Thursday, April 30, 2009

Journal Entry, April 30, 2009

Journal Entry: Weight = 177.6; Coinage = $1.10, ten pennies, 3 nickels, 6 dimes, 1 quarter; Glass bottles retrieved = 3; ground scores = 11. Event of the day: Finding six dimes on one walk, a record for me. Super event of the day: Finding an unopened box of Kool cigarettes and then “selling” them for $ 3.00. I’ve faced this dilemma once before, of what to do with found cigarettes. This one was different; these cigarettes looked like they had just been purchased, cellophane crisp and untouched. What happened next required gumption. It was 6:30 a.m. when I spotted four well dressed workers standing in front of a closed gate. They were New Orleans Firemen Trainees waiting for their classes to begin, most were smoking cigarettes. With too much boldness I remarked, “Hello, I am a moneywalker that looks for coins as I exercise. All found money goes to the Friendship House for Abused Women. I just found these cigarettes and would like to sell them for $1.00.” One man looked at me, looked at the cigarettes, reached in his pocket and gave me $3.00 dollars. We both smiled as I walked away.

The MoneyWalker needs help!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Money Walking and Competition

Journal Entry: Weight = 178.0; Coinage = $.56, 36 pennies, 2 nickels, 2 dimes; glass bottles = 3; ground scores = 2. Best find, seven pennies scattered in a real estate parking lot. Someone in the office and I are playing games. I check this lot weekly and always find several pennies scattered about. As one follower noted, these are “salted” pennies—pennies left for me to find. The MoneyWalker “mines” various parking lots on every walk, finding even one coin in a relatively small parking lot is rare. Thus, to find pennies in this one particular lot so frequently goes beyond chance. “Keep them coming, I enjoy the game.”

Feature Entry: We humans seem to be hardwired to compete. In earlier posts, the MoneyWalker has identified brain centers that when stimulated provide pleasure or “buzzes.” One known “reward center” is the ventral striatum located in the cerebellum. Neuroscientists Christian Elger and Armin Falk in ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2007) rewarded participants with 30 to 100 Euros by completing a difficult visual perception tasks. The better the performance the more Euros received. When told their score and corresponding Euros earned, the activation lights on a magnetic resonance tomography blinked.

Interestingly, the subjects performed in pairs with full knowledge of their partner’s earned Euros. Thus, there was competition. When one subject earned more Euros than his partner, the tomography blinks were stronger for the subject with the highest Euro score. When the reward was the same for each subject, there was no difference in the tomography blinks.

One key to the competition research is that the reward must be perceived as being “worth aspiring to.” Like Elger and Falk’s subjects, the Moneywalker has competition for finding lost money. I have three classifications for my competitors: Active, Passive, and Situational.

Active money walkers are people that search for money in my neighborhood. One gentleman rides his bicycle using a semi push semi ride technique. When he gets to a money hot spot, he slowly pushes his bike while looking for coins. Our paths frequently cross.

Passive money walkers includes all people willing to bend and retrieve a coin. Seventy-five percent of U.S. citizens surveyed indicate that they will stop and pick up a penny. It follows then that 75% of the people in my neighborhood are passive competitors.

Situational money walkers are people that check money spots in their place of business. Examples include the grocery cart retrievers and the employees of fast food chains.

Usually the competition is friendly, but not always. In one Burger King, on two different occasions, employees have “shooed” me away from checking the drive through. At another, the grounds cleaner remarked in Spanlish, “My coins!” as I checked a Rally Burger drive through. One owner of a locally popular restaurant noticed my early morning habit of checking his parking lot and asked me to get off of his property. I found a ten dollar bill once and I think he saw me while reading his newspaper from his car.

But sometimes the tone is cooperative. This morning, a McDonald’s ground sweeper greeted me with this cheerful comment: “I saved some pennies for you at the drive through.” What is the MoneyWalker’s response to the competitors? I honor their request. It is the moral thing to do.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Journal Entry, April 28, 2009

Journal Entry: Weight = 179.2; Coinage = $.98, 28 pennies, 3 nickels, 3 dimes, 1 quarter; 7 glass bottles retrieved from the streets of MidCity New Orleans; 12 ground scores, mostly hardware. One international coin, Peoples Republic of China, 1 Jiao, an aluminum coin with peony blossoms. Significant find, a “cut through” penny. I was cutting through cars parked on a curb and found the penny on my way to a money spot. The curb was not the curb I was walking at the time, thus the special designation of the coin find.


