Coins Of Wrath

Pennies Are Useless, And Coinstar Is Evil

by Stephen Von Worley on July 2, 2009

Quarters, dimes, nickels, and worthless copper-clad discs of zinc.

I must confess that I am an unintentional change hoarder. When I pay for something, I prefer to use a round amount of bills, sparing everyone the infuriating experience of myself canvassing my pocket detritus for the exact amount of miscellaneous currency. The resulting coins steadily accumulate, and come the sooner of laundry time, or whenever their weight begins to pull down my pants, they find themselves indefinitely interred to the Coin Bin.

In my house, the Coin Bin is an old canner – one of those big, squat, speckle-painted metal pots that grandma used to boil and seal jam jars. Its robust steel construction provides a secure, heavy-duty home for my money. But after a year of accumulation, even the canner strains at its welds, and it’s time to transform the coins back into their more virile paper cousins.

And therein lies the complication.

Years Ago, when Yours Truly was a Boy, you could ride a Mule into the local Savings and Loan, place your Coin Bin on the Counter, and Instruct the Teller to give you an Equivalent Amount of Useful Money. Teller would Forthwith pour contents of Coin Bin into the magical Coin Counting Machine, which, via the Miracle of Recently-Invented Technology, would Sort and Tally the Amount. At which point, Teller would hand you a Stack Of Bills, feed a Carrot to your Mule, bid you Good Day, and you were Done. In Five Minutes, For Free.

Contrast that with today, where no financial type in my vicinity will even admit to owning a proper Coin Counting Machine, much less one I can use for free. Yes, yes, there’s CoinStar, which does exactly what I want. Except that it charges seven percent of my hard-earned cash – highway robbery, considering that my bank should offer me the service gratis. What do I look like, some kind of sap?

Most banks will, however, take coins in rolls. But isn’t saving all that muss and fuss worth the seven-percent CoinStar fee? It depends upon the denomination of coin that you’re talking about. With a bit of practice, you can probably roll a coin per second. That’s $900 in quarters per hour, $360 in dimes, $180 in nickels, and a mere $36 in pennies, with corresponding 7-percent CoinStar fees of $63, $25.20, $12.60, and $2.52, respectively.

Now, at an effective earning rate of $63 per hour, I’ll roll quarters all day. And depending upon my social calendar, I might consider bundling up the dimes and nickels. When it comes to the pennies, however, pardon my ego, but I’m proud to say that an hour of my time is worth more than two dollars and fifty two cents. Yours is too!

It’s best to leave the pennies loose, for use as dry fill, as ballast for the boat, or preferably, for administration to the CoinStar machine as grinding punishment for its collusion with the anti-free-coin-counting cabal.

The Coin Bin strikes back!

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