Mar 03 2008

Coins can be snowflakes


If you’ve ever read Paid Twice’s blog or new site, you know that she looooves to add "snowflakes" and "snowballs" to her debt. (Check out her snowflaking primer here).

It’s a great concept, and it actually works. Whether you’re trying to eliminate debt or build up an emergency fund or scrape together a down payment for a house, taking even small amounts of money and concentrating it toward one effort at a time is a great way to accomplish your goals.

Shane and I are building our emergency fund right now. We’re aiming to save $10,000 as quickly as possible, and hopefully we’ll achieve that by the end of August. We’re making progress, but it’s always good to come up with even more money to throw at our ING Direct savings account.

So, I have a simple "snowflaking" idea to share.

Submitted for the approval of the snowflake society: Raid the piggy banks!

I’ve mentioned before that I can’t stand to use filthy cash. I much prefer debit cards or even gift cards (everyone loves a gift card, yes?). Yet, I still have a few jars full of pennies, nickels and dimes just sitting around, with no purpose and not achieving any sort of goal.

I’m going to raid our piggy banks and my car and I’m going to gather all the loose change I can find. I’m going to keep the quarters for laundry, but everything else is going to our emergency fund.

If you’re willing to pay 8.9 cents per dollar, take your coins to a Coinstar machine. If you redeem your coins for an e-gift certificate, they’ll waive that fee.

Or, if you have the time, you can roll your coins and take them to your bank. I don’t know if all banks have a rapid-counting machine, but it’s worth checking into. I just called my bank, and they don’t have one of those machines. So, Coinstar is the best option for me in this case.

If you have a bunch of coins sitting around for no reason, why not put them in your bank? Or throw them at a debt? (Cha-ching! is the sound that will make) or use it to get a gift certificate for something you need to buy.

I’m going to head out the door in a few minutes to try this now. I estimate I’ll find $15 in random change. I’ll let you know what I find.

Update: I am quite proud of myself! The total was $15.08 plus a Canadian nickel. Not bad! To give you an idea of what $15 in change might look like, I put the money in a small butter tub. It was about 80 percent full or so.

I changed my mind about opting for cash. I chose an Amazon e-certificate instead, and saved myself $1.34 in fees. I’ll just transfer $15 from my regular bank into the ING account so it’ll be the same difference. 

I’ll use that gift certificate plus a $25 Amazon gift certificate I got from my credit card company, and I’ll put it toward the purchase of a wedding gift.

23 Responses to “Coins can be snowflakes”

  1. We paid for our (admittedly, frugal) honeymoon with change collected over the course of our 1.5 year engagement. It’s a great way to save for things or to snowflake towards, debt, as you said! Josh asked for a coin counter for Christmas a couple years ago, so we have a battery-operated one that helps us remember never to spend the change & makes rolling it a breeze.

  2. My mom did this while I was home visiting last week and had enough change to cover her car payment for this month!

    Also, hoarding coins is bad for the environment since it causes the Mint to use metals, energy etc to mint new coins that probably wouldn’t be necessary if people just got rid of their excess coins!

  3. There are a couple of blogs I like that keep a running total of the change they find in the street!! It’s amazing how it does add up! I do not give to penny cups at registers–I give instead to myself! 100 pennies still equal $1 and banks are still happy to trade them in!

    Another great “snowflake” is to add the total of the coupons you use [found helpfully on most receipts these days] to your savings. After all you “saved” that money–right?

  4. If gift cards are something you like to buy, I highly suggest signing up for one of the 20% off gift card sites. I am a member of 4 different ones, and saved over $400 last year. Plus, I sell them, too, so you can make a little more profit on the ones you don’t buy through your club by selling them on eBay, trading on or If you combine the discounted gift cards with coupons, you can really save a lot ( 20% off Kohl’s, w/ 30% off coupon I got, plus clearance items equaled over 90% off ). It was cheaper than going to a garage sale for me, and I got beautiful new kids clothes ( off season, of course ).

  5. I had to leave the house one time due to a fire threat. I had time to grab my purse. If you keep a big container of change in the house I dont know how you would be able to grab that in time. A family member had a coin bucket with several hundred dollars of change and it weighed a ton. Of course it is not always about money in an emergency. But that thought has always kept me from keeping change in that manner.

    There is a site that points you to where there are free coin counting machines in your state if you dont want to go the Coinstar route:

  6. I would do that except we use most of ours for stamps. I should still see about trading in the pennies. We have far too many of those.

  7. Ijust took my change today with my e-bates check deposited it in the checking account, and came home and made a payment on my credit card. I am doing this at the end of each month. $34.00 is better than nothing. There are many creative things to do with saving and paying of crdit cards.

  8. The best source I’ve found for loose change is under the drive through windows at fast food restaurants! No one wants to open their doors to get a few coins, but after a busy Saturday, you’d be amazed at how much you’ll find. I found over 5 bucks one day just opening MY door to get what I dropped.

  9. i save my change all year, then around May i take it to the bank and get cash, which i use all summer for garage saling. It’s super fun, and gives me a reason to keep adding to my piggy bank:) If i have an extra dollar bill, i usually add that too. i love garage saling:)

  10. I nominated you for the Excellent award. Your blog has lots of great info. Sorry about the garage sale not working out.

  11. …thanks for reminding me. I need to deposit my change jar into my bank account.

  12. I save all the rebates I get, the ebates money, the paid surveys I do to snowflake. And when I do use cash (infrequently), I pay only in paper money even if it’s 10.01, and save the change.

    If you belong to a smaller bank, they may have a coin-counting machine you can use for free. Our hometown bank has one that’s free for account holders.

  13. We do this and encourage our kids to do the same. A penny saved is a penny earned :)
    It really can add up pretty quickly!

    I roll the change and take it to the bank to avoid the fees at the machines, I wait until the end of the month when I deposit all my other little things-ebates checks, survey checks, whatever I may have accumulated.

    Take Care


  14. We spend very little cash too, but when we do, the coins end up in the car (for the occasional metered parking) or in a container on my husband’s desk. A couple of times a year, I make as many rolls as I can and take them to the bank to deposit. It’s never much – maybe $20+ if I have two rolls of quarters, but it always feels good because it’s so completely painless.

    I would never dream of paying someone to roll my coins for me! It’s so easy and goes pretty quickly if you’re watching tv.

  15. Hey Kacie,

    Do you have Commerce Banks out there. I don’t know if they are all over the state or if they stop somewhere between us (Central PA). Anyway, for the next time, if you have one, you can take your change there to use their machine. You don’t have to have an account with them and there is no fee. Just dump your change in there and then take the print out to the counter. They’ll give you the cash for it! :) I did this for my husband’s birthday our first year married. I’d been hording and hiding any change I could find in a ziplock in my drawer. Then for his birthday I cashed it in and had $50 to spend on him. Since I stay at home, it was great to be able to spend “my” money on him instead of “his” or “ours”. :)

  16. DH and I save our change in a cookie jar and at the end of every month we roll what we can and take it to the bank. Then, we transfer it to our savings account. That way it isn’t sitting around TOO long doing nothing. Most months we’ve had between $35 and $50 dollars!

  17. Each day we add our change to a tub and at the end of the month we deposit into our savings.

  18. I did a post on this on my blog! People take their piggy banks and penny jars for granted but the money can add up. I always say that no one will stop by the bank to drop off their change so drop it off at the piggy bank at home.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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