Coins get me thinking about life’s big questions. For instance — everyone knows a penny saved is a penny earned, but if you toss 25 cents in a wishing well, is a quarter heaved a quarter burned?
Or, if a dime falls between two couch cushions, does it make a sound as it jingles into an imaginary savings account? And, if you accidentally sit on some sticky coins on a park bench, are two nickels in the hand worth one in the tush?
The question becomes less pressing as plastic and digital money continues to kill off the antiquated notion of pocket change. But coins still exist, and even 23 years of efforts to kill off the penny have not yet succeeded. Metal money discs still perch on your dresser, bounce in your car’s cupholders, get swallowed up by the washing machine and, yes, sink underneath your couch cushions.
So what to do to tighen up your grip on loose change and save your coins? Here are some suggestions:
Roll them up and take them to a bank.
This is the “right thing to do,” which means it’s the most tedious and boring as well. Head to your bank, ask for some those coin ”sleeves” — then get to work stuffing them. Once you’ve completed the annoying task, you can deposit them into your bank account or exchange them for paper money that you’ll end up converting into more coins to start the process over again. If there’s one takeaway I’d like you to glean from this paragraph, it’s that you should never, ever do this.
Leave them under your couch cushions until you need them.
The venerable Money Under 30 maestro David Weliver himself tells me this was once his coin-saving strategem of choice. “I remember the days when my coins were my only saving strategy — let them pile up, every couple of months take $50-100 to the bank,” he says.
Admitting your couch has superior financial savvy to yours is a tough but necessary step to financial solvency. Luckily you can establish your dominance over the haughty piece of living room furniture by not only sitting on it, but robbing it at every opportunity.
Keep it in your car and use exact change.
This one works well for those who find themselves out and about often, making cash purchases at local independent businesses. Or, in all likelihood, spending too much time picking up ill-advised snacks at drive-thrus and using cash so their significant other won’t be able to spot the charge on credit card receipts.
In order to stretch out that dirty cash, keep enough coins around to pay exactly what you owe. You may annoy those sitting in line behind you as you, then the disgruntled employee at the window, take time to count out 76 cents, but it’s all worthwhile it because the practice builds your critical adding skills … or something.
Take them to those machines at the grocery store.
Those ubiquitous Coinstar machines at supermarkets at supermarkets work like reverse slot machines. Instead of gushing coins out at you, you dump yours into them. Sure, your profits get swallowed up by fees as high as 8.9 percent, unless you opt to take gift cards instead of cash, but there’s a thrill — as well as a bittersweet sadness — in seeing that bucket of nickels and pennies you’ve been saving up for years vanishing in an instant.
This is the least economical thing you can do with your coins, but the quickest and less tedious. What you’re truly paying for is the convenience factor.
Use them as tips at restaurants.
Waiters aren’t going to like this one, but hear me out. Should you amass Scrooge McDuck-like quantities of coinage and you’re too lazy to get rid of it by taking all of it out of the house, just grab heaps of them, count out the value to the amount you expect to leave as a gratuity for your night out, then leave a bag of coins along with your check. Wait staff may not be happy about being stuck with your coins, but at least you’ve made it easier for them to pocket the tip and not have to split it with others.
How do you use your old coins?