Do You Save Loose Change?

By Staff

My grandmother was a prodigious coin saver. I remember one summer when I was about ten years old helping her roll dozens of rolls of coins. Sensing I was getting a little bored making my piles of fifty pennies, she took me back to her room where she had hidden shoe boxes of rolled coins under her bed.

She took the tops off those old shoe boxes and I remember peering into them and seeing roll after roll of quarters, nickels and dimes. She had whole boxes dedicated to pennies. There was easily a few hundred dollars in change under her bed.

The Coin Collector’s Christmas Club

“Nana, what are you saving all those coins for?” “For Christmas,” she replied. My grandmother didn’t work outside of the home after my grandfather retired from the Marines. Fortunately for her, my grandfather is a cash-only kind of guy, opting to spend cash over charging on credit cards (these were the days before debit cards were made popular).

He would come home after a trip to the store and empty his pockets on the top of his dresser. That’s when my grandmother swooped in and collected any loose change and was off to add them to her coin bank. She did leave a little pile of change my grandfather referred to as his “walking around money.” He always liked to keep a little change in his pocket.

After that summer of helping my grandmother roll coins I went with her to the bank where she cashed in over $300 in rolled coins. Part of the reason she took me along was to reinforce the habit of savings, but I really think she needed help carrying in those old shoe boxes!

Saving Coins in the 21st Century

Fast forward twenty-plus years. My kids now enjoy saving coins. Both of them have little electronic money jars that keep a running balance – something I’m still not sure about. While it is fun knowing you have $52.00 in change in your coin jar, just knowing that makes you want to cash it in for that $50 game you’ve been eying.

One of the things we struggle with now is finding a more efficient way to cash in that change. Some banks and credit unions have a change counting machine where you can dump in your change and make a deposit to your checking or savings account. Others require the change be rolled, and some even require you write your account number on each roll (have you seen the length of some bank account numbers these days?).

The very act of counting the change is time consuming, and most electronic sorting banks are expensive – the cheap ones never get the count right, or drop dimes in your penny column, etc. Of course, there is always those Coinstar machines. I admit I’ve carried along a jar of money or two to Kroger and dumped it in the Coinstar machine to put towards the grocery budget. Yes, I know it charges me an 8.9% fee, but considering how long it takes to count and roll the money, isn’t this worth it?

Coinstar does offer an option to redeem your change for an gift card or eCard (list of participating merchants) without adding the fee. But then you have to buy something online, pay for shipping and wait. 8.9% doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Are you a coin saver? Where do you keep your coins, and how do you cash them in?