Depositing Loose Coins and Coin Jars

Coins Image

Coins Image

Like a lot of folks, I don’t like carrying around change and whenever I get the chance it gets deposited into a jar on my desk. Coinstar has somehow created a publicly-traded corporation (ticker CSTR) worth over 1 billion dollars based on converting these coins back into… cash? (Okay, they now also own Redbox.) I still don’t get it. Occasionally, Coinstar has a promotion that gets you a little bonus, but other than that I really don’t see why people choose to pay a 9.8% fee to get their own cash handed back to them.

[Update: A lot of people point out that you can convert to several gift certificate options with no fee. This is true, and can definitely be a better option if you shop at those stores. But you lose the ability to get credit card rewards on your purchases, which can be up to 5% on certain places like grocery stores. In addition, at several places like Starbucks I can buy gift cards for 80 cents on the dollar at places like Costco ($40 for $50 gift card). Even for the most popular, I can get 5x rewards back by buying things with my Citi Forward Card.]

Every single bank that I’ve asked accepts coins as deposits to a checking account. Seems like that would be a law or something. Bank of America, regional banks, and local credit unions. Some used to request that you roll them, but within the last five years they’ve all just accepted them loose. They simply place them along with a blank deposit slip into a plastic cash bag, seal it, and send it off to a central coin-counting place. Within a couple of business days, a deposit shows up in my account.

I suppose you might worry that they’ll steal some of your coins, whether through the human operator or the counting machines. However, even if you go to a place like Coinstar, the counter might also be off as well. The Wall Street Journal even investigated the accuracy of Coinstar machines and found them both off.

First try:

For consistency, we began with equal piles of $87.26 worth of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that we had gotten from a local bank in coin envelopes. Talk about a tough economy. The machines at both Commerce Bank and Coinstar gave us less back than we put in — Commerce Bank missed by a whopping $7.02, while Coinstar was off by 57 cents.

Second try:

Alarmed at the results, we decided to give the machines a second chance. This time, we painstakingly counted out two batches of $68.23 in change. But once again, both Commerce Bank (82 cents) and Coinstar (14 cents) were off — in the machine’s favor.

Of course, that $7.02 miscount was still less than the new 9.8% fee of Coinstar (as of March 1st). Perhaps the Commerce Bank counters open to the public aren’t maintained very well.

If you’d like to estimate the amount in your coin jar without counting, try this Coin Jar Calculator. You simply grab a handful of coins, input the breakdown along with the weight of the coins, and out pops an estimate of your jar’s value. I would say it’s only accurate to maybe 10-15%. For me, it estimated $86.73 based on a large handful, with an actual result of $94.07.

Looking for something more scientific? Check out this little dissertation. With some basic assumptions, the author figures mixed loose coins should be worth about $12.96 a pound. My jar worked out to closer to $11 a pound. I do occasionally fish out quarters for parking meters though, so that likely skewed my results.

How do you deal with your loose coinage? Share in the comments.

Library Sent Me To Collections!

People usually agree that checking your credit report regularly is a good idea, but after downloading all my credit reports just now I found out that I had overdue library fees of $40 from my old city and they sent me to collections! I am 99.9% sure I returned them. I received no mail notices and have received no phone calls from any collection agency either. It’s dated April 2008, although I’ve opened several bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and credit cards since then with no indication that my credit was anything but flawless. It’s only on my Experian report as well.

