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Roommates find $40K in thrift store couch: 30-years of woman's savings returned

Roommates who picked up an old and somewhat smelly couch at a thrift store for $20 got the shock of their life when they found a small fortune stuffed inside. These college-age kids first discovered an envelope under the worn-out armrest and when they looked inside they found $700. This sent them on a hunt through the rest of the couch, which brought them in a harvest of $40,000, according to NBC New York on May 15.

Roommates find $40,000 in thrift store couch and they give it back to elderly woman.
Getty Images generic cash

These roommates had their hands in every nook and cranny of that couch and their treasure hunt yielded quite the take. This couch kept giving and giving. Envelope after envelope was found stuffed with money. When all was said and done their total harvest was more than $40,000.

“Finders keepers’ losers weepers” is a rhyme that best describes what many folks may be thinking at a time like this, while looking at all that cash. Was that what The New Paltz, New York roommates had in mind?

Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo got this couch at the Salvation Army. To express his joy Werkhoven said, “I almost peed.” He continued saying, “The most money I ever found in a couch was like 50 cents.”

The Consumerist reports today that the roommates remember saying that the envelopes hold either “drugs or money,” when they found so many hidden. Thankfully it was money and not drugs that was making the couch so lumpy in looks.

Once the money was found, dreams of what this money was going to do for them kicked in. Guasti and Russo, both recent college grads and Werkhoven, a college student, all had student loans to pay off. They thought about squaring up with their educational loans and then taking a trip.

Werkhoven was prepared to buy his mom a new car with his share of the discovery. The dreams came to a stretching halt when Russo found a woman’s name on one of the envelopes.

The trio’s dreams were shattered, but they all agreed the right thing to do was to bring the money back to the woman who owned it. It wasn’t their money and “they didn’t earn it,” said Russo. Russo’s mother found the woman’s phone number and address, so the roommates set out on a bittersweet mission starting with a phone call.

They told the elderly woman where they purchased the couch and the woman said, “Oh, I left a lot of money in that couch.” So how did the couch get away from her?

The woman said she started stashing money in that couch more than 30 years ago, hiding it from her husband. She slept on the couch, as it was a fold-out. When she had recent back surgery and while in a rehabilitation unit afterwards, her daughter and son-in-law purchased a full size bed to replace the couch.

Her daughter had no idea that her mother had stashed a small fortune in that couch. The roommates handed her the money and the woman gave them $1000 reward to split.

While it was not as much as if they had split the $40,000, it was the right thing to do and that felt good. The woman told the young adults while at her house that she felt her husband was in the room with them, that’s how touched she was that the trio returned her money.

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