11:21:17 To Save, or Spend, Change

My interest in coin change must go back to a savings technique I heard to painlessly save money by emptying one's pocket of change each day and putting it in a bureau drawer.

[lincoln penny]

Religiously, I did this for several years, and my bureau drawer filled to where I wasn't sure if I could carry it all to the bank in one go.

After verifying first my bank branch had a coin-counting machine, I emptied the drawer of coins into doubled-up grocery bags and set off in the car with my heavy load. I'd waited several years, and was pleased the bank would give me cash [in bills and change] or credit my bank account, without a haircut [unlike Coinstar kiosks].

I was surprised my drawer of coins had amounted to almost $300!

I did not, however, go back to dropping coins in that bureau drawer. I decided the better challenge was to figure out how to not accumulate coins, which is an inevitable cost of paying cash over plastic & smartphone payments.

Yes, I'm probably out of step as more and more money changes hands digitally, so to speak. Sweden is on track to be cashless by 2023. Plus the lowly Euro cent is already gone for cash transactions in Finland. I learned about rounding when my €19.99 purchase in a Helsinki department store meant no change.

Still, for me, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies are a fact of daily life. They accumulate, if you don't have strategies to shed them.

Quarters are easy. Portland parking meters gobble quarters & my Toyota has a dash recess for keeping the metallic Georges.

As for dimes, nickels, and pennies, they can pile up too, but possibly not as rapidly as outside Oregon. For example, with no sales tax, one seldom uses or receives coins at Dollar Tree in Oregon.

In my effort to shed coins by "offering the change," I find younger, digitally native, cashiers can be flummoxed. For, say, a $1.57 purchase, I offer two dollar bills and two pennies, and they wonder, What! Sometimes, I give up.

But I've found a new, nonjudgemental ally in my effort to discard coins: Self-Checkout. Great machines. If I have to pay a total of $6.47, and I have in my pocket, say, seventy-three cents in non-quarter coins, I can put it all in, knowing I'm almost sure to get one quarter and one cent if I also put in a ten-dollar bill. The calculation is to put in more coins than I get back.

On balance, strategizing about how to spend coins is a mental engagement that might offset what’s lost by not dropping them in a drawer at day’s end.

Image credit: usmint.gov

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