Monday, April 27, 2009

My Love Affair with the Lowly Penny

Journal Entry: Weight = 178.4; Coinage = $.49, 39 pennies, 1 dime; Glass bottles retrieved = 3; Ground scores = 1. Significant find, a 1951 D wheat penny.

Feature Entry: The motive to keep walking morning after morning is not easy to sustain. That is why I love the penny. The start of each early morning walk has the MoneyWalker wondering, “How far will I travel before I find my first coin?” Usually, within three or four blocks, a coin will “wink” at me from a curb or parking lot. When that happens, already, I have had a good walk.

Ninety percent of the time, the first find is a penny. In a typical 1.25 hour walk, I will find 25 pennies. Since Feb. 10, 2009 I have found 1,385 pennies ($13.85). Each spot triggers the satisfaction center of the brain to activate a signal of pleasure.

Since the penny is likely the most commonly found coin for us “found money” aficionados, it deserves our respect. A few highlights of the coin’s history follow. Much of the information was provided by Susan Headley from her blog.

• The heads side of the Lincoln penny was very created in 1909 by Victor David Brenner. It is the longest running coin type in U.S. history.
• The “wheat ears” tails side was replaced in 1959 by the current Lincoln Memorial design.
• The traditional metal for the penny is copper but there have been several alternate medals including today’s 97.5% zinc coin covered with 2.5% copper. Until 1982, pennies consisted of 95% cooper. WWII coins were often comprised of steel.
• The Lincoln penny was the first U.S. coin to have an image of a real person.
• The initials V.D.B. were added to the first minting in 1909, but was returned in 1918 and remains today. It is placed on Lincoln’s shoulder at the coin’s edge. 1909 S DVD coins are valuable for numismatists (coin collectors.)

Most pundits expect that the Lincoln Cent will be retired following the anniversary issue. If that happens, the MoneyWalker will have lost a lover that has never been anything but a pleasure to be with always faithful, just like Ms. MoneyWalker.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Journal Entry: April 26, 2009

Journal Entry: Weight = 178.4; Coinage = $.54, 24 pennies, 1 nickel, 1 quarter. Glass bottles retrieved = 8; ground scores =9, two with cash value. Good deed for the day, changed a flat tire for a lady who was on the way to the JazzFest. She offered me $20, of course declined; but should I have? With an explanation to her, the money could have gone to the Friendship House for battered women, the MoneyWalker's charity for found money. I'll think about the ethics of that for another day.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sweet Baby James and Experiencing Flow

Journal Entry: Weight = 176.4; Coinage = $.22, 2 pennies, 2 dimes. Significant find, eleven cents in the very back of the shuttle bus that transported the MoneyWalkers and our good friends to the New Orleans JazzFest.

Feature Entry: We just returned from the New Orleans JazzFest and the Saturday close-out concert by James Taylor. Sweet Baby seems to never change and is as good as ever. He has recorded hundreds of songs including ‘Walking Man,’ lyrics follow

“Walking man walk on by my door
Well, any other man stops and talks
But not the walking man
He's the walking man
Born to walk
Walk on walking man."

The MoneyWalker is like that, when money is being found, he is too focused to notice anyone or anything, except money. To be successful for both calorie consumption and finding money, the walker must get into a zone where all but the essentials are blocked out. Zone walking results in high money finding performance. Coins are more easily spotted because they seem so much larger as visual acuity and intuition are inexorably linked.

In the sport psych literature, being in the zone is more commonly called being in flow, a term proposed by Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi. “Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and success in the process of the activity.” Flow does not occur automatically but it is the result of practice, experience, and a desire to achieve excellence.

People that experience flow have high degrees of concentration and experience a loss of self consciousness as action and awareness merge. They have a distorted sense of time and one’s subjective experience of time is altered. In flow, participants report an ability to utilize feedback in powerful and unexpected ways and to immediately respond to successes and failures to make accurate and rapid adjustments in performance. They find that the activity is intrinsically rewarding and that the action is essentially effortless. Time seems suspended.

