June 17, 2010

Back when I was down and out, trying to sell stuff to fund my semi-homeless lifestyle, I was a scavenger of coins.  I would look for and collect coins from wherever possible.  Phone booths, vending machines, coins received in change, loose change in my storage boxes or lying in the street.  Any coin money I found would be collected together.  Then I’d go out and spend them on food.  I remember many times I’d go to the local Burger King, to get whatever $2.00 meal special they had for lunch, paid for in quarters and dimes.  Sometimes this coin gathering behavior made the difference between eating and skipping meals.

When I started working full-time in 2003 and no longer had to watch every nickel, this behavior continued.  At first I just collected the quarters that I received in change, and spent the nickels and dimes in vending machines for snacks.  I saved pennies too for a while but at one point they were taken to a grocery store coin-counting machine and converted to store credit (minus 10% fee).  After that I started saving pennies too.  Now I have plenty of quarters (more than a full cigar box), so when I have some from my change they get spent in the coffee machine at work.  Over the last year or so I’ve been keeping all of the dimes and nickels I get.  And dollar coins of course, there is quite a collection of the presidential golden dollar coins here.

If I had to estimate the value of all these coins — maybe a few hundred dollars?  Really hard to tell without getting out all my little boxes, jars, bags and counting them.

Even though I have more money saved in the bank, that is just a number printed on a monthly statement.  The coins give me a sense of security because they are physical objects that I keep with me.  Also because of my history with relying on pocket change for food, there is a feeling that as long as I have a box of quarters, I’ll be okay.

One day I may just take them to a bank and cash them in, but I’m not there yet.  I tell myself that hoarding money is healthier than hoarding other small things that don’t have real value. Do you agree?

One Response to “Coins”

  1. Abhishek Says:

    It would be funny for a ‘Hoarders’ related TV show to show up to fix your coin hoarding problem. I agree hoarding money is not bad at all. I just let my saving’s bank do it for me.

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