Updated on 11.01.06

The Power of the Pocket Change Jar

Trent Hamm

A change jarI have a little jar that sits on my dresser. Inside it is my pocket change from the last several days.

It seems like such a simple idea, but it can be quite powerful if you keep up with it. Instead of dumping excess pocket change into a vending machine, I keep it in my pocket. If I see money on the ground, even if it is just a penny, I pick it up and toss it in my pocket.

At the end of each day, I take that change and put it in the jar, where it remains for a while. I usually let it build up until the last Friday of the month, which is when I usually stop by my bank branch anyway to do business. I just take the jar with me and deposit the contents in the jar into my account. Most banks (not all, but most) will accept this relatively small amount of change as a deposit (they won’t give you cash directly, but they’ll usually accept it if it is a straight deposit into an account), so I just take the change jar up with my other business and ask them if I can deposit this into my checking account. From there, I usually deposit it into a high yield savings account that will earn interest on my accumulated change.

It’s also useful to keep an eye out for change where you can. Some of the best places to look are at drive-through windows and coin return slots in vending machines and pay phones. If you happen to be near one, check and see if there’s any change and if there is, drop it in your pocket and put it in the jar. Every little bit helps and it takes almost no effort at all.

On an average day, I have about 75 cents in pocket change; I used to have much more, but my habits have subtly changed (less vending machine, mostly). This means that I usually have a hair over twenty dollars in the jar at the end of each month, which often feels like “free money.”

It’s a simple and nearly effortless way to build up your personal savings.

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  1. MoneyFwd says:

    Unfortunately the ease of using a debit/credit card makes it hard to build up change. I do the same thing, but takes me a lot longer to build up a decent amount of cash.

  2. unofrog says:

    I let it stack up and take it to Coinstar. They used to take a high % (8% maybe?) to count it for you which was silly…but now you can get the value in giftcards with no %…so walk-in with a bag of change ..walk out with a $80 gift card to home depot, gap, itunes. I did itunes last time and have a little kitty for music with my account.

  3. Monica says:

    My brother and uncle both save their coins in a large jar everyday. At the end of a year, they usually have $600 – $1000 each. They both use the money once a year, my uncle at Christmas to buy his only daughter’s gifts and my brother to pay for our sister’s summer camp tuition. My brother has taken this to the next level, saving all $1 bills which allows him to save about another $1000 a year. Such a simple thing can yield great results.

  4. Judy McColgan says:

    I also save change and roll it myself–something about doing that is very satisfying. I use it as spending money on vacations. I take it to the bank when I get at least $100. I also save $10 and $100 bills. Why those?? Seems like I get less $10 bills in change than others. The 100’s come along even more infrequently. This money is saved for the actual vacation that I use the coins saved for spending money.

  5. Tamar says:

    It’s nice to know that I am not the only person who will bend over for a penny & check pay phones and vending machines for left behind change!!! It does add up. I wait until I am short on cash to cash mine in–my bank doesn’t charge a fee if you are an account holder to use thier coin-counting machine. (and my checking account is a free one) Silly, but, it is kind of fun to watch the machine work. My husband says I am easily amused but, he isn’t laughing when I pay for dinner with my savings jar.

  6. PiFreak says:

    I love finding change. At high school, change is frequently found on the ground. I usually find two or three pennies a day, and some days I find more. I found a dime and a penny today, and I’ve found quarters some days. The change return in coinstar machines is great too.

  7. Arthur Othieno says:

    If, like me, you’re not too comfortable about Coinstar charging 8 cts for every dollar counted, you might be interested in coin-wraps from The Coin-Tainer Co. LLC.

    A pack of these can easily be found at Wal-Mart for less than $2.00. Do the math :-)


  8. Wamu says:

    If you are the person who is in such financial shape that requires you person to look at “coin return slots in vending machines and pay phones” to see if someone has left them change, you have my sympathies

    For most of us, looking for change left by strangers or bringing in change to deposit once a month to a bank isnt a good use of our time.

    I do employ a jar to save change, but only to keep the clutter to a minimum. when the jar is full, which takes about a year, I give it to a kid, a niece/nephew, and the smile you get is worth every penny.

  9. Reminds me of a time when I was 12 years old. I made a goal of saving all the loose change I could for a whole year, then using that money to invest into my first CD. Well, I made it through that year and ended up saving over $700 in change to invest into that CD. That money over the years, invested into other things has got me over $26k. A wise investment?! :)

  10. Antonio says:

    First of all I would like to say that,its refreshing to see other people doing the same thing I do(getting change from the ground,or simply from their own pockets).I too keep a small jar by my laptop,and the change adds up real quick! It’s unfortunate for other people to just toss pennies and even quarters on the floor.Well,its quite a benefit for me really because whenever I hear the sound(the way a coin drops,kinda noise)I immediatly get it(in a casual way of course).I find about maybe 40 to 70 cents on the floor and very rarly have I found actual paper money($1,$5,$10).I usually find alot of change in a local bars,most typically in stores(walmart,shoprite,etc…)and where ever people use change.

