A penny saved is a penny spurned? What to do with pockets full of change

I regularly empty the change from my wallet. Pennies, nickels and dimes go into a pink piggy bank. Quarters go into “Mr. Nest Egg,” a bank shaped like Humpty Dumpty.

The quarters are for when I finally get around to washing my jeans. The rest of the change gets wrapped every so often and deposited into my “Home” account, where I'm saving for a down payment.

I'm one of the lucky ones: My bank accepts rolled coins. Not every financial institution accepts large quantities of coins — and some of the ones that do will charge a fee to count them. (Ever notice that they don't charge you to count the ones, fives, tens and twenties you bring in for deposit?) In this economy, you may find yourself prospecting under couch cushions for bus fare or a quart of milk. And since squirreling away spare change is a relatively painless way to build an emergency fund, it's a shame that some banks and credit unions discourage the practice.

Note: It's not against the law for banks to refuse to accept that Skippy jar full of tarnished specie. Nor is it illegal for stores to refuse to let you buy a week's worth of groceries with small coins. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, no federal law exists requiring that “a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods and/or services.” A business can limit what it will accept (e.g., no bills larger than a $20 — or no pennies.

A spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association once told me why banks deplore large quantities of coins:

  • It takes a lot of room to store them.
  • They're heavy to transport.
  • Lines may be tied up if tellers have to count large quantities.
  • Coin-counting machines are expensive to buy and maintain.

If your bank or credit union eschews your metal fundage, you could always switch to a new one. Or you could find other ways to make this money work for you.

Change You Can Believe in (Even if the Bank Doesn't)

The obvious answer is Coinstar, which has more than 19,000 coin-counting machines sucking in specie and spitting out scrip. Not for a strict cash exchange, mind you — why would you willingly pay the 9.8% counting fee (11.9% in Canada)?

But if you take the results in the form of a gift card or e-certificate there's no fee. The options aren't limited to Amazon and Starbucks, either. For example, a DIY guy can cash in for a Lowe's card, and film fans can turn their change into movie-theater cards. Check out the “special offers” tab on the Coinstar home page to see if there's a particular incentive to cash in.

Note: Coinstar's machines may not return older coins, including pure silver ones. (On the other hand, it might; I once found a Mercury dime in the returned-coins bin). If you're helping an elderly person divest of a few decades' worth of specie, perhaps you shouldn't be using a machine like this.

Value for Your Dollar

Don't want to cash in for an e-certificate or pay a counting fee? Then why not:

  • Shop with it. Coins are legal tender, after all. Use them to pay for a newspaper, a pack of gum or any other small purchase. I'm not suggesting you count out enough coins to pay for a new fridge. But surely it's acceptable to use dimes when buying a can of soup or some bananas. In fact, some small businesses might welcome a couple of bucks' worth of specie.
Remember: If you pay with exact change, you'll cut down on the number of coins you bring home.
  • Keep some in the car. Coins in the ashtray or glove compartment can be used for parking, tolls or that quart of milk before payday.
  • Ride the bus. You need exact change for that anyway.
  • Donate it. Maybe you haven't been able to write as many checks to charities lately. Why not drop an extra handful of coins in the church collection plate, or the donation box at the animal shelter?
  • Give it away. When possible I give dollars to street people. During leaner times I keep some change in my pocket when I'm out and about.
Tip: Use an old prescription medicine bottle to keep large amounts of coins organized in your purse, backpack or briefcase. In the old days you could use a film canister but now most people have gone digital.
  • Gift it. Fill a small bank with small coins for a baby-shower present. Put change in plastic eggs for Easter hunts. Drop pennies in a trick-or-treater's bag. A gift enjoyed by some of my young relatives was the smallest fishing-lure box I could find, with an item in each compartment: a sticker, a ring, a few coins.

It just occurred to me that I could put a few coins in each compartment and include a note to the child that if she adds up the total and sends it to me in a letter, I would send twice as much that amount back. (Hey, it's one way of instilling the thank-you note habit early.)

