Money Saving Monday Tip#20 – Keep the change

By glblguy

Save your pennies
Photo by: r-z

This article is part of an ongoing series where I write about Money Saving tips and strategies each Monday. You can see the rest of the series articles here.

Generally, keeping the change involves telling someone you are giving money too to not bother giving you your change back. Unless you’re leaving a tip, I can’t imagine why anyone would do this. I am going to flip the concept of “keep the change” around with this money saving Monday tip and suggest that you always get your change back and keep the change!

We seem to have reached a point in our society where people don’t really seem to care much for small change. Myself and primarily my kids seem to find change lying on the ground all over. My kids are particularly good at this. They begin the search as soon as we enter a checkout line. Them crawling around on the floor can be a bit embarrassing sometimes, but they consistently leave the store with at least 5 cents, sometimes much more. This is big bucks for them. Which makes me wonder, at what point did we as a society make the decision that loose change just isn’t worth the trouble? The whole message of this site is based on Proverbs 13:11 which teaches us to “gather little by little”. What better way to do so than to collect change?

A technique for saving that my wife and I have been doing over the years is saving our change. We keep a glass jar in our cabinet and whenever either one of us return home and have change in our pockets, we put it in the change jar. A few months ago, I “kicked it up a notch” and started added any $1 bills in my wallet as well. I don’t normally keep much cash on hand, so this isn’t really a significant jump, but it has made a difference.

Each day when I come home from work, I take any loose change and place it in the jar as I empty my pockets before going upstairs to change. I also pull out any $1 bills as I remove my wallet and place them in the jar too. We continue this process until the jar is close to full and then take it up to the change counting machine at the grocery store and redeem the change for bills and then deposit this in our emergency fund or use it to snowflake against our debt.

We also use this change jar to fund various cash requirements like money our children need for school, purchasing things the kids in our neighborhood are selling, even allowance. This of course cuts into the savings a bit, but it’s money we would be spending anyway and it’s a great way to pay for unplanned expenses we didn’t account for in our budget.

While I don’t have any hard data on this, I would estimate that about every couple of months we get $20 – $30 dollars from our saved change. That’s $300/year. My wife and I have been married for 15 years and have been doing this for about that long, so over the long haul saving our change has accumulated us $4, 500.00. That’s a great deal of money for just saving some spare change. Now that we’ve started saving $1 bills too, that should significantly increase that value.

The lesson here is value all of your money, even pennies can add up over time. I read a story a while back about a man that while out running errands each day, he stops at various car vacuum cleaners that are along the way and looks for change in the clean-out doors. I can’t recall exactly how much he found daily, but seem to recall it was around $5.00/day. That works out to be $1,825.00/year. Again, even a little gathered overtime can yield much.

Do you save your change? Where do you keep it? How about your dollar bills? Do you count and wrap your change or use the machines at the stores? How much do you think you’ve saved using this method?

24 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Money Saving Monday Tip#20 – Keep the change”

  1. Eden Says:

    Interesting. We dump our change into a jar at home as well. I also keep a stash in my car for parking meters and an emergency cup of coffee. We roll it ourselves and bring it to the bank. I would like to use a machine, but I thought they charged a fee. That sort of defeats the purpose in my mind.

  2. glblguy Says:

    Hi Eden, they do charge a fee, but time is money and rolling it takes time, so to me that is worth the fee. We have talked about this though, and while I don’t like paying fees, it does make it far less time consuming. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Justin Says:

    Moving to debit and credit card use really slowed down the amount of change that piles up in our house. I have a jar that has been full for a couple of years, but I haven’t needed to add more in a long time.

  4. Laura Says:

    Great idea with the jars. We have one at home ourselves. I learned to treasure hunt from my grandmother and some days you’ll find over a dollar just in parking lots. It does add up.

  5. Amanda Says:

    I’m also amazed at how much change people throw away. My mom always saved her change in a coffee can so it’s kind of ingrained in me to do it. I keep a little plastic pig in my kitchen to throw all our change in.

