General Question

pshizzle's avatar

I found money on the ground. What should I do?

Asked by pshizzle (1100points) February 4th, 2012 from iPhone

I was at the public library and as I was walking up the stairs to the second floor, I found a $10 bill on the stairs. The person I think that may have lost it left. Should I turn it in, or is it finders keepers?

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47 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Well…if you think you KNOW who might have lost it, duh! Give it back.

pshizzle's avatar

@Coloma They left right when I was about to give it to them, and I do not know them personally.

KatawaGrey's avatar

It’s only ten dollars and you did try to give it back. It’s yours now. :)

jrpowell's avatar

Just keep it. They left and you made a reasonable effort to return it. If you feel guilty you can give it to a homeless person or shelter.

zenvelo's avatar

I would go to the librarian and give them your phone number in case someone comes in looking for the money they lost. Don’t give it to anyone else, and don’t tell anyone the amount of the bill. If you don’t get a call in a couple of days, it’s yours.

digitalimpression's avatar

It is only 10 bones. I agree that you should keep it.

Coloma's avatar

@pshizzle DO know who they are, so, do the right thing and return the money.
Would you want someone to return the $10 if it was you that lost it. A no brainer IMO.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Assuming I am understanding the situation correctly, it’s yours now. Following @zenvelo‘s recommendation seems to me a good thing to do, but above and beyond the call of duty.

@Coloma I think what @pshizzle means is that he doesn’t know the person at all. Not their name, not where they live, nothing. It’s just a case of situational recognizability. I once returned a wallet that had been dropped in front of me. I had to chase a guy through a parking lot to do so. I “knew” who had dropped it insofar as I knew “guy with leather coat and black hair dropped this wallet.” I didn’t “know” who had dropped it in a way that would have enabled me to return it without the help of an identification card in the wallet, however—a feature conspicuously lacking on cash. Having a situational idea about who did something doesn’t translate to having a positive ID.

marinelife's avatar

Enjoy! Or pay it forward by giving it to a charity.

john65pennington's avatar

An angel says to turn it in.

The devil says to head to McDonalds and buy a burger.

The choice is yours….................................

SpatzieLover's avatar

I say turn it in to the librarian. If no one claims it, the library can use the funds.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I remember finding a twenty about 55 years ago. Middle of the street three miles from my house but down the street where we played ball. Summer time and the Good Humor loved me buying ice cream for the team. Keep the change for me.

auhsojsa's avatar

If I lost ten bucks at the library I would be delighted to have it handed back. I have no money to my name at the moment! Anything helps.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @auhsojsa

The way things are for many at this time that $10 might have been someones pet food budget for the week, or their gas money for 2 more days. Poor hungry kitty and stranded person…shame on you! lol

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Coloma: So you want @pshizzle to run around the city looking for a random person who lost 10 bucks? Does @pshizzle‘s time and money matter in this scenario? Or are they just selfish if they don’t expend a bunch of resources running around looking for someone they don’t know and may have no more than the vaguest description of? Did you stop and think that maybe @pshizzle needs that money? Maybe that’s gas money so s/he sorry @pshizzle, not sure on your gender can go to a job interview or buy a sandwich for lunch or get dog food for a poor hungry puppy. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

Edit to add: It’s ten fucking dollars. If it was a hundred, that would be a different scenario. Running around looking for a random person over ten fucking dollars is ridiculous.

Coloma's avatar

@KatawaGrey I think it was suggested to turn it into the library with a description of the person who lost it. Or, to pay it forward by donating it or doing something of a charitable nature instead of just pocketing it. Hey, each to his own level of integrity. I just don’t think that keeping it is ethical when these other options are available. It’s also possible to just hang onto it and keep an eye out for the library patron in the future if @pshizzle is a regular library patron.

