Why I Pick Up Pennies

I pick up pennies, and nickels, and dimes, and any sort of currency because it pays well, that’s why!

Okay, there–I gave you the answer to my hook. Why should you read on?

Well, because there is a deeper mindset behind finding money and picking it up. And I’ll also tell you how well it pays!

Where My Pennies Come From

You may know that I work in the automotive field. I contract with dealerships to repair their cars and make them dent free and ready to sell.

At every car dealership, there are salesmen who patiently wait for their prey like sharks. Apparently, while they wait, they like to throw all of their loose change onto the used car lot. Maybe it’s a game to see who can roll their change the furthest.

Whatever their goal is with loose change tossing, I make a game out of it as well. As I walk the lot looking for dents that need to be repaired, I find and pick up the change and pocket it.

On more than one occasion I have received the oddball look that seems to say something to the effect of, “Oh, that poor dent guy needs the change, how sad.” Apparently, there’s a stigma to picking up change? Who knew. It’s definitely uncomfortable, but that’s part of the reason I do it!

Reaching early Financial Independence goes against the grain of the typical American culture. Doing things differently, and optimizing where others do not, is a big part of Financial Independence. It even requires picking up change while others are throwing it away.


According to Carol Dweck and her book, Mindset, there are two different mindsets. A fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

A person with a fixed mindset believes that their talents or intelligence are fixed traits. A person with a growth mindset believes that their talents and intelligence can be trained through dedication and hard work.

With small daily positive changes, A.K.A. the aggregation of marginal gains, you can develop a growth mindset. This is the mindset that will make amazing things happen, things that you didn’t think you were capable of achieving.

Related: The Aggregation Of Marginal Gains

Growth Mindset

The point of my penny finding story is to highlight the difference in mindset about having every penny count vs. not caring about any penny. A growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.

Mindset is such an important part of your financial journey. Knowing that anything is possible and that anyone can learn this financial stuff can open up your world to the possibilities of being financially free.

It takes training your mind to relieve yourself from the bonds of “normal” consumerism and learning to be happy with less stuff so you can, in turn, have more freedom. I feel like a lot of people are stuck in a fixed mindset and don’t think they will ever be able to get out of debt, start saving money, or even retire. And retiring early? Forget it!

Even when you have your financial life together and are on your way to FI, you can’t forget the mindset shift that got you there. You can never stop picking up pennies.

Fixed Mindset

The people that are throwing their change onto the car lot are not optimizing their money retention. Someone who takes money from their pocket and throws it into a parking lot has a fixed mindset. They don’t think that the change matters because it’s just a couple of cents.

They may not believe that saving a few bucks a week can turn into a lot more down the road after your savings muscles grow. It’s the small things added together that make the biggest difference.

With a fixed mindset, one may believe that they’re stuck in their current position in life. When someone believes they are stuck then there is no reason not to toss the coins.

This can also contribute to the mentality of this example that we have all heard. “Why not just buy the car that I can barely afford the payments on?” Or “I’ll be stuck at this job forever anyway so I might as well enjoy myself.”

I know that picking up a couple of bucks in change each week isn’t going to make or break my early FI plans, but again, it’s all about the mindset! If I haven’t convinced you yet, let me show you the math.

The Math

Let’s assume that picking up a coin off the ground and putting it in your pocket takes two seconds (it does, I do it all the time!) That means you can pick up 30 coins per minute and 1,800 coins per hour. Here is the simple table showing the hourly rate of picking up coins at two seconds each.

  • 1,800 coins X $.01 = $18/hour
  • 1,800 coins X $.05 = $90/hour
  • 1,800 coins X $.10 = $180/hour
  • 1,800 coins X $.25 = $450/hour

I pick up change because of the mindset behind the action, but I also pick up change because I don’t want to pass by a couple of seconds of really high paying wages. Every time you find a penny and pick it up, you can tell yourself that you just made $18/hour. Find a quarter and make $450/hour!

Granted, you only worked for two seconds, but who wants to pass up $18 or $450 per hour?

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Why I Pick Up Pennies

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