I’ll have to follow up on this later. Meanwhile, for you library users, I found this NY Times article Late Library Books Can Take Toll on Credit Scores. Well, not a big toll… :P

Sports Authority $25 off $100 Coupon: Too Bad It Excludes Nearly Everything

In trying to spend some Sports Authority gift cards thoughtfully given to me, I found a nice $25 off $100 coupon at if you sign up for their e-mail newsletter (which you can cancel immediately afterwards) . I thought that was a pretty good deal, until I read their coupon exclusions, which disallowed the first five things that I could think of buying…

Discount excludes the following:

Adams Golf, adidas Golf, asics, Atec, Baby Jogger, BagBoy, Bauer, Bowflex, Bridgestone, Callaway, Carhartt, Cat Eye, Championship Merchandise, Cleveland Golf, Cobra, Coleman, Columbia, Daiwa, DeMarini, Diamondback, Dye, E-Force, Easton, Ektelon, Escape, Fitness Quest, Footjoy, Fred Bear Equipment, Gorilla, Head, Heavy Putter, Horizon, Huffy, Hunter Dan, Jugs, K2, Kettler, K-Swiss, Lobster, Louisville Slugger, MacGregor, Magnum, MBT, Merrell, Miken Sports, Mission, Mizuno, Mongoose, NBA Jerseys, Nextt Golf, NFL Jerseys, Nike, Nike Golf, Oakley, Odyssey, Parkland Heritage, Prince, Pro Feet, Rawlings, Razor, Rollerblade, Salomon, Schwinn, Skechers Shape Ups, Skycaddie, Sole, Speedstik, Spring Step, TaylorMade, Ten Point, The North Face, Thule, Tippmann, Titleist, Top-Flite, Tour Edge, Trend Sports, Trikes, Under Armour, Wilson, Worth, Yakima

All bike racks, electronics/optics, select fitness, exercise bikes, ellipticals, treadmills, home gyms, weights, benches, trampolines and accessories, select Fan Shop furniture, select camping products, canopies, scooters, table games, fishing and hunting products, and select basketball systems.

Other exclusions may apply.

It looks like this has been going on for a while, with the Consumerist writing about this two years as well:

Sports Authority misses you so much that they sent out a 20% off coupon that doesn’t apply to sports equipment or 68 named brands. You might, might be able to get 20% off a pair of socks.

Ha! Or I can buy $100 of overpriced electrolyte drinks…

Wanna Buy A Beer Company Together?

Pabst Brewing Company, makers of Pabst Blue Ribbon, is currently owned by a charitable trust that must sell it by 2010. Forza Migliozzi and The Ad Store want to use crowdsourcing to buy the company for $300 million through their website

From this CNN article:

Anyone over 21 can go to the site and pledge a minimum of $5 toward the reported $300 million sales price for Pabst. So far, would-be beer moguls have pledged more than $20 million in about a month. If the collective raises enough money, Migliozzi says contributors will get enough beer to match their pledges and ownership in the company.

While living in Portland, I definitely noticed the rising popularity of PBR. Shrug, I pledged $25. You don’t actually pay upfront, so we’ll see what happens.

From The “You Get What You Pay For” Department…

During my trip a few months ago to New York City, I picked up some “I Heart NY” t-shirts as souvenirs. After some haggling at one of the hundreds of tourist shops near Times Square (cheap enough so I felt like I didn’t have to take the subway to Chinatown), I happily packed up about 10 of them, brought them home, and doled them out to family and friends.

This is what they looked like after one washing:

See anything missing? Caveat Emptor!

Should I Buy This Gadget? Here’s a Helpful Flowchart

Click below or on the thumbnail above to see the whole thing.

[Read more...]

Sell Your Halloween Candy Back To Dentists

Have you heard of this? A network of dentists will buy back your Halloween candy for $1 to $2 per pound at After a few zip code searches, there actually does seem to be a few dentists in many metro areas. They are then encouraged to donate the candy to be sent to troops overseas.

Seems like an idea with good intentions, but somehow seems funny to me. Candy is bought by my neighbors, which is given out free to kids in costume, which gets sold to dentists for cash, and then is finally donated?

As a kid, the best part was trading candy between friends afterward. (I’ll add that I was always made to brush regularly and have never had a cavity in my life.) What was your favorite Halloween candy? I still love Dum-Dum lollipops.

