We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, September 25. 2018
For the sake of any college friends who are reading, this is not about Spare Change, the guy who stood on the corner down on M Street. Though I'm sure he was very familiar with Carlo Rossi, this story takes place about 25 years later.
Today in the Morning New links, Bird Dog led off with an article about spare change. I don't know if Mrs. Bulldog told him the story about our spare change jug, but I know Mrs. Bird Dog heard it. Bird Dog was present in the Mohonk Mountain House parking lot when I picked up a dime, handed it to Mrs. Bulldog and said "Look, 10 Paris."
Spare change has some history in our family. About 11 years ago, I'd had a poker game in my basement and someone brought a jug of Carlo Rossi. You know, the good stuff in the big jug, with the finger handle on the neck.
I was known, in college, for slinging one of those into the crook of my arm, tilting it up, and taking large swigs. That's how we did it back in the Poconos. It is the proper way to drink Carlo. No, the picture is not me. I do have a tie-dye shirt, but no beard.
At any rate, my fellow poker player did a pretty good job on the wine. Then he left the jug behind. As we cleaned up, we decided to wash the jug and put our change in it. It was cheaper than throwing it out, going to a store and buying one to keep our change in. Which is something you can do, apparently. I tend to think if you are throwing something away, there is no reason to then buy whatever it is for some other use. You can buy jugs for change almost anywhere, though.
Now all our change goes into Carlo's little jug. After reading "The City of Falling Angels" the jug became our 'Venice Jug' and if we found a penny, it was a "Venice". Dimes were "10 Venice," and so on. All change counted, and it all went in. Sure enough, when it filled up, we planned our trip to Italy. There was about $300+ in there. It wasn't just loose change. Every now and then if I had a spare single or two, I'd toss that in, too. I think we had about $50 in singles in there, the rest I went through manually, checked for my coin collection (got quite a few good ones), then had the bank count the money. Coinstar is fine, but I don't like giving them 10%. Our bank will count it for free.
That jug is now our 'Paris Jug'. Coins on the ground, are no long a "Venice" but a "Paris". We have a long way to go, though. We don't get as much spare change as we used to. Credit cards pay for most things, since the points and miles take us to our favorite locations. I think credit card miles and points are a modern day version of spare change. If I'm going to spend $x,xxx a month anyway on credit cards, I should get something back for it. We've taken 4 trips on these miles/points. Most of Italy was paid for by the points.
The jug is really just the extra cash we bring along on the trip. It allowed us to give our sons some cash to have fun with. Now that they are grown, we'll find a new use for the cash.
I saw a quarter on the stairs out of the subway this morning. Too many people were rushing up the stairs to pick it up for the jug. Someone else will find a better use for that 25 Paris.
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My grandfather saved every coin he found—he believed them to be lucky. When he died, I found over $5000 worth of spare change. Some of the coins dated back to the 1920s.
Other uses for spare change:
I am a Coinstar guy. Every 6 months or so. It feels like free money.
We always collected spare change in a can or jug also. We used it for an occasional night out.
Don't use cash much anymore. Use credit card as plastic cash. Pay it off in full each month and let them supply the jug to hold the points.
Hadn't thought of it that way, but credit card points are similar to spare change. Just booked our flights for January's ski trip with credit card points. Feels like free tickets. when I cash in my Costco vouchers it feels like free money also. I am not so stupid to believe it is free money, I just like to feel like it is.
Can't imagine giving 10% away!
Just as I cant imagine my lovely wife not spending all the "loose"or "free" change. Sadly for me, it is not found money.
We have a "spare change dog" — one of those Colima pottery dogs from Mexico, with a large opening on top.
About every three years we dump it out, paw through the coinage for anything interesting — almost never is — and then schlepp it to the bank, where it adds up to $100 or more.
We note the amount and the date emptied on the piece of paper that always goes back into the dog afterward and sits there as coins start accumulating again.
Then we go spend the money on something that's fun.
Rossi was the good stuff. When I was in college the wine of choice was Gallo Red Mountain at $1.50 per gallon.
Most banks do charge for accepting change now, at least if you bring it in very often. And Coinstar -- forget it. This is why I try to spend all change first and keep bills.
There are better ways to force yourself to save. I have my employer withhold "too much" so that I get a nice big refund from the taxman each year.
I not only save spare change, I pull all the singles and fives out of my money clip each night and toss them in the top drawer of my bureau. I organize the mess once a month or so. In early December, I pull it all out and find around $6-700 which is like free Christmas shopping money.
I save my change every year and buy myself something on my birthday. I'm pretty thrifty and this is typically the one time I splurge .
I have a client that has saved change his entire life in coffee cans. He has heavy duty shelving in his basement to hold all the coffee cans. He is not afraid of thieves because trying to move it would kill them.
When our kids were small we took a road trip to DC. Separating out the spare change into socks of like denominations was one task keeping them busy. The payoff was ice cream paid for in coins at multiple stops along the trip. With 7 kids, a simple treat like ice cream for all was a pretty big deal... spare change made it happen.
I've been on a mostly cash budget for a couple years now to trim away the frivolous spending. This adds up to a lot of change that I collect in mason jars. Credit unions don't charge members for using their coin counting machine. Paying 10% is a major rip off. I don't see how someone could stomach it, even if it's spare change.
When I was younger I used change at the register to round off and saved all of the one dollar bills. This adds up quickly in a cash only budget.
Oh, and passing around a jug of Carlo was fun in college. Until the night I had one too many. Nothing is worse than getting sick on cheap burgandy. I still buy a small jug of Carlo Rossi Paisano for cooking red sauces. I pour what's left in a fruit jar and drink to auld lang syne. It's not too bad.
What a great story about spare change. Here I sit thinking I was the only tightwad left who really valued all those little treasures. I have been saving spare change since I was five and we didnt even own a family car then and television was not a household word.
People look at me funny when I bend over to pick up a penny on the subway.
Some may feel it's too dirty. Beneath them. Let someone else do it, etc.
My feeling is, barring a homeless person or bum nearby, any coin on the ground is fair game and going in my pocket, unless the crowds are too large and pushy or I'm in a rush. Then you let it go to the Spare Change gods.
I think saving spare change is part of life. If you don't pay attention to the small stuff, you're probably not paying attention to the big stuff.
I don't mean to say you have to pick up every penny on the ground. I don't begrudge anyone who does, though.