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The Power Of The Coin

“A Penny Saved, Is A Penny Earned.” -Ben Franklin

How often have you been walking into a grocery store and seen a penny on the ground…and left it there? But if that penny would have had the luck to have been a quarter, you would have stopped right then and there and picked it up and screw anyone who saw you. Don’t be ashamed, we’ve all done it.

Is It A Psychological Thing?

Is it the color of the penny that makes us continue walking? Or perhaps the actual value we place on the penny?  In everyday society, most people feel as if the penny is a worthless piece of metal. Did you know that for every quarter you actually find and pick up, you already passed 25 pennies and left them on the ground? (Not an actual stat but I would be a pretty penny that I’m right…and yes, pun intended) And with the way finding random quarters goes, you are more likely to find a $1 bill floating on the wind before you find 4 random quarters on the ground.

Pay Yourself First

One of the most common money saving techniques are the “Pay Yourself First” methods. These can consist of plans such as letting your bank round up your transaction to the next dollar and putting the extra cents into a savings account OR you showing extreme financial discipline and “paying double” for items. An example of the first is Bank of America’s ‘Keep the Change’ program (which I see as a scam to get you to open their terrible savings accounts.) An example of the second method is something along the lines of you paying $5 for lunch, and then putting $5 into your savings. Obviously this does not work with ALL of your expenses but it can be a very good way to make a nice addition to your savings if the proper items are chosen. Try it for a month with anything under $25.  This has the ability to kill impulse buy purchases since you won’t actually be paying $4 for that non-special something and you’ll be paying $8.

Back to the subject though.  Most likely, you are just another standard human when it comes to coins and you either let them accumulate in a jar, a purse, or your couch and then forget about them. Obviously you forgot that coins are still legal tender of the federal reserve. In layman’s terms, it’s still money! Putting back or finding $.25 per day is $7.50 after a month. Yeah that’s not too much, but it’s almost $100 after a year. I pay with cash for goods and services on a daily basis so I always have a decent amount of coins. I average $18 a month actually. That’s not counting the spare change after I partake in a hobby of mine, what might that hobby be you ask? Well, that hobby just so happens to be coin rolling. So, how does an extra $180-240 a year sound?  Sounds like a few free trips to the beach for me!

The Thiefstar machine!

The Thiefstar machine!

What Not To Do With Your Coins

Whenever I see a person dumping possibly hundreds of dollars into a Coinstar machine or something similar, I start to twitch and make weird little noises. Yes, it’s easy. Yes, it’s convenient. NO, IT’S NOT FREE! Coinstar charges you 9.8 cents(USD) and 11.9 cents(CA$) for every dollar you put down its metal mouth. You’re losing almost $10 for every $100 you put in just to let a machine count your money, that’s absolutely ridiculous! $10 for something you are fully capable of doing once a month on a Tuesday night watching TV.

What You Should Do With Your Coins

If you decide to listen to me and follow all of the above information, pick a date and set aside some time on that day every month and count your coins. If you count it all and you want to roll it over to next month because it doesn’t complete a roll then fine, dump it back into your container and recount next month. But even if it isn’t ‘enough’ for you, it would be better to go ahead and roll the coins that can fill a roll. I mean, you already counted it so you might as well roll it. You might think rolling coins is boring or a waste of time, but try taking a jar of coins that’s over $100 to your bank and watch them laugh you out the door. Go spend $4 on a pack of coin wrappers and do them that small favor and save yourself from the humiliation. If you don’t know where you should put this new form of income, you can either put it in your checking account and use it to pay some bills, or better yet, pay some credit card debt off! If you happen to be lucky enough to not have any credit card debt (or just don’t have a credit card) then read this article about High Yield Savings Accounts (coming soon!) and make it work for you as passive income.

How I Got Started 

My dad is an HVAC guy and has been all his life.  Through this profession, he became extremely adept at shaping sheet metal and made me piggy banks that were impossible to open without his metal snips.  When I was but a wee lad, I was obsessed with saving money simply because we never had any and went without multiple every day items.  He also knew I would do anything to count my coins that he gave me multiple times a day if he didn’t lock them all up away from me.  When the time had finally come, we would cut open the box and spill all the contents out onto the dining room table.  We would take all the $1 bills and set them off to the side and then we would each grab a magnifying glass and our old and new coin books and begin to siphon through the ENTIRE pile look at dates and mint marks ready to fill all those coin books.  Anything that wasn’t coin book worthy would be set off to the side to be rolled after we had gone through everything.  I remember the biggest haul we had took us an entire month of nights and weekends to finish up and although I can’t tell you how many coins went into books, I can remember the final number we had in rolled coins and cash: $160.  I thought I was the richest kid in the world.  This would literally span weeks to go through and I rank this time spent with my dad right up at the top along with him being my soccer coach and our hunting trips.  If you want to start your kids out with money the right way and get them interested, I suggest you do something along these lines or even this.

