While walking down the street, you come across a shiny penny on the ground. Do you pick it up? How about a quarter? A $1 bill? A $100 bill? Take a second to think and ask yourself, “How much is not worth picking up?”

According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the median family net-worth of Americans is $120,300. If the average American will pick up nothing less than a quarter, let’s see how much some famous and rich individuals won’t pick up off the street. Using the formulation for the average American, we show below how that would translate to the rich.


Each person will have their own thought process of whether or not to pick up money off of the street. The prominent factors controlling your decision would most likely include:

  • Who is with you and who is watching you. Being seen in the eyes of others as a cheapskate or a scavenger will lead to the feeling of embarrassment and shame, which will then prevent you from reaching down for that shiny dime.
  • The cleanliness of the money. A $1 bill in the toilet bowl of a dirty restaurant holds a different (and lower) place in one’s heart compared to a $100 bill in the toilet bowl of a dirty restaurant. When put in this position, people will consider whether or not the money, along with a collection of germs, is worth the risk.
  • Your financial situation. But, even with a net worth in the millions, could you easily overlook a $10 bill lying around?

For most people, anything less than a quarter doesn’t warrant any consideration since a quarter can at least be used to pay the parking meter. When your net worth reaches a large enough number, you may find that there is an amount that you won’t care for. Until then, you can just glare with jealousy at these numbers and dream of a day when you can walk past a free $100 bill not feel a bit of regret.

Update: The net worth of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have been corrected.

Did you enjoy this article? Yes No
Oops! What was wrong? Please let us know.

Ask a Question

  • good information

  • Thanks for the alert. You're 100% right. We should have an update to the article shortly.

  • sapereaude

    Sorry if my previous comment came across a bit mean, your prompt correction has certainly changed my outlook of your website, I just stumbled on the article and noticed the wrong numbers, so much of the stuff on the internet is just thrown up and left regardless of known errors that it contains, I made a snap judgment, based on one article, which turned out to be wrong and for that I apologize.