Tip: I've seen coin wrappers for sale in office-supply stores. Seriously? Your bank or credit union should give them to you for free.

Value for Your Dimes

Again: Coins are real money. So you could:

    • Add them to the kitty. Does your office have a coffee fund? Drop a buck's worth of nickels and dimes in along with your one-dollar bills.
    • Carry some for the tip jar. This is especially helpful if you're using a prepaid card, i.e., it'll keep you from putting in a dollar bill when you'd prefer to leave 75 cents.
    • Keep them for emergencies. Rolled up, they can become part of your cash cache.
    • Gamble! Propose a friendly snack ‘n' blackjack evening at your place, with a limit of 10 cents per hand. It's cheap entertainment during tight times. Worst-case scenario: You wind up with more coins, not fewer. Poor you.
    • Pay your kids. Does your 7-year-old get an allowance? Give some or all of it in change. If you're a family that requires that saving and giving as well as spending, your child will have to count and divide. Instant math lesson!
    • Torment your kids. Before leaving on a road trip, give each child a $10 roll of quarters. Tell them they spend it on anything he wants when you arrive — but that every time they ask “Are we there yet?” or pester a sibling, you will take a quarter. I wish I'd made this one up, but I didn't. I read it somewhere. Wonderfully devious. (P.S. You get to spend the quarters on anything you want, too. Or save them for the same tactic on the way home.)
    • Save them for the yard sale. When items are going for a quarter or 50 cents, you're going to be making a lot of change.
    • Deposit them. If you're dropping off a check — yes, some of us still go to brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions — include a couple of dollars' worth of loose coins in the deposit. Is a teller really going to carp at counting 20 dimes? Again: They don't seem to whine about counting 20 twenties.

I think financial institutions and businesses should be willing to make reasonable accommodations for reasonable customers. After all, other stores and banks/credit unions out there would be glad to get the business of folks whose coins you won't take.

I am not recommending that you go out of your way to dump $50 worth of nickels and dimes on any single person or business. I don't do that myself. But I will continue to pay for those bananas with a dozen dimes, or to deposit my paycheck along with $2 worth of nickels or $5 worth of dimes. That's just how I roll.

J.D.'s note: Kris and I keep several coin jars by the front door. We have one for pennies, one for quarters, and one for everything else. When we need coins, we pull from these jars. In seven years at this house, the jars have never filled up. I'm not sure what we'll do when that happens.
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Luke
Luke
9 years ago

Since moving house I’ve lost my bank branch with the free coin counting machine that allowed me to tip in a jam jar of coins, wait patiently for them to make their way through the hopper and then deposited the total directly to my savings account. As a result, I’ve built up quite a stash (guessing £200/$300 and counting). I don’t have any kids or kitties to contribute to, so think I’ll need to start using some of the larger coins for shopping as Donna suggests. If you’re like me and view keeping change as part of your savings strategy,… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

We keep some in the car for tolls and give them to DC each week as an allowance.

Back when I used cash, I would give either exact change, or I would pay such that my change was minimized (getting back a dime instead of 4 pennies, for example). DH doesn’t do that.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

DC= Darn Cat???

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

DH = Darn Hamster?

bon
bon
9 years ago

Yes, this, a million times yes. Every time I see “DH” I feel as though I’ve been transported to Stepford.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago

YES, DH = Darn Hamster

http://www.infantrefluxdisease.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8520

(I don’t read that kind of stuff– I blame google).

But I thought you were talking about an old movie like this one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That_Darn_Cat!_(1965_film)

“That Darn Cat” or “DC” is a wily, adventurous Siamese tomcat who lives with two young women…

Andrew
Andrew
9 years ago

“That Darn Cat”–not as good as “Sammy the Way-Out Seal”–another Disney classic.

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

“Every time I see “DH” I feel as though I’ve been transported to Stepford.”

Why? It just means dear husband. I have one. He is dear. It is a standard internet acronym, just like ROFL.

bon
bon
9 years ago

I know it is an internet standard, it is just one that grates on me (personally). It feels too intimate – unless someone is referring to their “dear husband” bringing them flowers or complimenting their casserole. It also feels a bit ingratiating. I rarely see the corrolary “DW.” I’m (again, personally) much more comfortable with “spouse.”

