$100 in coins!!!!!!

So as many of you are undoubtedly aware, for the past year or so (okay, okay, it’s been exactly 380 days according to my nerdy detailed spreadsheet), I have been trying to find $100 in coins. Well, actually it started out being just coins but I expanded it to just any found money.

I went into today at $97.76 and then the fam headed to the mall for Cow Appreciation Day. i.e. dress up like a cow and get free Chick-fil-A.

Family going to Chick-Fil-A

Immediately when we got there, we checked the racecar strollers. This has been a good source of coins – at the mall they have these racecar strollers that you can rent for $5. When you return them, you get 4 quarters back. But sometimes people don’t return them, or they don’t put them back in the dock right, or sometimes they try to return them but the bank of places to turn them in is full. So we tested the strollers near the food court and boom – one of them came right out – it hadn’t been returned correctly, so we were up to $98.76. Then it was off to Chick-Fil-A. We ordered 4 #1 meals and 3 #3s – all free!

The manager came out and wanted to take our picture with the cow. We were snapping pictures too – you can see more on FB.
Meeting the Chick-Fil-A cow

We found 2 dimes and a bunch of pennies at the mall that put us up over $99 and I started thinking about how if I had a good day tomorrow that I might hit $100. We were really trying to find a nickel for the 2nd straight day of coin cycle but couldn’t find one. Then, as we were leaving, we spotted a family with a racecar stroller that was heading towards the Miller Family play area (i.e. where Nordstrom is under construction). We had previously noted that the bank that is located by the exit there was full, so we thought that might bear watching. Instead, they turned to go out another exit and left the mall with their stroller. We “discreetly” followed them.

They got into their car and just left the stroller in the parking garage. After a bit of loitering as we waited for them to drive away, we pounced on the stroller and took it back into the mall. We headed down and returned it. Here’s me returning the stroller that put us up over $100.

Me returning the $100 stroller

And here’s the final 4 quarters that did it.
Scott with the final quarters

So now what? I’m not sure – I still plan on trying to find coins and other money but I’m not sure what to set as my next goal. Maybe I’ll try to hit $200 by the end of the year?

Outhustled to 6 cents by an 80 year old man

Yup, I was outhustled yesterday afternoon. I had stopped to get some gas, and after filling up, I did my normal jaunt around the pumps, checking for coins. I went one way, and then I was coming back to my car when I spotted a nickel and a penny on the ground.

But so too did an old guy coming out of the building and heading to his car. And he was closer, so he bent down (without throwing out his back) and scooped em up. Oh well….

But nevertheless I was not daunted, and went on to hit the coin cycle yesterday, my 2nd in 3 days! And with the $3.15 in coins I found on Saturday, I am now up to $96.12. I am on pace to hit $100 on the 22nd – 15 more days!

I tried to save the environment!

So I was trying to be good – trying to save the environment by combining trips. I’ve had a few things that I’ve needed to do for awhile but was just looking for the best way to combine them. Yesterday it seemed like it was all going to work out. But…. it didn’t turn out that way…

#1. To the library to return the book on CD I got when I visited all 67 counties in Alabama in 22 hours. I’ve had this book on CD sitting on my desk at work for a month or so. So I got almost to the library and realized…. the book is STILL sitting on my desk. Grr!

#2. To a guy’s apartment to buy a Nintendo 64 off of Craigslist. I’ve moved past exploiting inefficiencies in the secondary BTFE market and instead have moved on to the used N64 market. Looking for people on Craigslist mostly that are just trying to get rid of the systems, not realizing that certain games sell for $10-20 each on eBay. I will post more about this later. This trip went well and I was able to get a console (with memory card!), 2 controllers, 3 games (including Paper Mario which sells for $20 itself) for $20 total.

#3. To a carpet outlet store. We have been cleaning up the new part of the basement to use as a play room. We were looking to get some carpet or a rug to lay down there. So I thought I would check these folks to see if they had any scraps that they would sell. We did get a bid on a 20×12 section for $140 or so, but I’m not sure if we want to spend even that much. Still, that was a successful trip. I knew it would be since as soon as I got out of my car in the parking lot, I looked down and found a penny!