Can money walkers experience flow? I think so. It takes practice, motive, experience, and a willingness to develop the physical skills at our disposal. James Taylor’s lyrics apply, the focused money walker passes by the distractions, he is born to walk and to find.

Ahh, the magic of Sweet Baby;--“Look down upon me Jesus; you’ve got to help me make a stand…My body's achin',And my time is at hand..Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain... ”


Thursday, April 23, 2009

journal entry April 23, 2009

Journal Entry: Weight = 176.8; Coinage = $.62, 17 pennies, 2 dimes, 1 quarter; 3 glass bottles retrieved; 3 ground scores. Significant coinage fine, a dime nearly covered with dirt in a lonely section of street near the parking curb.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Overriding Atkinson’s “Law of Least Effort”

Journal Entry: Weight = 177.6; Coinage = $1.01 (.49 from two residual walks), 36 pennies, 2 nickels, 3 dimes, 1 quarter; glass bottles retrieved = 8; “Ground Scores” = 6. “Ground Scores” are a new feature for the Journal Entry section of the blog. The term comes from Wendy Bumgardner and her Walking feature in It refers to items found on the ground other than money that is considered worthy of keeping. My recent find of a screw driver is an example. My favorite money find was a $.17 scatter in the drug store parking lot, 1 dime, seven pennies. I parked there and walked three blocks for a doctor’s appointment rather than park in the convenient “pay to park” garage. The money was a reward for the six block walk, plus I didn't pay a garage fee.

Feature Entry: Jack Atkinson and David McClelland pioneered a motivational theory that concerns peoples’ need for achievement. Too much negative reinforcement and people stop responding and learning; but, too much positive reinforcement has the same results—people stop responding. What seems to be happening is “I can’t please this guy, so I will stop trying.” And conversely, “Regardless of how little I do or how poorly I do it, I still get an ‘adaboy.’, so I will do as little as possible.” Atkinson called this phenomenon the “Law of Least Effort,” or the general tendency for humans to avoid fatigue.

To be a successful MoneyWalker, we must learn to override Atkinson’s Law. First, why walk at all, it is such a bother! But if we do walk, Atkinson's law is still an issue. The walker’s goal is two-fold—to burn calories and find money. Thus, when the MoneyWalker charts his path, his walking goal is not to take the shortest route from the starting point to end-point, but to walk to where the money is. This strategy requires double-backs (the box canyon problem), two block detours, frequent crossing of streets, and playing hunches that require spontaneous diversions.

The mind is in a dissonance war. One element wants to follow Atkinson’s law and walk predictably and efficiently to the end point. The other element wants to take risks and serpentine along hoping to find even more elusive coins that others might have missed. As for weight control, the body doesn’t care as long as the distance is long enough to burn the desired amount of calories to prevent weight gain. Which will result in the strongest positive addiction? It all depends upon ones ‘need for achievement,’ in this case defined both in terms of the amount of money found and the amount of weight lost.

Atkinson and McClelland have more lessons such as where to park while shopping, stealing calories, and taking the elevator—all topics for future blogs. In the mean time, I am feeling a "need" for a nap.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Journal Entry: April 21, 2009

Journal Entry: Weight = 179.0; Coinage = $1.54, 49 pennies, 3 nickels, 4 dimes, & 2 quarters; glass bottles retrieved = 6. This was a dream walk in terms of money found and ambient temperature, a cool 68 degrees with low humidity. I will enjoy these mornings while they last.

Best coinage find was a three coin scatter at an Exxon gas bay, two nickels and a dime. One of my off-list money walking friends encouraged me to look more earnestly at gas bay money spots. Previously I had given the gas bays a short shift of attention and focused on the vacuum/air pressure stations along with the car wash coin points of entry. The encouragement is paying dividends. Since my Easter day conversation I have found many pennies and a few nickels by being extra attentive to the gas pump areas.