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

Well, my DH is always doing something darling. It’s in his nature to constantly be dear. He can’t help it. Though he doesn’t bring flowers because he knows I hate cut flowers, which, by respecting that dislike, is dear and thoughtful.

Partner works too, but it takes too long to type out. I do see DW occasionally. Also DP, but not often enough for me not to have to think about what it means.

SF_UK
SF_UK
9 years ago

All my small value coins (1p-10p) go in a jar, which I mentally think of as my “charity” jar. The last few years, my church gave out collecting boxes for a local charity to fill during Lent, so I would empty the jar into that once a year. This year, the boxes we nowhere to be seen, so I counted how much I had, rounded it up, and donated it to them online. But what to do with the coins? I’ve taken to keeping them in a spare section of my wallet and dropping them in the charity boxes in… Read more »

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  SF_UK

Who do you bank with?

Natwest and HSBC both have branches with free machines for paying change into your accounts (larger branches)

SF_UK
SF_UK
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

I bank with the co-op, who will take bagged change, but only in full bags (I think), which I don’t have quite enough of any single denomination to fill. Still, that’s useful information to squirrel away for the future, so thanks!

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  SF_UK

Do you know if they limit the amount you can pay in? I ask as I have an old basic account I could probably revive and my main bank (Natwest) only allow a stingy 3 bags per visit – not much use if it’s pennies 🙁

SF_UK
SF_UK
9 years ago
Reply to  SF_UK

No, I’ve not looked into it in detail (sorry, there was no reply link on your post…)

Peter
Peter
9 years ago

In the UK, most supermarkets now have a self service checkout.
These accept any coins and don’t charge a fee.
Also, you can overpay and (usually) get the change in notes or a small number of coins.

I now regularly empty my change in my pocket / wallet into the self pay hopper and minimise the volume I have at home.

If I wanted I could collect my change at home and (weekly) use what I have collected to contribute to my shopping.

Any similar options in the US?

SF_UK
SF_UK
9 years ago
Reply to  Peter

What a clever idea! I’d never thought of that – and I use those checkouts all the time 🙂

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  Peter

Peter – that’s a wonderfully sneaky money hack – well done! I’ll be trying this one out on Friday 🙂

Andrea
Andrea
9 years ago
Reply to  Peter

Yes, the self-check at the supermarkets(Giant and Safeway around here) do take coins so that is a good idea. however, we have TD bank which does free coin counting and then you can get bills(you do not need an account- or you didn’t when I had to count what amounted to $150 in change last April)

Lizzy
Lizzy
9 years ago
Reply to  Peter

Yes, we can do the same thing in the US at most major grocery stores. I have done it many times when I feel my purse getting a little too heavy with coins. Just don’t do it when there are huge lines!

Evangeline
Evangeline
9 years ago

When my husband and I first married, I took a large jar and saved what I called ‘Baby Dimes.’ There was more than enough to pay the hospital bill when the time came and it was a fun game in the process.

HollyP
HollyP
9 years ago
Reply to  Evangeline

My sisters and I were paid for with scrap metal.

Our father was an electrician, and the practice was to let the young guys take the scrap wire which they could trade in at the scrap yard. My mom used that money for her baby fund.

Evangeline
Evangeline
9 years ago
Reply to  HollyP

HollyP, I think that is a wonderful story and a true testament to the thrifty and financially sound spirit I love about people!

Pete
Pete
9 years ago

Similar to your bus fare suggestion above, rather than letting change accumulate, I’ll regularly drop any that I’m carrying onto my mass transit card when I’m walking in/out of a Metro station. The machines accept anything except pennies.

Helps me keep my pockets light and clutter at home to a minimum!

Alicen
Alicen
9 years ago

The key for me is getting a tin-can bank that I cannot open without ruining it! If I’m planning to save the change, that is. Otherwise, I dig into the piggy bank for coffee money. A better option than breaking a $20, but it doesn’t help the emergency fund.

