25 Great Things to Do With Your Spare Change

by Debbie Dragon on 7 August 2012 4 comments

For many, spare change accumulates all over the house — piling up on night stands, in the dryer, in candy dishes, and in our cars. Have you ever stopped to think about how much money you really have each year in the form of loose change? If you did, you might be more inclined to do something purposeful with the money, rather than leaving it in piles wherever you change your clothes or empty your pockets! (See also: 25 Places to Look for Spare Change)

Here are 25 great things to do with your spare change.

1. Save All Year for Holiday Shopping

Every time you get change back when paying for a purchase, put it in a jar or piggy bank, and don’t touch it until you start your holiday shopping.

2. Save All Year (or Longer) for a Vacation Fund

When I was in high school, I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts. We had tip jars on the counter, and every day I would go home with a coffee cup full of change. I saved the majority of my change over a three year period and then cashed it in to go on a road trip to Virginia. The change paid for the gas for the car from NY to Virginia and back, the hotel room, most of my meals, and even a trip to Busch Gardens.

3. Use as Your Coffee Fund or for Work Lunches on the Run

Instead of swiping your debit or credit card for small purchases like a cup of coffee on the way to work or lunch from a fast food place, grab a handful of change.

4. Donate It to Charity

If you’re not already doing anything productive with your spare change, you may as well roll it once a year or so and donate it to a charity.

5. Pay Down Debt

Use your spare change to help pay your debt off faster. Every time you get enough change to match a credit card payment, cash it in and send a double payment to your creditor. Alternatively, you can save it over a longer period of time and make a larger payment all at once to one of your creditors.

6. Use It When the Tooth Fairy Visits Your Home

If you have children, you may need to keep money around in case someone loses a tooth. Most children are not expecting the tooth fairy to pay with a debit or credit card!

7. Pay for Someone’s Meal in a Restaurant

Roll your change and exchange it for cash or deposit it to your bank account. When you go out to a restaurant, pay for someone’s meal as a random act of kindness.

8. Start or Add to a Savings Account

Use your change to start or add to your savings account. You can make a deposit each month with all of your spare change (giving it the chance to earn interest once deposited into an interest-bearing account), or you can wait and make your deposits once or twice a year to get a larger amount to deposit at a time.

9. Use It at the Laundromat

If you don’t have access to your own washer and dryer, keep your spare change available for the laundromat. You can buy your laundry detergent and dryer sheets, and pay for the washer and dryer all with quarters.

10. Go to the Casino

Take an annual trip to your nearest casino and try your luck at turning your bucket of spare change into a lot of dollars!

11. Keep in Your Car for Parking Meters and Tolls

Having spare change handy in your vehicle is ideal for feeding parking meters or paying road tolls. Just try to keep it out of sight, so thieves aren’t tempted by a big pile of change they can see when peering through your car windows.

12. Keep in Your Car for Volunteer Firemen or Kids Sports Teams

If you keep your spare change in your vehicle, you will always have access to money to help support the local volunteer firemen or kids sports teams when they stand by a stop light collecting donations or have a table set up in front of a store. Just reach into your container and donate a handful of change to a good cause.

13. Buy a Scratch-Off Lotto Ticket

Some people like to buy a scratch off ticket or two each time they have a few dollars in spare change. It’s a fun activity that just might give you a few dollars back once in a while.

14. Tip the Bartender

Most bartenders don’t mind if you leave a few dollars in quarters as their tip. If you’re going out for a drink or two, bring a long a stash of coins for tipping, or at the very least, putting good songs on the juke box.

15. Sponsor Someone in the Checkout Line

Brighten someone’s day with a random act of kindness! Deposit your spare change before you go to the grocery store, and watch as people check out. When you see someone with a grocery bill about the amount of your spare change deposit, offer to pay for the bill. No one will expect it, everyone will remember it, and you will feel good about doing something nice for someone without any expectations for getting something in return.

16. Buy a Stock or Two

If you are someone who tends to leave money in jars or all over the house for years at a time, you would be better off cashing the money in at regular intervals and buying a stock or two in various companies. These stocks can pay dividends which you may choose to reinvest — and this method will turn your spare change into a growing investment.

17. Pay Your Kids an Allowance

You can gather all your spare change each week and use it to pay your kids an allowance. They can then decide whether to feed their piggy banks with the change or do something else with it.

18. Use for Unexpected Car or Home Maintenance

If you save spare change around your home for a long time, you probably have a couple hundred dollars or more built up. This can come in handy if you unexpectedly need new brakes on your vehicle or have to replace an appliance in your home. While you may not have enough to fully pay for an unexpected maintenance need, having money to contribute that isn’t counted as part of your monthly budget can really reduce the stress many families feel when an unexpected expensive comes up.

19. Treat Yourself

Use your spare change every month to treat yourself to something you wouldn’t ordinarily spend your money on. Maybe this is a massage or a new haircut, getting a makeover or buying a new book or some other special item.

20. Buy Stamps From Vending Machines

You can buy stamps from a vending machine using spare change. This helps you avoid waiting in line at the post office, especially during the busy holiday season!

21. Use in the Self-Service Line at Your Grocery Store

When grocery shopping, if you go through the self-service cashier line, you can feed spare change into the machine to pay for your purchases. While you can pay for purchases with change in the regular checkout lines, there is almost always a line of people who will get annoyed with you for counting your change. In the self-service line, there are less people waiting and you can quickly feed the money into the coin slot to pay for your items.

22. Buy Savings Bonds for Kids

If you have children or buy gifts for other people’s children, cashing in your spare change for savings bonds is a great use. Children have a lot of time for the savings bonds to earn interest, which means your small gift will become a much larger gift if the child waits for the bond to fully mature and stop earning interest before he or she cashes it in.

23. Use for the Ice Cream Truck

Does the ice cream truck pass by your home regularly? Keep your spare change handy to buy a treat once in a while.

24. Put Gas in Your Vehicle

Once a month, deposit your change into your bank account and use it to fuel your vehicle. It will help eliminate some of the strain on your regular budget for gas and is a good use of your change.

25. Pay One Bill Each Month

Depending how much money you accumulate each month in spare change, you may find you end up with enough to pay one of your regular expenses. If you have $50 or more each month, consider rolling and depositing your change regularly and using it to pay one of your bills.

Many of these methods require saving the change over the long term, and then rolling it to deposit or cash it in. Counting and rolling change can be time consuming! Here are some of the best ways to count and cash in your change.

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Guest's picture

I actually save my loose change and put them in a piggy bank. I'm into my 2nd piggy bank now. The first one, I saved almost $100 in coins.

Guest's picture
Debbie

All loose change goes into my coin bank every night. When the bank is full (or nearly so), I take it to the bank and have them put it on my mortgage or HELOC to pay down the principal. I usually do it twice a year.

Guest's picture

What a great fun article, I never think what to do with spare change that just falls into the cracks of life, but it had great ideas to offset expenses, help other and be generous- thanks!

Guest's picture
Vlad

Please do NOT tip your bartenders in quarters....it's annoying.