Also, finding 49 pennies on one walk without a major penny scatter was fun. Pennies were everywhere, especially in the curbs. Finding money in the parking curbs remains my favorite place to find money.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A French Quarter Fitness Walk and Ten Healthy Habits

Journal Entry (4-20): Weight = 179.8; Coinage = $.82, 27 pennies, 3 dimes, 1 quarter; glass bottles retrieved = 8. Feature find, my old coffee-shop standby, The Bean Gallery, gave up a dime in the newspaper vending machine.
Journal Entry (4-19): Coinage = $.39; 14 pennies, one quarter; six bottles retrieved. Feature find, a nice quarter drop at the Burger King drive through. Burger King update from last week, the found BK gift card mentioned had $3.50 and bought the MoneyWalker a Whopper Jr. Meal Deal. The $3.50 went into the MoneyTender. Note to followers, it was a Jr., I consumed only half the fries, and gulped it down with a diet coke.
Journal Entry (4-17): Weight = 176.4; Coinage = $.95, 2 dimes, 3 quarters. Two quarters were found on the historic New Orleans Street Car while travelling to the French Quarter Jazz Festival; one quarter on the median, and two dimes around the gumbo food tent.

Feature Entry: In a commercial blog, Weight Loss Matters, an unnamed consultant lists several excellent reasons why many of us have weight problems. Sometimes we just give up and say “Whatever!” Part of the reason is the absence of the lack of internal motivation to make healthy choices—exercise and proper nutrition. The MoneyWalker must admit that he has essentially given up on internal motivation and boldly proclaims a shameless need for external rewards. I find it in the unlikely habit of looking for money as I take daily walks in my neighborhood. I walk every day early in the morning searching for coins that other people have left behind. This morning, a one hour and 15 minute walk netted $.82 cents. Each find connected with a “pleasure spot” somewhere deep in the brain and provided a small but highly rewarding delight. Check out the blog at---

Upon returning from my morning walk, I sat down to a bowl of unsweetened fiber filled cereal and 2% milk. Uh Oh!, later in the morning I spotted several chocolates left over from Easter celebrations. It was very tempting to take one or two of these bite sized morsels and say “Whatever!” But instead, I was reminded of the hard work contained in the long walk and it was easy to say, “No way am I going to waste all that burned energy on something as short lived as a Reese’s chocolate/peanut butter splurge.” I monitor my food choices and eat my daily allowances of fruits and vegetables, but it requires daily discipline to stay away from the bad stuff including sweets and fatty foods.

Then there is stress and the absence of restful sleep. Stress and Reese’s are a bad combination. Feel a little stress, “Whatever!”, pitch down a few of those Reese’s cups and eureka, momentary relief. But it is my choice to let things bother me or not. Sometimes I wake at 2 a.m. and have trouble preventing stress from evading my thought processes. I have a little mind control game that works well. I work the alphabet until sleep returns. Starting with A, I think of things that provide pleasure rather than stress. These are personal but a few examples follow: A = Astros, as in the Houston Astros. A buddy and I go every summer for one guys get away week-end; B = blogging; C = cooking, a fun hobby; D = Destin, a place we vacation with friends twice a year; E = entertaining; F = Folsom, the name of our week-end retreat home; G = gardening, another great exercise hobby; and on I go. If my brain tricks me into negative thoughts, I stop and remember the appropriate letter on my pleasure scale and continue with pleasant thoughts. The A..B..C.. game works for me, but all successful stress management techniques must be individualized.

My final points from the blog consultant for weight loss are time management and daily exercise. Getting to bed relative early is important for my lifestyle. If I don’t do my exercise early in the morning, exercise may not happen. Also, by going to bed by 10 p.m., I get 8 hours of sleep, another healthy practice. To lose and maintain weight, I must plan my day to have enough time for exercise. To quote the blogger, “...a half descent walk is going to be enough to drown you in your own fat soon. Seriously, most don't know it but if YOU went for a 40-50 minute walk 4-5 times a week, you could lose your first 5-10 lbs in under ONE MONTH! YES SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS WALKING.” And one more thing, STAY OFF THOSE FATTY FAST FOODS!

Now I am shouting and am feeling the need to quote the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, “Please don’t preach more than you have to!” Their other points must wait.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read All About It—The MoneyWalker Featured In The New York Times, Sort Of

Journal Entry: Weight = 176.4 lbs; Coinage = $1.16, 71 pennies, 3 nickels, 3 dimes; glass bottles retrieved = 14. Interesting find, a partially buried totally stained nickel along with six pennies in a suspicious pile of debris near a paint and body shop.

