What Do You Do With Your Spare Change?

What Do You Do With Your Spare Change?

Earlier this week I ran across a story about a guy named Danny who uses a coin jar to supercharge his savings. Whenever he spends cash, he makes a point of not using his change – and when he receives additional change, he collects it in a jar back at home before taking it to the bank.

I’m sure we’ve all done this to a certain extent, but Danny managed to save $723 over a seven month period by doing this. To be fair, Danny lives in Canada, where there are no one dollar bills. Thus, he gets a lot of “loonies” and “toonies” (one and two dollar coins) in change, which help to supercharge his change jar.

Given our general distaste for dollar coins here in the States, you’d have to spend an awful lot of money to pile up change at the same rate that Danny does. After all, given that their smallest bank note is currently the five dollar bill, he might get an average of $2.50 in change from a typical transaction. In contrast, an average American would receive something closer to $0.50/transaction.

Anyhoo… This got me thinking about how I (and all of you) handle my (your) change. The way I see it, there are a handful of options for dealing with coins, including:

  • Stick them in a jar (or equivalent) and (eventually) take them to the bank/Coinstar
  • Carry them around in your pocket/purse until you spend them
  • Toss them into a fountain and make a wish
  • Tell people to “keep the change”
  • Give them to panhandlers
  • Something else entirely

As for me, I used to save my coins in giant beer stein at home, and then periodically roll them up and deposit them in our savings account. I eventually got tired of dealing with all these coins, however, and have since started doing a combination of the first two things on the above list.

I hate carrying excess change in my pockets, so I typically dump my coins it into the cupholder in my car whenever I get them. I then make a point of grabbing out a handful and spending them when I need to hop out of the car and buy something – e.g., at a gas station, convenience store, or quick service restaurant.

In fact, I also keep a stash of dollar coins in the car so I can spend those, too. For those that are unaware, I bought a bunch of dollar coins from the US Mint to break through a reward tier on our Amex Delta card, and I’ve been gradually putting them into circulation.

Paradoxically, as much as I hate carrying around a big pocketful of change, I actually like the dollar coins. In fact, just last night I paid for takeout after my son’s soccer practice with a handful of dollar coins retrieved from my cupholder.

Admittedly, it takes me much longer to spend down my spare change now that I’ve quit drinking Diet Coke. In fact, I used to stop off for a fountain Diet Coke on the way to work on a daily basis, so I was spending my change pretty much as fast as it built up. But now that I’ve ditched soft drinks entirely, I feel much better – and my cupholder runneth over!

20 Responses to “What Do You Do With Your Spare Change?”

  1. Anonymous

    I save M/T pill bottles- the size that will fit
    quarters perfectly. When full it’s over $8 I keep
    a full one in the car and truck. It’s handy for
    parking meters and emergency low gas tank !

  2. Anonymous

    My fave charity hands out baby bottles as a fund raiser – we fill them with pocket change – Each year they collect more than $50K just from change-filled baby bottles!

  3. Anonymous

    Most of my change goes into a small dish on the dresser and then gets cashed in every once in a while, the dish only holds around $30. Lately though I do use a few coins with a lunch purchase so that I don’t need to take any back home. I’ve actually just started carrying a half-dollar or two so that I can cut down on the change I get back.

  4. Anonymous

    I used to tell people to keep the change – and then i stopped when I realised I paid for quite a few lunches with my just spare change! So yeah, on its own it does look like a few cents but once it filled my bottom drawer – all i saw was lunch!

  5. Anonymous

    I carry and spend my small change, in order to maximize the number of quarters I get back in change. The quarters, I save, in the back of the closet. $1320.00 is four years. Our 20th anniversary is in March.

  6. Anonymous

    I work at a bank and recently observed someone who brought in $870 worth of pennies to exchange. No, not a typo (that was 87,000 pennies). I asked how she had collected so many….she apparently had some type of fundraiser and instead of asking people to bring canned food or other items, she asked for pennies. Seems really smart to me – people are generally inclined to do charitable work, they get rid of pennies, and perhaps they end up having a story to tell!

  7. Anonymous

    I get checks in the mail for cashback rebates, and birthday/holiday gifts. When I deposit these checks at a local bank, I include the spare change that I have in a little container. The spare change is not much, as I use credit cards for 99% of my purchases. The spare change comes from the other 1% and from coins picked up off the sidewalk. Sometimes it is 50 cents, other times it is $1.15.