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  Alicen

I used to feel that way too, but I’ve since discovered that any physical barrier helps me think ‘what am I doing?’ and stop before I break into my emergency stash.

In the UK, one of those sealed tins typically costs £1/$1.50 and maybe holds up to £100/$150 of loose change. Seems a bit of a nuisance to be charged 1% for the sake of keeping my money safe when a strip of tape will suffice 😉

Allie
Allie
9 years ago

Great ideas! When I was an undergrad, I would keep all my non-quarter change around for when people were collecting donation money by coming around to the dorms. Now that I’ve graduated, it just sits around in containers…

getagrip
getagrip
9 years ago

I just take the container and roll the coins while watching something on TV or a DVD. It doesn’t take all that much time. My credit union takes rolled coins without a hassle. It usually goes into savings.

duff
duff
9 years ago

I drop a load of change off at the local CoinStar machine every few months and get an itunes gift card with it. There’s no service fee if you get a gift card (unlike cash, which is around 10%). I get rid of my change, and I get premium apps and music for [what feels like] free!

Ben Mordecai
Ben Mordecai
9 years ago

I would never use coinstar because I am essentially paying someone to take one form of my money and give less back to me.

I say, use change at the grocery store self checkout. It’s money you would already spend and it does all the counting for you

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
9 years ago
Reply to  Ben Mordecai

@Ben and others: The self-check machines at the supermarket where I shop won’t accept more than a dollar’s worth of coins at a time. 🙁
There’s always the option of going through a regular line, although as noted I don’t try to unload an entire jar or anything — just a buck or two.
I’m enjoying these comments. Keep ’em coming.

Practical Parsimony
Practical Parsimony
9 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Donna, that is what I did last Christmas. If I owed $5.70, I gave the cashier 4-$1 bills and $1.70 in change. Some places saw I had more change and offered to take it off my hands because they were running short on change. I always tried to keep my coins to $2 or under. One day, the cashier was willing to take about $10 in change. No one has complained because I am cautious about what I try to unload. And, that reminds me–I should start saving coins again instead of using them. That money makes good a good… Read more »

Kaytee
Kaytee
9 years ago

About mid-May we roll up our year’s worth of spare change and use it at the farmers’ market. We’re usually greeted with an exclamation of relief.

Patti
Patti
9 years ago
Reply to  Kaytee

This is an excellent suggestion! I think I will make a habit of bringing change to the Farmers Market on my weekly Saturday trips.

marie
marie
9 years ago

I have a jar for pennies, nickels and dimes that I’ll roll a couple times per year and deposit back in my checking account (the bank is fine with it). I have another jar that is quarters and loonys for laundry, and I keep toonys in my wallet. I have a small cache of loonys and toonys in my desk at work for days I forget to pack a lunch that I’ll add to on occasion when I’ve had to empty it. The reason why I have some much change is because at the beginning of each week I take… Read more »

Ivan Walsh
Ivan Walsh
9 years ago

I always give the small coins to the charity or tips box.

If you look at the time & energy spent saving pennies… it would be better spent MAKING money instead.

My two cents 🙂

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
9 years ago
Reply to  Ivan Walsh

Ivan: Do you make money every minute of every day?
I’m talking about rolling coins while watching TV (if you have one), or listening to music, or just kicking back in the evening.
If you have a specific goal then it’s very satisfying to count up the change: “Here’s another $14 toward the EF.”

Betsy
Betsy
9 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Yes! Plus, when you’re rolling coins, you’re not shopping.

(And when you DO go shopping, I’ll bet you know more about the value of each dollar from all that time spent rolling pennies!)

akajb
akajb
9 years ago

If I didn’t keep track of my change so carefully, I’d dump it in a piggy bank each week. But as a I track every cent, I don’t – although maybe I’ll try to pick up this habit again. 1) I save all loonies for laundry. 2) My mom always used a film canister (and filled it with loonies, toonies and quarters) and kept it in the car. It was then used for car washing or parking, or other small expenses. 3) I like to keep cash on hand for small purchases, and if paying in cash I try to… Read more »

smirktastic
smirktastic
9 years ago

My credit union counts loose change for free. They have a self-service machine in the lobby and you don’t even need to be a member.

