There’s a container on my shelf that I specifically use for loose change and the occasional button. Recently, that container became full and I needed to figure out a way to get rid of the loose change.

I could’ve taken them to a bank and have the teller who helped me dream of shoving an adding machine down my throat. Or I could’ve given them to the panhandlers that hang outside of the convenience store down the street and watch them drown out their problems with alcohol. Or I could’ve stuck them in between my couch’s cushions, so that I can finally say I found loose change in between a couch’s cushions.

I eventually decided to cash them in using a Coinstar machine, which can count my coins for me. Sorry, drunk-ass panhandlers.

First, I had to find a Coinstar machine, which I did by visiting their website. There, I just inputted my zip code and the site told me where the nearest Coinstar machine was.

The nearest machine was at the locally-owned grocery store down the street that I hardly step into because their prices are slightly more expensive than the national grocery store chain I usually shop at.

I grabbed my container of coins and walked to the store. Unfortunately, this was a bad idea, because I had to pass the convenience store, and guess who were hanging out there. Yes, the panhandlers.

Now, when they’ve ask me for loose change in the past, I’ve told them that I didn’t have any. This time, I couldn’t say that with ten pounds of loose change in a container that was impossible to hide.

I really hoped they were too drunk to notice the Fort Knox of loose change I held in my hands. Fortunately, they were.

When I got to the store, there already was a guy unloading a small cooler of pennies into the Coinstar machine. I waited for 15 minutes as he dump over 5000 pennies into the machine.

After waiting and being amazed that 5000 pennies could fit into a small cooler, I began to dump my coins into the machine, which accepts pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollar coins, and dollar coins.

One cool thing I read about the Coinstar machine is that it can detect if you’ve accidently slipped in buttons, Japanese Yen, Canadian coins, other foreign coins, or those stupid penny souvenirs that are worth less than a penny. If you happen to stick in non-American money or crappy penny souvenirs, it will drop it into the slot labeled “Coin Return,” which seems kind of ironic to be called that.

When the machine was done counting my coins, it spit out a receipt that showed me how much money I put into it. My gross total was $50.06, but the machine subtracted an 8.9 percent processing fee. So my net total was $45.60.

After I got my receipt, I headed to the cashier with the shortest line to cash-in the receipt. For me, the shortest line was the four-items-or-less line, which also had the prettiest cashier. When I got to the pretty cashier, I handed her my receipt and she opened her register to get the money.

While counting the money, she asked me, “What are you going to with the money?”

Internally, I said, “Well, how about you and I spend it on dinner at a nice restaurant?”

Externally, I said, “Uh, I dunno,” and then walked away.

(I’m such a pussy.)

As I walked out of the store, I began asking myself questions to figure out how to spend the money.

“How many products can I review with this money?”

“Could I really feed an entire village in Ethiopia for just 25 cents a day?”

“Could I use an iPod Shuffle?”

“How many tricks can I get with this scratch?”

I eventually decided to use the money to help with the purchase of an iPod Shuffle.

Thanks, Coinstar.

Item: Coinstar
Purchase Price: FREE to use (8.9 percent fee for every dollar of coins counted)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Pros: Easy to use. Convenient. No need to roll coins. Takes all types of coins, except those stupid penny souvenirs. Can turn your loose change into an iPod Shuffle.
Cons: Noisy. Drunk panhandlers. I am a pussy.

29 thoughts to “Coinstar”

  1. CoinStar is the best. The most I have ever gotten back was $74 and some change. I’ve never been able to go an entire year without cashing my coin. It’s too easy.

  2. Werd. I love coinstar. It’s totally worth 8.9 cents on the dollar to have someone (something) else count that money :).

  3. I hope the conversation with the cashier runs over and over in your mind driving you insane with a constant inner dialogue asking youself “What if I had only said..”

  4. I agree with Gabe on the 8.9% handling fee that seems kind of high. Someone told me it was only lik 3%, but maybe it is different depending which part of the country you live in. Oh well it is very convient and that is a plus, but if you cash all of your coin how will you play poker?

  5. Coinstar rocks. I hate counting and rolling coins.

    Side note: Marvo, I tested out the new BlogExplosion review system for the first time ever on your site yesterday…it SUCKS…prompted my own mini-rant/review…I think you oughtta review it!

  6. I once had my car towed on a Sunday and couldn’t get enough cash out of the bank as I was sans ATM card at the moment. After running around trying to scrounge cash off local friends I was $50 short. That’s when I noticed the two jars of change I had. These are the kinds of jars spaghetti sauce come in.

    I figured I might get the $50 so we brought the jars down to the coinstar.

    $180 later I not only had the $50 but I didn’t have to borrow any cash to get my car back.

    After some creative math I came to the conclusion that based on the distribution of coins in my change jars if I could fill a 5 gallon container (such as the copper 5 gallon milk container I had from the days when milk came from farms) I would have enough for a new laptop.

    I ended up getting the laptop well before then, but I figure that by the time I fill it up I’ll be ready for my next one. The secret? Don’t ever spend change, ever. Just keep it. It’s like subconscious savings. You never notice that you’re spending a little less since you have a little less in your pocket but over the course of a few years it adds up, plus it’s good for emergencies.

  7. When I go to Canada (I’m only a couple hours from the border) I always “accidentally” slip in my Canadian change to get rid of it all… so Coinstar wouldn’t be so good for me. 🙂

  8. If the fee is 8.9% at the Coinstar you went to and only 3% at another, does that mean the charge is different at different supermarkets? Hmmmm…

  9. Josh – Yes, Coinstar is the best. I wish I came up with it first.

    Robin – Yup, it’s the greatest coin-related invention since the gumball machine.

