What Do You Do With Loose Change?


by Barbara Nevins Taylor

I always wonder why people toss pennies or coins away. It’s good money and discarding it makes no sense to me. Okay, bad pun.

My grandparents, Louis and Sarah Robin, were immigrants and owned a candy store. They sold newspaper, cigarettes, cigars, candy and had a soda fountain too. Grandma made classic New York egg creams and hosted great conversations over the marble counter.

But their store was basically considered a penny business. They literally counted every penny and made enough to live comfortably in their retirement. My grandmother died at about 95 and my grandfather lived to 101.

They spent money, but they were thrifty and made those pennies count. They did small things that helped them save and they never thought about throwing a penny away.

I grew up in and out of their house and watched them unpack the groceries, which they bought together in the supermarket every week. They had a routine. Before they put anything away, they took the items out of the bag and checked each one against the register receipt to make sure that they weren’t overcharged. They even weighed the fruits and vegetables to see if the weight and price matched.

My grandfather tried to teach me thrift and told a story about my mother. He said proudly, “When Julie went to high school, she kept a quarter in the pocket of her leather jacket so long that it got rusty.” The message, of course, was that I should do the same.

The thrift gene seems to have missed me.

Unlike my mom, I always had a hard time holding on to money. I spent it as quickly as I got it. And then, in my late twenties early thirties, there was a shift in my thinking. I got really tired of scrambling to fix my finances and reconsidered my wasteful ways.

I made subtle adjustments to the way that I approached spending and saving.

I wouldn’t say that I’m now the thriftiest or most frugal person I know.  That wouldn’t be true. But I am much more careful than I have ever been about how I spend and what I do with my money, and I feel better and more secure.

I never threw away pennies and still don’t. I have a little brown bag with red lining in my desk drawer and that’s where I stash loose change.

There’s usually a lot of change rumbling around the bottom of my handbag. Those coins go into the brown bag and when it gets nice and fat and full, I take the bag to one of those machines that count loose change and dump the change in the basket. I watch the tally eagerly to see what I’ve saved.

It’s always a little thrill to find that I have an extra $75 or so. And I use the money to buy something that I might not have bought.

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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.