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What You Should Do If You Find Money Lying On the Ground

Updated on October 26, 2013

$100 Bill


Green Money

Wikimedia Commons; by J.J.
Wikimedia Commons; by J.J.

Finding Money

Almost every one of us has been in the situation where you come across money laying out in the open. It could be on a sidewalk, it could be in someone's home, it could be anywhere.

So what do you do if you see money and no one is around?

Are you tempted to take it when no one is looking?

After all, it belongs to someone.

What if you lost a sizeable amount of money - like a crisp, $100 bill.

Would you want it returned to you?

Of course you would.

You worked hard for that money, and it belongs to you.

Do you feel that you deserve this money more than the person that found it?

During tough economic times, money is harder to come by. The current leader of the U.S. is for wealth re-distribution, and wants to pull money out of one person's pocket to put it in the pocket of someone who doesn't work.

That just doesn't seem right.

Just because our current administration advocates this form of stealing, it doesn't mean that hard-working people who believe in capitalism should stoop to that level.

So consider the ethics behind taking money that is not yours, with the following options.

A Hidden Twenty at a Friend's House

See the twenty just laying there? He must not need it, right?
See the twenty just laying there? He must not need it, right? | Source

5 Things You Could Do If You Find Money That Isn't Yours

If you happen to find money that doesn't belong to you, there are several ways to respond:

  1. Pick it up and take it to the closest store. If there is no establishment nearby, then report it to the police. This is the right thing to do. One waitress was recently tipped $12,000. She turned it over to the police, and has since received a reward. Her story can be read here.
  2. Pick it up and pocket it, hoping that no one saw you. Many people would even steal from a friend's house, thinking that if it is just laying around, it's fair game. This is the unethical thing to do. Would you want someone to pocket your $100 bill that you accidentally dropped on the elevator?
  3. Ignore the money. There are some people that are so wealthy, that it costs them more money to bend over and pick up a $100 bill, than it is to keep walking. Unfortunately, 99% of us cannot relate to that kind of wealth, which is why so many people support the Occupy Wall Street movement.
  4. Point out the money to the homeless man nearby. While you had noble intentions, this money did not belong to you in the first place, which makes you as guilty as Communist leaders. They too, take money from one category of people, and give it to others, in the name of goodwill. True charity will come from your own pocket book.
  5. Go home and put up an ad on Craig's List. This option will likely draw a crowd at the location of the currency, but chances are, none of these people truly lost the money. They are opportunists, and want to get free money, because they feel entitled to it, despite not actually working for it. This is the attitude of many people who are able to go out and work, yet take advantage of the system, and sit at home, living off of welfare checks.

Next, let's consider some hypothetical situations that are common.

ATM Machines

Wikimedia Commons;by AgainErick
Wikimedia Commons;by AgainErick

Hypothetical Situation #1

As a starting example, let's say an ATM Machine (that you are standing in front of) starts spewing out money all over the ground. This money obviously does not belong to you, and you know this. However, the temptation is there to pick up the money and take it. The video camera on the ATM Machine is running, and you will go to jail for pocketing the cash.

So how is this situation any different from finding money laying on the sidewalk?

Valuable Coins

Valuable coins
Valuable coins | Source

Hypothetical Situation #2

Now, picture yourself walking downtown and you pass by a jewelry store that also deals in rare coins. You happen to see a shiny silver coin laying on the sidewalk right in front of the business door.

Do you pick it up and pocket it, or do you take it inside to the store manager?

If you took it inside the store, you did the ethical thing. Pocketing it reveals your true greed.

Honesty Poll

If you found money laying on the ground near a business, would you report it?

See results

What if...

What if you bent down to pick up what appeared to be a $50 bill on the ground, and it turned out to be a gospel tract?

See results


In a money-driven society, it is easy to lose focus of the real priorities in life.

Don't lose track of your morals and ethics, just to make a quick buck. If you think you are slipping away to the worship of money, it is time to refocus yourself on God.

God will supply all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ. -Philippians 4:19

What if?

What if you bend down to pick up what appears to be a large bill on the ground, and it turned out to be a gospel tract...

Would you feel ashamed for picking it up?

Gospel tracts in the form of money are very popular. Most people will accept a million dollar bill, even if it isn't real.

© 2012 zeke2100


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    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 3 years ago

      I am glad that this article may have helped you in some way. If you can do the right thing, then try to do that first.

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      ashley 3 years ago


      I enjoyed your writing. I was looking up this subject because I am in the grind of my continence. I found ten dollars and I feel a bit sad because I gave it to the store clerk and he told me that I should keep it after he kept it for a while and no one returned. He said that if they kept it then it would probably just end up i n their pockets. I took it back because I felt I would rather have it and know what it is used for then to never know what happened but now I'm thinking I don't feel right using it. What if it was someones last money they had or if a child lost it and is crying at home. I gave them my number but I don't think they will keep it... what do you do in a case like this? Donate? Offer it to someone you know is suffering? I'm sure whoever lost would have looked for it by now which makes me feel like they probably at this point are hoping someone who needed it worst than them has it. I would lie I need money for lots of things but I also want to know I deserve those things. how does one work that out? I thought about splitting the money up into dollars and putting it into dollar store items and then I thought of my sister but wondered if a good deed is still a good deed if it is for someone you love. It feels too much like giving to myself same for putting it up for my sons savings. How can you give a gift if it isn't yours to give and yet the alternative is to let someone else who needs nothing have it (the store own is a rich lady) This would be an interesting article. I've had this happen to me many times actually because I don't approve of finder's keepers.

    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 3 years ago


      I am not a lawyer, and state laws vary so I cannot tell you the laws, but if you can't prove that it was your money, then you are probably out of luck.

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      joe 3 years ago

      what would the law be if you found money on the ground