#4. To the BMV to renew my driver’s license, which expired the next day. I got there, after almost missing my turn, slamming on the brakes, skidding, and nearly hopping the curb. I go inside, take my number, and pull out my wallet to get my old driver’s license, only to find… that it was gone. I have no idea where it went. Couldn’t find it at work or home or anywhere. So… naturally they like to see that when renewing. Bonus – there was a pop machine outside with a dime underneath :)

After I got home at the end of the day, I took S. with me to go to a different BMV which was open late, with my birth certificate and social security card. Massive problems finding it! I’m sure that all the gas I saved combining trips earlier in the day was wasted as I drove back and forth on this road trying to find the stupid BMV. I eventually did find it and got in with 3 minutes to spare till closing time. I waited my turn and filled out my paperwork. I was excited for a) no corrective lenses and b) dropping my weight from 195 to 180. I filled out the 180 part and then they processed it and gave me the sheet to review and kept the weight at 195. I pointed that out and the guy was like “Oh it’s okay – the state doesn’t care”. And I was like yeah but I do! I didn’t lose 20 pounds so my driver’s license can still say I’m a fattie! I didn’t say all that of course but I thought it! And even though they gave me the “Eat Death customer who comes in 3 minutes before close and causes hassle” look, I stood my ground and they re-did it. So I got that goin for me.

And I suppose, if you were to pick a day to lose your driver’s license, the day before it expires is not a bad day to do it!!!!

In which I invite the lady behind me in line at Staples to shut right up

So I took the kids out to the mall-ish area this evening to give their mom a break. And to look for coins of course!!! (6 quarters, 3 dimes, 1 nickel and 8 pennies – the coin cycle baby!).

Also I wanted to stop by Staples. I had gotten a $10 off $10 coupon for Office Max in the mail. I was going to just put it on eBay, but I saw that there were tons of them on eBay and they were going for about $3 or $4. Not bad, but then I got to thinking and decided to buy stamps there. I like Staples more than Office Max (and it’s more convenient) and they all take competitor’s coupons.

So we got there and originally I was going to buy envelopes along with 1 book of stamps (to get over the $10 limit) but the cheapest envelopes at Staples were $6.99?!?!? So instead I decided to just buy 2 books of stamps.

So we’re checking out and first there was a delay because they only had 1 book up front so some guy had to come with more books. And then the cashier was having math trouble figuring out how much to charge for each book (he couldn’t just take the $10 off the total – he had to price adjust the books themselves for whatever reason). So we’re causing some delays which I am of course used to, and then the lady behind me pipes up with

“I thought it was illegal to use a coupon on stamps – a federal law”

Umm hello – way to dealblock me lady, to paraphrase a somewhat lewd term. And hence the title of my post. The cashier starts saying yeah I don’t know maybe you’re right. And he double checks the back as I point out – Nope nope nothing on the back that says you can’t use them (lots of times there are exclusions on stamps)

But I was just annoyed by this lady’s piping up. I didn’t say anything to her there because a) I’m a wimp and b) I didn’t want to make any kind of scene because I was hoping to stay under the radar so the transaction could proceed.

In the end, it all worked out and I got my 40 stamps for $6.80

Another change spotter

Check out this article from CNN.  A Staten Island family has found over $1100 in 3 1/2 years.  I did look at their blog, which is at changepot.blogspot.com, looking for ideas, but didn’t find any. I’m sure they get more just from being in NYC where there are just more people.

Good vomit story

So – classic story that I want to share. We have recently been sick in our family, of the vomitous variety. As many of you undoubtedly know, one of the downsides of having multiple children is that they all get sick. And they don’t even have the consideration to all get sick at once. Nope, one gets sick, then they get better and get the next one sick, who in turn infects the next, etc. And sometimes by the time everyone’s done, we’ve caught something else.

So yeah, recently several of our kids had gotten sick. Carolyn and I managed to avoid the illness, most likely becuase we do silly things like “Don’t drink out of the cups of people that are sick” and “Wash our hands” – you know, crazy wacky wild ideas like that. So I took the last remaining non-sickie to Cub Scouts and on the way back (after eating pizza and Gatorade), he tells me as we’re driving back “I don’t feel good”. I ask him if he’s going to throw up and he says yes. So we stop the car, get out, and he barfs all over the side of the road.

