No Such Thing As Small Change

Years' worth of small change can really add up!
Years’ worth of small change can really add up!

I hate carrying change around in my wallet. My purse is heavy enough without my having to lug coins everywhere with me. So, for years, I’ve removed the change from my wallet and deposited it into glass containers we’ve kept in our bedroom. Every bit of change that hubby left lying around or that I found in the washer or dryer was collected and dropped into the jars as well. We’ve made a game out of it. After paying for the church we rented for our wedding with over $150 in spare change that we had saved, we understand that saving those seemingly worthless coins actually pays off. So, for several years now we’ve been telling ourselves that we will take it to the bank to exchange for cash when we have something memorable to spend it on, something we know we want to do but might not be able to afford to do otherwise.

Well, with our sights set on kayaking the Wailua River in Kauai with the boys in a couple months, we hauled all our change to Wells Fargo yesterday to cash it in. When we came in carrying our heavy jars, I expected the tellers to close their windows. I worked at a credit union when I was far younger than I am now, and I remember how much I dreaded the customers who took me away from my window to feed the change converter. But, they were very accommodating and, in just 10 minutes, they had our grand total. Steve’s estimate was $392. Mine was $429. We were both wrong. After socking away spare change for a few years, we’d saved a grand total of $468.20. Sometimes it pays to be patient. We will now be able to afford our river paddle excursion and a two-hour whale watching expedition. And, we will feel great knowing that our little effort yielded a big, memorable result.

Worth the wait
Worth the wait

I’ve been thinking about how often I am unwilling to acknowledge that it’s the little things that add up to create the big things. I, like most people, forget the value of patience and perseverance because I want it now. But, the best things in life aren’t the ones that come quickly. They’re the ones that we work on day-by-day, and they don’t seem like much as we’re doing it. Consider Michelangelo’s statue of David. At one point, that 17-foot tall statue was nothing but a large block of untouched marble. Only with steady patience and dedicated effort over a period of three years was Michelangelo able to create the glorious sculpture people still marvel at over 500 years later. It takes vision to acknowledge that effort rendered in seemingly miniscule amounts will inevitably enumerate over time, and only when we’re willing to settle in and commit ourselves with patience will we realize real accomplishment and self-satisfaction. You can’t cash in your change jar after just one day, one week, or one month’s worth of efforts. You have to hang in there because some day it will add up and you will understand that some change is definitely worth working for.


  1. Wow! That’s a lot of change. Your trip sounds glorious! We do the same thing here. I have a jar on my dresser and hubby has a huge ashtray on top of his dresser that all his spare change goes into. Now that both our boys are in college, they are always needing quarters for the washing machines and dryers at school and also the vending machines. They go through a lot of quarters! Every now and then, we sit down and we wrap quarters. With one quater roll being $10, we usually have several rolls to give each kid. That’s a lot of quarters!

  2. I have three coin banks: one at my office (for change from lunch), one on my bedroom dresser (for emptying the pockets at night), and one in my bike storage are (coins from the convenience stores after bike rides). I empty all three coin banks just before January 1 so I can start the new year with empty jars — somehow my coins come out to about $250 a year.

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  4. My husband and I just cashed in a year’s worth of change at a CoinStar machine for a pretty hefty gift card — those spare coins certainly don’t look so worthless now!

  5. I have a huge glass jug I put my spare change in. If I fill it up I can usually get $80-$100. I also never let a coin, penny or otherwise, laying on the ground. If I see one as I walk by I will stop to pick it up. And then into the jar it goes.

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