The Loose Change Rule

March 16, 2008

When you see a penny on the ground, do you bend over and pick it up? How about a quarter? A dollar? What amount is enough to make you stop and look? I always pick it up and put it in my pocket, even if it’s just a penny. Most times if Willi is there to see me do it I’ll get a good teasing, but that’s all right.


I have always had a jar of some sort for loose change. What started out as a Ball jar graduated to a big blue glass water bottle. Now I have a gallon size plastic pickle jar.

Back in the day it held money for lunch and field trips for my kids. There were more than a few times, when I was learning to make it on my own, that the jar and I went to the bank for groceries. It’s amazing how fast those wayward coins added up to dollars. Those coins nobody wanted to bother with, until they turned into gas, and food. Thankfully those days are history, but the jar remains. Old habits die hard. And so does my penchant for picking up pennies.

This brings me to the loose change rule. At one point when my kids were in high school we seemed to gather lost souls. I’m really not sure how this came about, but the empty rooms, as well as the chairs around the dinner table, became full. It was probably the closest I came to communal living. Either that, or being a single mother with a gackle of teenagers and all of the angst that comes along with it. At any rate, they were always leaving loose change on the end tables, on the ledge above the washer, in the cushions of the couch and any other number of odd places. It was then that I adopted the loose change rule, which is “If it’s loose change, it’s mine, and it goes in the jar.”

In those days it turned into grocery money. We all laughed about it, but not when it was dinner time. Those kiddos have grown up now and are in various stages of adulthood, with husbands and wives, and kids, and jobs. We kept in touch for the first few years. Now they are spread out and only gather for the most recent wedding or shower.

The loose change rule doesn’t have near the meaning that it use to with just Willi and I. Nowadays it just turns into fun money. For the last few years I have cashed in the change for our passes to Tin Pan South, and of course the loose change goes back in the jar. It’s just about time to do it again.

I thought of it today as I raked some dimes and a nickel out of the washing machine. I put them in my pocket and deposited them in the jar when I got upstairs. I wonder if any of those kiddos have a loose change rule. Do they think of it with a smile when they take the change out of their pocket at the end of the day? I do.


16 Responses to “The Loose Change Rule”

  1. Willowtree Says:

    I will stop and pick up any coin, regardless of value. That is except for pennies, they have been removed from circulation.

    We now have 1 and 2 dollar coins, talk about adding up to serious money, you can pull out a handful of coins and have $30!

  2. moo Says:

    We’ve been putting change in a “swear jar” (whether we swear or not) and intend to deposit it in my son’s account once it hits $100, give or take.

    It’s a nice way to “save” for him, without really meaning to. And we all delight in announcing to each other that “you owe a dollar to the swear jar!”

  3. Hilary Says:

    When my oldest was still stroller-age, I used to take all of our loose change, roll it and then walk up to the mall with as much as I could put in the basket without weighing the stroller down too much. We’d make a ritual of this each Tuesday. I’d deposit the cash and then my son and I would have lunch before heading back home. The pennies took several weeks to deposit in that manner. By the end of that summer, I had deposited over $800. It sure can add up.

    I enjoyed this post very much. Thanks.

  4. Betty Says:

    I put all loose change in a 3lb coffee can. I have done this for years, and once, when I was going to Las Vegas, I cashed in my change and it paid for all my trips to the slot machines. And, I still came home with money.

  5. debi Says:

    I love this post. This is still in effect in our house. Joe and I both have our “special money’. Mine never gets the chance to grow much. If Joey comes in and needs 2 $ for a jug of water for work or I need a gallon of milk mine gets used. But Lordy, nobody ever better touch Joes coins. He will break a dollar bill for 2 pennies. I will give over the 2 cents. He loves his change. Last week we were broke. Real broke. He took his little coin jug to the bank and ended up with 85.00. He still has his big one. He keeps it in a secret place. lol. One day maybe we will have a savings back but for now the old coin jar is still doing it’s job in our home.

  6. tod Says:

    We have one too! HAHA!

    I never understood why people would discard loose coins. No matter how small they are it seems wasteful to me.

  7. coffeypot Says:

    We use to do it, but since we use debit cards to pay for stuff, now, I don’t carry change or currency. Sweet Tea does the next best thing. She has her account set up so that the bank rolls up to the next dollar what ever she spends. So there is change going to savings evertime she uses her debit card.

  8. Freakazojd Says:

    That’s such a great tradition, and I am positive that you are not the only one who is remembering it with fondness. 🙂 I should start one of those…fun money has been hard to come by and that would be a great way to work some up. We’ve got the $1 and $2 coins here, too, so it would add up quickly…theoretically. Ha ha!

  9. corky Says:

    It’s amazing how much money is wasted by leaving lose change in your pants or car etc. The Birdman’s parents used to have one of those 5 gallon watter jugs filled with change. They used it to go on a family vacation. That’s pretty cool.

    I hope the days of having to scrape by never come back!

  10. I have a small red bucket that I use for loose change. I really enjoyed this post! It reminded me of sitting in the middle of the living room floor and helping my dad sort and roll coins.

  11. G-man Says:

    Nice post. We have a jar too, no hard or fast rule about it, just a jar that we put change into.

  12. katy Says:

    what a good idea.
    I have a loose change place MY purse.
    we did used to put all 20p’s in a pot when the lad was little for him though

  13. daddy d Says:

    Money is money. Money is power to do good. The more the better with which to help out others.

  14. Judith Says:

    great post. i accumulate kids too and the change and changes that go along with them. my kids laugh at me for my attachment to change, but then again, they’re not the ones paying the bills, huh? just last night jerzy gave me a huge pile of change from her bag that she had no use for. when i came home today is saw my change bowl on the table with the bulk of it gone. hey, jerzy, what happened to my change? we wanted smoothies, she said, and it was mine anyhow. hmmm. she’ learning.

  15. Molly Says:

    We pick up the coins, but I imagine that we drop some too. Our coins are segregated into different containers. We have an actual piggy bank for quarters, and various jars for the other denominations.

  16. […] an excitable girl. From there we went to the bank to cash in our loose change. $232.61 – not bad! More than enough to pay for our Tin Pan South Fast Access Passes, and a couple […]

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