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My Frugal Life: GiGi's Labor of Love

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"Hey, Lady! What are you looking for?" asked the driver.

"A penny," said I from the pavement next to him.

"Here, I'll give you a penny," he offered as he reached for the change in his console.

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"Oh, that's so kind of you, but no thanks," I managed, embarrassed, "It's sort of a game I'm playing, and I need to find the penny myself. You know (I lied), for luck."

At that moment, his car moved along with the rest of the traffic, and I continued my quest for the penny in the gutter. When I found it, I stuck it in my shoe, remounted my bike, and took off.

The fifteen years I've spent searching the streets for money, I've had additional roadside encounters. Like the time some teenage boys yelled, "Speed up, Grandma," as I ran by. Or when two elderly gentlemen, just back from picking in the fields, held out a box of strawberries and said, "You look like you need them more than we do." Lately, several city bus drivers have made unscheduled stops to offer me rides.

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When the weather is good and I'm up to footing it or biking, I venture forth several days a week. I frequent intersections, bus stops, and expressway ramps, but avoid wealthy neighborhoods and sidewalks. I'm not afraid of nights (lights help) or foreign countries; I once found a quarter while I was jogging along a highway in Jamaica, or tokens (those gold coins I'd been tossing back, I later found were dollars).

Back home, mission accomplished for the day, and safe from the noise and fumes of traffic and the curious eyes of passersby, I sort my loot. Then I divide it evenly among five porcelain piggy banks that occupy a shelf of honor in my front room. These aren't just ordinary banks. They're works of art; plump (of course), and mostly pink, white, or blue. One has wings, and one has a crown. The most unusual is a daisy covered chartreuse bunny.

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For weeks, I've had to tap, jiggle, and stand the "piggies" on their heads to get them to accept more coins, so yesterday, I felt we'd all had enough. From 7:00am until 7:00pm, I emptied them, then stacked, rolled, and counted that dirty, smelly money. I ended up with about what I had felt in my bones was there - $203.93. The rolls were so heavy I had to borrow a suitcase with wheels to get them to the credit union. The animals? Well, they seem relieved to have crisp, clean dollar bills in their bellies.

Somewhere down the road, my dear grandchildren will benefit from their banks. It's not the money I have in mind; I'd have to walk across America for that. It's the spirit of it all that has value. Tolan, for example, who's almost three, hasn't yet met his bunny bank, but he'll inherit Gigi's lore, those coin collection stories the family chuckles about from time to time.

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And, thanks to the many hours of road-work, I have enough endurance for the middle grandboys, Cole (11) and Cuyler (7). They tell me, "Gigi, you're not like other grannies. You get out and do stuff with us." Yes, that's true, and it's the memories of those experiences; like geo-caching together. That I hope to be their legacy. Finally, Tayler and Matt, the teenagers, will have something tangible to hold onto, and something visible to help them recall their Gigi and my love for them all.

By Viaux from Miami, FL

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October 7, 20110 found this helpful

I loved your story. Thanks for sharing and welcome to Thrifty Fun. Hope to hear more from you.

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October 10, 20110 found this helpful

I like your story! What a good idea to find money and keep it for your grandkids. (I also like to look for coins but I am not so good about saving them. Usually it gets put in my coin bank and as soon as I have enough to roll I take it to the bank and then pay bills with it! It is just me and my two kitties in my home.)

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October 18, 20110 found this helpful

What a nice story! And that you're saving it for your grand kids makes it even more special! It's funny how many people give you odd looks & think you're crazy for picking up coins on the street - why bend over for a penny? My answer- those pennies add up!

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My former father-in-law was always going for walks. He'd walk along the main roads in town, along the highway, in parking lots - and he found money everywhere he went! Sometimes just a few coins, sometimes bills $20s! One time he was driving & something fell out of the back of the truck in front of him. He stopped & picked it up - turned out to be the entire payroll for the local grocery store!

They rewarded him with the making of a nice steak dinner for him & his wife. Strangely, he said he always found the most money around the highway on & off ramps - always left me wondering how people managed to lose money there?

The man is in his 80s now & as healthy as a horse because of all his walking, although he's unable to do it as much now.

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October 20, 20110 found this helpful

What a quirky, warm tale, and a lovely remembrance for your grandchildren. Bless you, keep walkin' :)

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