When Leslie Stein found a $20 bill in the cross walk on her way home, she didn’t just put it in her wallet for her next trip to Starbuck’s. She decided to see what would happen if she started paying attention to the pennies & other change she passed every day on her 2-mile walk to work.
“I’m a nerd at heart, so I wanted to collect data with my pennies!” The coach/facilitator for Full Circle Inspiration skipped the piggy bank and started tracking her finds on a detailed spreadsheet, calling her venture ‘The Penny Project.’ She was amazed to see it wasn’t just cents but dollars she was bringing home every month. What started as idle curiosity soon became passion as the money continued to add up. She began sharing her story, started a blog about her penny-finding adventures, and even ended up in a documentary about pennies.
Before long her enthusiasm spread and she found herself adding columns to the spreadsheet as friends, family and acquaintances donated their found money. “I had no idea my little project would be interesting to others. But I ended up getting tons of e-mails, text messages and calls when my friends found pennies!” Watching the project grow as everyone had fun in the hunt for pennies inspired Leslie to expand the project in a useful way.
Always having had a passion for financial literacy, Leslie began exploring ways to get kids excited about saving their pennies. She donated the first $500 The Penny Project collected to help fund the inaugural Young Women’s National Conference (YWNC), where she presented a program to teach teenage girls the importance of saving, spending wisely, and how to give back to local charities as they grow up.
Her fellow penny finders love the idea and are supporting her success with their pennies too. “What better way to give back to the community than to teach the next generation to continue giving!”
This year the project has continued to evolve as definitions of “found money” expand (anyone checked the bottom of your washing machine on laundry day lately…it could be a goldmine!), donations are now included, and Leslie uses “penny wisdom” to offer workshops for groups or individuals. The money will once again be donated to YWNC…but this time all those pennies have added up to $1,000.
All of this penny madness just keeps getting more & more fun. And boy is it productive?! Who knows how many pennies well find in 2011…
Stop by our website to keep up with the goings on. Or submit your pictures & stories to wind up on the penny wall of fame! Ah, the joy of small joys!
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