Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why is my bag so darn heavy?

Could be all that loose change thrown in the bottom! 

My husband will tell you that I carry a small suitcase.  The reality is I carry a very modest size bag, which right now happens to be a Coach that I got on clearance for 70% off the regular price.  (yes - I broke down and paid more than $30 for a bag - but it made me feel good!)

The issue I have is the change that I inevitably toss into the bottom of my bag to never reach for again!  I'm horrible - I will not search through the bottom of my bag for the correct change to make a purchase.  I have also not instilled that quality in my children, so you'll find loose change on the kitchen counter, in the couch cushions, on the bathroom counter, on top of the dryer (heck sometimes there's even dollar bills in there), etc.

So what do you do with all that change?  My husband has the same issue. 

For those of you that don't already know - we live in separate States and manage 3 households.  I live in Michigan with the 7 kids, of which 3 are still in middle school, 1 is in college, 1 is married with a baby of his own, 1 lives on his own, and 1 has joined the service and will be going to basic training in less than 120 days.  My husband is active duty Air Force, with 20 years of service, and will retire in November of this year.  He is stationed in California presently - so I'm here keeping my career, he's there waiting on retirement, and we own a home in Alaska that we currently rent out.

So back to the change........we both seem to be careless when it comes to spending the change that we've accumulated.  What we decided to do was see how much this actually amounts to over a period of time.

Our first time frame was 3 months.  We would gather all the change (as we normally would) and at least once a week do a "walk through" and collect it to put in a jar.  We soon realized (about 2 weeks into this) that a mason jar was just not big enough.  I graduated to a large canister (old popcorn tin), and my husband graduated to a large soup pan (don't know what else to call it really - it's a 6 quart blue speckled thing with a lid).  We also agreed that if bills were left in pants, shirts, jackets, etc. when that was found we'd put it in our coin collections.  I will tell you that I do not often "lose" bills - I know how many I have and since I carry a bag they're always in there, but it seems that men sometimes forget a bill in a pocket of jeans or the like and it ends up in the wash.  At the end of the first 3 months we count the bills and roll the coin, and had almost $400 between the two of us.  Now boys and girls that's a lot of change!  We were so excited that we saved this much in just 3 months without having to actually think about it that we decided we didn't really have anything pressing so we'd simply continue.

We're at 6 months now, and had almost $1000.  We deposited that to our savings account, and decided it'd be used for a vacation once he retires, along with whatever else we have saved up between now and the 1st of the year.

It's amazing to me how quickly this adds up.  I'm not even sure what I used to do with it before.  I know that from time to time I'd have a whole collection of coins and drop them into a CoinStar machine, which charges you a small amount (ok so it's like 8%) and then use that money toward my weekly grocery bill, and when one of the older kids would come by I'd simply sweep all the change off the counter or out of my purse to give them a little "gas money surprise", but really.....that was a lot of money and I had absolutely no idea!

This is just one of our little ways of saving a little bit, without really feeling it.  It's easy to do and it adds up quickly!

What do you do with your change?

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