Into Your Wallet

Thursday, November 5, 2015

As previously mentioned, I recently read the Marie Kondo book. I am still formulating my final opinion about the entirety of it, but one of her ideas that I can completely get behind is the idea that coins go “into your wallet.”

She commented that many of her clients’ homes, when she would first visit, would have loose change scattered about: in the bottom of bags, dropped on the tops of dressers and end tables, stored in jars.

(Similarly, in The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin refers to a “scum of clutter” that “filmed the surface” of her family’s home; when she sizes up her bedroom, she notes that “CDs, DVDs, cords, chargers, coins, collar stays, business cards and instruction booklets were scattered like confetti.”)

I myself have noted this phenomenon — people leave change everywhere. Including strewn on the floor.

I can understand why someone would put it in a jar, and I can even see how it could end up on a dresser or tabletop, but having it scattered across the floor baffles me. Why?  Why would you ever drop change on the floor and not pick it up??

When I lived in Virginia in the mid-90s, my housemate Ted saved his pennies in a jar and when he moved to Utah he said he was leaving them behind for me and our other housemate, Chip. Chip pooh-poohed the pennies so I took possession of them. There were a lot. My bank was near my office, and I commuted to work by bike, so I had to carry them in to the office in my bag on my back. It was heavy.

The teller at my bank told me the way it worked is that I put a deposit slip with my account number in the bag with the pennies and they would run them through the counting machine then credit my account for the total amount. Easy enough. As soon as I handed the bag over to the bank, I promptly forgot about it.

My next month’s bank statement had a mystery deposit for seventeen dollars and some change on it.

I was like what the heck is this? I finally figured out (possibly by contacting the bank) that it was the pennies. I told Chip about the deposit. He said, “Hey! Half of that is mine!”

No go dude.

When my grandmother died and we cleaned out her apartment, we found so much change that I gave up on counting it all and instead separated it by denomination and weighed each pile and divided them into thirds and gave three approximately equal piles (roughly equal by denomination, which totalled a roughly equal cumulative pile) to my three nieces. I told them they could count it up themselves. My estimate was $83.07, and I feel like I was pretty close to the actual total, but I don’t remember what the final count was.

I’m not sure why my grandmother had so much change. She played penny poker with it, so some of it was for that, but there really was a lot.

When I was growing up, my grandmother would save her quarters and put them in a small blue glass candy dish that she kept in the coat closet near the front door. When she had accumulated ten dollars worth, she’d put the quarters in a roll, and when she had two rolls, she’d give one to me and one to my brother.

This is good thing to do with your change — save it as a special treat for your grandchildren.

Scattering your change across your floor and never bothering to pick it up is a not a good thing to do with it.

Nor is not taking it in the first place.

I was at the Green Market a few weeks ago buying a churro. The woman in front of me ordered $4.25 worth of treats and when the vendor tried to hand over her $0.75 change, she refused it. I can only imagine what my faced looked like. I almost stuck out my hand and said, “I’ll take it.” But I bit my tongue and let the vendor keep it.


So the point of this post is to provide a short public service announcement in case anyone out there is confused about the nature of coins given as change for dollar bills.

Change is in fact actual money that you can spend just like dollar bills. It is legal tender. You do not need to take coins to a machine at the supermarket and pay money to turn them into dollar bills. You can start spending them right now, every time you buy something. Carry a little coin purse with you and see if you can make exact change on every purchase.

If you have really a lot, separate out the quarters and start with those. Eventually you will get through it all.

And then try to remember: Coins go into your wallet.

5 Responses to “Into Your Wallet”

  1. anna Says:

    I can see saying “keep the change” as a form of tipping…but as I live on a pension, not often! Every penny counts. I have a Maneki Neko kitty-bank that we drop our small coins in (and believe me, I debate whether or not to drop in the 50c coins, and seldom do!). I empty the bank every autumn and usually find I’ve got about 25-30 Euros. Here, we get those plastic coin rolls from the bank and deposit them in our account. DH took them round to a different branch and was told, “If you don’t have an account at this branch we only accept coins on Tuesdays!” Of the same bank, mind!

    My mother was a packrat and saved Kennedy-head 50c pieces as a way of hiding away money. Unfortunately she hid it in odd containers and eventually some was lost.
    But leave it all over the furniture and on the floor? Never! I guess people who can do that don’t have any financial problems…yet….
    Makes me remember the old proverb: Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

  2. Mary in Maryland Says:

    We put quarters in the car for parking meters. My inheritance was a plastic change purse given to my dad when he reached the ten gallon mark for blood donation. I collect the smaller coins in it. When the purse gets heavy, I buy a couple ounces of wasabi peas in the bulk aisle on my way home from the bus stop.
    My husband is convinced he can take off his pants and hang them in the closet without dropping coins on the floor. Despite decades of contradictory evidence. Any money that falls on the floor is mine, all mine.

  3. lessisenough Says:


    My brother told a story about a guy he knew who didn’t trust banks. He had a huge record collection, and he slipped $100 bills into the record covers. That was where he kept his money. Like hiding it under the mattress.

    My brother said he was like, “Dude, does your wife know you do this?” He could imagine the guy dropping dead from a heart attack and his wife carting everything off to the Goodwill, along with their life savings.

  4. Ted Says:

    $17.00?! I was robbed. – Ted

  5. lessisenough Says:

    Come on now, let’s not have any revisionist history here. Who was it that decided he couldn’t be bothered to do something with the pennies before he moved? I think we all know the answer to that. The bag of 1700+ pennies was left behind. (Along with the leather chairs. Which are no longer in my house but now reside in design center lounge at The Scrap Exchange. If you’re ever in Durham, you should come visit them.)

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