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Common Cents

December 13, 2011

“Ever since I bought sweatpants with no pockets.” My yoga instructor rubbed his hands over his pocketless sweats. “I’ve filled a jar at home with change.”

Many people like to fill jars with change, yet how come each time they take it to the bank and cash it into bills, they’re still astonished at the amount? It’s like they forgot those heavy coins that weigh down pocketbooks and fill jars hidden at the bottom of closets are actually worth something.

Many people nowadays see change as almost disposable. Except for the homeless guy on the corner of Bleecker Street and Laguardia Place in Greenwich Village last weekend who specifically asked for, “Pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters, it’s all good to me,” how many times have you walked past a coin on the ground, or your waiter didn’t bother to give you coins back?

I think I’m one of the few who doesn’t save her change, but actually spends it. I have a small change purse that I use to buy fruit and vegetables from street vendors, and my weekly oatmeal raisin cookie at the farmer’s market. And in stores, in the rare instances I use cash, I love handing over the exact change. It’s like I’ve solved a puzzle or something. And cashiers are either surprised to get exact change or annoyed to wait. Sure it might take a few extra seconds to count the coins, but it feels like I’m clearing out clutter and somehow saving money at the same time since I’m not using bills.

Many folks like to keep loose dollars in their pocket, as it makes purchases quicker. But unfortunately it might make your instinct to buy quicker too. When your money is in your wallet, those few extra moments it takes to retrieve it might make you think twice about making that impulse purchase. And while it’s only a few dollars, again, it adds up faster than you think.

My dad started his own special savings account years ago. Each night he empties his wallet of one and five dollar bills and puts them in a box. Then every few months he takes the box to the bank. His last visit netted him $978. But this “savings plan’” doesn’t just apply to money. Whether it’s ten sit-ups every morning, tossing one piece of paper a day, or clearing out one drawer a week, after awhile your small efforts will net you greater results.


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  1. Felice,
    I had to laugh because my husband (Sheldon) and I do both things…your saving plan and your dad’s.

    We pick up coins on our daily walks for the kid’s bank (grandkids). Only coins from that go in there and it is usually $300/year or so. Once when I bent to pick up a dime a guy coming the other way said, “Things are that bad, huh?” I replied, “You have no idea.”

    Shel emties out one dollar bills and periodically gives them to me in one big bundle…I like that. Usually $50 or so but it looks big.

    So, like it!

    • Hey Nancy – Love that you and Sheldon are a tag team of savings! And gotta love those wads of cash, even if they are ones… thanks! x, f

  2. Eija permalink

    I like your Dad’s approach to life–and I suspect I would like him as well.
    I do similar things… and I hope to do them better each week.

    Thanks for the post and the reminders.
    Happy Holiadys—Hauskaa Joulua!

  3. Felice, I made a New Year’s resolution about 5 years ago to take one thing out of the house and get rid of it every day; even if it is trash, it counts and since I have a cat, there is often trash to take out. My point is that I have purposely reduced :”possessions” and given to many different shelters over these years and it really has worked. 2011′ resolution was to put everything I used, back in its place and guess what…I am driving my partner NUTS, but the clutter has been reduced..

    • Hey Chris, Glad the clutter has been reduced! And you really need a resolution to put things away? Kidding. Miss you! x, f

    • Small habits can yield big results.

  4. Judy Rachelle permalink

    Good advice!! Thanks

  5. Brad Haschka permalink

    In the past I would give my mom a hard time when she would give the exact change when shopping but not anymore. I am the type of person that puts all my change in a container. I know my mom will appreciate this blog.


  6. anne asher permalink

    You have given me the motivation to take my change charge to the bank. Thanks

  7. I do the budget and always encourage my husband to keep the change. He uses it for coffee or a quick bite to eat.

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