Feature Entry: Twincapes at was nice enough to alert me of a bloggers nirvana, to be featured in a nationally prominent website. Susan Headley, a writer for wrote about the MoneyWalker in her Guide to Coins. The URL address is

Quoting Susan, “Another interesting "found money" blog is the Money Walker. Written by Bobby Eason, a professor emeritus at the University of New Orleans, this is a found money blog with an intellectual twist. Bobby loves to wax philosophical and psychological about coins and money, and its place in civilization, and he sometimes provides strategy tips, too! Bobby's entries consist of two parts: the Journal Entry and the Feature Entry. He keeps a running total of the weight and value of his finds, breaking them down into the precise numbers of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and bottles that he finds. (Yep, like many found money aficionados, Bobby also collects bottles to turn in for the deposit refund.)”

Susan is a regular contributor to which “… is an online neighborhood of hundreds of helpful experts, eager to share their wealth of knowledge with visitors.” The site is visited every month by over 60 million people. People that inquire are called “neighbors” and seek help with things that range from health care, parenting issues, advice on travel, cooking, technology, hobbies and much more. The experts are also called neighbors and like a good neighbor they offer help so that everyone’s life is enhanced by the expert advice given.

From their homepage, they report their history as follows: ”Founded in 1996, was acquired in March 2005 by The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT). Today, is recognized as a top 15 content site and one of the largest producers of original content on the Web.”

So as the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live used to say, “Isn’t that special!” Thanks Susan. Also, my feature photo was taken from her cadre of interesting pictures. I recently found one of the priceless pennies known as a wheatie. Mine was coined in 1946. Susan’s helpful chart said that it was worth triple its face value. Wow, three cents. I’m sending it to a friend that is a coin collector as a present for being one of my blog followers.

Blog time is over, I've got to get about waxing philosophically and psychologically.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Journal Entry

Journal Entry: Weight = 177.8 lbs; coinage found = $.91, 36 pennies, 3 dimes, 1 quarter; bottles retrieved = 11. Best find, a dime at local bank parking lot, usually a penny or two is all I find. It was good to find a quarter after being shut out of this coinage denomination for several walks. I also found a "fresh" debit card, haven't been able to locate owner. I also found a Burger King gift card, will attempt to see if it has credit remaining. Hardware found included a flat blade screwdriver.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back In My Urban Serengeti

Journal Entry: Body Weight = 179.2 lbs; Money Found = $.87. 57 pennies, 2 nickels, 2 dimes; glass bottles retrieved = 11. Found two crusted long lost dimes—very rewarding. Finding 57 pennies is rare considering that only one minor scatter added to the total, just pennies from heaven. In checking a drive through car wash, found an interesting car magnet logo for my collection. It stated, “Napa Emergency Women’s Services, Ending Domestic Violence.” Also found two pieces for my hardware collection and a nearly full can of wasp/ant spray.

From yesterday’s late afternoon walk found $.57; 22 pennies, 1 nickel, 3 dimes.

Feature Entry: Someday I hope to experience an African Serengeti, to see sun burnt savannahs shimmering to the horizon. To be there after the rains and watch the endless grass pastures transform into patches of wild flowers and see a pride of lions “mastermind” a siege, focused “unswervingly on their next meal.”

As for now, I am happy to be back in my urban Serengeti and once again unswervingly focused on my quest for optimum fitness and finding gold nuggets that have been left behind by others in a larger hurry.

But what wonderful five marvelous days we had on the emerald coast of Florida with wife and seven life-long friends. We were four very happy couples. We laughed, talked, and enjoyed glorious sun-sets on a balcony just feet from the crystal clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico. And we ate, and ate, and ate (see weight gain from journal entry above.)

The term “urban Serengeti” came from an interesting T.V. commercial featuring a gecko and an automobile insurance company. My urban Serengeti is the four mile area around my mid-city New Orleans home, two miles in any direction from my home. And like an African serengeti, it is filled with dozens of “water holes,” sometimes dry and sometimes brimming with lost coinage. And after being away, even the beer bottles, broken curbs, and unrepentant Katrina damage were visual treasures.

