4 Tips For The Coin Monster

I hit up my friend, Mr. Coin Monster, last night, and I wanna play a quick game with you.  How many coins do you think I fed him this time around?? ;) I can’t remember the last time I paid him a visit (or, rather he paid ME! *bah dum ching*) but I can tell you that I’ve blogged about it twice in the past 3 years: Once in 2008 when I saved $101.62 before the commission, and once in 2010 when I got back $76.48 – so that should give you some sort of idea to go on other than that pic up there.

And I’ll tell you this much – you better believe I didn’t use Coinstar again!  Yeah it’s convenient if there aren’t any other banks within a 10 mile radius, but they take a whopper out of that change — 9% last time I checked.  I think it’s smarter of banks these days to get their own, not only to entice customers to bank with them more (I’ll admit, it’s kinda sexy knowing you can use it anytime you want for FREE!), but also then the tellers don’t have to count it all!

Can you imagine how annoying that must have been back in the day? Like when we had all those paper rolls to put dimes and nickels in and all? Haha… oh man, I remember tearing those things up!  (not literally). I used to BEG for those on birthdays and Christmases more so than money sometimes :) I guess I was a huge nerd even back then?  I think I’m actually gonna add that back to my list of toys for kids again… that’s a habit I’d love to pass on to those little tykes growing up in the world, haha… do they still even make them anymore?

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind before using the closest coin monster in your hood:

  1. Don’t go during peak hours (start of work, lunch time, or right after work).  Those machines are LOUD!  And everyone stares at you like you’ve got those big blue slurpees from Glee all over your face!  It’s def. not for the self-conscious.
  2. Don’t try and trick the machine and put in any shady-ass coins (or from Canada for that matter – they don’t work, I’ve tried (no offense, Canadians)).  These machines are slick.  They’ll even spit the coins right back at you! Also, you know how people old people always warn you to never pick up any of those wooden nickels?  Well, I think I finally figured out why — it’s because these machines won’t take ’em ;)
  3. Don’t accidentally drop warm gum in your stash… (or anything else sticky and/or un-coin like) I spent more time trying to un-glue those little bastards than I did in the entire round trip to the bank and back! Haha…. I also had to throw away some pennies – I almost cried.
  4. And lastly, whatever you do, never EVER stop saving your coins!  I know it takes a crap ton of time for anything significant to add up, but I swear the joy you get when you walk outta that place is incredibly exhilarating!  So much so that all your worries for the next 15 mins go right out the window.  Like, when I dropped my iPhone right into a puddle of water 5 seconds after leaving the bank (!!!!).  The first thing that came to my mind?  “Shit.  At least I’m $____ richer!”  (ACK! Almost told you how much I made right there!!!  haha… You gotta guess, remember?)

So it was a good time yesterday, my friends.  Even though I had all that money sitting around in antique wine glasses the whole time (no joke — I do my best to make our room look like a king’s palace), it felt like I came away with a handful of free money :)  And there’s not too many experiences better than that, I’ll tell you what… so if you don’t have any of your OWN buckets or jars going on yet, make sure to start one tonight before you hit the bed!  It’s not as sexy as, well, having sex – to put it bluntly – but luckily it only takes a few seconds to get it going! (and also, to have the sex? Oooooohh!)

Now hurry up and tell me your guesses :)

**UPDATE: The winning # is……. $84.76! Jeff @ My Multiple Streams got the closest with his $85.32 guess! Great job guys, this was hella fun ;) Have a beautiful weekend!

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  1. bschebs November 17, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    My guess is $42.69

  2. Wandering Mike November 17, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    Just a note that down here in the Houston area an option at the Coinstar machines in Kroger is to get a Kroger gift card and then there is no fee. And you are already in Kroger, so you just buy some groceries that are on sale. Or you can get “no fee” gift cards from other places too; e.g. Amazon.com. It seems to vary by location. In Ohio I know you could get a Starbucks card at some coinstar machines, again that becomes a “fee free” transaction.

    I will guess $87.33.

  3. cashflowmantra November 17, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    I am guessing $81.76. I had no idea that Coinstar was now 9%. Last I knew it was 7%. No way I would pay that. We get rollers from the bank and roll them ourselves. The kids love doing it.

  4. Rich Uncle El November 17, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    My guess is 59.23 as I would assume you didnt accumlate that much since the last time you went was back in 2010.