    One day out of complete boredom, my best friend and I decided to see how much change we could find. We started at the vacuum machines in gas station parking lots and found so much change! People just left quarters there! We even found change at stoplights which seems like a really random place to leave your change. We ended up with a few dollars within a few dollars.

  6. Sue Says:

    At the end of the day, my change go into a sorting thingie that has the rolls already standing there: I just pars out the coins. When a roll is full, I close it, stash it in a box for deposit later, and add a insert a new one. Pennies get donated to my friend’s church’s “least coin” effort; all others including coupon savings and rebate checks gets deposited about once every two months into a savings account.

  7. glblguy Says:

    Sue, thanks for the reminder…I had completely forgotten about those sorters that roll the money. Have to go see if I can find one of those. Thanks!

  8. glblguy Says:

    @Justin – I agree, it has for us as well. Although still have to use cash for things like drinks at work, dry cleaning (place I use is cash only) and other misc. items.

  9. glblguy Says:

    @Laura – Treasure hunting, I love that. That is exactly what my kids do :-)

  10. glblguy Says:

    Amanda, that’s too funny, but sounds like you had fan and saved some money! It is amazing how much you can find just laying around if you really look.

  11. Mrs. Micah Says:

    We have a Mason jar for our change. A lot goes to buying stamps–it’s a nice way to get rid of pennies.

  12. glblguy Says:

    Hi Mrs. Micah – I guess I’m spoiled, I buy stamps with my debit card from the ATM machine.

  13. Tammy Says:

    For years, I kept my change in those old milk bottles because I liked the clink on the glass. Now I keep it in a bowl in the kitchen cupboard. I haven’t been good about “saving” it for something substantial but yesterday I rolled what I had on hand and plan on opening a savings account just for my loose change – for my non-existant emergency fund.

  14. Sonyia Says:

    I almost NEVER have cash so it sure would take me a long time to save anything worthwhile. I did however just this past October open up a “spend to save” account with my credit union. I use for check card for just about every purchase. They give a small match too. We’ve had it just a few months and have accumulated over $85 plus just got a $15 match. Same concept but easier for me. Great tip!

  15. glblguy Says:

    Sonyia – I don’t either, but even still it’s amazing how much change I end up with. I’ve heard of similar programs…I think BofA has something similar? That’s great though, $85 dollars for using your check card, you gotta like that deal! thanks!

  16. speedy Says:

    The only thing that annoys me about rolling coins is separating out the pennies. So now I have three jars: one for pennies, one for silver coins, and another for $1 bills.

    I actually enjoy counting the coins and rolling them up myself, now that those pesky pennies are banished to a jar of their own!

    I don’t let the rolls build up, I deposit them at the bank as soon as I can, especially pennies. I have heard that it costs more than one cent to mint a penny, and so we are saving taxpayer dollars when we put them back into the system right away. All those people who are hoarding pennies are costing the US taxpayers lots of money!

  17. glblguy Says:

    Interesting about the cost of minting pennies. Guess I never thought about that! I’m guessing there is a lot of penny hoarding going on!

  18. cedella garcia Says:

    When it comes to saving money, small things make a big difference, such as keeping the change.

  19. glblguy Says:

    I agree Cedella. Gather Little by Little right? ;-)

  20. debbi Says:

    actually, most banks (at least the ones i’m familiar with) would prefer that you NOT roll the coin. they typically dump the change into a large sorting machine anyway and if you bring it in already rolled, they just have to unroll it to count it. it’s wasting both your time and theirs to roll it.

    just take your jar of change to the bank and have them count it and deposit it for you, then you don’t have to pay a fee.

  21. Michael Roque Says:

    Just recently turned it into a mission of mine since mid-May and have gone all-out every day even scouring the ground on my way to work, walking to and from the store, the bus stop, the bike path, etc. It really is fun since now I have some annoying debts to get rid of like doctors’ bills and big things to save up for like wedding funds. Just cashed my first load in from about a third of a coffee can in and I made out with almost $130 including about $30 in paper money. I would have saved more except that I had to get rid of some major expenses. Not bad for my first collection and the first time I had collected quarters and paper money. I was very impressed with my discipline. Now I have the three months left of this year plus all of next year to start over. That should be really good.