The real value of a coin

Recently I popped into a supermarket to pick up a couple of small but necessary things. The total of my items came to $8.70. As I went to hand over the 10 dollar note from my wallet, I became aware of the weight in my purse from all the coins I had accumulated over the week. ‘Hang on a minute’ I said to the girl at the checkout. And I counted out the correct money for my purchases. 

Glancing up, I noticed the expression on the girls’ face. It was not a pretty sight. She was obviously not impressed with having to handle the coins and then count them into the till. I can understand that a little because apart from my purse, where else had they been?

I was a little puzzled by her reaction, and as I walked away I began to think about (in general) our attitudes towards coins and how little importance we place on the humble coin. 

For many of us it’s the first form of money that we identify with. As a child I remember going to church and my parents giving me a coin to put onto the collection plate as it was passed around.

It’s interesting to note that the tooth fairy usually brings coins. Even though inflation seems to have caught up with the practice, I’m sure there are not too many notes put into glasses of water as a replacement for a lost tooth. And I’ve not heard of any incidences where money was transferred via internet banking for tooth fairies, into the recipients’ account.

For children, coins are an important part of the first lessons about saving money. The banks used to give away money-boxes in order to promote savings. They don’t seem to do that nowadays which makes me wonder if perhaps they don’t place much emphasis on the humble coin either.

Actually, the last time I went into my bank with a years’ worth of coin savings, they wanted to charge me a ‘cash handling’ fee to count them, regardless of the fact that I had already counted and bagged the coins into bank-bags.

I can understand how coins could seem to be a nuisance at times. They’re not good in our pockets – weighing them down and tearing at the corners of the fabric. Have too many in a purse and it feels like a brick in your hand or bag.

So I wonder what most of us do with these coins. Do we keep them in a jar or a fancy money box? Or do we chuck them into the bottom of a drawer. I often find them lurking in the bottom of the washing machine and on the floor of my car.

Gathering them together is a great way to save because even though they tend to be treated as nuisance value – coins are still money and classed as legal tender. You can still pay for something by using coins. 

I know one couple who, every year, pay for a weekend getaway with 50 cent pieces. It takes a year to collect them and I know the hoteliers groan when they see them coming. However, they’ve never knocked back the money!

While it might be a pain in the butt for the store keeper who has to count them, the humble coin should certainly never be dismissed as an inconvenience. And, by the same token, we should never discount their value either.

It wasn’t that long ago that some of these coins lived in our wallets as paper notes.

 

 

 

 

Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

(The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions, you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

 

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