I left my wallet in a grocery cart awhile back and an honest person found it and turned it into the store. I was very grateful and I think we should always aspire to do the right thing. If someone won’t turn in $10 bucks they sure as shit aren’t going to turn in $100 or a $1000 or $10,000.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@pshizzle: If you saw someone drop it and they were right there, then yeah, the nice thing to do would be to call out and give it to them. If that wasn’t possible, then, hey, it’s found money, now, it’s yours. Like @KatawaGrey says, if it was a hundred dollars, then fine, make an effort. But ten? That person may very likely not know they lost it until it’s too late to try to retrace their steps. And as sad as it is that they dropped it, maybe they should have had it a little more securely on their person. I know accidents happen, I’ve lost money myself, and I’ve learned to keep it more secure.

@Coloma : It wasn’t a wallet, it was a ten dollar bill. Big difference.

Coloma's avatar

@JilltheTooth Integrity is integrity, big or small. Just like a lie is a lie. The issue is not about the amount, it is about not keeping something that does not rightfully belong to you. It wasn’t found in the weeds in the middle of a vacant lot or on the side of a highway, it was found in a specific place that the person who lost it can return to to see if someone turned it in. That’s all.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Coloma: Actually, when I was in middle school, I found a hundred dollar bill on my way home from school. I would have just pocketed ten dollars because, as I said, it’s just ten dollars. When I found this hundred dollar bill, there was no one around. I didn’t just pocket it. I went into the business that was right there and I asked everyone if they had lost some money. No one had. If there had been other businesses around or if there had been people around, I would have asked around. As it was, there was nothing I could do so I did pocket it then. Should I have gone and stood outside that business every single day for a year until someone came up to me claiming to have lost a hundred dollar bill? You say it’s not about the amount, but it is. IT’S. TEN. FUCKING. DOLLARS.

Fuck, this is what I get for taking the time to actually pay attention to what you write.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Coloma : I get that their is no room for any kind of judgment call on that black and white mountain of yours, it must make life away from the human world very easy indeed. In my land of many colors there are many variations and degrees of life experience. Integrity is a concept that has more to do with honor and respect than it does with absolutes. There is a difference between a wallet lost and a ten dollar bill that only might have been dropped by someone that the OP can’t identify and can only vaguely describe.
What a ridiculous discussion. I’m going to go eat soup.

Coloma's avatar

@KatawaGrey No need to be so defensive and over reactive, that $10 bucks might be really important to the person that lost it, so your reducing it to an “only” doesn’t fly kiddo.
@JilltheTooth I’m well aware of your issues with my ideas of integrity, key word ” your”, bottom line, the money was found in a public library and ideally it should be turned in, but hey…I agree…time to move on. Have a great day! :-)

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
zenvelo's avatar

My approach was to make a small effort to return it if the person claimed it in a day or two. I fit was important to them, then they would make an effort to inquire at the library. If not, @pshizzle would with full integrity keep the found money.

But @KatawaGrey where is the inflection point between keeping and making an effort to return it? What if it was only fifty fucking dollars? That’s barely a tank of gas, no big fucking deal. Or a hundred?

The amount does not set the morality.

Coloma's avatar

@zenvelo ” The amount does not set the morality” well put.
Exactly, one can rationalize all they want, and they usually do when it’s what THEY want.
Takes situational ethics to a whole new level, which often means confusing ethics with opportunism for many. If integrity is about honesty and honor then your original suggestion is the honest and honorable approach.

mrrich724's avatar

In cases like these, I keep and feel guilt free. B/C I am nowhere near sure that the person behind the counter is going to ensure it gets back to the right person. So if the librarian is going to end up with 10 free dollars, why not you?!

Coloma's avatar


Sooo…because you automatically assume someone else might not be honest that justifies you not being honest? lol Funny. Sorry, I gotta stop…it’s just so amusing to me all the ways people rationalize in service to self.

anartist's avatar

Find a penny. Pick it up.
All day long you’ll have good luck.

I once found a $20.00 bill under a cigarette vending machine [remember those?—the vending machines, not the twenties]. No known owner. I kept it with please. Why give it to the bartender to take home?

augustlan's avatar

I would turn it in to the librarian, and hope for the best.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Response moderated (Off-Topic)
chyna's avatar

It seems to me that finding this money is bothering you or you wouldn’t have asked this question. I would call the library tomorrow (if it is open on Sunday) and ask if anyone had reported losing any money. Don’t tell them you found 10.00. If no, keep it. If yes, get the information and if it’s the 10 bucks you found, turn it in. Enough time has passed that someone knows they have lost it by now.