    Lord Jezo – I’m used to it, I say that to myself EVERYDAY.

    Chana – I am. I soooo am. Thanks.

    gabe – You cheap bastard!!! That’s chump change, compared to the amount of time you’ll save from NOT rolling coins.

    becky – I suck at poker (I have the worst poker face ever) so I think buying an iPod Shuffle was better for me.

    Priss – Yeah, I tried the new Blog Explosion rating system. It’s time consuming, but I kind of like it better than the old system. Also a trick I found to make it easier is to load the entire ratings form on one page. To do that just right click the top frame and open it in a new window.

    Michael – Holy crap! That’s a whole lotta loose change to transport. Anyway, your idea for a subconscious savings makes sense (sorry, for the lame pun). I won’t want to spend the money because I won’t want to carry around coins and it will just collect and collect. Very good idea.

    Lorien – You could always to a Canadian Coinstar machine.

    Damon – I try to do that, but I usually look for the line with Hot Customers.

    akiko – The website says it charges 8.9 percent in the US, 9.8 percent in Canada, and 7.5 percent in the U.K. Now I don’t know if stores and negotiate that, but I still think 8.9 percent is reasonable.

  10. I am way to cheap to use a Coinstar machine. We have a little bank thingy that we toss the change in, and it puts the coins neatly into rolls for us. $20 fr the bank (which has survived 8 years and 3 moves), $1 for the rolls every 3-4 months, and we generally take in $300 in change 3-4 times a year. If the math doesn’t work out in my favor, I don’t wanna know!

  11. Um, I’m afraid you misunderstood…I promised I’d homeschool you. Or, didn’t you want to get that G.E.D.? You’re only a few short years away from the goal, Marvo…keep your eyes on the prize!

  12. Thumper – $300 in change!!! Do you own a laundromat or something?

    Mellie – Um, what’s a ged?

  13. Maveric – The nearest casino is thousands of miles away. Besides, I would probably gamble the money away.

  14. I used one of those at our local Giant Eagle. They’re pretty neat!!

    But Coin Return should probably be called Button Return. Or “Thing You Tried to Trick Coinstar Into Thinking Was A Coin” Return.

  15. LOL no laundromat. The Spouse Thingy just puts the rolls of coins in a drawer, and when we can’t open it anymore, that’s when we haul it in. I’m not sure HOW we accumulate so much change, tho… It must be the vending machine shopping sprees…

  16. I work in a Supermarket and in talking to the Coinstar people I learned that thanks to Coinstar the public stopped “hoarding” pennies in ashtrays and cupholders, consieerably easing the burden on the US mint. So much so, that when the U.K. was facing a pence shortage they contacted the Mint to see how they solved the problem and the Mint directed them to Coinstar.

  17. Webmiztris – Or “Don’t Be Tryin’ To Trick Me, Beeyatch!”

    Thumper – Dear Lord, that’s a lot of coins.

    Sarcasmom – Yeah, I remember reading something about that. Honestly, how many people actually use pennies? I think the mint might have a problem with quarters in the future. With all of these state quarters, I think people are hoarding them as well. I’ve got about 100 dollars worth I’ve been keeping, just in case the value of them rise to 26 cents.

  18. Hey! This is way random but you did the Terra chips post, and I missed it 🙁 so I’m posting here. I didn’t know you had never heard of them before- I should have warned you about how hard they can be to find (and how expensive they can be ONCE you find them) you also had the potpourri, which I just had for the first time myself the other day. There are actually many, many kinds. My fave is the multi-color bag. I think it’s just original. Even better than potpourri. Believe it.:)

  19. Thanks for reminding me I had a Pringle’s can full of pennies. Put them in a ZipLoc bag and toted them to my local grocery food store. That baggie was heavy! There was only about $7 and after CoinStar’s deduction, I think I should be saving QUARTERS instead!

  20. Janet – The strange thing is after my review I began to see Terra chips in some of the stores that didn’t carry them before. I’d like to think my review had something to do with that, but I know it didn’t.

    Aymie’s Mom – I’m scared to reuse Pringles cans, because I’m afraid of getting my arm stuck in them…for the umteenth time.

  21. the coin return has given me buttons, screws, nails, fingernails (I know gross) and everything else.

  22. David – If the coin return ever gives you actual fingers, I would step away from the machine, because it’s either possessed by the devil or it’s a deli slicer.

  23. Everytime I go to the Coinstar I always run through the same ONE QUID piece and arcade token I’ve had for years. After I get them from the finger-nail/band-aid return I put them back in the can, thinking I may use them at some point. More likely, the Coinstar will eventually take pity on me and just give me the cash equivalent.

    Will keep you updated.

  24. I once won a cd from a Coinstar machine.
    I am now the proud owner of the soundtrack to the Olsen twins movie that came out last summer (something about NYC.)

    Since the banks around here attempt to charge my no nacount having ass for exchanging rolled coins, Coinstar is my new best friend. (I need more friends.)

  25. UncleHornHead – Arcade token? Holy crap! Those still exist? Well if it does take the arcade token, see if it will take the stupid prize scripts I have from playing that basketball free throw game. I have enough to win a cheap ruler, but not enough to get the cheap portable radio.

    jazzchic – You can win stuff from the Coinstar machine? Oh wait, the soundtrack the New York Minute, you say? I don’t think that counts as a win.

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