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Perpetual Treasure Hunters: How We Made Our Life A Never-Ending Scavenger Hunt

Updated on July 26, 2017
One day's treasure from a neighborhood walk.
One day's treasure from a neighborhood walk.

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We find at least one coin a day!
We find at least one coin a day!

Scavengers Of A Different Sort

My wife and I are a little strange when it comes to our everyday lives. We get stares from time to time as we can be found taking circuitous routes through parking lots or quickly hopping out of our car at a traffic stop in order to pick up a coin. But, we don't care too much about what others think. We're both treasure hunters, and the hunt is what it's all about!

There are different kinds of scavengers, such as dumpster divers and junkers, but we're neither of those. We don't really plan things out ahead of time, we just stay alert and let treasures come to us as we go about our daily lives. We are always tuned in to what sort of places might have lost or discarded items, and then we scan the ground. We know that most people don't spend a lot of time looking down as they walk, and this is why most people don't find treasures as often as we do.

Everyone has found lost money before, but how often? We average more than one coin per day just by staying alert. Though not as common, we also find paper money more often than most people. I'd estimate that we find lost bills at a rate of one every two months.

Money is certainly fun to find, but we also find many other items that have been lost or discarded, such as tools, hardware, electronic gear, buttons, toys, and items that provide little windows into other people's lives.

It Started With A Stroll Around the Neighborhood

A few years ago my wife and I decided to start exercising more, so we began taking leisurely walks near our home. We soon found that most of our discussions during these walks were about the litter we were seeing everywhere. So, we decided to start taking grocery bags with us to collect the trash. Our goal was to gradually clean up the neighborhood in order to make our walks more pleasant.

Little Treasures

At first, we picked up larger items of trash such as bottles, cans, fast food cups, wrappers, and bags, but gradually these items became more scarce, so we then moved on to smaller things like bottle caps and cigarette butts. That's when we started finding coins and other items of interest.

Jewelry is a common find.
Jewelry is a common find.

Sharing

We were finding interesting things every time we walked, so I created a Facebook group called, Look What I Found! to give us a place to showcase and catalog everything. It's an open group so others can post, as well. In the group, I keep a running total on the money we've found in our neighborhood, plus a total for money we've found elsewhere.

Finding monetary coins is easy. Finding a token like this is rare!
Finding monetary coins is easy. Finding a token like this is rare!

A New Goal

Our original cleaning-up-the-neighborhood-to-make-our-walks-more-pleasant goal gradually changed as we kept finding new treasures. It was the hunt, especially for coins, that became our primary focus. What would we find today? Could we keep our money streak alive? This new focus turned our exercise time into something much more interesting than we had expected. We still pick up trash, and many of our neighbors thank us as they see us going up and down the streets, but the hunt for treasure is what it's mainly about now!

We found this smart phone cord along the road and took it home. Though it's a little worse for the wear, it works just fine.
We found this smart phone cord along the road and took it home. Though it's a little worse for the wear, it works just fine.

The Great Beyond

Soon, the two of us began looking for treasure outside our neighborhood. We were amazed at how easy it was to find lost or discarded items while going about our daily business. It seems that people lose or toss things away quite often, and all we have to do is look for them. Now, whenever we stop at a service station, for example, we scan the ground around the pumps. If we go inside a grocery or convenient store, we scan the floor as we shop. If we're in a parking lot, we check between cars while we walk to the entrance. By simply looking, we find treasure constantly.

The oldest coin we've found so far (1942).
The oldest coin we've found so far (1942).

What Qualifies As Treasure?

My wife and I ask the following questions when we find an item of interest:

1. Is it money?
2. Is it useful?
3. Is it photogenic?
4. Is it mysterious?
5. Is it humorous?
6. Does it tell a story?

If the answer to any of these is "yes," we call it treasure. Of course, you can create your own criteria.

Tips For Finding Money...

Money is our favorite kind of treasure and we've been getting better and better at finding it. Here's how we do it...

Near the sidewalk in our neighborhood. Yep, that's a penny!
Near the sidewalk in our neighborhood. Yep, that's a penny!

Shape!

When looking for coins, don't expect them to be their normal color, especially when outdoors. Look for the shape instead.

Look in the boxes below the check-out counter!
Look in the boxes below the check-out counter!

Check-Out Counters!

One of the most common places to find coins is on the floor right below check-out counters in stores. Oh, and always look in the boxes of candy near the counter. Coins fall into them!