  5. Stephanie November 17, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    So… I still roll my change the old-fashioned way. Granted, I rarely let it get much above $20-30 before I deposit it, because I just drop my spare change in an old Snapple jar, which doesn’t allow me to accumulate that much. :-P

  6. Babs November 17, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    I’ll guess $79.99 but feel compelled to point out that while you let that money pile up, you lost the opportunity to earn the interest you might have gotten by putting it in savings all along, or avoided the erosion of inflation on its value by spending it along the way. So subtract .1-1.2% from whatever you made.

    Just yanking your chain! This is one of those “there’s two kinds of people” deals–I’m one of those folks who pay exact change when possible and I use up my coins as fast as ! get them. (My husband saves all his coins like you, but I steal them when he’s not looking.) By using the coins, my paper money stays in my wallet longer!

  7. Diane November 17, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    There have been a lot of reports lately that say that coin counting machines miscount the coins, shorting people.

    I save my coins, but I use them to pay for stuff. Yes, I’m the annoying person who pays for my Sunday Times or my pound of coffee all in nickels, dimes and pennies. But I a) count it up ahead of time b) only go at “off hours” so I don’t hold people up (not a big line for a paper or coffee at Starbucks at 5:30 am on Sunday) and c) only do it every 2 weeks or so. So I get to cycle $6 to $10 this way every few weeks. It keeps the change drawer down, and I get full value for my money.

  8. Alexis November 17, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    I’ll guess $50.96.
    I never get to accumulate much change, because I give it to my kids for their allowance! Eventually I’ll have to take them to the bank to feed the coin monster, but for now they’re happy to let their coins pile up. I’m even getting my 5-year-old son a coin-eating bank for Chanukah. Remember those? I hadn’t seen one in years, and finally found one. Not as cool as the one my next-door neighbor had when I was a kid — a skeleton arm would reach out of a coffin and grab the coins! — but it’ll do.

  9. Well Heeled Blog November 17, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    I’ve never used a coin machine – my fiance actually gets the coin wrappers from his bank and he rolls them himself! LOL. We have 2 coin jars – one for quarters (laundry currency) and one for everything else.

    @Diane – I remember once in middle school I paid for an entire movie ticket (I think it was around $5 back then) with pennies, nickels, and dimes. Looking back, I’m sure the attendant wanted to kill me, but my friends and I thought it was pretty funny. And for some reason, coins didn’t (and still don’t) feel like “real” money.

  10. Brian November 17, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    I’m going to guess $80.32. I’m lucky because the credit union by my work has a coin machine and they don’t charge to use it if you are a member (or a member of their alliance). So that makes me happy.

    We have 3 jars at home. One for pennies, One for everything else and one for any change we find (we donate this jar to the Ronald McDonald House). Seems to me more people must be picking up money off the ground because I haven’t been finding as much recently.

  11. philip November 17, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    $102.74 – Giving you benefit there, guessing higher.

    I seem to get so few coins now that I pay for almost everything on a credit card that I can. I do however have a 5 gallon water jug that I store them all in and have probably 2-3 inches deep of coins. Probably 2-300 hundred in mine I would guess, don’t plan to do anything with it any time soon. Reading this makes me want to use cash to get more coins though!

  12. J. Money November 17, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    So far Wandering Mike is the closest! Here’s another hint for you: There was a total of 246 quarters in there ;)

    @bschebs – Way off ;)
    @Wandering Mike – Ooooh now that’s a good idea! Kroger OR Starbucks (or even Amazon – I’d use any of them!).
    @cashflowmantra – So they DO still exist?? Awesome. I’m glad you’re passing on the love to the kids – I’m gonna do the same one day! :)
    @Rich Uncle El – You’re also assuming I only went back once ;)
    @Stephanie – haha… yes, you do get kinda limited there :) but it still does the trick!
    @Babs – haha, you dirty wife you ;) you’re also forgetting that most men don’t carry around purses – so we don’t have the luxury of keeping coins on us at all times ;)
    @Diane – I love you!!!! So kind of you to consciously use all your coins during peak hours, most people couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the others :) So I support your coin decisions all the way, baby! (And those reports better not be correct cuz that’s F’d up! Would make for some good undercover work though, eh? Count them all beforehand, and hit up 6 random places in town and see what the results are… if I had the time I’d go out and do it myself! :))
    @Alexis – Awwwww I almost forgot about allowances! :) I should blog about that one day… I think I used to get like $1 a week, haha… have times changed much? (And that skeleton bank sounds awesome!!)
    @Well Heeled Blog – What? You’ve never tried a coin machine before??? Oh man, we’re gonna have to change that (no pun intended) next time we see you :) It’s so much fun!
    @Brian – Haha, not around here — there are pennies ALL OVER THIS TOWN! It’s like the bottom of a dried out wishing fountain or something… Good on you for making those donations too – that’s awesome:)
    @philip – I do that too sometimes on purpose ;) I just dish out all my bills, knowing I’m gonna get a crap ton of change back, and then I hurry home and dump ’em all out into the jar… it’s like forced savings, if you will ;) (And thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt – if only I could live up to your expectations!)