Piggy Bank That Helps You Save & Spend

This might be cool for kids. The Spend Save Bank randomly deposits coins into either the ‘Save’ or ‘Spend’ section. It’d be even better if there was a option to set what percentages you want to split between spend and save, but I guess that would be a lot more complicated than a swiveling tray. Via Gizmodo via bookofjoe.

“Like a slot machine that never loses.” Ha! Here are some more funny piggy banks I’ve ran across.

ABC’s Un-Broke: The Seth Green Cribs Edition

ABC is running a one-hour TV special called Un-Broke: What You Need to Know About Money on Friday May 29th. As part of the promotion, Seth Green provides us with his financially-savvy edition of MTV Cribs.

I wonder if that is really his house? Somehow I seriously doubt it. Family Guy has to pay better than that, yo!

[Direct video link. Via Mrs. Micah.]

The Onion: Outsourcing Your Own Job Overseas

How about some Friday afternoon humor:

I love the scene with a bunch of speakerphones in an empty conference room talking to each other. With the growing popularity of virtual personal assistants from sites like GetFriday, I bet this is happening more often than most people think. I remember the story about medical transcriptionists where a big company got a contract for something like 50 cents a line, who subcontracted to a self-employed woman in Florida being paid 25 cents a line, who then subcontracted to someone in Pakistan for 3 cents a line. [Direct video link]

TreasuryDirect Security: Should All Financial Websites Be Like This?

TreasuryDirect, which allows individuals to buy securities online directly from the US Treasury, has to be the least accessible financial website in the country. It takes me about 20 minutes to log in each time! Let’s look at all the hoops we get to jump through:

Account number – Of course it can’t be a username you can remember like “bob222″, but is more like Z-334-946-124. This makes me have to dig up my encrypted login/password file.

Password – Use your own keyboard? Nope, you must click it out on a randomized virtual keyboard. Gets around basic keyloggers, but not something that catches your screen as well. I’m actually okay with this one, but I’m glad my password isn’t very long and my vision is good.


Access Card – Finally, you need to read characters off a Access Card in order to access your account. (Like a secret decoder ring!) Of course, being a physical object, I can never find it. I ended up transcribing the entire card contents onto a spreadsheet file, and shredded the card.

Now, finally you can buy a savings bond. Can you imagine the hassle if every financial institution were like this? I understand the need for security, but I think having a physical type of verification token should be an option for the customer, not a requirement.

Lost TreasuryDirect Access Card?
If you lost your card, you’ll have to call (304) 480-7711, verify your identity, and request for a new one to be sent to your mailing address. Your old card will no longer work. In the meantime, no access. Call early and keep trying until you reach someone, because if they’re busy you have to leave a message (no hold system?), and they never called me back.

Make Extra Money as a Phone Sex Operator?

(I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, debating whether I wanted to deal with the comment moderation that will inevitably follow. Oh well, gotta stir things up a little bit now and then. ;) Just don’t take this too seriously.)

If you have insomnia like I do, you’ve probably seen those commercial for 900 numbers to talk to beautiful, attentive women (or men). Well, if you think about it, wouldn’t being on the other end of the phone be an interesting part-time job? Obviously, not for everyone, but let’s look at the pros:

  • No experience required.
  • You can work from home.
  • No upfront fees (there shouldn’t be), and all you need is a telephone.
  • Flexible hours, and probably mostly at night.
  • No in-person interaction. Your real information is kept private.
  • Reportedly, get paid around $10-$20 per hour. (This is your cut after they charge $2 a minute, or $120 an hour.)

How do I get paid? You get paid for your actual talk time, but your per-minute wage is based on how long you keep the caller on the phone. Many sites claim to send checks out weekly. According to one report:

For the first 5 or so minutes that you take a call you will be paid about .12 – .15 cents per minute. If you keep the caller on the line for more than 5 minutes, but up to 9 minutes, the pay raises to .30 cents. If the caller remains on the line for 10 minutes or more, expect to make between .40 cents – .60 cents or more. A good sex operator should be able to keep the customer on the line for 15 minutes or more.