Those 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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