After unloading and packing away the suitcases, on went the Brooks walking shoes for a one hour walk for an urban serengeti renewal.The Emerald Coast was a treasure for the MoneyWalkers, but it felt great to be back home and on the streets. I have missed the money.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Business with Pleasure

Journal Entry: Weight = unknown and don’t want to know (still in Destin, FL on vacation); Coinage = $.04; glass bottles retrieved = 2; objects found = 4, 1 lynch pin, 1 bic lighter, 1 #2 leaded pencil, and 1 ball point pen.

Feature Entry: For the first time, the MoneyWalker broke from his solo habit of fitness walking while looking for money and included a friend. The friend’s fitness level is high and he possessed a keen interest in knowing more about MoneyWalking. Off we went.

Discipline was required. First we had to focus on maintaining a fast pace while searching for coins. My inclination was to rely upon friendly banter typical of our long friendship and forego the hard work of spotting coins. Second, having read several of my blogs, he wasn’t sure how some of my techniques actually work. Writing about such topics as “hot spots,” “curb walking,” “walk-over coins,” “playing a hunch,” and “scatters” is relatively easy when addressing cyber strangers; but, talking with good friends that know you as Bobby rather than as the “MoneyWalker” is risky—“This guy is crazy!,” he might think.

The money gods were friendly. Condo parking lots are not good sources for mining coinage. My fears were that we would be shut out with a result of credibility loss. There it was in the first parking spot just outside our condo stairs, a walk-over penny. I carefully explained that given its dark color and scratch marks, its camouflage had prevented it from being found earlier by the masses.

Then it was “you take the outside and I will take the inside” as we zoomed around other parked cars in the condo lots. Then another penny was spotted, and then a bic lighter, a ball point, a yellow pencil, two beer bottles; and then it happened, rookie mistake—my friend stepped over a coin in plain sight. I good naturedly “scolded” him about making rookie mistakes.

The final lesson involved a gravel trail between condos. In mid stride, I said “Let’s play a hunch.” Off path was a condo tennis court. People change clothes, carry-in duffels, bounce around, sit on benches, throw things into trash cans—all behaviors that can result in dropped or lost coins. There it was, a recently lost penny. It confirmed the hunch.

My friend and I had a great time. I enjoyed his company and he humored me by listening to my longwinded moneywalking lessons. MoneyWalking with two is difficult, but this experience convinced me that the two are not mutually exclusive, that brisk walking, controlled scanning, and dual walking can be rewarding, both in terms of friendship and coinage found.

Go ahead, take a friend moneywalking.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Money Walker: Maintaining a Personal Journal

Money Walker: Maintaining a Personal Journal


Sometimes it is good to take a few days and allow the body to mend and regroup. So
The MoneyWalkers are taking a few days off in sunny Destin, Fl. I have completed modest walks and have netted $.15, one dime and five pennies. Too much sand.

Beside the beach and overeating, I visit thrift stores. Found this interesting used book called Creative walking for physical fitness,a new scientifically conceived program to reduce weight and inches and increase muscle tone. It was written by Harry J. Johnson, M.D. New is relative and time marches, the book has a 1970 copyright.

There are several good points and many will be referenced in future posts. For now, consider a few of these "trailers."

* "It is better to walk than to run."
* "Walking, plain old-fashioned walking, on a regular basis, can do more to help you attain good health and physical fitness with less risk than any other known form of exercise."
* "By regular walking you can help develop your peripheral circulation, thereby reducing the possibility of a heart attack."
* "A walking program can greatly increase your chances of longevity, improve your health, even enhance your appearance."

Surf's calling!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Maintaining a Personal Journal

Journal Entry: Weight = 176; Coinage =$.76, .28 from a residual walk, 26 pennies, 1 nickel, 2 dimes, 1 quarter; 2 glass bottles retrieved. The external entrances to service bays of automotive garages and body shops are becoming a reliable place to find money.

Feature Entry: The MoneyWalker reluctantly maintains a daily journal. Journals require internal discipline and my orientation is toward obligations to others. But I keep one as a part of my arsenal to fight weight gain and to add interest to my blog. Seeing those daily weight gains or losses on paper locks them into my consciousness and influences my eating choices for the day.

