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The Benefits of Having a Coin Jar

When did I start saving my change? I don’t know, probably sometime in my teen years. (As a kid I spent it all, once I’d saved up enough!)

For years it just accumulated, since I didn’t feel there was enough to have changed at Coinstar and I couldn’t think of anything to do with it in the interim. Once I married Micah, however, I began to learn all the things one could do with a coin jar (we combined our collections).

Things to do with your saved change:

1. Buy stamps.

Are they still $.41? (Micah buys them all.) If we need a stamp or two, we just dig into the coin jar. Stamps are particularly cool because they’re in odd numbers and help us use our pennies.

2. Pay library fines.

(It’s embarrassing, but I get them sometimes.) $.15 per day per adult book. If it’s just a book or two, using change is much easier than paying with a dollar bill. You don’t have to deal with the new change. And you really can’t write a check for $.15.

3. Pay small tolls.

Have you ever been on a trip where you periodically encounter $.25 or $.35 tolls? Not cool. If you know in advance, though, you can bring along a fair amount of change. Or bring a handful along and use it to pay odd numbered tolls (like when you’re on a turnpike and have to pay $1.65).

4. Vending machines.

I almost never buy from them, but sometimes I know I’m going to be in a situation where I can’t bring food and might need a snack.

5. Bus/Metro.

DC Metrobuses accept SmarTrip cards, but sometimes you sit on them and have to buy a new one. Having change can help you ride the bus in the meantime. And if you want to use up a bunch of spare change, take it down to the metro station and add it to your SmarTrip card (though I don’t know if it takes pennies).

6. Cash ’em in.

CoinStar is pretty cool. Sure, it takes a portion (does anyone know of a type that doesn’t?) but it makes your money much more accessible. We’ll probably do this at some point with our pennies…which are harder to get rid of.

Plus: This gives us a reason to save our change or pickup change that’s lying around. It saves us a bit of money which we might have misplaced or ignored if we didn’t

From around the blogosphere:

MBH thinks that picking up pennies rocks!

KMC is encouraged that his daughter sees the value of small change.

SVB posted about a zillion cool piggy banks. I think a coin jar works better for my purposes (easier to get them out) but these are too cool to pass up.

(honestly, I couldn’t find other posts about coins/coin jars…if you have one you’d like included, please e-mail me or comment about it!!)

photo by me! (of our coin jar)

{ 3 trackbacks }

The Friday Gathering for 12/28/2007 | Gather Little By Little
December 28, 2007 at 8:32 pm
Roundup for week of 24 December 2007: Mercy Ships edition at Mighty Bargain Hunter
December 31, 2007 at 3:22 pm
An Idea for Using Your Pennies to Make Others Happier | Mrs. Micah: Finance for a Freelance Life
January 11, 2008 at 5:32 am


Alyssa December 27, 2007 at 7:24 am

I change coins at my regular bank for no charge. You could check yours.

Bellen December 27, 2007 at 7:29 am

I also do all you do with saved coins – except Coinstar – I would never use this as I’m not giving up any of my money for a task I can easily do myself. Instead I ask at my bank for ‘coin roll papers’. They are free and the only way the bank will take change is if it’s rolled.
Used to be every bank had a coin counting machine, now there is NOT ONE bank in my county that has one. So, I roll. It’s relatively mindless and I love seeing how much I have saved.

Debt Magnet December 27, 2007 at 7:40 am

I keep a coin jar on the night stand and empty all my loose change into it every night. About once a year, we stop by the bank, pick up coin wrappers, and my wife and I watch a movie and wrap coins, usually $150-$200 of otherwise unaccounted for money. Most banks will give you the wrappers and take the coins back with no charge as long as you have an account.

We take the wrapped coins, deposit them, and split the earnings – half goes to debt snowflakes, and we use the other half to treat ourselves to a special home cooked dinner with friends that we wouldn’t spring for otherwise – last year was a $50 cut of beef tenderloin, this year we’re thinking lobster feast.

Amanda (Me vs Debt) December 27, 2007 at 8:31 am

People still have change? πŸ™‚ I guess I’ve been on little to no cash budget for so long that I forgot what its like to accumulate change. I buy stamps at the ATM and don’t really pay tolls. I’ve been meaning to go to the library, but I hope not to have any fees at all. I get free bus bus rides with my old student ID. I guess I miss cashin’ em in. That was fun πŸ™‚

Dan December 27, 2007 at 8:48 am

I was slow to realize the considerable impact coins can make. I wrote about it last month in my post A couple of readers alerted me to the fact that you can get gift cards from Coinstar and bypass their usual 8.9% fee. Still, I prefer to cash them at the bank, or just deposit them to savings.

