Probability of Finding Money


In my Zip to Blue Chip work that I started in 3/2012, I kept track of money that I found and then invested. I wrote

What is better than free (and legal!) money? I decided to do something with the free money I find. I'm going to save it until I have enough to invest in stocks which will hopefully grow in value and pay a regular, and regularly increasing, dividend (hence the "blue chip" in the title).

I'm going to apply persistence, patience, and the power of exponential growth to make sweet, free money (yes, I'll be paying taxes, of course!). This idea is something anybody can do. I'll share my progress and what I've learned along the way.

I decided to explore this idea a little further, to answer the question of "What is the probability of finding money?".

How much money you find and how frequently you find money, probably depends on your general lifestyle. For example, if you stay inside the house all day, you aren't likely to find any money. On the other hand, if you are an active metal detector enthusiast (I'm working on that), you are likely to find quite a bit. The places I frequent are probably pretty representative of what the general public does. The most common places I found money were at my employer's cafeteria, at grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and at a school's track where I exercised.

I wanted to keep track of the probability of finding money ON the ground (ie. not IN the ground, ie. not using a metal detector). I also wanted to try and not engage in behavior modification to specifically try and find more money which would skew the results. That is, I wanted to answer the question of what is the probability for a typical person doing typical things of finding money on the ground.

However, I admit I did engage in one small behavior modification because I simply couldn't resist "low hanging fruit". A few times after the local high school had a football game, the next day I'd look quickly under the bleachers for change before I started my workout of jogging around the track. A tip is, looking under the bleachers after a big game is almost guaranteed to net you some change.

Here is a graph of the results. The data span 4/24/15 to 5/8/16

The probability looks like it is converging, and the value is 44.74%. That is, if my lifestyle is representative of the general public, I can conclude that the typical person doing typical things has about a 45% chance of finding a non-zero amount of money each day.

How much did I find in total? What is the average amount I found per day? What was the largest amount I found? (You'd be VERY surprised on that one) How can you work on increasing the amount you find? How can you increase your skills of observation? I plan to keep working on this idea moving forward. While not a lot of money, it is literally free money with very little opportunity cost, and getting actual numbers to assess it was an eye-opener.

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