Why Throw Money Away?

“Are you kidding me?”

jar of coinThose were the exact words I thought when my husband came home and shared with me what he saw his coworker doing. Each week she digs deep into her purse and purges it of all the loose change both in her wallet as well as the coins floating around in the bottom. And when I say “purge” I really mean “throw away.” Yes, you read that correctly: in the trash can, the garbage, with the refuse. My husband must have been anticipating my reaction because just as my jaw hit the floor, he pulled a small sandwich baggie from his pocket chuck full of coins.

I’ll admit it. I get tired of having my purse weighted down by lots of change, but money is money. Want to make the best use of your change? Here are some ideas to help you make every penny count:

Count it out, roll it up and trade it in

Skip paying for the rolls and visit a local bank instead. Most will give you complimentary paper rolls for just this purpose. If you have young children, this can be a great family activity. Picking up the coins helps improve fine motor skills. Counting out and grouping the coins helps reinforce mathematics skills. It’s also a great way to enable children to actively help the family’s bottom line in a very real way. (Not keen on all the counting? Employ the use of a Coinstar machine to do all the counting for you. Be warned, though, you will employ it by paying it a fee to the tune of 8.9%.)

Convert to bills without the counting

Think rolling coins or paying a fee is your only option? Think again. Some banks (especially credit unions) have machines that do all the counting for their tellers-and you-for free. Call your bank to find out if they’re one of them or check out TheUnderStory.com to find one near you that does.

Always keep 4 pennies in your wallet. Doing this can help you minimize the number of pennies you get back in return, leaving you with much more silver change which is easier to spend.

Give the ultimate gift to a coin collector

An old jar of coins can literally be the equivalent of a treasure chest to a coin collector, especially the junior variety. Give the gift that literally only costs you the change in your pocket and you’ll be giving the gift of a great treasure hunt.

Consider it forced savings or an emergency fund

I actually have a small tabletop, battery operated machine that automatically rolls the coins for me. Truth is, even after I accumulate a massive amount of rolls, I still don’t necessarily trade them in for bills. Instead, I keep them tucked away in a savings account as a “ready-to-go” emergency fund. During times when things are especially tight, I quickly trade in a few rolls of coins for cash immediately in order to buy a few groceries. This enables me to stretch the food I’ve already got in my pantry, leaving my usual budgeted grocery amount to go towards paying for other, unexpected expenses. Another great way to look at loose change is to treat it as a sort of forced savings, similar to how others few tax withholding throughout the year. Forbid yourself to spend any change and instead collect it all. Watch how quickly a bit of change here and there can add up to help stash away a college savings or vacation fund without even trying.

Photo credit: Nicholas Bonanno

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit ThrivingOnEmpty.com to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

8 Responses to “Why Throw Money Away?”

  1. Ken |  Nov 19, 2009 at 5:49 am

    My wife counted up our change the other day. $132.00. We just added it to our vacation fund.

  2. Mrs. Accountability |  Nov 19, 2009 at 8:21 am

    That’s crazy! But I can believe it. Some people are really clueless when it comes to money.

  3. Don@moneyreasons.com |  Nov 19, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Nice post! To often people (even me, I mostly just like silver coins), don’t respect the amount that money can add up to.

    All my change is evenly split into 2 groups that go into my son and daughter’s piggy banks. Then twice a year, we roll the coins up and deposit half in the bank (for each kid), and then use half for spending.

    It’s a nice family event, we all have fun!

  4. Greg |  Nov 19, 2009 at 11:39 am

    At the end of every day i throw all my loose change on a bucket in the bedroom, & at the end of each year i take that change to the bank to be counted. I have never had any less than $450 in a year. I would never take that kind of money out of my wallet & throw in the trash.

  5. Susie |  Nov 19, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Our trash collector says that he sees hundreds of dollars worth of change thrown away every week. Does he pick it out and keep it? No, too much bother, he’d rather just keep dumping garbage cans into the back of his smelly truck!
    I half seriously asked him if I could go with him and pick the change out, of course the answer is no. I would slow him down.
    There’s a business waiting to be born here!

    I live in a dressed area of the country so even poor people throw away change.

  6. Diana |  Nov 19, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Well, if your husbands coworker feels the need to throw away money, she could at least throw it to the people who need it. Okay, change can be bothering, but that’s what jars are for and since I like to “kill” my vacuum cleaner, I sure am happy to have that jar.

  7. Sun |  Nov 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Since I use credit cards almost exclusively for shopping, I usually don’t have a lot of spare changes. However, I do have a jar for coins whenever I have them. Maybe once a year, I would buy a bag or coin wrappers from a dollar store and roll all the coins in the jar and bring the rolls to the bank to deposit them. I never throw away any money :)

  8. MamaE |  Nov 21, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    There is something very wrong in our society when people throw away money. Have we really come to this?