  11. Brent says:

    It was a first for me, but at the local Wells Fargo branch they have a “no-fee if you have an account” change machine like the coinstar. Pretty nice.

  12. Lindsay says:

    I save my change everyday and put it into an empty 5 gallon water jug at the end of the week. It’s been almost six months and I now have enough money to go on a vacation. I always say when I have change or see loose change sitting around, “It’ll go in my vacation fund!”

  13. Jihan says:

    I do not have a credit card, so everything I use is with cash and I get change very often. Within a few days, I was able to get back almost $6 in change and I was like “WOW HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?”

    My mom also goes and spends on necessities, bringing home lots of change and we put it in a box. At the end of the month or as little, she brought back almost $90 from her change.

  14. katy says:

    Yes, this is a good post!

    I deposited last months change yesterday in my IRA section of my ING account. It all adds up.

  15. Caitlan says:

    You know, change is money already-you can carry it around with you and use it to get less change in your next transaction. That way more stays in your account. I think I am missing something here.

  16. Bridgette says:

    I remember helping my dad pick up trash at our old school and I found $10.

  17. Bill J from Austin says:

    I’ve been stashing change for years. My old credit union (I’m still a member, but live over an hour away) would accept my sack o’ change, count and deposit it for me free of charge. Haven’t tried the new CU yet, but I have two coffee-cans filled with coins and ready to go.

    My experience is that one coffee-can will yield between $65 and $100 dollars. Maybe that will be the start of our next vacation fund!

  18. Rory says:

    Great ideals. I just made a blog about pocket change. How to make pocket change with your blog. I make about $1.00 a day. Great Pocket Change.

  19. Steve says:

    I am a young man still renting apartments. So far I haven’t found one or haven’t found roommates I would care to stay with over a year. So what I did is I started a change jar the first apartment I got and put all my change from my pocket into it. I never use change from broken bills to pay for something so I can get more change. I save all year and by the time I move into a new place the change jar is usually enough to pay for first month’s rent and the security deposit. Moving now never is a dreaded expense. Just a new jar to start filling.

  20. Sue says:

    @#1: I always bring back the soda cans (which has despoits)to rake in coins for my coin jars.

  21. Shannon says:

    Well I keep two separate jars, one for silver change & one for pennies. I found an old glass water jug @ a thrift store and it’s pretty cool to watch my silver build up. I am not going to touch it until it’s full to the top. If I get into a financial fix, I will cash in the pennies :o)

    To boost my jar I get a roll of quarters from the bank every once in a while & dump them in there.

  22. Kim says:

    Ahhh. The change jar. Mine is saving for a really good DSLR camera. It seems a long way off, especially with one family member occasionally dipping into it for parking money (boo! hiss!) but it is adding up in a relatively painless way. My bank doesn’t have a coin counter and I refuse to pay 7% to the ole Coinstar machine, so I am rolling my own. My bank gives me the wrappers for free. In fact, now that I think about it, I need to head out to go get some right now.

  23. J. says:

    In the last few years, in November/December, Coinstar has offered a free $10 gift certificate if you redeem at least $40 worth of coins for the same gift certificate, and you pay no processing fees. What we’ve done for the last few years is save all of our pocket change in a jar and then when this offer appears, we take it to the Coinstar machine during grocery shopping. We get a $40 Amazon.com gift card, send in the form, use the first gift card for Christmas shopping and/or spring semester textbooks and then when the free $10 card arrives in the mail about 2 months later, we use it towards birthday gift shopping (we have 5 birthday gifts to buy in the spring). It’s a fast and easy way to earn $10 minus the cost of the stamp from your pocket change.

  24. Patt says:

    Toonie Jar! I work at a bar, and i’ve filled a 8 L vegi oil drum twice in the past 4 years yielding around $10,000 !!!
    Its a part time job for extra coin, and i thought i’d throw all my tips into the drum.
    Who says coin jars are juvenile?
    Laugh all you want, i’m now cruising on my new CBR :)

  25. Mary says:

    I like those Coinstar machines. They have one at the local grocery store and we use our leftover change towards groceries. I don’t dump much into the coin jar because I primarily use debit, but my boyfriend does a bit.

  26. Ashton says:

    Too bad there aren’t anymore pay phones… When I use to clean different buildings I would find so much change lying around.

  27. Gail says:

    When we first learned that we were to become grandparents for the first time, all of our change along with our $1 went into a large coffee can. When our grandaughter was born we had over $500 that we gave to our daughter to start a 529 plan. For every Birthday and Christmas we add another $100 into the plan for them. We have also done this for the 2 additional grandchildren that we now have.

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