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Money, Money, Money

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

coinstar

No, not that painful ABBA song. I’m talking about change. Years of change. Years and years of change. We bring it home. We put it on the counter. It accumulates. Gail saves an old Scottish shortbread tin. We dump the coins in there. Gail gets some more British tins. We dump more coins.

And then along comes Coinstar. A few years back. They have this machine at the local QFC. Bring change. Dump it in. Get money. Use it at the store to buy food. But there’s a catch. For every dollar in change that you put in, you get 93 cents back. Is it worth it? Well, I suppose it is if you’re never going to spend the money otherwise, but accepting a 7% discount is hard. So the coins keep piling up.

Meanwhile, Coinstar is diversifying, offering new products, but we’re not keeping up. Until last month, when Gail was back in Boston helping Joel close up his apartment. It seems he had his own coin collection. They went to the Star Market, found a Coinstar machine, and tossed it all in. And get this. If you are willing to take you money in the form of a certificate to redeem at one of several enterprises, you get full value. Amazon for instance. Or iTunes. CVS. Borders. Lowe’s. (See here for the list.) Is that great or what? Joel comes back to Seattle with about $75 to spend at Amazon.

Here at home, thanks to our continuing remodel, the house is a mess. It has been for weeks. But we decided yesterday and today to regain the use of our dining room, where we had moved the contents of much of the kitchen a few weeks ago. And so, this morning, I say to Gail, let’s take this tin of coins (which must weigh 30 pounds) to QFC already. Then I hesitate, and ask what happens with foreign coins. Do they get filtered out and returned to us? We don’t know. I dump the coins onto the kitchen counter and begin the laborious search for foreign money. Then Gail decides that while we’re at it, we should go through all the quarters in order to pull out the ones that started getting minted in 1999 with state designs on the reverse side. She wants to be sure we have samples from every state.

What a pain! But we did it. We pulled out dozens of quarters, along with coins from France, Canada, Romania, Bulgaria, Denmark, the UK, Yugoslavia. Everything else went with us to QFC. I had imagined that you just pour the coins into the Coinstar counting machine and it quickly does its work. But no, you can only put a few coins through the sieve at a time. It took over 10 minutes. Still, it was fun, since you can watch the readout as the counting takes place. Gail and I took turns pouring. The machine rejected about 20 coins, returning them to a slot at the bottom. It counted 3994 coins. No wonder they were so heavy. We had 2166 pennies, 446 nickels, 744 dimes, 636 quarters, and 2 half dollars. That’s $278.36.

And that wasn’t it. Gail remembered as we were driving to QFC that she had another tin upstairs. When we got home, she brought it down. She then through the state quarters, putting some aside for the collection. The rest, along with the additional tin, went to another QFC and another Coinstar machine, three hours later. It was happy to count our 211 pennies, 61 nickels, 105 dimes, 96 quarters, and 2 half dollars. That’s $40.66.

Imagine that. 4469 coins. $319.02. Here we come, Amazon. And let’s not wait another decade to do this again.

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