Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is it worth it to pick up coins off the ground?

I’m lookin for a diime.

But nah nah Tia, I don’t need a gf, I’m talking about the coin. And you should be talking about it too, because picking up dimes turns out to be a pretty good hourly wage.

I used to waffle over ground money. My habits were to almost always pick up fallen quarters, but live and live the dimes, nickles, pennies and pesos. Last night though, I dropped a dime at the grocery store and decided to leave it there. After walking away,I saw a woman sidle over to the dime and scoop it. “Daamn.” I said “What does she know that I don’t?”

So on my way to the car I did the math: some quick arithmetic for our benefit. Turns out: picking up dimes is equivalent to a VP/Consultant level paycheck. Let’s assume that it takes 3 seconds to pick up a dime from the initial bend to the pocket placement (although it would be more if you are a coin collector and brought along your magnifying glass). Given 3-second retrievals, we can extrapolate to find the hourly wage. 1 dime every 3 seconds, is 20 dimes every minute; or $2 a minute, which after 60 minutes is $120 an hour. $120 an hour works out to over 200k a year. Shiit, 200k? That’ll almost qualify you for Bush style tax cuts.

Most people usually say: “but is the one dime really going to make the difference.” And no, unless you’re at that moment ten cents short of the 1.25 you need to get a soda, it won’t. This though, is not about straws and camelbacks – we’re just talking about appropriate compensation for time worked.

(An aside: if in the future the Camelback company is brought down by a class action lawsuit that accuses a particular Camelback straw/sucking-tube of causing choking, or tooth decay, or whatever, “The Straw that Broke the Camelback” will be a great NYTimes headline.)

In finishing up thoughts on coinage: don’t let your friends tell you that you’re overly frugal for picking up dimes, because now you know that you are just trying to get paid like an executive. And if it so happens that the clique catches you picking up pennies (20k a year), a situation in which the paycheck defense is not as applicable, just tell them that you don’t like litter.

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