  13. Tim November 17, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    I used to use coin star all the time about 8 years ago when it was about 4% charge. one time I acquired around $120 in a pasta sauce jar. Pretty shocking the first time I did it. Now I use my debit card on most things because when I have cash I just spend it a lot faster for some reason. So, I rarely acquire coins now and when I do I try to use them in those grocery store self pay machines. I once paid for about $30 in groceries with coins. I would go at non-peak hours when I would do this though.

  14. SmartAssetTeam November 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    I’ll guess $69.00.
    I had a friend who didn’t like to touch money, he would have to wash his hands immediately afterward every time! So he got into the habit of just dumping change out of his pockets onto the floor, and there were quarters everywhere in his apartment. I think five minutes of searching and collecting would have yielded $20.00 or more of cash. If only he had a cat that needed to be cared for when he traveled, I could have doubled my pay!

  15. Corie November 17, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    I’m gonna guess $91.24.

    My husband and I save our change in a five gallon water jug. We use the money as our vacation fund. Last time we emptied it, and had been stashing coins in there for about 1.5 years, we came out with a little less than $1,000. This time around it’s even more full but I’m waiting to cash it in until we start planning our next big trip. I sometimes think I should just head to the coin machine and throw the money in a savings account to atleast wrack up some interest, but I think it’s much more fun to watch the change in the bucket grow, and then guess how much will be in there when it comes time to cash it in! : )

  16. bogofdebt November 17, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    I’m going to guess….$93.15. I love saving coins–currently we made it a rule to not spend anything under a quarter. Even those get dropped into our “save” jar about half the times.

  17. LB November 17, 2011 at 11:27 AM


    I always save coins because I have a coin collection. With whatever I don’t want I actually roll and take to the bank. Nerdy I know, but hey I love my money THAT much.

  18. judyyy November 17, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    I am going to guess $71.30

  19. Robert November 17, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    I’m going to guess $78.37.

  20. TARA November 17, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I don’t carry a purse, so I always throw any coins I have in a bowl when I get home. Every six months or so I cash it in and get around $50. I search online for a Coinstar machine that gives gift certificates and always choose Amazon. Then I can order a few books or something else with what feels like “free” money. Not all Coinstar machines have the gift certificate options so you do have to search. Oh, and I like that it gives me an ecertificate so I can immediately add it to my Amazon account and won’t lose it. Plus I don’t have to spend it all at once.

  21. Courtney November 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    $87.65? My boyfriend probably pockets at least $10 in change weekly, and when he empties his pockets at night he leaves the change on – I swear – every surface he can find, in both my house and his apartment. Drives me bonkers, but it makes me feel better when I clean it up and it becomes MY change collection… ;)

  22. Carol in Mpls November 17, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    I’ll guess $89.99, but I’m no good at math. My coin jar is an old metal Folger’s coffee can, which I can carry when full. I’m picturing the challenging of carting around those water jugs, filled to the brim with coinage! My Wells Fargo branches have counting machines, so as an account holder I never pay to redeem.

  23. Shane November 17, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    I’m going to go with – 91.27.

  24. Michelle November 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    I’m going to say 89.34

  25. Clever Dude November 17, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Just like Wandering Mike, I use Coinstar and get an Amazon gift card. There’s a Coinstar across the street and I don’t feel like dealing with banker hours, so I’ll take the gift card cause I know I’ll spend it there eventually (and they don’t expire).