Over time I have developed protocols and specific characteristics of my journal. Each day begins with exact entries including the date, body weight, amount of coinage found including the number of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, and location of major finds. Other protocol entries include glass bottles retrieved and found items such as lighters, hardware, articles of clothing, etc.

After the mandatory protocols of weight and coinage, non-protocol entries include reflections, observations, and feelings about my personal responses to the world of moneywalking. These are occasional entries. If I have a thought for a blog entry theme, the idea is noted for future reference. One recurring thought involves the ethics of finding money. I record “Proustian” thoughts—that is, unsolicited memory recalls from the just completed walk. Recently, I have begun to add phrases and ideas found in blogs that I follow. For example, Twincapes, author of the frugalpirate, blog URL provided this excellent journal entry, “the ongoing search for passive income.”

By nature, the MoneyWalker is not planned and organized, or have neat legible penmanship. Over time, I have learned to be better at both. I use the journal for research and data management. How much have I gained over time? How many quarters have I found in the last six months? Where are the frequent hot spots for finding money? These questions are more easily answered if the journal is neat, the words can be read, and there is order in the entries.

The physical journal is also important. I use a field journal, the type an anthropologist might use. The book is rugged in composition and the pages are ruled with just the correct amount of white space. My current journal is black with an interesting wire binder.

In summary, keep a journal for motivation to lose or maintain weight loss, to keep track of the coinage found, and as a repository of creative thoughts that will get away unless they are captured in narrative. Journal entries are a great way to finish a healthy and invigorating walk.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Does Money Make you Happy? Psychology of Money Part II

Journal Entry: Weight = 177.2 lbs; Coinage with yesterday’s residual walk = $.78, 39 pennies, 1 nickel, 3 dimes; glass bottles retrieved = 3. I labeled This morning’s walk a “recession” walk. After 1 hour and 15 minutes of hard walking and focused looking I found only 17 downtrodden pennies.

Feature Entry: The issue of searching for lost money while walking for good health and weight control and having this combination of behaviors to be considered “bizarre” provided the impetus for these series of comments on the psychology of money. In fact, until recent times (the last ten thousand years) the behaviors would have been common. For thousands of years humans survived by walking long distances every day while looking for food for the clan. Moreover, there is hard scientific evidence that humans are hard wired to both exercise and search for objects of value, e.g. food in historic times, money in today’s times.

As reported in Part One, money is the modern analog for food. Most of us work in some sedentary occupation and earn money that is traded for food and shelter. The more we make, the bigger the house, the better the car, and the tastier the food. The logic leads to the conventional wisdom that the more we have the happier we are, that money makes us happy.

It isn't the case; scientific studies have shown over and over a low to moderate correlation between wealth and measures of happiness. One clue is that money and society interact; it is how much money we have in comparison to others that matters. Solnick & Hemenway, 1998, found that people would rather make $50,000 a year while everyone else earns $25,000, instead of earning $100,000 themselves and having other people earn $200,000.

So, if having money doesn’t make us happy, why do we work so hard to accumulate it? The noted psychologist Kahneman provides evidence that the motivation comes from the satisfaction of achievement, not from the things that money will purchase. Money helps us to feel satisfied, but satisfaction is lowly correlated with happiness. Some suggest that Americans are preoccupied with "being happy" when compared to other cultures that tend to focus more on "enjoyment."

A problem of measurement is that happiness is subjective. Lea and Webley tracked people with various levels of net worth—high, medium, and low--for several weeks. Every thirty minutes during the day they asked them a few basic questions about their current state of happiness. At the end of the study, no differences were reported between the groups. However, across groups, it was found that subjects were happier when they spend money on others.

We will have more to say on money and happiness later, but for now I hear Ms. Moneywalker in the drive way, she has been out buying presents for our grandchildren. Why am I not feeling happy while she has a big grin on her face?


Monday, April 6, 2009

Journal Entry 4/6/09

Journal Entry: Body Weight = 178.4 lbs.; Coinage = $1.05, 25 pennies, 5 nickels, 5 dimes, 1 quarter; Glass bottles retrieved = 11. Interesting Find, Rally's burgers, a quarter in parking lot and 3 dimes and two pennies in drive-thru. Good day for nickels, found one in five different money spots. Had one nice walk-over penny find.

