Looking for change -- the loose kind

Hand holding coins

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

KAI RYSSDAL: We can usually tell what stories are going to generate the most e-mails from you. But one that did this year was kind of a surprise. It wasn't about the bailout or the market troubles or the election -- although it was about change: Hunting for nickels and dimes on the sidewalk.

Back in August our reporter Sally Herships met up with a family in New York City that's built a sizable savings, all from money found on the ground. We got part of the Humphrey family, Scott and his 5-year-old daughter Karen, on the phone to find out where their nest egg stands now.

Scott, welcome back to the program.

SCOTT HUMPHREY: It's good to talk to you.

RYSSDAL: How long have you guys been looking for money now?

SCOTT HUMPHREY: We actually started about two years ago, off and on. The change pot really started to kick in last year. We've collected, I think the last time we checked it was a little over a thousand.

RYSSDAL: Put Karen on the phone for me would you.

SCOTT HUMPHREY: Karen. Just tell them that you -- what you do.

Karen HUMPHREY: We pick up change on the floor and we, and we find change at the mall.

RYSSDAL: And where do you put it, Karen?

Karen HUMPHREY: In the change pot.

RYSSDAL: Can you actually pick up your change pot? Or is it too heavy?

Karen HUMPHREY: It's too heavy.

RYSSDAL: Alright, good. Let me talk to your dad, would you?

SCOTT HUMPHREY: OK, OK.

RYSSDAL: Hey Scott, where is all the money now? What are you guys doing with it?

SCOTT HUMPHREY: My wife put it in ING.

RYSSDAL: ING -- it's in the bank.

SCOTT HUMPHREY: Yes, compounding interest. I think we're up around $1,200 or $1,300.

RYSSDAL: When you found out how much you were saving, I mean, how did things change? You know, nickels and dimes are great, but when you start getting up to $10, $20, $30, $40 in the bank, you really sort of start thinking about it differently, don't you?

SCOTT HUMPHREY: We became a lot more fiscal. When we would do our shopping, we'd be more conscious of what we were doing. And it actually kind of turned into a recycling thing. Because when we're around the neighborhood we find that we're not only picking up change, but we're picking up, you know, we're help beautifying our neighborhood where we live at in Staten Island.

RYSSDAL: Yeah and, which is great, but do your neighbors ever look at you kind of funny?

SCOTT HUMPHREY: Oh of course! One of my neighbors -- he walks the three dogs -- he goes, "What are you doing?" I said, "I found a nickel." He goes, "It's only a nickel." I said, "Well, for you it's only a nickel, for me it's $1,197.25." And he's like, "What?" And I told him, and he's like, "You did not!" But I'm like, that's OK, you can think I'm nuts and when I'm on the plane flying to Hawaii we'll see who's nuts.

RYSSDAL: How much longer do you think you're going to keep this up, or are you going to do it forever?

SCOTT HUMPHREY: I'll probably do it forever. I'll probably incorporate my kids with it, because when they move out they can start theirs -- it'll be like change pot part 1, change pot part 2. When my kids start learning how to blog, we'll probably have them start their own.

RYSSDAL: Scott Humphrey and his family look for change wherever they go. We did a story on them back in August. That blog he was mentioning, you can find a link to it on our website, it's Marketplace.org. While you're there you can listen to the story that Sally Herships did for us. Scott, thanks a lot.

SCOTT HUMPHREY: Thank you very much. You have a wonderful, Happy New Year.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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