Don’t Spend Spare Change

If you’re having a hard time saving money, sometimes it pays to use a little psychology on yourself. Make a rule to never spend change.

Let me explain. If you’re at the grocery store, and your order comes to $39.25, give the cashier $40.00. Take the 75 cents home and put it in a change jar. And whatever you do, don’t take the change out of the jar until it’s full! Then take it to the bank and put it in your savings account!

If this sounds too easy, take it a step further. Don’t spend change when you write checks, either. Let’s say you’re checking out at the above mentioned grocery store run, and you’re writing a check. You have two choices.

First, you can write the check for $40, have the cashier give you some change, and take home to your change jar. OR, you could write a check for the correct amount, but enter it in your check register as $40. At the end of the month, when you get your bank statement, figure out the difference between what you wrote down and what you spent, and transfer it to your bank account.

I haven’t done this for a while, so I think I’m going on a “Change Fast” for the month of August. It will be fun to see how much money I save by not spending my coins. Is anyone with me?


By , on Jul 28, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Jean:

    I’m way behind on my emails, so pardon the late post. Not sure if this a regional bank or national one, but TD Bank (formerly Commerce) has a change counting machine that is free (The Penny Arcade). It’s simple to use and doesn’t take the 10% surcharge that ooinstars around here take. I’ve done this for years and opened a savings account at TD so I could keep track of it – so far I have over $1800 and have NEVER missed it because it was just “change”. And yes, I pick up coins I see, too!

  2. Lynnae,
    It looks like our “Tightwad Tuesday” post are completely in sync with eath other! Click my name to go to this weeks Tightwad Tuesday post regarding building up your Emergency Fund.

  3. I wonder if my link ended up in your spam box? It still says “pending”. Thanks for checking on it!

  4. Judith:

    I’m in for August!
    I save a fair amount of change in a box on my dresser (from when I empty my pockets at night) and in a box in my kitchen (it’s amazing how much change passes through my hands there; can’t think why!) But that ususally gets frittered away back into my pockets or for my son’s trips to the laundromat where he lives.
    But I’ll jar it up and save it all for the month. Maybe work towards money for Christmas …….
    Love your posts

  5. I work in a bank and recently had a customer come in and deposit two years’ worth of rolled coin – totalling $1500.00!! It came from everywhere, the car, the sofa, every jingle in the pocket or purse. It was amazing!!

  6. J:

    My grandmother used to fill a pill bottle with quarters, dimes or nickels for our birthdays and Christmas presents. Smaller children think this is really fun to get.

  7. marci:

    B of A is closing 600 banks – per news today.

    I spend all my change as I hate to break a bill for the change part of the total bill. And I am forever picking up loose change from parking lots and sidewalks – free is a good price :) So seems I always have a pocket full of change.

    My savings is automatic every month – automatic deduction from checking to savings – much easier on me that way and no games to play.

    But then every one has their own way of saving, and all that matters is that you DO save :)

  8. The Little Dough Girl:

    I used to be with B of A and they did this for you when you used your debit card. Sadly, that bank is the spawn of Satan and I am no longer with them.

    I just took my change in and bought all of my daughter’s school supplies!

  9. Denni:

    We use the Coinstar machines to get gift cards to use for Christmas. We also purchased counting coin jars for our kids (5 and 3 years). They get quarters or dimes for doing their chores and use their coins to buy toys and treats they really want. It has really helped to teach them the value of money and has cut down on “the gimmies” at the store.

  10. Bobbi:

    I got a coin bank for Christmas that adds up the amount you deposit into it. So far, I have saved about $68. I also save my $5 bills (ones would be way too hard for me). From Dec 08 to April 09, I saved $500! I actually treated myself to a new digital camera, but had enough left over for a few savings bonds also. From May 09 until now, I have about $255 saved. Great Blog, thanks. :)

  11. I love saving change! It’s a nice boost to our savings. . .I average about $30 every other month.

  12. I do this and use the change to do the giveaways on my blog. You’d be surprised how quick you can reach 10 dollars in change! I take it to the local coin star and change them into gift cards. Since they don’t take a percentage out when you change the money into gift cards, this is a great thing for those of us that love to be frugal.

    This is also a great idea for the holidays. I posted this idea and many others in my Christmas in July series on my blog.

