This year, running gave me money. Okay, while I did pocket $200 at a half marathon this fall, it’s not what you think. And while I love prize money, I’m definitely not fast enough for that to be a regular thing. If I did run to win it, I’d often be sorely disappointed; I missed placing in the money by one finishing spot twice this year.
But finding money? That I can do.
So, starting point: I love picking up spare change. I have a jar full of change found while running. I don’t skip a penny, and I definitely don’t pass up things more than a penny.
Imagine: mid-run, mile five:
Stop. Pivot. Snag. At this point, most of my friends don’t even pause, they just keep running. [Pro tip: Make sure you have storage for spare change. It gets jingly really quick.]
I have a good sense of the places where I am most likely to find change, and I pay extra close attention in those. [Pro tip: Basically anywhere people park.]
Why are people so careless about their money? Well, that sounds like a question for either a psychologist or an economist — or a psychonomist, if that’s a thing, and it should be. Heck, some people even think we should do away with the penny, but as long as the penny is worth a penny, I’m picking it up.
For instance: say you find five pennies per week, which I think is pretty conservative. That’s $2.60 a year, which is a free cup of coffee. And sometimes you’ll find more! On one of my long runs this summer, I was coming down a bit of a ritzy street, but one I’ve run through thousands of times. Literally. As I trot through, on my way back to my starting place, I saw paper. Like paper money! $20! Also there were no cars or people around, so I pocketed it and ran back excited. You know what I did with that money? Paid for my next 5k race entry, which benefited a church’s youth ministry.
But I want to tune you in to another way your running can pay big dividends: your health insurance. Yeah, yeah, you probably know being active and fit can save on your policy. Yawn. I’m talking about plans like Humana’s Vitality program (soon to be Go365). I was first introduced to Vitality while on a Humana plan, but when I changed jobs and insurance providers, my new provider also used the Vitality program.
The Vitality program is a way to incentivize healthy living. And basically I don’t do anything extra. I have my gym membership and my Garmin both tied to my account, and I get “points” every time I run.
Now, I hear you. “Points.” I get points at stores, at restaurants, and who knows where else. What the heck do you want with another rewards program? But get this: I get 15 points per recorded workout (that’s 100 points per week), plus 500 points for a marathon. That’s points for doing stuff I was going to do anyway. You also get points for wellness exams, including vision, dental, colonoscopies (check), pap smears (check), mammographies, etc. And depending on your rewards level, you can get $25 to Target or Amazon for every 1,500 points.
It’s easier than it sounds. Last year, I bought about $500 in holiday gifts using Amazon gift cards. This year it hasn’t been as much because I changed jobs in April and my points reset. Sad face. But I spent all my accumulated points before I left and got a sweet Kate Spade briefcase on Amazon, so there’s that.
Between the finders keepers cash and the health insurance perks, thank you running for raining money upon me.
Have you found money on the run? Does your health insurance or employer offer perks for running? Any other ways you’ve been paid to run?