Incidental assets

by Susan Writer. 0 Comments

When I was cleaning out my mother’s bedroom closet a few years ago — the one in which she squirreled away things for more than five decades — I came across a sizeable stash of small currency, discreetly tucked in zipped-up purses and out-of-style slacks. It came to nearly $300, mostly in $1s, $5s, and $10s.

This forgotten fortune was along the same lines, but on a far grander scale, than the occasional crumpled $20 bill I pull out of a jacket I haven’t put on since last fall, or the jeans reserved for “those days.” These pocket banks are wonderful sources of funds, often when I could really use them; my personal fee-free ATMs.

My husband has his own special savings account accumulating on top of his dresser. At the end of the day, he deposits the loose change from his pockets in a large tin can that was originally full of Boy Scout air-pop popcorn kernels. A couple times a year, he hefts the colorful container to the bank and empties its contents into the coin machine. So far, the proceeds from this gradually amassed wealth have been exchanged for a new gas grill, several nice dinners out, and a small, yet significant supply of mad money for the man who works so hard to keep us in the style to which we’ve become accustomed.

Pennies from heaven come in all different shapes and sizes, like this year’s unusual tax “return.”

For the first time we were no longer able to claim our oldest child as a dependent, and initial computations showed us facing a scary $1500 tax liability. Considering we usually intentionally overpay on our estimated taxes so we get at least a little back each year (our non-interest bearing “IRS Savings Account”), it was quite a shock to be facing not only a tax bill, but a pretty steep one.

Then the pleasantly unexpected happened. Once all the keys were punched and adjustments made, we ended up owing a mere $500, some of which was offset by a small refund from the state. WOW! I nearly hugged our accountant. Sometimes it really is a case of “It’s the thought that counts.” Having already mentally parted with $1500 for better than a week, restoring two thirds — if only theoretically — felt like hitting the lottery, or getting paid twice for what I earned just once.

Being a realist, I know I’m not going to suddenly wake up rich one morning. I own a cottage industry, never buy Powerball tickets, and have one and a half more kids to get through college. Fortunately, my needs are modest and I do have my minor saving strategies and successes: I paid for a third of last year’s Christmas shopping with the odds and ends of leftover cash I’d put aside from our weekly household budget; I clip coupons (and sometimes even remember to take them with me to the grocery store); and every once in a while, I reach into a coat pocket and find a tiny windfall, so that for a few moments, at least, I’m plenty flush enough. 


From her Woodsboro home base, Susan writes a regular column for and is one of FNP’s Board of Contributors. She can be reached at

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