  26. retirebyforty November 17, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    I like the paper rolls from the old days. It’s a lot more fun than now. I guess 75.42.
    I found one of those new shiny dollar coin on the floor yesterday! :)

  27. Ellen November 17, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    My husband and I save all our coins and bank them for a yearly project. This year the money is going to a mission in Turkey. My coins for the second half of the year weighed 17 lbs and totaled $228.99. So I’m going to guess your bucket has $77.58. Luckily for us, our Credit Union has two machines. If you’re a member it’s free and if you’re not they charge 10%.

  28. Adam November 17, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Someone recommended to me to cash in coins at a casino. they will exchange them for cash with no fee.

  29. Matt, Tao of Unfear November 17, 2011 at 3:56 PM


    And the funny thing is, the last several WITHDRAWALS I’ve made have all been coins. A few rolls of quarters for laundry (yeah, those likely won’t end up in a coin counter any time soon), and I got a roll of dollar coins to use on the public transit while I was vacationing in New Olreans. OMG… dollar coins are awesome.

    But, of course, almost all of my purchases go through my credit card, which gets paid off every month BEFORE any interest accrues. It’s the only way I can track WHERE I’m spending my money (and there’s cash back to boot).

  30. Hunter - Financially Consumed November 17, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    $86.00 ?

    This article reminds me of a recent coin monster bust here in Virginia Beach. City parking meter employees were spotted emptying buckets of coins in a 7-Eleven Coinstar, in their work uniforms, with their nametags on. Thankfully witnesses had the common sense to call the police.

  31. Kathy November 17, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    I make it a point to always save my coins & end up using the money as ‘fun money’ on vacation. It’s usually around $250-$300 every year or so. But, since it’s been a few years since I’ve been saving this time, I’ve run out of room in the jars I stash it in & have to keep finding yet another container. It’s probably up to $500 by now.

    Only I can’t stand rolling it. But I have a friend who enjoys it so I now take my coins over there…win/win.

    My guess is $91.01

  32. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager November 17, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    I’m going with $86.74!

  33. Cathy November 17, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    I’m going to guess $86.71. Just a note about rolling your own coins. I used to work at a credit union and they required that all rolled coins be unrolled and run throughout the credit union’s coin counter (no charge for this). Some people had tried to use things other than US coins and exchange them for cash, so all coins had to be unrolled. A lot of people wasted a lot of time rolling coins. So, check with your financial institution rules before rolling. Also, don’t use those big water jugs to take coins to the bank. Too heavy and too hard to get the coins out.

  34. wldflr November 17, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    I’m gonna guess $90.45 but I was really hoping you had more! LOL

    And we still roll our own coins but have a battery operated coin sorter that we got from Dave and Buster’s Restaurant/arcade as a prize. Use the $ from it to help pay our dog’s kennel fees when we go on vacation.

  35. Christa November 17, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Huh. Never drop gum into the coins? I guess I’ll have to re-think my plan :-)

    Great tips!

  36. J. Money November 17, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    Hunter @Financially Consumed is the closest so far!! You guys are getting warmer! :)

    @Tim – Man, Coinstar keeps jacking up the rates I suppose! Unless it’s different in different areas? (that’s more than likely the case). Your $120 beats any of mine so far – well done ;)
    @SmartAssetTeam – REALLY??? that’s so weird? Haha… I mean I dont like touching hundreds of coins and not washing my hands afterward, but coins in my pocket? yeah – that’s okay. I certainly wouldn’t dump them all over my floor, haha… very interesting indeed.
    @Corie – Wowwww that’s sexy!!! $1,000 is no joke! And I totally agree — I’d much rather have that excitement of the big “wow” than $5 extra dollars in my pockets over the year ;) Let us know how big this next one is!
    @bogofdebt – I like it. Though, what really costs under .25? haha…
    @LB – No shame in that, my friend! I collect coins too :) I don’t know what I’m doing, but I certainly have fun at it.
    @judyyy – Nope!
    @Robert – Nope. (though you’re closer than Judyyy up there)
    @TARA – Yeah, I’m liking the sound of that too! I have around $300 in my Amazon account just waiting to be used… I love it cuz every now and then something pops up and I’m like “Perfect! Oooh! And it’s free!!!” hehe… so I’d be up for that option too :)
    @Courtney – Haha… I bet he’s secretly doing it on purpose and let’s it be your payment to clean up so he doesn’t have to ;) Ask him!
    @Carol in Mpls – Mmmmm… I love those Folger cans. Reminds me of my grandparents!
    @Shane – Nope, sorry.
    @Michelle – Getting warmer…
    @Clever Dude – There is??? I’m gonna make you show me the next time I come visit you at your house ;) We don’t have them up here.
    @retirebyforty – Coool! I actually took out THREE golden dollar coins from this latest batch! I wasn’t sure if the coin machine would catch it?? (and also, I secretly wanted them for my collection ;) even though they’re not worth anything more than $1.00, haha…)
    @Ellen – Awww that is wonderful! I like your yearly projects – keep them up! :)
    @Adam – Haha… it was probably an owner of a casino ;) Get them to lure you in so you will stick around! (But yes, you’re also right – they will def. give you cash for free cuz they’ll think you won it there)
    @Matt, Tao of Unfear – Yup! I agree — I use credit as often as I possibily can too for those exact same reasons… I also like me some dollar coins as well! I saved THREE from this last batch that I didn’t even remember getting?
    @Hunter – Financially Consumed – WOWWWW that’s stupid. I’m glad they got caught! (and also — you have the closest answer so far!!)
    @Kathy – Dang girl! $500 is no joke!! Good work!
    @Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – You are now the 2nd closest to the winning number ;)
    @Cathy – Hah! Cuz people are sneaky!! Smart move on your behalf ;)
    @wldflr – I like it :) And no, sadly we did not hit the $90s this time… but I can always wait later until the next dump? :)
    @Christa – I never said they were “smart” tips ;)