Betsy
Betsy
9 years ago
Reply to  smirktastic

I <3 my credit union, too!

s
s
9 years ago
Reply to  smirktastic

We had a bucket with several hundred dollars of loose change. The local bank counted it with their machine for free.

cc
cc
9 years ago

my fiancee and i have a coffee can of spare change and some bags of coin rolls from the dollar store. whenever it gets full, we sit down, watch some tv and count our money (kind of fun, actually!), then i run the rolls down to the bank to deposit to our joint account. a coffee can is about $100 worth of change, so far we’ve filled the can three times. on the next redemption, we’re going to buy a new couch with the proceeds. joy!!!

Sara
Sara
9 years ago

I actually pay my credit union a 3% fee and bring my change there. The first time I did this I had $350. I spent an hour rolling the first $50 myself. I figured out that the fee for the other $300 would be $9, and it would take me about 6 hours to roll the rest. So I now just pay the 3% fee whenever my piggy bank is full.

Daryl
Daryl
9 years ago

My credit union has a free machine and the supermarket I go to the most has a Coinstar that spits out scrips for that supermarket. I do love the roll of quarters idea and will have to make a note of that one.

partgypsy
partgypsy
9 years ago

I get free coin rolls from my bank, roll them myself and they accept the rolled coinage for no charge (Wachovia, now Wells Fargo). I would be ticked if a bank charged a fee for accepting legal tender.
I actually find the process relaxing. I guess it’s the closest activity I have to Scrooge Mcduck rolling in his coins.

Michael
Michael
9 years ago
Reply to  partgypsy

Our Wells Fargo has a coin machine. It spits out a receipt for you when you’re done. You take the receipt to the cashiers and deposit/cash it out. If you’re not a customer you pay 8-10% (can’t remember, but it seemed steep).

chris
chris
9 years ago

I never spend change – ever. I collect change every day from my wallet and my husband. I also skim a buck out of his wallet as well. Each week I deposit those dollars, any full rolls of coins I collect and amy rebate checks into my account and then transfer it to ing. I’ve been doing this for about 6-7 years. We paid off our house with “small change”.

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  chris

Nicely done Chris 🙂

I do this with for fiancée and I, had never realised that it could add up to something so significant over time!

Wende
Wende
9 years ago

I spend my change every chance I get. I’m always looking to see if I have exact change – I’m the person holding up the line counting out pennies.

Rachael
Rachael
9 years ago

When I got married, my husband and I both had our own change jars filled with coins from our single years. They sat and took up space in the house, and last year we got paper rolls from the bank and I rolled all the change except the quarters, which we spend at garage sales. I don’t remember the exact amount, but we had somewhere between $70 and $95 just in pennies, nickels, dimes, and a few 50-cent and dollar coins. I took them all to our bank, which only accepts large amounts of change if it’s in rolls. We… Read more »

Josh
Josh
9 years ago

I tip at restaurants with rolled coins.

Chase
Chase
9 years ago
Reply to  Josh

I can see tipping with change into a tip jar at maybe a fast food place where tipping really is optional, but at a restaurant? When I waited I and other waiters felt that it is rude for a customer to tip with change they have to touch. In other words, you can tip with the coins that come back from paying with cash, but you shouldn’t bring out a quarter and a nickel from your pocket to supplement your dollar that you probably tipped. It’s insulting because it’s like giving a bum a quarter. I know you will all… Read more »

Joe G
Joe G
9 years ago
Reply to  Chase

Strange how some people respond to a gift horse. If my change was 15 cents and my tip should be about 50 cents, they get upset because I added a couple of coins? Must be the same people who ask when I give a $20 for a 7 tab if I would like my change…

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  Chase

When my friends and I worked in the local tourism industry, many American tourists left their Canadian coins as tips. We certainly didn’t complain if they didn’t want to take those loonies and twoonies home!

