The Coin Bottle

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Constant change is here to stay.  Literally.  At least, so far.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated coins until curiosity, need, or whim has led to me to break the piggy bank.  This has resulted in cash at several year intervals for a John Deere self-propelled mower (which lasted 20 years), a Ruger 22 rifle (which continues to operate just fine), a wooden bench swing (which doesn’t last to this day), and… something else.  Maybe it was a credit card payment, but I hope it was something more lasting.  I think I used the funds for vacation spending at one point.  Whatever.

Coins just come to me.  Much of my life on the road involved drive thru breakfast and lunch. “Here’s the change,” (not including my as yet unidentified clogged arteries).  Since then, well, any cash transaction usually results in change.  I tend to use cash less and less, but the change still arrives.  It shows up in my car, in my couch, on countertops, in my desk drawer at work, and,of course, in my pockets.  Then there’s my wife’s contributions when she gets tired of lugging coins around in her purse (and I thank her for her contributions).  It’s got to go somewhere, so it may as well go into my piggy bank.

Truth be told, I don’t have a piggy bank.  I don’t want one.  Instead, I have a large, stylish, wide mouth bottle.  And, recently, I began to worry about the stress on the curved glass from the weight of all the accumulated coins.

Yep, coins.  Lots of them.  And buried in there somewhere is filler material, also known as coin rolls.  Yip. E.  That’s the unpleasant aspect of coin accumulation.  Almost as unpleasant are the bank tellers who smile at me while I’m waiting in line while earnestly Pennies_1hoping that fortune does not deposit me at their window.  I’m sure there’s a cash drawer reconciliation headache at the end of the day.  But hey, its my money, even if the bank doesn’t like it.

There you go.  Rolled coins, in a shoebox (their natural habitat).  $276 worth. But, truth be told, that’s not all of it.  Why?  Because I have another place to put coins, and I tend to segregate most of the quarters.  Voila:

Cha-ching!  Another $140 (it was full).

But still, that’s not all.  Because, well, I hate rolling pennies. It takes a lot of effort, and where’s the return?  I don’t think I’m alone iPenniesn this.  Besides that, I ran out of penny wrappers.  In any case, I dumped them into shoebox #2.

At our local supermarket, there’s a machine that will do the work for me.  It’s one of those machines in the front of the store that I’ve never actually seen anyone use.  It will accept all coins, count them and pay the total less 9.something %.  I’m not willing to pay that for nickels and up, but pennies?  Yeah, fine.  And especially after my wife got tired of seeing the box of pennies sitting on the table for days, then by the fireplace for days, then on another table for days…. until she put it in my trunk, where it slid around while I drove.  Okay, I’ll turn them in!

A better blogger would have taken a picture of the machine.  I wasn’t thinking along those lines. I was just trying to funnel pennies into the tray, clear the resulting jams, get my cash and depart under the cover of night.

There’s a good ending to this episode.  If you want cash back, you lose the percentage. But, if you accept a gift code to various retailers, you get full value.  And here’s how it all comes together nicely.  Being fond of music, CDs and concert tickets do have related costs.

So far, I have $416 added to my concert funds, and with the contributions of the coin machine:


I now have $32.50 to buy CDs from what I affectionately term “The Big River,” the sole remaining major tributary of physical CDs.  It works for me.  Note that there were three dimes mixed in, which leaves 3,220 pennies I didn’t have to roll.  Rock on!

And finally, here’s the transition to whatever point I’m making.  The concert money?  Deposited into my bank account where I’ll pay for my tickets, bar bills, etc. via my Debit Card.  The pennies? Converted to an electronic credit from which CDs can be deducted.

I keep getting all this change and converting it to electronic funds.  What’s the point of cash? 

The Aite Group released a study in January, 2011 indicating that cash use will decline 17% through 2015, a net reduction of $200 Billion in physical money.  That will still leave $1 Trilion out there (U.S.

Frustratingly, the Federal Reserve releases regular studies regarding non-cash payments, but I can’t find a comparison for cash vs non-cash payments.  Less scientifically and reflecting on experience and observation, non-cash payment must be ruling the marketplace.

And to toss dirt on the grave of physical money, the U.S. Mint in its 2009 Annual Report indicated that pennies cost 1.6 cents to produce and nickels 6 cents.  (Interestingly, the Mint can change the metal content of $1 Dollar coin metal composition without outside approvals, making it extremely profitable to manufacture).

Regardless, one has to wonder whether changing commercial transactions, the costs of manufacturing, and the sleeze factor (germs on coins and banknotes, apparently not seriously investigated since 1972), whether the piggy bank will go the way of the album, the clothes line, film developing, and the arcade.

In the meanwhile, you can still see how it used to be done in the good ol’ days, while they’re still here.

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