I recently saw a statistic that stated over $10.5 billion dollars worth of loose change is sitting in households around America, which made me think…how can I take all of that loose change and make it work for me. Here are just a few thoughts:
Don’t step over that penny – True…a penny is just a penny…but 100 pennies is a $1 and we would never just step over a dollar. Lost money found adds up quicker than you think.
Contain those coins – Make a point of taking all of your loose change at the end of each day and saving it. Drop it in a jar, or a cabinet, or a drawer. The point is to get in the habit of dropping all loose coins in one place (including the penny you didn’t step over).
Have a plan – Decide up front when and how you will spend it. Is there something special you want to buy with the coins (see below for a great Christmas idea)? Is there a length of time you want to save for (i.e. until a child graduates, until your next vacation, etc.)? Whatever you decide stick to your plan.
Now for the Christmas idea: A company named Coinstar (www.coinstar.com) has 19,000 machines in supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchants, convenience stores, financial institutions, and restaurants all over the country. Now I’m not necessarily endorsing Coinstar specifically (there may be other options in your local area), but I’ve used their machines and found them to be easy, accurate, and convenient. It’s simple: you pour your loose coins into their machine and they pay out in one of three ways. They allow you to receive cash back (be warned: the current fee for this service is 9.8 cents per $1.00. That’s pretty steep, so you may just want to take the coins and deposit them into your bank account for free). You can redeem coins for charitable donations. You may also redeem them for e-certificates or gift cards WITH NO FEE. And there’s #6 on our list: redeem all that loose change you have for gift cards that you can give as Christmas presents. Coinstar partners with tons of merchants, many of which you have probably planned on using this year for presents anyway (i.e. Starbucks, iTunes, Amazon.com, Chili’s). So dig out those coins, find a local Coinstar machine, and use that change to help keep from extra spending this Christmas.