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Reward Yourself for Shrewd Budgeting with Your Loose Change

I like coins.

I’ve been a coin collector for over 30 years, but I like coins for more than their numismatic value.

I like incorporating loose change into my personal/family budgets.

Particularly for those of us that prefer to deal with cash for small purchases as opposed to debit/credit cards, loose change can add up quickly, especially when one is diligent and organized about saving and accumulating it.

I highly recommend including a plan for loose change in your families budgeting. Utilizing a proverbial piggy bank, you can begin amassing all the loose change that you, your spouse and even your children receive or find each day. At the end of a specified period – I recommend at least one month – you’ll have a nice stash of money that you can utilize in a number of productive ways.

In my experience, this loose change stockpile can become a much-needed buffer for your budgets and can be used in one of two ways depending on how your budget forecasts are matching up with reality.

If, at the end of the month, your family has been able to stick to your planned budget, you deserve a reward! This loose change can provide the means with which your family can be treated to something special – a meal at a restaurant, a trip to the movie theaters or a ball game, or whatever type of fun activity your family enjoys.

spare change

While the amount will vary for each period of time and be different for each family depending on their individual spending habits, it’s not unreasonable to think that you can tally up $50 a month in change.

If you have something specific you want to save for that costs more, by all means use that as your incentive to stay within your family budget and keep saving until you reach that goal.

On the other hand, if you and your family are relative novices in the world of budgeting and slip up a bit and find yourself over budget in one or more areas, this reserve of change can provide much-needed help plugging holes in your budget. Hopefully, you’ll learn from your mistakes and the next time you can use the contents of your change jar to reward yourself. Having this extra cash on hand also helps when unforeseen and unforeseeable expenses occur.

For more experienced budget mavens, who have learned to including planning for rewards and treats into their monthly budget and have the means to periodically do some spending on family fun, this loose change can be used in other valuable ways. Donating that money to a local charity, or a family friend or neighbor that is in need, can be a gratifying experience for the entire family. (And don’t forget, if you donate to a reputable charity, get a receipt; that money is tax-deductible!).

One final aspect to note is that it can sometimes take a little bit of work and/or ingenuity to turn your jar of change into cold, hard cash. Some banks provide free-of-charge change counters to customers (some even do so for non-customers), while other banks require you to roll the change up before you can trade it for bills or deposit it, which is a nice project for the young ones to undertake.

The other option is the fee-based coin counters often found at retail and grocery stores. These counters typically charge around 10% to count your coins, and since smart budgeters know that every cent counts, I highly recommend that you avoid giving away 10% of your savings, when other options exist.

This guest post was written by Phillip Marks spent 25 years working for community newspapers, before recently making the transition to digital media. When he isn’t busy enjoying the great outdoors, sitting contentedly on the porch with his wife, or spending time with his seven rambunctious grandchildren, Phillip shares his expertise on personal finance and budgeting as an online publisher for Cheap Check Store.

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2 Comments on Reward Yourself for Shrewd Budgeting with Your Loose Change

  1. Cyndi
    July 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm (4 years ago)

    My husband thinks I’m crazy because I have ‘jars’ for coins all over the house. Every couple of months I take them with me to the grocery store, and cash them in for gift card (I use Coinstar, and if you opt for the grocery store gc there is no charge to use it) – I use that to pay for groceries and then I transfer the amount of the coins into our savings account for our vacation, always amazed at how it adds up!

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