SuperMouse's avatar

Library employee here. In my time at the library (a university library where our average patron is a cash strapped college student), we have had probably $100 in lost funds turned in to lost and found. Not a single person has ever come looking for their cash. We hold on to it for a month or so then consider it a donation to our Library Friends.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Coloma what is perfect?

I am not sure where I land on the keep it/give it turn it in aspect of this question. I don’t really think it is @pshizzle‘s responsibility to chase the patron. In all honesty, I think I would look at it as more “finders keepers” and not necessarily a reflection on integrity of the finder. I do like @zenvelo‘s suggestion and in reality I don’t think the person who lost it is going to come looking. To me it isn’t as much about the amount of money as it is about the reality that if I lost a ten dollar bill I would probably retrace my steps to an extent, chalk it up to lost pretty quick, and believe the person who picked it up needed it more than I did.

Coloma's avatar

@SuperMouse That the unclaimed monies benefit the library.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Coloma ahh, I agree with that! I was bucking for splitting it among the student workers, but no such luck.~

Coloma's avatar

@SuperMouse Well…it could go in a pool for an after hours library staff party. :-)

jca's avatar

Correct me if I’m wrong: The OP, @pshizzle, said he is not positive who lost it. He said, “The person I think may have lost it is gone.” I say keep it, and don’t expend so much energy on $10. A wallet, yes, credit cards, yes, a huge sum, yes, $10, no.

augustlan's avatar

For what it’s worth, years and years ago I went to great lengths to find the owner of a 20 dollar bill that was dropped in my own front yard. My efforts were successful, and the 20 was returned. The person was extremely grateful, as the loss of 20 bucks was pretty significant for her.

Informing the librarian doesn’t seem all that out of the way to me.

Coloma's avatar


Good for you! We should never assume that even a small amount of money is insignificant to another. Maybe that $10 was a little kids gift from grama and they are heartbroken they lost it, or, it is the last $10 someone has to last them a couple of days.
As long as an “honest” effort is made, the finder has behaved with integrity.

Pandora's avatar

If you need it keep it. If you don’t than either give it to the library as suggested or find the owner, or give it to someone who needs it.
When I lose money I always try to consider that maybe it went to someone who may need it or has a better idea of what to do with it.

mrrich724's avatar

@Coloma your assumptions about who’s it may have been, what positivity it may be used for . . . I mean, come on how is a library staff party any more righteous than the OP keeping it anyway . . . etc aren’t any more justified than someone keeping it because it is more than evident that it’s simply NOT going to get back to the person who dropped it.

Since it isn’t going to get back to the OP, there is no one better thing to do with it than another, so the OP keeping it doesn’t have to be rationalized. It’s simply a choice that’s no better or worse than any other choice.

Coloma's avatar

@mrrich724 I was being humorous about the library party, my point was that rationalizing not being honest based on the assumption someone else might not be honest is a weak rationale. Again, IDEALLY someone would turn it in, but I am very aware that my ideals are not those of everyone. I just don’t hang with faulty reasoning and integrity bashing, as if there could be such a thing as “too much” integrity. Better more than less. Okay…this horse is more than dead, it’s fertilizer now. ;-)

ScurvyChamp's avatar

If you feel bad about keeping it, give it to someone! The last large sum of money I found was in college, and I gave it to the college’s charity day. It’s a pretty safe bet that whoever earned that money wouldn’t mind that that’s where it went!

mrrich724's avatar

Oh. I just didn’t pick up the humor :/ Which is uncharacteristic b/c I’m pretty sarcastic LOL

shuntrice's avatar

In this instance, if the person had left, i would go to the librarian and tell her that if someone comes in saying that they had lost some money, tell them to give me a call because only the person that lost it would know how much the amount of the money that was lost. I would not tell the librarian because she would take the money and probably never mention it to anyone. The person would have to tell me how much money they lost before i would give it to them.

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