I was given $90 in change and a Flip video camera so I could make a video of how easy it is to use Coinstar. The kids and I talked about donating the $90 to Unicef (which you can do through the Coinstar Center), but in the end, we opted to donate it to the Church World Service Crop Walk that I'm participating in this weekend.
When you use Coinstar, you can either -
A. get cash back for your coins. Coinstar charges a fee of 8.9 cents for every dollar counted. Yes, the bank will do it for free, but sometimes it's hard to get to a bank while they're open and Coinstar is convenient.
B. cash in for FREE when you choose a gift certificate from a participating vendor.
C. donate it to your favorite charity. Coinstar works with several non-profit organizations including the US Fund for Unicef.
When we went to cash in at our local grocery store, I spilled the cup of change right as we were walking through the door. Probably $20 in change went rolling over the floor. And there we were (me, Savannah, and Brooklyn) trying to pick it up as people attempted to get by and walk through the door. A couple nice people, Felisa and Kevin, stopped to help us out. Only a dork like me could've managed this. Right in the doorway! Ugh.
Anyway, we headed to the Coinstar Center and started to cash in. Because we didn't want to pay the coin counting fee and the charity we wanted to donate to wasn't an option, we cashed in and got a JCPenney gift certificate. With 6 kids to clothe, I can always use that! Then I came home and took value of the gift certificate and donated it to Crop Walk. Does that make sense? I suppose it would've been simpler to just pay the $8.00 or so fee to count the almost $90 in change, but I wanted Crop Walk to get every penny.
According to Coinstar, the average US household has about $90 of change in it. So, here's our video with 10 tips on where to find hidden change in your house. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments! Search your houses for change, turn it in and use it to buy Halloween costumes for the kids, candy for trick-or-treaters, Halloween party supplies, or donate it to Unicef or another charity of your choice. If you run out and do this, leave me a comment with how much change you were able to dig up. I'm really curious to know how much is lurking in the average home.
Oh and I didn't end up using the Flip camera at all. In fact, I'll give it away to a random winner on Friday. Good luck!