My husband and I each have our own jars that we deposit our loose change into. I keep my loose change in my car until the little coin compartment can’t fit anymore and then dump most of it into my jar at home. My husband is more systematic, and empties his pockets each day to feed his jar. He’ll sometimes take out a few coins in the morning for the vending machine, but most of it stays in his little coin collection.
Growing the coin jar
Over the weekend, I noticed that his jar was full. Thus, I decided it would be a good time to see how much he had collected. I have to admit, I was impressed. His little container weighed in at 11.4 lbs, and was mostly filled with dimes and quarters. He clearly had enough to warrant a trip to the bank.
After sorting and counting everything, we found that he had saved a total of $112 – much more than the $50 in my coin jar. Looking at the nice chunk of change that he had set aside, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to come up with a list of options for putting his spare change to use.
Deposit it in your savings account
Since he only touches the very top portion of the jar to grab some loose change for the day, one option that would be to deposit the excess into a high yield savings account. The primary advantage in this case would be that he’d earn a bit of interest on what he’s already saved.
Right now, we bank with ING Direct. While it’s not offering the highest rate, it’s certainly better than what we’re getting at our brick and mortar bank. For our joint savings account we have several options for parking his money:
- General savings: Besides bulking up our emergency fund, we’re also including some savings in anticipation of a decrease of work-related income when the baby comes. I’m self-employed, and I’ll be taking it easy for a bit as I make the transition. I don’t know how long it will take, but thinking about the worst case, I’m looking at 3 months of decreased income.
- Baby expenses: Doctor visits and delivering at a hospital can get pretty expensive, so we’re setting aside some money to cover the expected expenses.
- Car replacement fund: Our cars are both 10+ years old. While they’re still going strong, we’re planning ahead and saving for the next car.
- Vacation fund: We enjoy traveling together and plan on visiting family towards the end of the year. If we save now, we’ll be able to take advantage of travel deals as they come available.
My husband also has a “splurge fund” that he can put the money into for future gadget purchases. If he continues to deposit his coin jar money, he’ll have a healthy splurge fund in no time.
Use Coinstar to get bonus deals
If you have a ton of coins piling up in your house, Coinstar can be a useful option. If you have a specific savings goal in mind, like a purchase at Best Buy, Coinstar will count all your coins and give you a gift card with no service fee. With some retailers, you can even get an additional bonus added to your gift card purchase. Check online to see what the current deals are.
If you just want to turn the coins into cash, there’s a fee, with Coinstar taking 9.8 cents per dollar for the service. So if you’re looking at cashing in your coins, you’ll probably want to skip the direct cash conversion.
Donate it to charity
Last but certainly not least, I wanted to mention an option that gives a great return: donating to a charity that matters to you. I just want to highlight one that we care about – the education focused DonorsChoose. As the name implies, you can specifically choose which classroom you want to support.
Donating to this cause is something that we enjoy doing because we know where the money is going and how it’s being used to help the students. In fact, we occasionally receive cards from the students. While $100 might not be a huge amount for other charities, it can go quite far at DonorsChoose.
Even though it’s probably not your main reason for doing it, if you decide to make a contribution to charity, there are also tax benefits. Just be sure to keep receipts from all of your donations throughout the year.
What do you do with your spare change?
Since I know a lot people like to collect their spare change, I’d love to get some more ideas on how best to use it. How many of you collect your loose change? How do you use it? Have any of you tried Coinstar as an option?