Hopefully this has opened your eyes to the power of the coin and takes your laziness away. Coins are still money and have every bit of power to be the dark horse of your income and the catalyst to your financial dreams.  It won’t make you a millionaire, but it will surely help you along your road.

How Do You Create a Zero-Sum Budget…?

Yeah, I get it.  EVERYONE is scared of the word budget.  So much so that families change the name to “Financial Plan” or “Household Costs” or whatever.  It’s still a budget people, don’t be stupid.  There’s no need to get all stressed out about this.  A zero-sum budget has got to be the easiest way to do this.  Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

First off, I’ll assume that you don’t even know what I’m talking about, so let me give you a quick breakdown.

The Rundown

A zero-sum budget is when you make a list with your monthly income at the top of the column, and then you write every monthly expense you can think of under that.  If you have any left over at the bottom, you can either budget it for spending money or budget it to go into a savings account.  Regardless, your bottom number should come out to $0.  If you come out negative, this automatically tells you that you need to either

A. Cut back on some of your expenses.  And now that you have what all you spend per month laid out right in front of you, you can proceed with knowledge and cut away at that negative until it gets to $0.

B. Change your income.  Get a second job delivering pizzas at night if you have to or go stock shelves at a grocery store or something.  Anything helps at this point and you can’t get out of debt if you keep spending more than you’re making every month!

Here is a mock draft of a zero sum budget. (Your’s should look something like this, just change the dollar amount)

Monthly Income
$2,000

Monthly Expenses 
Rent-$500
Utilities-$100
Water-$40
Internet-$40
Cell Phone-$90
Car Note-$300
Auto Insurance-$90
Gas-$100
Groceries/Dining-$350
Savings Deposit-$100
Entertainment-$100
Emergency Fund-$100
Credit Card Debt-$100

If you add up all those expenses, it equals the $2,000 that you originally made.  This won’t be perfect from the start and you will need to tweak it every month but after 6 months of focus, you should know about where things should be.  If you consistently budget $100 for gas and you find you’re only spending $80, take that $20 and add it to something else.  You could even split it up and add an extra $10 to your credit card debt and $10 to the emergency fund if you want, but don’t just let it sit there burning a hole through your pocket.

I Got A New Car…FOR FREE!!!

Yeah not even kidding.  This is awesome.  But part of it is sad, but mostly awesome.  It was stressful and emotional and I don’t want to have to buy a new car for the next decade now.  I learned a few tricks and will definitely share them with you but first, let me shout out a tribute to my old love, the Xterra.

Old Yeller

This car was given to me a few years ago as a present from my mom.  She did something that I see as really idiotic but God love her, she’s still my mother so I let her do what she wants (not like I could tell her otherwise.)  She paid off this sweet muddin’ machine and immediately went out and

My beautiful old girl

My beautiful old girl

bought a brand new car.  I’ve had it ever since, taking it off road, getting to kayak sites and burning through my wallet.  At 14mpg, this puppy was a golden gas guzzler.  This car definitely had sentimental value as it took me and a U-Haul trailer all the way across Tennessee, through the Appalachian Mountains and almost to the Atlantic Ocean so I could go be with the love of my life.  I had a lot of good times in this car and it was hard to let it go, but I had to have the future in mind.  The thing about us personal finance bloggers is, we all have the same mind set of looking at things in a long term perspective.  I don’t see the gas prices in this country dropping anytime soon, so I had to drop the 14mpg fun wagon and get something way more fuel efficient.

Ride The Lightning!

Boom! Brand spankin new 2012 Honda Civic 2 door coupe.  41mpg on the highway and I’m averaging 28mpg on my 5 minute drive to work. THIS CAR IS AWESOME!!!  When I was shopping I wasn’t concerned with sales gimmicks like a sunroof or bluetooth and such but now that I have them, I have no clue how I drove any car before this.  It has an Eco button that makes my lead foot become non existent and it looks damn good.  I can’t not rave about this car.  From the search to the surprise that was thrown my way to the negotiating to the actual deal.  I just can’t believe how lucky I actually got.  I’m not going to lie, I had A LOT of help.

The Hand Is Dealt

So after minor things slowly chipping away at my emergency fund with Old Yeller, I get a call from my dad telling me that he wants to help me buy a car.  At this point, I’m speechless because my parents have never been in the position to do something like this for me and I have paid for everything myself since I became a legal adult.  So he says to me “I’m willing to put $1,500 down and I’ll send you $200 a month for a note but I want it in your name only and I want you to get something that has really good mpg.”  I was like..OKAY!!  So the woman and I start shopping and we’re absolutely clueless on what the salesmen are saying and throwing at us.  But lucky for me, I can smell bullshit.  So I use one of the aces up my sleeve and get the woman’s dad in on things.  He works for SAS and negotiates multi-million dollar deals as a senior sales executive so he knows some things.

The Flop

We end up getting Kia and Honda duking it out for my money and seeing who will work the better deal and Kia had a damn good deal on the table for a decked out Used 2011 Sorento with only 30k+ miles on it.  And when I say decked out, this thing was blinging on the inside with black wood for the interior and every bell and whistle you could want.  But was it for me?  I couldn’t stop thinking about the 2013 Civic that was HOT and even though the deal was amazing  I just kept thinking about the Civic.  But then I had some advice from the old man and asked Honda something…

The Turn

The Hotness

The Hotness

The 2013 Civic just wasn’t going to work out price wise even though it was perfect.  I took this thing for a test drive and everything from the eco button to the giddy up it had when I put the pedal down to the sexy blue color was absolutely magnificent.  But then I asked the golden question: “Do you have any new 2012’s left on the lot that are the same trim level and possibly a darker color?”  And lo and behold my new baby was found.  The woman’s dad worked them down to a $216 a month note which meant I would be getting a brand new car for $16 a month and we were going to get it for 0.9% interest for 60 months which is ridiculous.  My salesman, whom I was slowly wearing down since we were on day 2 of hard negotiation sets me up with a test drive and all is right in the world.  I go home drooling about this car and not able to sleep while bugging the woman about it all night.  The next day I go to the dealership alone, ready to be Mr. Suave and in charge.  The morning starts off great because I get my trade in value up from $3,500 to $4,250 and hot damn it felt good to be a hard ball negotiator.  We start the paperwork and my credit isn’t anywhere near established enough to get the 0.9% so my salesman says he can mail all the paperwork to my dad in Arkansas and everything will be fine but I needed to go ahead and fill out the co-applicant information.  That’s where the red flag went up for me.  I was sure my dad knew about this and that it had to happen but I remembered him saying he wanted it in my name only so I call him and let me tell ya, he ain’t happy.  He bumps the down payment to $3,000 to see if that’ll help and it doesn’t but there’s nothing left on the table money-wise so we have to eat it and get his name on the title.  We start to go through with it.  Not 5 minutes later I get a phone call from him that rocked my world…

The River

“Offer him $14,000 and your trade in, out the door.”  I lost all of my composure that I had retained for hours that day.  Sweat started to form on my forehead as I tried to comprehend what he was telling me.  I just gave the phone to the salesman and said, he has something to tell you.  The salesman is telling my dad there isn’t anymore room to negotiate and blah blah blah and then he takes my cell phone and goes into his manager’s office.  At this point in time, the dealership is closed so I’m walking around pacing and I became the equivalent to a fart in a windstorm. because I have no idea what they’re saying to each other.  I can’t even hear the salesman talk because he went to his manager’s office and I don’t have my phone to text anyone and find out WTF is going on…

The Royal Flush

My salesman comes back out, no one on the phone and says “Ok here’s what happened.  He wants to pay $14,000 plus your trade in for out the door blah blah blah and we just can’t do that, there’s still $1,600 left that someone would have to eat. So he offered $15,000 and it’s in my manager’s hands right now.”  He gives me back the phone and we wait for the computer to confirm or deny.  While were waiting, my salesman gets a call from his manager saying he has to call the regional manager to see if this can be approved because it’s beyond him.  What he really meant is, “We’re going to lose money on this deal so I have to get his permission to take the loss because I don’t want to get my ass chewed out.”  BOOM! The deal comes through $15,000 + my trade in =tags/title/doc fee/taxes and everything OUT THE MAH F’N DOOR! My salesman shakes my hand and says congratulations and that he has never seen a deal like this happen because they took a $200 loss on the car (He showed me the original factory invoice and everything!)

I love this car, I loved the rush of getting it and the roller coaster ride it took me on.  Everything worked out and I’m driving it like I stole it every day that I can.  It was snowing the day I picked it up so excuse the dreariness of the picture but after this long read, if you stuck with me, here is my free car 🙂

Ride the lightning!

Ride the lightning!

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