Allison December 27, 2007 at 8:54 am

Coinstar doesn’t charge if you put it towards a gift card. There are several vendors to choose from including Amazon and Starbuck. So that is a way not to lose out!

E.C. December 27, 2007 at 9:38 am

My bank does the coin counting thing for free. I wouldn’t have guessed that if I hadn’t been there when some ladies brought in a huge jar of coins.

My grandmother used to save all of her quarters, and then in December my brother and I would help her count and roll them. The money went into savings accounts for college. It helped us understand the importance of saving for large purchases. By the time I graduated from high school,there was $500 in that account. It certainly wasn’t enough to pay for college, but since I got full scholarships anyway it did provide a nice boost to my savings.

Bouncing Betty December 27, 2007 at 9:39 am

I have always had a coin jar. I consider it an adult piggy bank. I currently have two jars, one for pennies and one for silver coins. When the penny jar gets about half to three fourths full, I sit down and wrap the coins and then take them to my bank and deposit that to my checking account.

When the “silver jar” gets full, I roll the coins and then (like Debt Magnet) use the “found money” to spurge on a treat. I will admit I do pilfer the quarters from the silver jar sometimes for the laundromat.

I did not know Coinstar waived it’s fee for gift cards, that is also something to look into.

January December 27, 2007 at 9:44 am

If you go to a Chevy Chase bank branch, they will cash out your coins for free, even if you don’t have an account with them. Even better, you still get to dump it in the machine yourself and watch it add up…which is almost the best part!

Money Blue Book December 27, 2007 at 11:26 am

A lot of banks are providing free coin sorting now. Chevy Chase Bank offers a coinstar type machine free for customers. I have an account with them but my current balance is a whopping $.01 because their interest rates are horrible.

I always funnel deposits to my other higher interest bank accounts.

FourPillars December 27, 2007 at 11:36 am

I use coinstar for pennies & nickels since I don’t feel it’s worth my time to be rolling them.


Carrie December 27, 2007 at 11:59 am

I love coin banks!! We bought Samuel a HUGE one for Christmas because he’s our change collector, he picks up pennies and stuff all over the place. So this thing holds approximately 400 dollars worth of change…I can’t wait until it’s full πŸ˜‰

RacerX December 27, 2007 at 2:24 pm

I had an old mechanical bank as a kid. An elephant that you would put the coin in his nose, pull the tail and it wouldflip it into a basket on his back.

I would run around snagging all of th change I could find, since it was fun!

Tried eBay, but they are collectable now so pretty expensive.

remodelingthislife December 27, 2007 at 3:51 pm

I cash mine in after they accumulate a lot. Usually around $50 every few months. And I use coinstar but now feel kinda lame that I don’t do it myself and take it to the bank. Next time…

SavingDiva December 27, 2007 at 3:52 pm

I agree with Alyssa! Don’t pay the fees for Coinstar! My local credit union has a giant thing that you can dump coins into (it’s crazy looking) for NO cost!

Dave December 27, 2007 at 5:36 pm

I’ll add my vote for using the bank instead of Coinstar. It’s true not all branches have them, but many large bank branches will have a coin sorter. It’s worth a few minutes of calling to find one that’s not out of the way. Even if you have to open a free checking account, I definitely think it’s worthwhile!

NoMore Spending December 28, 2007 at 3:37 am

We have a mortgage piggy, any coins saved go towards mortgage overpayments. It’s amazing how it adds up!
I bag up the coins and change them into notes at work, I’m lucky (?)I work in retail so I can do it no problem:)

Becky December 28, 2007 at 10:35 pm

I have never heard of Coinstar. Paying a fee to cash in change? No way! Banks in my area will all do it for free with a coin counting machine.
Like Amanda, I use very little cash and therefore don’t have much change. I usually have to go to the bank to GET change the one or two times a year I’m going to/through Chicago (tolls)!

ylfoo December 28, 2007 at 11:35 pm

I always ensure the coin jar is filled with coins so as to motivate me further to save up more coin!

my 2 cents worth πŸ˜‰

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