20 Smart Ways to Spend Your Loose Change


We all have one somewhere. The glass jar or piggy bank of collected loose change that can often sit untouched for years if we're not thinking of it — and that's a great thing. I tend to undervalue all those dirty pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. When I find them in the bottom of my purse, they seem more like a nuisance than anything else. However, the last time I rolled up my change to take to the bank, I was absolutely shocked to suddenly have over $100 on my hands.

How to spend this bonus money is another story entirely. In effect, it isn't a "bonus" at all. Instead, it's hard-earned cash that we can spend wisely if we're mindful and do some planning. So, here are 20 smart ideas for how to spend your stash of collected change.

1. Start a Vacation Fund

Travel is one of the items my family cut almost entirely when retooling the budget. Now we always put some of our jar money away to slowly build enough funds for a fun vacation (or at least the associated costs). Last year we paid for the bulk of our meals on our Cape May adventure with our dimes.

2. Enjoy the Nightlife

Entertainment is another area where those pennies can really get to work. Just think of the nice dinner and drinks you could get for $100! Or all the movies you could see on that kind of cash. Time to check your coat pockets, am I right?

3. Fix It Up

Have any home repairs you've been neglecting? We once purchased a new furnace filter with our loose change. Other smaller items to buy might include light fixtures, paint, vinyl tiles, or even some landscaping for the warmer months.

4. Play Santa

If gifts are difficult to find room for in the budget, try saving your change for when you need it most. You need not give many gifts on the holidays, birthdays, etc. — but what a smart way to use up those forgotten coins. And those CoinStar kiosks don't charge fees for gift cards or eGift certificates with a number of participating retailers.

5. Deflect Forgotten Costs

Anything from bus fares to toll charges to parking fees can be paid with your loose change. My dad keeps a bag of it in his car (maybe not the smartest idea) for all of these purposes. That way, he's never scrambling for those annoying tolls.

6. Toss Away Debt

If you're saddled with student loans, car loans, or credit card bills, that $100 (or more!) can go toward digging you out of the hole. It may seem like a drop in the bucket, but every nickel toward a debt-free life is worth it.

7. Start a Savings Account

Have little room in the budget for savings? Try packing away cash by routinely emptying your change collection into an interest-earning bank account or emergency fund. You'll soon see that $25 here and $80 there will add up in your favor.

8. Stock Up on Supplies

If you're running low on bulk foods, shampoo, or other items, check and see how much loose change you have around. You can take advantage of sales (or bulk buying) and build a supply of these items all without increasing your weekly budget.

9. Pamper Yourself

It might sound indulgent, but that's the point. Say you accumulated around $4 a week for a whole year in loose change. That's $208 toward either a new cut and color, a massage, a manicure and pedicure, or whatever other indulgence you so very much deserve.

10. Freshen Your Look

That same $208 could get you quite a collection of new clothing for whatever season you find yourself in. If your dresser is full of clothing that doesn't fit your body or lifestyle, pitch the funds toward changing your style. (See also: 50 Ways to Update Your Wardrobe for Cheap)

11. Purchase New Equipment

Need a new laptop or digital camera? It can be hard to justifying spending a few hundred out of pocket. If you find it in your glass jar? It doesn't hurt as much. You could alternatively invest in the items you already own by getting them fixed or tuned up.

12. Learn Something New

Take a class with your quarters. Lots of educational institutions, studios, and community centers offer courses for adult learners ranging a variety of interests and topics. You could pay for a whole month of yoga, check out that session on vegetarian cooking, or take up a new craft.

13. Invest in Hobbies

If you'd rather continue with your already honed interests, use your spare change to offset some of the costs. A few hundred can get you lots of fabric, yarn, or thread for crafting. Then there's acrylics, brushes, and canvases for painting. Even fishing lures, rods, and reels can be great uses of your funds. Do what you love! (See also: 35 Fun and Frugal Hobbies)

14. Finance Better Health

Enroll in a few personal training sessions or get a membership to a gym. Snag a new pair of running sneakers or sign up for that local half marathon. There are sneaky costs associated with an active lifestyle, but with money in the (piggy) bank, there are more opportunities to foster your fitness.

15. Donate It

Make some change with your change. Find local or national organizations in need, and give. I like working locally because I know that the majority of my money is going to help. Anything from buying groceries for families in need to toys at Christmas can be a huge help. (See also: 10 Local Charities That Need Your Stuff)

16. Buy Books

One of the most surprising costs at college is the books. I couldn't believe the hundreds (thousands!) I spent each year. So, while favoring used books over new — consider using your pennies to purchase this semester's reads. Bonus if you can sell them back and repeat the process again.

17. Prepare for Baby

Many to-be parents worry about the up-front costs with their bundles of joy. Use your saved change to purchase diapers, clothing (think basic onesies, not frilly outfits), teething and feeding supplies, and other items. Baby showers are great, but few grandmothers want to give the practical gifts that help most.

18. Love Your Pet

Fur-babies can also be quite expensive with all the food, training, grooming, and medical costs. Allocate some of those leftover dimes to move to your pet care budget and lessen the burden on your finances.

19. Subsidize Your Habits

Like to get coffee or lunch out each day? That small stuff really adds up to staggering amounts over time. If you just can't break the habit — use your change and try to stick to a budget.

20. Furnish Your Spaces

Moving into a new apartment or starter house can be tough without lots of money on hand for couches, beds, and other furniture. Use your coins to slowly chip away at buying those needed items, and you'll find yourself sitting pretty in no time. (See also: 15 Cheap and Ingenious Ways to Upgrade Your Furniture)

To what good use do you put your spare change? Drop us a dime in comments!

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