If You Found $100, What Do Buy With It?

If You Found $100, What Do Buy With It?

Say you are out walking and you happen to find $100 cash laying on the sidewalk, what would you do with that tax-free present from the heavens? And don’t give me some bs that you would take that money to the police to find the person who lost it, or actually claim it on your taxes.

I was faced with that scenario as a young child about 6 years old. On my way to the local corner store to buy the small amount of candy that I could afford, I noticed a few bills rolled together on the ground. I don’t recall the exact amount, but I think it was about $60. At that point in my life, I’m pretty sure that I had never had any paper money, let alone a full day’s wages at minimum wage.

So obviously I was bursting with excitement. I had hit the jackpot! It’s a wonder that I didn’t take that money into the corner store and buy the biggest bag of candy possible. Somehow I had the sense to bring that money home to ask my mom what to do with it. Thinking back, I think it must’ve been my sister that prevented that massive junk-food binge. Secretly I think she was hoping she might get a cut of the cash.

With that kind of money at that age, there was no way that I was going to put it in a bank and not spend it immediately. My mom realized that with my love for junk-food, she had to present other alternatives that wouldn’t lead to a dentist bill for several cavities. The choice was either buy a nice dinner out for the family or go to the department store and buy some toys.

I’d love to be able to say that I was generous and treated my family, but come on, I was just a kid! And it was my found money damnit! Plus I had a limited amount of basic toys since we weren’t well off. My toys definitely didn’t match up to the kid down the street who I’m pretty sure had the entire Transformers collection. Damn him!

What kid is going to choose a single meal that he won’t really appreciate over a bunch of toys that he can use over and over? Yes, such a kid does exist, but it is a rarity and it is probably mostly kids whose families are already well off financially.

In the end I recklessly spent that cash on a sticky dart gun and some silly electronic robot thing that spun in circles making noises and flashing lights. Ahhh, my first needless splurge.

The dart gun was great until I managed to lose all those saliva-covered darts. Thinking back, that probably wasn’t the most hygienic toy, especially with the dart that you find weeks later inside the couch or beside the fridge. No there’s no time to wash it. I need to shoot that dart at a window or someone as soon as possible.

As for the flashy robot thing, it was a true waste. We had 2 or 3 good days of terrorizing the neighbor’s dog with the robot, but eventually it stopped working. I think my mom said it was broken, but that might’ve just been an excuse to avoid buying more batteries every week. Once it wasn’t spinning in circles causing all kinds of havoc, it just wasn’t the same.

I think the short lives of those toys ended up being a good lesson for a kid. One day I was filthy rich and the next week I was only left with some broken toys collecting dust. Sometimes you just have to make mistakes to gain knowledge. If I had found more money a month later, I’m sure I would’ve repeated the cycle. Many years later though, that memory is vivid and makes me appreciate money more.

If the same situation played out again at my current age of 31, I’d be stoked initially, but the money would just go into my wallet with no urge to suddenly spend it. It would likely just go towards smaller purchases on which I don’t bother using my cash back credit card. Or I might just deposit it at the bank. The find alone would be enough gratification and I wouldn’t feel the need to further reward myself.

Have you personally found cash before and had to decide what to do with it? What did you buy? Would you do the same today?

If you have never found any significant cash, what would you do if it did happen?

Photo Source

Jeremy Biberdorf

About the Author:

Jeremy Biberdorf is the founder of Modest Money. After working many years in the website marketing industry, he decided to take on blogging full time and also get his finances headed in the right direction. Also check out his contributions to Equities.com and Benzinga.

17 thoughts on “If You Found $100, What Do Buy With It?”

  1. Avatar for Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents
    Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents

    I found $50 on the ground last Fall, it was great! I found it as I was walking to the bar, so we just had a free night.

    1. Avatar for Jeremy

      I’m sure you had a fun night when the drinks are free! Personally I’ve been avoiding bars since I have a hard time cutting myself off. I don’t know if that makes me an alcoholic, but it’s not something I can afford on a regular basis. I tend to have a better time at home anyway.

    1. Avatar for Jeremy

      Thanks for the input Dave. Entertainment is always a good splurge. With your dvd collection, do you actually go back and watch them again or is it more of a collection for the sake of having it?

  2. Avatar for Aaron

    Good question Jeremy. If I found some – probably put it in savings – because I would have never of had a $100 anyways had I not stumbled upon it. Then I wouldn’t be as tempted to spend er.

    1. Avatar for Jeremy

      Yes I expect a lot of the thrifty people would be more likely to put it in savings. Since I always like to have some cash at hand, I just don’t see myself bothering to take it to the bank.

    1. Avatar for Jeremy

      That’s a good compromise to be both generous and practical. Thinking back to my childhood story, maybe I should’ve also bought a small something for my sister.

  3. Avatar for Crystal

    Nice post! If I found $100 TODAY I would probably go ahead and purchase that Zumba fitness workout I have been meaning to try. Last year I “found” $250 extra in my bank account. I know I didn’t put it there so I figured the bank made some sort of error. Anyway I waited a few weeks to see if they would reverse it, they didn’t so I used that money to treat a bunch of kids in my youth group to a night out (dinner and games). I figured I might as well so at least I wouldn’t feel so guilty for not having reported the error. So bottom line I would spend it more than save it!

    1. Avatar for Jeremy

      Crystal I wish there were more people with your generous nature. The world would be a much better place. That $250 must’ve shown up as good karma with someone out there knowing what a good person you are.

    1. Avatar for Jeremy

      Sure make me feel guilty Hank. I guess it depends on the situation. If I were with some friends or family at the time, I’d feel more obligated to share the wealth.

  4. Avatar for Mr. Money

    If I found $100 on the ground today I’d probably just deposit the money in my account or use it for things we have to buy anyways like gas or groceries. We have a Perkstreet Financial checking account from which we get $100 rewards cards every month or two and for those – that’s what we end up using them for -although we sometimes splurge and use it for a date night for my wife and I. 🙂

    1. Avatar for Jeremy

      I’m sure the wife likes the idea of using it towards a date night. You can’t go wrong with just depositing it in your account or using it for necessities.

  5. Avatar for Alex-anne Blore
    Alex-anne Blore

    I found £100 today and ended up at greggs and McDonald’shavent spend all of it yet but I sure wouldn’t hand it back

    1. Avatar for Jeremy

      I sure hope you didn’t spend most of it at McDonalds. As for giving it back, I think very few people actually would unless they saw the person drop it and they looked the type who really needs it.

  6. Avatar for Kathy

    Hey, you were a kid. Don’t beat yourself up over buying some junky toys. I bet you had fun. I keep a little cash stash and I probably put it with that so down the road I could buy a piece of bling or a handbag that I don’t need. Or maybe I’d convince my hubby to go out to eat one extra time…screw the calories.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *