Coffee heat rising

A Quarter Saved, a Quarter Earned…

This morning my friend La Maya and I joined a Starbuck’s drive-through line. Wanting to empty my purse of heavy change, I handed her $2.25 in quarters to cover the cost of a café Americano.

She put the change aside and paid for both coffees with long green.


Because, she explained, she stashes every quarter that comes her way to defray the annual state automobile registration fee.

Car registration in Arizona is exorbitant—ours is among the highest in the country. Last year, La Maya said, she paid over $140 to register her Toyota. Though she’s not one of those folks who resent paying taxes, she does regard the auto registration fee as a gouge. Which, of course, is just what it is. It’s particularly galling to see that the state has built a huge, expensive bureaucracy for the purpose of collecting this particular rip, especially when our hatchet-faced governor watches a man die unnecessarily for lack of adequate Medicaid coverage and remarks “we can’t afford it.”

La Maya says it makes her feel slightly less annoyed to pay it when she has a chunk of the bill set aside in her small change collection. Last year her quarter stash covered more than half the bill.

Good idea, isn’t it? When I have loose change (not often, because I mostly pay with plastic), I also toss it into a jar. But it’s not dedicated to anything, other than collecting dust and taking up space. This way, once a year you clear the clutter away, and you use it for a specific purpose.

Throwing money in the trash

Nope. That is not a metaphor.

Yesterday I was at a certain dear person’s home, where I spotted a shiny new penny on the floor. When I picked it up and handed it to him, he carried it over to the kitchen trash can and threw it out.


I’ve heard that some people think pennies are so worthless they’re litter, but never watched anyone actually do that. When I remarked on this, he said the copper in the coin is worth more than the coin itself. I suggested he drop them in a can and take them to the bank now and again to be converted into paper money.

“Do you do that?” he asked.

“Sure. One time I took my change to the bank and got ten bucks back.”

“How long did it take to accumulate that much?”

Ahem! “Well, quite a while.”

Point made, in his book.

But well, no. I don’t think so. In what way is letting a container of loose change collect dust eliciting any effort? It just sits there, not asking you to do any work while it quietly accumulates cash. In a way, it’s (chortle!) passive income!

I have two containers. One holds pennies and dimes and one holds nickels, quarters, and the occasional piece of paper money that comes my way. Because I no longer carry cash (I use a credit card to make all transactions electronic), I no longer accumulate much loose change. But back in the day when I did use analog money, I would keep the amount of change I had to haul around to a minimum by depositing all but a few pieces in the change collection a couple times a week. Then every few months, while I was sitting in front of the television in the evening I would organize them into those paper rolls you get for free at the bank or credit union. At my convenience, I would carry them to the bank to convert to paper money or simply deposit them in savings.
A penny saved is a penny earned!