I’ve read a few debates about the U.S. switching to dollar coins and it amazes me how some people think coins are so much more hassle and inconvenience than a bill.

kelsey
kelsey
9 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Having traveled in Canada and Europe, I really wish the US would switch from paper to dollar coins. Easier to hold than dollar bills. And I think I read thar they’re more cost effective for the gov’t because they last longer.

Laura in Cancun
Laura in Cancun
9 years ago
Reply to  Chase

I waited tables for several years, and I had no problems whatsoever with spare change. Money is money.

Luke
Luke
9 years ago

I’m with you on this one Laura – it’s free money (well, a bonus for a job well done).

I very much doubt that anyone but a small minority of serving staff feel like ‘bums’ if someone opts to leave them coins for a tip as opposed to paper.

No doubt there are some waiters/waitresses with mighty coin jars out there!

marve
marve
9 years ago

same here, free money regardless if coins or dollar bill is still money, it is still a legal tender. a lot better than getting nothing for your service or effort

Crystal
Crystal
9 years ago
Reply to  Chase

Too bad-then don’t be a waiter. Thats akin to a receptionist getting irritated when the phone rings

Leslie A. Joy
Leslie A. Joy
9 years ago
Reply to  Crystal

I used to wait tables. I never had a problem with someone tipping in coins, especially since it helps with giving change throughout the night. One thing to think about though is if you’re leaving a large number of coins, the server probable will have to carry them around the entire shift. Not so bad if it’s towards the end of the shift or it’s not a busy night, but on a busy Friday or Saturday it can be a real pain to have your apron weighing down with that much change.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
9 years ago
Reply to  Josh

I would not do that because I’d hate to be the person carrying around rolled coins in her pocket all evening.
Any other waitpersons here want to weigh in on that, so to speak?

Ginger
Ginger
9 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

I waited tables and some servers are like that but as long as it was not too heavy I liked it. It kept me from having to ask the bar for change.

Leslie A. Joy
Leslie A. Joy
9 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

I waited tables and really only minded when it was early on a day like a Friday or Saturday when it was really busy.

Laura in Cancun
Laura in Cancun
9 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Massive amounts of coins might be a bit of a hassle, but keep in mind that most servers give change out of their own “bank”, which is usually kept in our book or apron. If I run out of change, I have to ask for some from the bartender, which is always a hassle both for me and the bartender! I always started every shift with a decent amount of change, but if I have a night where tons of people pay cash, it can sometimes run out.

Tommy
Tommy
9 years ago

Chase Bank has change counting machines, and they don’t charge a cent. I’m a fan.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago

Piles of coins used to be my “emergency fund” for times of desperation– added up to $200 in one occasion. When I was single, you could find coins all over the floor of my apartment (I always empty my pockets when I come home). Eventually they’d find their way to a large jar. Now that I’ve been domesticated, coins go into one of those Japanese beckoning cats– hilarious, and better looking than a pig. Then my credit union has a coin sorter that prints you a ticket for the total amount, then you take that ticket to the counter for… Read more »

sarah
sarah
9 years ago

In the NE, TD Bank has change-counting machines that anyone can use. We don’t bank there but we take our accumulated change in every six months or so. There’s no fee, and they’re perfectly friendly whether you have an account or not. I’d check and see if any bank in your area does the same thing!

Christine
Christine
9 years ago
Reply to  sarah

FYI..I work at TD Bank and we recently starting charging non-customers a six percent fee for using the penny arcade. They will waive the fee if you open an account, though.

Rene Mayo
Rene Mayo
9 years ago

don’t like coinstar, want the exact money I put in back or at least charge a smaller percent for converting the coins into dollar bills.
anyway, my two banks still accept wrapped coins and just recently one of my banks allows once a month, for you to come in and give them all of your coins but it must be less than $200 and they will run it thru their coin machine and either deposit it in your account or give you cash but you must be a member.

