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Monday, July 24, 2006  

spare change

Today as I was spray-mounting on the wall street journal (OK I don't actually sit down and read it but I do occasionally skim a few articles while I wait for the spray-mount to get tacky) I noticed a blurb about the possible elimination of pennies. I couldn't believe that it actually costs more than one cent to make a penny! I feel like that should add up to a huge problem somehow . . .

This has been something on my mind because I've been making an effort to use more cash in order to help myself stick to a food budget for the week. I think using cash is a great way to limit spending and be more aware of the money that is going out but I see a big problem with change. For me change is essentially wasted money, I rarely use it to pay for a purchase because I don't like to hold up the line to dig for then count change that I may or may not have. I mostly use it for tipping at coffee or sandwich shops, or put the extra in a jar when I get home that I don't use for anything. The change that I get when I use cash is cent-by-cent being drained away from the amount of cash I have allotted myself, which is not a problem when I'm using my debit card.

I recently decided I should do something with all the extra change (I also collect the change I find lying around the house that has fallen out of my boyfriend's pockets- there is your evidence that I'm cheap if it hasn't become clear already) and I have heard that it's a huge hassle to get your change deposited into your account at your local brick-and-mortar bank. Full disclosure- I am too lazy to actually call my local bank of america and see if they'll take my unused change because there isn't a convenient one for me to haul my change to if they actually do take it unrolled. So I looked up the coinstar website to see what my options are there. In case anyone isn't familiar coinstar are machines that you put change in and then spit out a voucher for cash. The percentage they charge is so hefty that they don't even tell you what it is on the website, so what I'm interested in are the gift certificates where you actually get the value of 100% of your change. They actually have some good options including amazon, starbucks, borders and itunes that are places many people are spending at anyway. For me the only one that I regularly spend at is itunes so I'm planning on taking my change to a coinstar and getting an itunes gift certificate soon. As long as I actually manage to keep up with all my change I feel that it's a way to make sure the change I get back from cash isn't wasted, through at the same time it still isn't really correctly fitting into the budgeting that I'm trying to accomplish. Though really it's OK to spend my extra food money on itunes as long as I stay within my budget ($60 a week for eating out), I can just think of the itunes as extra for being good!

I am really curious what others do about this topic- do you feel that the spare change you get is money wasted? What do you do about this problem?

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