The No-Sweat Way You Can Make $45 This Weekend

Got a spare change jar? According to Coinstar, the average customer converts more than $45 in coins to cash and more than $81 to no-fee electronic gift cards.


Welcome to Day 27 of our 30-Day Easy Money Makeover! Every day in April, we're bringing you strategies to help you improve, and feel more confident about, your money situation. Follow along and see the rest of the calendar here .

When was the last time you checked your couch cushions? You could be sitting on some serious money—literally.

You may scoff at the idea of collecting loose coins, be it the change you get when paying for something or coins you spot on the sidewalk. It can seem like a pointless endeavor, and a germy one, to boot.

But banking your spare change is an easy way to boost your savings. According to Coinstar, which has nearly 20,000 coin-counting kiosks, the average customer converts more than $45 in coins to cash and more than $81 to no-fee electronic gift cards.

“People don’t realize the value of their coin jar at home, and we often hear that they have much more than they thought—it adds up,” says Jim Gaherity, CEO of Coinstar.

Some found money collectors are quite diligent. Last year, an editor at “The Wall Street Journal” wrote about his 20-year journey collecting every quarter, dime, nickel, and yes, even, penny he’s found on the ground—a cool $971.05, or $48.55 per year, on average.

Similarly, a writer for the blog ToughNickel documented the money she found last year, as well as where she found it. Gutters and debris piles were especially fruitful, and she says she found a whopping $200-plus near vending machines.

If collecting found money isn’t your thing, that’s fine. You may choose to collect spare change in a jar—or take other steps to force a habit of regularly saving money.

Looking for ideas? Any time you resist the urge to buy something (that extra drink on a night out or a new T-shirt, for example), set aside the money you would’ve spent. “Hey Ladies” coauthor Michelle Markowitz recently told Grow that trick is how she’s saving up to buy an apartment.

Or consider adopting a routine, like periodically purging your wallet of spare $1 bills or adding $5 to your adult version of a piggy bank —an allowance of sorts.

Then bank that money. No matter how you collect change, it’s important to regularly deposit it rather than let it linger at home in a jar for months or years.

Interest rates are finally at a level where you can make a decent return. A number of banks pay at least 2% interest on high-yield savings accounts. That means if you were to deposit $50 in one such account, after five years, you’d have earned another $5.25—a variation on the idea of free, found money.

It’s harder to find coin-counting machines at banks these days, however. TD Bank, for example, recently settled a class-action lawsuit on behalf of customers who were potentially shortchanged by its machines (which it no longer offers). Call your local branch to see if your bank will accept your jar of change.

If it won’t, here are some other options:

  • Roll your coins. Get paper wrappers and turn those in to your bank. Your bank may even provide you with those wrappers for free.
  • Use a coin-counting machine. Check this list from of banks that still offer them. You can also use Coinstar to convert change to either cash (service fees vary, but are often around 12%) or to an electronic gift card to retailers like Amazon or Starbucks (free).
  • Spend the money. Many self-serve checkout locations accept coins. You may get some dirty looks if you hold up the line feeding in pennies to cover your grocery bill, but you could spend a pocketful of change here and there.

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