Justin
Justin
9 years ago

I had a friend who used to work for Coinstar as a service tech that would go out and clean or service the machines as needed. He said he made a small fortune (relatively speaking) from the old silver dollar and Susan B. Anthonys he would find in there and keep. (Not sure what Coinstar would have thought of that)

Katie Schulz
Katie Schulz
9 years ago

My spouse leaves piles of change all over the house and in the couch cushions. I just gather them all up (minus the quarters), toss them in my wallet and use exact change at the grocery store. I try to operate on a cash only basis so there are plenty of opportunities to use up the change.
Quarters go in the “quarter jar” to be rolled whenever it is full and used for a large purchase around the house. The last time it was rolled I bought two ceiling fans for the living room.

sarah
sarah
9 years ago

I didn’t think any banks accepted wrapped coins anymore, since they have to be counted by machine. I worked at a credit union and we accepted coins, but not through the drive through (you’d be surprised how many people try to send a ziploc full of coins in the vacuum tube). Now I use Citibank and they count coins for free (also by machine). I’m way too lazy to wrap up coins. I have a job where I take sometimes 4-8 people per day out for coffee or a small treat, so I end up with a lot of coins.… Read more »

Tanya
Tanya
9 years ago

I have a ceramic bank (which, amusingly, says “If I’m empty-headed, it’s your fault” on it) into which I put some of my change. Even though it’s not a huge bank by any means, the last time it got full, there was almost $27 in it. A little change here and there really does add up to more than you might think.

Kevin M
Kevin M
9 years ago

Or just use a credit card and basically eliminate the need for change. I still don’t understand why the penny (heck even the nickel) are still in circulation. It seems like such a waste.

FYI – US Bank (at least in Missouri) will count your coins for free if you have an account there.

kgiax
kgiax
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin M

Except for all the places and situations that don’t accept plastic, of course.

BD
BD
9 years ago
Reply to  kgiax

But realistically, how often does that really happen? I have lived in two different states in the past 5 years, and I can only think of ONE place that didn’t accept plastic: A little independent diner in Winter Haven, Florida. I’ve never had a place other than that one that didn’t accept plastic.

Kyle
Kyle
9 years ago

I take mine to Coinstar. No, not the part that takes something like 8.9% off the top before you get your cash, but I instead cash them in for Amazon Gift Cards — to which no surcharge is taken.

There’s always something somebody wants/needs, or is a good deal with free shipping on amazon. Having that credit around is a good as cash more likely than not.

Chadnudj
Chadnudj
9 years ago

I like the gambling/low stakes poker idea — a cheap way to still get the competitive thrill with the guys. I’ve actually been saving my coins up for a modification on that — each year, I save up all the change I can, and then (after hitting a coinstar…sue me for losing the percentage or whatever) I use the money to lay one bet — whether it be on craps, one hand of blackjack, whatever — and let just that massive bet ride. Winnings go into my pocket as long as I keep winning, but that single “change bet” rides… Read more »

jlg3rd
jlg3rd
9 years ago

I agree with everything posted and follow most of your suggestions. I use coin star it’s handy and the easiest way of getting your coins changed to paper money. I have to completly disagree on giving money away to street people, you might as well buy them some beer!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
9 years ago
Reply to  jlg3rd

Ivan: Of COURSE some people will buy beer with what they collect. But how can you know what ALL of a group will or will not do?
I wrote a piece called “Why I gave a guy a dollar” for MSN Money. It explains my thought processes a little more clearly than I could in a simple comment:
http://money.msn.com/saving-money-tips/post.aspx?post=00000065-0000-0000-47cd-130000000000&_blg=298

okgirl
okgirl
9 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

If I use *my* spare change to buy beer, why should I judge another person for using the change I give them to buy beer? 🙂

Andy Hough
Andy Hough
9 years ago

I just use my change when I make purchases. If you do this you should never accumulate change. Having too much change is an easily avoidable problem.

Sharon Villines
Sharon Villines
9 years ago

Small businesses welcome change. Neighborhood markets, etc. It’s been 15 years ago now that this happened but banks in NY were charging small businesses for change. If they wanted 100 pennies they had to pay a fee to get them. So the small deli’s figured out how much 100 pennies, etc., weighed and started getting them in plastic bags from customers.