On a side note, let me just tell you how refreshing it is to actually have some children that can throw up in the toilet. As opposed to, say, wherever they happen to be. I’d say we have 2 1/2 kids that can manage that right now. As a 2nd side note, if you’re walking around Hyde Park, I’d avoid Paxton Avenue, IYKWIM.

So yeah we get back in the car and flee the scene before anyone comes out and notices us. He says he’s feeling better and you know how you get after you throw up – you feel a little better having cleared things up, so to speak. So I decide to continue on with our grocery shopping. In hindsight this was a clear “Dad” move.

So we’re at Sam’s Club and we had just finished checking out and he again says that he’s not feeling good. So I’m like “Alright” and we start busting for the bathroom. Really it was a pretty convenient time – we had already checked out, and we were up at the front of the store near the bathrooms. So we were booking it – I’m pushing the cart and he’s right there with me. I get to the bathroom and stop to leave the cart and get him into the bathroom when I look back and notice he’s a few steps behind me. HE HAD STOPPED TO PICK UP A PENNY THAT WAS ON THE GROUND!!!!! This was a crucial delay and cost us – as he threw up in the foyer by the water fountains and then again at the entrance to the men’s room.

So clearly I am doing a good job of teaching him the rules of coin picking up, I am not doing so great a job at teaching him the rules of vomit / bladder control. As anyone who has thrown up and/or nearly peed / pooed their pants knows, any delay can be crucial. And most importantly, once you feel it is “safe”, then your body just starts going. That’s why so many people have accidents right when they get to the bathroom but before you make it to the actual toilet (or get your pants down). You have spent so much time, effort, and mental concentration getting to the bathroom that once you make it, your mind is like “Ahhhh we’re safe now”.

Anyway just thought I’d share

So I may have been mistaken for a homeless person

First of all apologies to those of you I’ve already told this story.  But yes, I fear I may have been mistaken for a homeless person yesterday.  I was out at the mall last night with my 2 older children.  I had gone there to walk around because I was in a pedometer challenge (who could take the most steps from the 23rd to the 30th) and it was the last day and I wanted to do my best to help my team to win.  And also to look for coins of course, as the mall is a great place for coins.

So we were walking around the food court and we had spotted a few coins.  We had stopped to get a drink at the water fountain in the corner of the food court when this girl (maybe 10-12 years old) says “Excuse me” to my son.  We stop and turn, and she gives him $1.17 in coins and then leaves.
Now originally I just thought that her mom or whoever had seen him looking for coins and just wanted to make his day by giving him a bunch of coins.  And I still think that’s a reasonable possibility.  But then this morning Carolyn came up with the homeless hypothesis: that the mom or whoever saw us scrounging for coins and thought we were trying to come up with enough for a meal for the kids and thought she would help out.

In any case, I have decided not to count that money in my change quest.  I actually feel kind of bad about it, especially if she really was intending for it to help us out.  So I am going to donate it at church on Sunday and that way it can go for some good.

The weird thing is that we had just come from a (rare!) dinner out at Larosas. We had dressed all the kids up in the hopes that it would cause them to behave better than a typical kid at a restaurant scene. It worked, but that is neither here nor there. I bring it up because I was dressed in my work clothes. The son was dressed similarly in khakis and a button down shirt, and the daughter was in a nice dress. So it wasn’t like we were all lookin scruffy.

But in other news, we did find $1.45 in just run of the mill coins (1 quarter, 9 dimes, 1 nickel and 25 pennies) and also found 3 of the racecar strollers that were not returned to their bases, which we returned for 4 quarters each.  Total is now up to $32.44 found, with an estimated $100 date of Jan. 24, 2010.

In other other news, we got killed in our challenge.  One of the other teams both did 25,000 steps both yesterday and the day before and wasted us.

Milk weirdness

So I’m a comparison shopper as you can probably imagine.  I regularly go to 3 or 4 stores during the week.  Since all of our grocery stores are within a mile or so, the dollars you can save by shopping at the places with the lowest prices on the various stuff are more than worth the pennies it takes in gas.

