Five Ways to Make the Best of the Coins in Your Change Jar


Spare change does riches make. All right, so there’s a good chance I absolutely made that up in every sense of the word (sense, cents…see what I did there?) but still. I believe that spare change is pretty awesome stuff. Why? Because you don’t think about it. You use cash somewhere, put the change in a jar at some point and never give it another thought. Then sometime in the distant future you realize that your jar is completely full and you have so much change you cannot fit anymore into the jar. You’d be surprised just how much money is in that jar you never thought about as savings.

In fact, I’m going tell you a little story that might make you view your change differently.

My husband and I use cash, but only sometimes. He puts his change into a jar in his closet at the end of the day, and sometimes he will do me the huge favor of cleaning out the change in my car and in all my handbags. The first time he emptied his large jar after we were married and it was fully, he had nearly $1000 in change in there. That was seriously unexpected; he only emptied it because it was full and he had nowhere else to put his change. Instant savings.

He did it again the following year. This time there was just as much in there. That’s when I came up with the concept that we should either use cash all the time or we should save our change no matter what we do, even if we use our debit cards. So now we save our change in actual monetary form in a jar in his closet, and we save our change on all debit card purchases, too. And since we are frequent shoppers, we save a lot. What I do is round up every single purchase to the nearest dollar, and then reconcile our bank balance at the end of the month. I put the additional change left over from every purchase into savings. In the past month, we’ve been able to save $54 by rounding up our purchases using our debit card. We average anywhere from $40 to $70 a month depending on how many purchases we make and how many of them leave a lot of additional change for us. It’s not bad savings when you consider that it’s at least $480 per year at potentially $840 per year.

And now that you know you can save a lot of money rounding up your change and saving your change, how should you use that money? Well, we have a few suggestions that will help you make the most of your change.

Take it to the Bank

You can exchange your money at one of those machines in the store, I believe they are called “Coinstar” machines, but they charge a hefty fee, something like 10%, so we don’t want to ask you to give up that much of your hard saved money. Take it to the bank and roll it. Deposit it into your savings account for a rainy day, or get it in bills and do what you want.

Go on Vacation

Between retirement, savings, emergency funds, kids and everything else that life throws your way, you have a lot to think about and sometimes vacation is not high on that list of priorities. Why not use this for a vacation fund? Save up your change for a year, two years, three years; whatever you feel is appropriate, and then take it, cash it in and go somewhere fabulous. Even if it’s just a long weekend, you can do something fun and treat yourself to something amazing.

Go on one heck of a Date

Here’s something super fun you can do with this change. How often do you splurge? I mean, really splurge? How about taking this container, designating a day, calling grandma to watch the kids that day and taking your change to the bank and going on one amazing date. You can splurge on whatever you want. A day at a theme park, a super fancy dinner somewhere, a bottle of the most expensive wine on the menu; it’s your splurge and something you probably do not do otherwise, so why not go ahead and make it count?

Upgrade the House

When you have all that change, why not do something amazing for your home? Have you been itching for a new patio set, rocking chairs for the front porch? New fixtures, new furniture, new ceiling fans? Whatever you want, buy it. This is money you feel as if you already spent, so go ahead and spend it on something really awesome. It’s a great way to spend your money and make yourself feel good at the same time.

Put it Away

I like to say that people should not live beyond their means to begin with, which means that they should not have to worry about needing money like this for anything in particular. So with that said, assuming you do not need this extra cash to have a little fun or pay for something you need, why not put it away and then do something with it at a later date? Instead of allowing yourself to feel as if you have to spend it right now, put it away and spend it later. Put it into a fund for a college education for a child. Save it for a down payment on a house or for a car for your kids when they turn 16. Just put it away. You have the rest of your life to figure out how to use and when to use this money. Don’t let it become a distraction to you right now if none of our other suggestions seem that desirable to you at the moment. Save it up and use it later; you won’t regret a decision like this.

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images


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