Since changing the name of this blog, a number of people have stumbled across the site by searching for things such as “what to do with pennies” and “where can I deposit pennies?” (There are also some other… more interesting searches. People. Pennies belong in banks, in pockets, in drawers, in jars, in purses. Not in… other places.)
This got me to thinking. What do you do with your spare change? Much like my father has for years, and his father before him, I empty my change into a jar that sits on my dresser. I usually have about a dollar in quarters in my wallet, and I raid the change jar for quarters to keep in my car for tolls and parking meters. Every so often, I’ll go through the change jar and pull out the quarters and sometimes the dimes and use those at the Farmer’s Market. I figure they can always use some change to give back to customers who aren’t carrying anything smaller than a dollar.
(Not surprisingly, I have yet to come across a dollar coin when receiving change.)
This leaves me with a jar of pennies, nickels, and dimes. At last count, it was nearing $7. Not a huge amount of money, but it’s something. I have a few options of what to do with this money.
I can roll it myself and take it to the bank. That won’t get me far, as I probably only have enough pennies to put in rolls – the other coins would have to wait.
I can take it to my bank without rolling it first. I have no idea if my bank has a change counting machine. I have a feeling that they don’t. Plus I’m really an online and ATM banker.
I can spend it. Everyone loves standing behind a person in a checkout line when they’re counting out pennies, right? Oh wait, no.
I can take it to the Coinstar machine at the grocery store I frequent. Coinstar takes a percentage of the money if you get cash back (and by cash back, they mean a receipt that you then take to customer service). However, if you donate the money to charity or request a gift certificate (which appears in the form of a gift code printed on the receipt), the coin counting is free. Not a bad option, except that it negates the idea of saving the money.
Still, I think the Coinstar option is the one I’m going to go with. However, I’m going to wait until I’m planning a purchase. I know that my local Coinstar has Amazon.com gift codes as one of the options. I’m on a buying freeze right now, but I frequently buy gifts for family and friends through Amazon.com, so when the time comes (Christmas, perhaps?), I’ll lug my jar of coins over to the grocery store and trade them in for a gift code.
(And if you’re wondering how I budget this change, the answer is that I don’t! I spend very little cash, because it is so hard to track, so every month, my budget has $X in cash, and that money goes wherever it goes. It’s usually only around $40 for the month, so I don’t worry too much – and most of it goes to the Farmer’s Market anyway!)
What do you do with your change? Save it? Spend it? Use it to build sculptures? Fill up drawers in your house? Hold onto it because the metal may be worth more than the coin?
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.