I usually take a kid or 4, and we make it an adventure.  Plus, this gives us plenty of places to look for coins :-)

So while I was out today I noticed some weirdness in the prices of milk.  While I was out at Walmart earlier in the week, I noticed that milk was $2.48 a gallon, so I put that on the list to buy there.  But when I went to buy it today, I saw that only Vitamin D and 2% were $2.48.  1% was like $2.69 and skim was $3.00!  So that’s weird but not unheard of.  But then a bit later when I was at Sam’s club, I noticed that skim was $2.62, with 1%, 2% and Vitamin D all progressively more.

In other words – the complete opposite?  That made no sense.  I could believe it if you explained it to me that the extra fat in the 2% and Vitamin D made it more expensive.  And I suppose I’d consider believing if you explained it to me that the extra fat came naturally and it cost more to take it out for the skim or 1%.  BUT I’M CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO BELIEVE BOTH OF THOSE!!!!!!!

In non-related news, while I was at Meijer, someone had left a $5 bill in the cash return of the self-scan machine.  I waited for someone to come back and claim it but nobody did, so since there was nobody really to return it to, I kept it.  Too bad that doesn’t count for the change race!

I love when grocery stores pay me!

So there was a deal at Kroger this past week or so (actually I think it has been going on for the past 4 weeks but I just found out about it – it ends today). Buy 6 Powerade Zero 32oz and get a coupon for $4 off your next order.

Since the Powerades are only 79 cents, 6 of them is like $5.15 after tax, so with the $4 coupon, it’s like 19 cents a Powerade. But of course, I got myself some .50/1 coupons, which double (up to the 79 cents) and make them free – so you make $4 for each set of 6.

I did that a few times today, and each time I had to play like 20 cents for the 6 of them (tax) and then got $4 back. But the last time, I forgot to put in my Kroger Plus card till the guy had already started ringing up the transaction. Since they’re $1.19 without the card, they all were ringing up at that, and then when he scanned the coupons, they doubled the whole amount (up to $1), since the computer thought they were $1.19. And then at the end all the 40 cents off lines came (reducing it to the card price of 79 cents), leaving me with a total of -$1.15.

So he was a little freaked out by that, but asked the manager and the manager was like “We owe him $1.15″, so they had to get a guy with a key and they opened up the drawer and handed me $1.15!! Hee hee. Makes up for the 64 cents in tax I had to pay the first 3 times.

And plus, I found a dime under the Coinstar machine on the way out, upping my total to 63 cents today (after $1.78 yesterday). I don’t have my spreadsheet in front of me, but I’m up over 9 bucks found so far!

Where have all the nickels gone?

So it’s been awhile of change finding for me and I thought I would give some reports. My Internet friend Carey has been tasked with creating a website to track change finding and I am pleased to report that this morning he made some good progress on it.

In the meantime, I am just using a spreadsheet. So, in 54 separate occurrences (on 29 distinct days) I have found $4.29. That’s 67 days since I started on June 28th, meaning there have been more zero days than coin finding days.

Breaking it down, I have found coins in 15 different municipalities in 5 states. 3 different people have found coins for me (I count coins found by me ever-growing army of minions) and an additional 4 people have tipped me off to coins.

Breaking it down another way, that’s 7 quarters, 16 dimes, 6 nickels and 64 pennies (12 of them being pre-1982 copper pennies.

So it got me to wondering, why have I found so few nickels? I had an interesting conversation yesterday with my friend Jeff who writes an incredibly boring blog about Microsoft stuff (). Since he lives in (near) Columbus, I was IMing him to ask what city / township / municipality the rest stop on I-71 just north of Columbus was. See on the way back from Cleve-o Sunday night I found a dime there and so I needed to ensure accurate reporting for my log.

In the end, we decided on “Sunbury” but that is neither here nor there. After we decided on that, the conversation went towards my dearth of nickels. He said that he also gets fewer nickels back in change. We started talking about the various price endings (00, 01 … 99) and how you only get nickels if it ends in 5-9. So I started writing up a spreadsheet with the different values and what coins you might get. Then I slapped myself and remembered Dan’s first law of the Internet. Naturally that was already done.

So what about you, dear readers? Do you also find that nickels are the least-used coin?