MK
MK
9 years ago

I have friends who bank at places with coin counting machines who don’t mind changing the coins into bills for me (mind you, I don’t do this often).

MK

Melanie
Melanie
9 years ago

Loved this article! My husband keeps them in his car and on a hot day he goes and fills up his gallon 7-11 cup with a slurpee.

Gretchen
Gretchen
9 years ago

My husband likes to look at coins to see if there’s anything valuable in there.

Other than that, I try to pay in close to exact change. Never quite understood the big bucket of pennies idea.

EmilyM
EmilyM
9 years ago
Reply to  Gretchen

We also aim to use exact change when shopping. If my wallet starts to feel a little heavy, I just see it as a reminder to use the change then next time I’m buying something. No biggie.

I am completely fascinated by this article and by the number of commenters with jars of change. It just isn’t my world! I doubt that we have even five dollars worth of change if I pooled together change from the car, our wallets, and junk drawer.

Stefan
Stefan
9 years ago

Here’s what I do with my coins:

Go shopping at a grocery store and check out at a self pay machine. After you scan all of your items, select “cash” as your payment method. Then use all the coins you have to pay your grocery bill. If still owe money after paying with all your coins, you can hit a “change payment method” button and pay the rest with your credit/debit card.

amanda
amanda
9 years ago
Reply to  Stefan

I do that too! I was going to make the same suggestion. It’s a great way to get rid of a bunch of change while paying for essentials like groceries, without perturbing a checkout person or a long line of customers behind you. I try to do it at off peak times though.

Laura
Laura
9 years ago

We put our loose change into a big plastic Pepsi bottle bank, and before we leave on a big vacation, we take out the coins, roll them, and turn them in at the bank for bills, and that’s our fun money for the trip. Depending on how long it’s been since the last vacation, we might have several hundred dollars in there. Luckily, our bank still takes rolled coins.

retirebyforty
retirebyforty
9 years ago

My credit union will count the coin for free so it’s easy for now. If they charge, we’ll have to think of an alternative.

Tori Holden
Tori Holden
9 years ago

Coins can be weighed to discern the correct amount, as long as they have been properly separated. I agree that banks should not refuse to take coins, especially rolled coins. It is money, and after all, if you have an account with them, and you’re just depositing it, they should just take it.

Celeste Lindsey
Celeste Lindsey
9 years ago

No one has mentioned this yet but I purchased one of those coin-counting jugs back in February of 2008. Since then my fiance and I have saved every bit of change we come across. We have saved a little over $370.

Here’s the jug we bought:
http://www.amazon.com/Zillionz-Counting-Money-Jug-Clear/dp/B00168MI7S

Sri
Sri
9 years ago

TD Bank, now that it had bought Commerce Bank, has coin counting machines (the original Commerce Bank locations),. They dont charge anything if you are a account holder, else they charge 6% now.

windyj2301
windyj2301
9 years ago

My husband and I started a “Swear Jar” because we noticed we were getting pretty bad with the swearing lately. We said we were saving for a vacation and when we went we had almost half of what we needed for the vacation. I know a guy at work does this with his kids. If the kids catch the parents swearing the kids get a quarter. It’s fun and it keeps you in check. You could do this with anyone at any time and it keeps people honest!

E. Murphy
E. Murphy
9 years ago

This is a great post if change is a problem for you. However, it’s always been a mystery to me why people save change. When I pay for things ($1.57 for a hot dog out of a $5 bill) I simply count out the fifty-seven cents in change, and then I get FOUR dollars back instead of three.

Personally I would rather have four dollars in my wallet than three and some change.

Just use the dang change up as you are charged for goods.

chiefcaba
chiefcaba
9 years ago

Our whole family while I was growing up would put our spare change into a big jar and then right before we went on our family vacation for the year we’d take it to the bank and turn it into cash. Was usually between 300-500 dollars and we used it to do something we wouldn’t normally do on vacation – a nice dinner, some activity we splurged on, etc. Some of my best memories came from that spare change.

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