  37. UltimateSmartMoney November 17, 2011 at 9:09 PM

    Nice article. Long time ago, I used to save coins mainly because I used cash more frequently. These days, however, I mostly use credit cards so I rarely receive coins back.

  38. Nicole November 17, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    I used to keep all the coins, (I still am, but I use credit card more often), especially in quarters. At first, they were for collection (50 states design). Later, I used them to feed the parking meter in NYC and do the laudry in the laudromat. Now, I don’t need the quarters to do both anymore. I deposit the charge into my bank. I get the roll paper from the bank, and sort the coins thru the coin sorter. I just did that after reading your blog. And I have 3- $10 worth in quarters, 2- $0.50 worth in pennies, 1- $5 worth dimes. Yay, I am $36 richer.
    Are you just like me having the most in quarters?

  39. Jeff @My Multiple Streams November 18, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    We bought a little machine at office depot that sorts, counts and rolls. We then put into the investing account or home projects


  40. J. Money November 18, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    OKAY — THE WINNING # IS……. $84.76! Jeff @ My Multiple Streams got the closest with his $85.32 guess! Great job guys, this was hella fun ;) Have a beautiful weekend!

    @UltimateSmartMoney – Yeah, I hope coins don’t go away in the future — I’d miss them too much!
    @Nicole – HAH! That is awesome. I love me some coin counters ;) And yup! I always try to have more quarters than the rest. I used to save them for laundry too in NYC, but it’s been a few years since those days…. I just try and empty my pockets w/ them before I spend them – I’d rather delay gratification w/ all my change :)
    @Jeff @My Multiple Streams – Nice! That works. AND GUESS WHAT? You got the closest!!!

  41. Nicole November 18, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    I was having alot of back/shoulder pain recently and I couldnt figure out why. Well, after a weekend of not leaving the house, I noticed it felt better. That was, until the next day when I left for work, and threw my purse on my shoulder. I realized my bag was causing my pain. That night I decided to clean it out. To my surprise, I found (besides 12 lipsticks), $27 in change in my purse. OUCH.

  42. Jeff @MyMultipleStreams November 18, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    Yay!! Thanks… umm I missed the part of what I won??

  43. Dannielle @ Odd Cents November 18, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    I woud love to get my hands on one of those things down here in Barbados. I have loads of odd cents just begging to get to the bank. Hmmmmmm… thanks for the idea, J.Money.

  44. Valencia November 20, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    I love your use of the term “shady-ass”.

  45. J. Money November 21, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    @Nicole – WOW!!! Now *that* is something! Haha… I’m so glad you cleaned that thing out! Maybe you can buy your 13th lipstick with the found money ;)
    @Jeff @MyMultipleStreams – Oh, yeah – electronic beer! Here you go
    @Dannielle @ Odd Cents – Ooooh I wonder if you can find one of them there? Let me know when you find out, okay? :)
    @Valencia – Haha, thx. I only whip it out on special occasions.