No Feature entry:


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Slum Dog Millionaire & The Psychology of Money, Part I

Journal Entry: Body Weight = 177.8; Coinage = $.72 (.20 from residual walks), 22 pennies, 4 nickels, 3 dimes; Glass bottles retrieved = 11. Best find, a walk over dime in a Canal St. curb side.

Feature Entry: One of the MoneyWalker’s off-line followers called the behavior of looking for money while walking for exercise bizarre (a separate feature on bizarre later). But for those of us that look for and find lost money, the behavior is perfectly rational. It all has to do with the psychology of money. The hit movie Slum Dog Millionaire reminds us that the psychological laws that explain the pursuit of money is international and culture free.

Social psychologist Lea and Webley (The biological psychology of a strong incentive. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29(02), 161-209) study peoples’ preoccupation with the acquisition of money. The attainment of money, whether for good or evil, is part of human nature. We that are socialized in Western culture are taught early that the possession of money provides our identity, and that more is better--that money is a barometer of our worth. So when we moneywalkers find money in the street it is if we have found a nugget of gold to be exchanged somehow as payment for the requirement of continually building or maintaining our established individuality. A penny found is so much more than just a penny!

Economists are apt to define money as a tool, as having utility. But psychologists see money as having an addictive quality, like a drug. At a base level it represents or symbolizes having or not having. When money psychologists look for analogs to money they often select food. In modern times, people’s age-old desire for food has been replaced by money. It should not surprise us when we see lost coins they seem to trigger primitive gathering reflexes. In fact, neuroscientists have now located a specific region of the brain that “lights up” at the moment of finding a lost coin. This phenomenon is very addictive.

Not only does the sight of found money literally loom large in our minds; we instill the location of the find with a special status. We always remember the spot of the find and we never fail to give careful consideration to the spot on future walks.

On our next blog about the psychology of money, the MoneyWalker will answer the question: Does money make you happy? Or similarly, Are people with more money happier than people with less? The answers may surprise you.

But for now I must go, Ms. MoneyWalker is balancing the checkbook and she is calling for me to answer a few entries that she claims require my personal knowledge.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Natural Workout

The MoneyWalker is in retreat, or should that be in advance. Fifty miles above New Orleans is Folsom, LA and the retreat “farm” of the MoneyWalkers. No scales, no streets, no money hotspots, just ten acres of wooded walking trails, gardens, ponds, a barn, and the creole cottage, all requiring attention and maintenance. We make room for this heaven on earth about two days out of ten.

Maintaining fitness remains a priority. My regiment is more anaerobic (think weight lifting) than aerobic (think brisk walking.) Yesterday I reworked three garden beds. Tasks involved hoeing and pulling weeds, lifting a heavy trailer onto the tractor tow bar, lifting more than two hundred bricks onto the trailer, clearing grass from around three large flower beds, placing the bricks into borders, etc. etc. etc.

Sometimes my natural workout involves clearing hiking trails. Tools include a chainsaw, an axe, loppers, a hand saw, and human muscle. As small trees and undergrowth are cut, the prunings must be hand hauled to a central station for bundling so as to be dragged to the burn pile. The physical energy required is both anaerobic and aerobic. Each hour spent of hard cutting, clearing, and hauling burns approximately 400-500 calories. All three basic exercise objectives are covered including stretching, strength building, and cardiovascular fitness.

In this age, there is one sure truth that I know—to maintain our hereditary legacy, we must superimpose work into our lifestyle. We are in a unique age. A majority of our grandparents, men and women, were required to do hard physical labor six or seven days a week, eight to twelve hours a day. Our current body systems evolved to handle the load. Now what? Nearly all of us have replaced physical labor with mental labor.

In later blogs, the consequences of reduced physical work will be explored and what we can do about it. But for today, the birds are calling. I have three downed pine trees from Katrina that must be cut into sections, muscled into position for hauling, and tractored to the burn pile. I feel like a natural man. “What is that?” Ms. MoneyWalker reminded me to take my Gatorade.