  8. Anonymous

    I take all my change and put it in a 5 gallon jar. In the past I have changed it in for past when The Wife and I went on vacation for an added nice dinner. This time my goal is to save it all up for when we move and use it for a TV or help with the move

  9. Anonymous

    I get very little change these days. I pay nearly everything with plastic (which I always pay off monthly, of course!) For the change I do get, I wait until I have a piggy bank full, then roll my own sleeves for deposit. I actually enjoy counting and rolling change. But with my slow accumulation, I’ve only needed to do this once in the last ten years, and had only about $200.

  10. Anonymous

    I spend everything but the pennies. Every day or two I separate the pennies out of my pocket change and put them in a 1/2 gal milk jar. It is about 3/4 full after doing this for 4 years and I haven’t cashed in yet. While I don’t get much cash saved, I also don’t have much just sitting there in cash doing nothing. Eventually I might give it away or something rather than cash it in. By weight I estimate I’ve got somewhere between $25-$30.

  11. Anonymous

    Coinstar has a 9.8% usage fee when cashing out; in my area, that’s akin to double-sales-tax (for taxable items) or sales-tax itself (for untaxed things like grocery food). Not all machine locations do the zero-fee gift card exchange, or I’m not interested in the location-specific limited choices. There’s also a 7.5%-fee charity donation option.

    I periodically drop coins in a jar, and now and then roll them up and mosey into a bank to deposit full rolls while getting empty papers (free) for “next time”. More for either the local transit card or a credit card payment.

  12. Anonymous

    I take an interesting approach to making a few extra bucks with my change jar. Whenever I cash in (every couple years), I give my buddies a chance to take a guess on the dollar amount. Where it gets interesting is that I charge $5 per guess at the total, which is usually somewhere between $200-400. If they are within $10, I give them half of the proceeds.

    So far I haven’t had to payout, and I’ve added a little extra cash to my stash! Of course sooner or later I’ll have to payout, but that’s all part of the fun!

  13. Anonymous

    I had no idea about the Coinstar gift card program until this post- that’s good to know!

    I save my change at home until either a) I need it for groceries or b) I get time to roll it, then I apply it to the car loan to pay that down a bit more quickly.

    I do donate any change I have on me when I’m out. And I do pick up pennies! and any other coins I find.

    I’m learning a lot from your site. Thanks!

  14. Anonymous

    Bank of America has a “Keep the Change” program, where they will automatically round up all debit-card purchases to the nearest dollar and put “the change” in your savings account.

    They will match some portion of that — I don’t use the program myself.

  15. Anonymous

    I put all my coins in a giant mug at home. When it gets full, I take it to my local credit union that counts it -and turns the coins into bills for it – for free.

    I use that extra money (usually between $60 and $80) for a special night out at a nice eatery with the Mrs.

  16. Anonymous

    I put all my change in a cup in my car…when it gets full I’ll drop it in Coinstar. I always choose the Amazon gift card option. There’s no fee and I’ll always eventually order something from Amazon anyway (especially when Christmas rolls around!).

  17. Jo: Ah, yes. I left out that sort of charity entirely. Good catch. The Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmas are another good example of this sort of thing.

  18. Anonymous

    My city has many parking meters, so I keep the car well stocked with coins. The excess, which is usually about $100 per year, gets rolled at home, deposited at the bank, and then transferred to the kid’s 529 plan.

  19. Anonymous

    I can think of other GOOD ways to use my change in the category of “Something else entirely.” How about when the local volunteer firemen stand around at busy intersections with their boots in hand to collect loose change or the errant dollar bill. People are really good about doing this.

    The other way using the same method sans the boot, is with the Lions’ Club or the Rotary Club people are out collecting change. They do so much good for the community, such as donating old/retired prescription glasses or provide free preventative screening for women and children.

    But I digress….

    I am always finding change on the floor in the gift shop of Cracker Barrel where I work. Yes, I do pocket the coin(s) unless I, of course, see its owner dropping it accidentally. Otherwise, i give it to a child who needs a few cents more to make a toy purchase or, just put it in my coin jar at home when my apron pocket starts to get cluttered from change, paper, and keys.

    Love posts like this, Nickel. And WTG on giving up soda. And like you, I prefer the dollar coins, too. When using the Metro Link in the burbs of St. Louis where I used to live, purchasing a ticket required either coin or paper money. But the change would be returned in dollar coins. Granted, they’re heavier, which would then give me the excuse to empty my purse or pockets at home and then start over.

    Sorry for the long-winded response…..

  20. Anonymous

    The quarters get set aside for laundry, everything else is fair game. If I need change and it’s in my wallet, I spend it. Every week or so, I clean the change out of my wallet and drop it in an old apple juice jug to eventually go deposit into savings or cash in for a gift card at coinstar.

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