Just inside Kroger. See the dime?
Just inside Kroger. See the dime?

Car Keys!

Wherever people take car keys out a their pockets or purses, other items tend to accidentally fall out. We find a lot of coins near store exits and in parking lots.

In the parking lot at Applebee's.
In the parking lot at Applebee's.
Oh yeah!
Oh yeah!

Cracks!

Check all cracks. Nuff sed.

Intersections!

It may seem weird, but we find coins at street intersections all the time. We don't know why this is so, but for some reason people are losing coins where roads meet. Whenever we're waiting at a traffic signal, we look out our car windows at the ground next to us. Sometimes we have enough time to get out and pick them up before the light changes. Of course, we only do this when we feel there's no risk of holding up traffic, nor any danger of being hit by another vehicle.

Drive-Through Windows? We Say, "No!"

Drive-Throughs almost always have coins below the window, but we leave them alone. Here's why: If coins are dropped while a customer is paying, it's not uncommon for cashiers to tell them not to worry about it and simply get more change from the register. Then, later on, they go outside and collect the dropped coins to keep their register from coming up short.

Get A Grabber

If you decide to start taking neighborhood walks like we do, we recommend using a grabber device to pick up items.

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A Gallery of Our Treasures...

Check out a few more items we've found!

We have a large collection of nails, screws, and other hardware. They come in handy around the house and picking them up may prevent a few flat tires!
We have a large collection of nails, screws, and other hardware. They come in handy around the house and picking them up may prevent a few flat tires!

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We never thought we'd find one of these, but we did!
We never thought we'd find one of these, but we did!

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We found this card on the ground at a highway rest stop. We went online and plugged in the card's number. It still had $11 left on it.
We found this card on the ground at a highway rest stop. We went online and plugged in the card's number. It still had $11 left on it.

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From our perspective, even pennies like this one qualify as treasure. It's not as much about actual worth as it is about the hunt!
From our perspective, even pennies like this one qualify as treasure. It's not as much about actual worth as it is about the hunt!

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Some of the many buttons we've found.
Some of the many buttons we've found.

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All of these were picked up at one busy intersection just outside our neighborhood.
All of these were picked up at one busy intersection just outside our neighborhood.

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One day's findings.
One day's findings.

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These two items were found near each other in a church parking lot.
These two items were found near each other in a church parking lot.

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Another day's catch.
Another day's catch.

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We've found many Lego pieces over the years.
We've found many Lego pieces over the years.
These two were found at a highway rest stop.
These two were found at a highway rest stop.

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Reading glasses. Wal-Mart parking lot.
Reading glasses. Wal-Mart parking lot.

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Found on a neighborhood walk.
Found on a neighborhood walk.
Found a week later.
Found a week later.

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We enjoy finding items like this!
We enjoy finding items like this!

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Found at a highway rest stop.
Found at a highway rest stop.

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Yet another day's catch.
Yet another day's catch.

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Some items are just plain mysterious!
Some items are just plain mysterious!

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A bagful of tiny dolls.
A bagful of tiny dolls.

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Another day's findings. We were able to return the wallet to its owner after doing some online searching. I found the guy's name mentioned in Facebook posting from several years ago.
Another day's findings. We were able to return the wallet to its owner after doing some online searching. I found the guy's name mentioned in Facebook posting from several years ago.

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 "When he kissed me I said, 'What was that for?' He said, 'l thought you liked me.' I said, 'As a friend.'"
"When he kissed me I said, 'What was that for?' He said, 'l thought you liked me.' I said, 'As a friend.'"

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Chinese: Blessing, Fortune, Luck.
Chinese: Blessing, Fortune, Luck.

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The back of doughnut shop receipt.
The back of doughnut shop receipt.

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Yeah, it's fake.
Yeah, it's fake.

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Another day's cache. The background is a child's basketball camp t-shirt.
Another day's cache. The background is a child's basketball camp t-shirt.

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Share Your Photos!

If you start doing what we're doing, or if you've already been doing it, we hope you'll join our Facebook group and share photos of your treasures there.

If you're wondering what kind of camera I use, you may be surprised to know that all of them were taken with an iPhone camera. There are some wonderful features in the app that allows one to create excellent pictures. It required a lot of trial and error before I figured out how to get consistently good photos, so keep at it if you're not getting good results at first.

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Found Money Poll

What's the largest amount of money you've found at one time?

See results

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Share Your Tips!

If you have some tips for being a good scavenger, please post them in the comment section below.

We'd Love To Hear From You!

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