  13. Bank of America has this as a feature called Keep the Change right now. Basically what they do is attach a savings account to your checking and transfer the change to it. They round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit any change from the day’s spending into that savings account. Plus for the first 3 months they match the change put into that account and after that its a 5% matched up to $250 per year. I think its a great way to save.

  14. VeggieMomma:

    I’m actually doing this right now to save up for our move accross country. We plan on using the change for ‘food’ stops that can’t be made/packed ahead (like coffee, cold water, etc.)since we have no room for a large cooler. The problem lies in that my loonies (one dollar coins in Canada) and quarters go to my laundry, so it is only dimes, nickles, pennies, and toonies (two dollar coins). We’ll see how it stacks up by the end!

  15. Brian Lang:

    Our bank offers a Bank the Rest plan where your purchase amount is rounded up to the next $1 or $5 (your choice) and transfers the rest to your savings account. Once my wife starts her new job we’re going to the $5 plan. That should make for a nice vacation fund by next summer.

    As for spare change, well we don’t use much cash – we use debit almost exclusively. We have a few automatic transactions going to our credit card, but everything else is debit. We only take cash for things like the Farmers Market or road-side fruit stands.

    When I do get change, I save it in a zip-loc bag and use it at the self-check tills in the grocery store when I have to go pick up milk or bread. I can easily get rid of a lot of pennies this way without having to roll them.

  16. I do this, too. I usually spend the money collected in my jar at flea markets. I buy gently used T-shirts (I pay never more than 50 cents per piece) and make baby hats or dresses out of them, which in turn I sell locally. That way I seldom need to buy fabric and make a nice profit out of it, as well as reusing unwanted clothing – which is always a good thing in my book!

  17. Leigh:

    I’ve been doing this with my checking account for a while. It helps me slowly build a little buffer.

    For cash purchases I put my change in my blow money envelope – lets me do the occasional vending machine purchase without guilt

  18. Angie:

    I ahve been doing that this year and have saved around $135.00 so far. I am not sure what we are going to do with it yet. We want to go to Vegas the firrt of Dec for our 10 yr anniversary, but do not know if we will have enough saved up for it yet. Business is slowwwww. Oh yeah, I have also slipped in a $10 and some ones so that has also helped.

  19. Dave:

    I use the checking account trick all the time. I round up to the nearest dollar when writing in the amount to subtract from my balance. I can save up around $400 a year doing just that.

  20. Angelsong:

    I’m all over this, Lynnae. We used a large pickle jar with a small honey jar and baby food jars inside it to hold our coins separately but still contained in the larger jar when my oldest grandson was a baby. By his second birthday, we had enough change to buy tickets for his first trip to the circus. We’ve also used spare change to help pay moving expenses when we bought our home. It is amazing how quickly it can add up.

    Keeping the coins in the smaller jars made it easier to count and roll the coins, and we did not have to pay a bank fee to have them counted.

  21. Storm:

    Since many if not most banks now charge a fee for change counting, try using the CoinStar machines to get ecertificates for various merchants. When you get the ecertificates there is no fee charged for counting the change, so you can get full value in a certificate for Amazon, Lowes, or other retailers. I recently cashed in two pickle jars of change ($400.32) which paid the bulk of the cost of the new very efficient deep freezer I picked up from Amazon!

  22. Molly:

    I’m actually one of the ones who uses all my change for Molly treats – like coffee out. :-) It helps keep the rest of my spending in line with the budget.

  23. Melissa:

    If you want to really see your savings add up, don’t spend your dollar bills. Same concept. But if you thought quarters add up fast, you’ll be amazed with dollars. Of course, sometimes it’s not always possible, but still, every dollar adds up! My dollars are going toward new windows.

  24. Annie Kate:

    It always helps to use psychology on yourself when you want to adjust your behavior. I hope this works for you and that you have a bundle by the end of the month.

    I won’t be doing it because we save up our change for charity and I also use it for occasional mini-rewards for the kids.

    I posted on Furnace Duct Cleaning: prevention is definitely cheaper than the cure.

  25. Do you need hand sanitizer or antibacterial hand soap for back-to-school shopping? Here’s a tip that will save you more than money: http://www.kitchenstewardship......-handsoap/

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