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5 Things to do with Small Change

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by Lisa Nolte (subscribe)
Fifteen years ago I traded a corporate career for life on the river. Close enough to Melbourne to get a quick City fix, plus a great community with excellent coffee and four healthy active boys to keep me entertained, I've never regretted the change.
Published April 6th 2014
Make the most of your money
coin in jar
Coin, it just seems to come from nowhere
With the rise of online bookings, credit card purchases, extortionate QR coded parking meters, MYKI and automated ticketing, there's no longer much call for that handy pocket full of change.

Coin, however still seems to accumulate unbidden. So, what to do now with that jingling pocket full of silver and gold?

Here are a few ideas to keep the economy moving. But don't spend it all at once!

Give it away
Giving coin to someone who values it much more highly than you can give you a warm fuzzy feeling. So next time you are at the cafe, feed the tips jar, slip a few coins in to the tin at the hardware shop counter and in the City, help keep a busker off the streets.

The Royal Childrens' Hospital Appeal team are the specialists in converting spare change into medical equipment. This year, instead of hiding in the laundry and pretending you're not home when the fire engine pulls into your street on Good Friday, be prepared. Clean out your pockets and bags the night before. It's incredible how much you will find.

Toss some of the silver into a small body of water and make a wish. This also has the surprise benefit of causing others to empty their pockets too. Find a fancy puddle in a busy area and start a movement. Someone will appreciate it.

tooth fairy shot glass
Keep the glass small, that way there's no risk of overpaying the Tooth Fairy


Very occasionally you may need to make a donation via the tooth fairy (depending on where you live this could be anywhere between 50c - my house, and $50 - the Kardashians) You will probably fall somewhere in the middle and, if wise, you'll explain that the TF only ever deals in coin, and can only reach in to a very small glass.

Buy a social conscience
This is like giving it away, but with tangible benefits. For a handful of coin you can grab a $6 copy of the Big Issue at any Metro street corner. The vendor retains $3 and you get something to read at the station on the way home.

Use your stash to support your local teens lawnmowing, weeding or cottage industries, craft co-ops, the chicken lady down the street. You'll be doing someone a favour and offloading your largely useless coin.

Support local fetes and fundraisers by the local Kindergarten, Brownies, Sports Club or other NFP. Someone has spent a small fortune baking, preserving and creating so that you can pick up the fruits of their labour for rock-bottom prices.

Let that guy with the filthy rags at that dangerous intersection clean your windscreen, its only coin, but don't be too mean about it, remember which road is paved with good intentions.

Spend it on rubbish
Get over the attitude that those gaudy mall bandits are evil. Embrace the consumer ethos. The kids love them, so why not indulge - slip a few coins into the Wiggle's Big Red Car, or the ABC Merry-go-Round and enjoy the ride.

Same goes for those games of skill outside the supermarket or cinema. Once you set your mind to understanding that it isn't real money anyway, you may as well play skill tester and the chocolate machines. Who knows, you may go home with a giant Smurf or a bag full of cheap candy.

Make a date and go to the $2 shop or the aptly named Spare Change Warehouse - be frivolous - and don't hold back, except perhaps from the scented diffuser sticks. Please.

Try to breed it
race tickets form
Have a flutter on race-day


Go to the Casino or buy a scratch lotto ticket. These methods have the potential to make your coins multiply, but of course are never a guarantee. Proceed with caution. Know when to walk away, and when to run.

Everybody knows the best time to breed is Spring, so spend a day at the races and really make a bookies day by having a flutter 50c each way in every race. After all, his bag is bigger than yours and can handle the weight of all that coin.

Save up for a rainy day
Its amazing how much money can fit in a jar - especially when the coins are gold. Every little bit you add is a bit you didn't have yesterday.

money jar coins
Help coins accumulate by keeping them where you can see them


Keep the jar where you can see it and add to it daily to keep the momentum going. Set a time target, a use-by date and stick to it if you can.

Use the contents to teach the kids about cash and life. Let them play monopoly and poker with real money, but make sure they give it all back at the end of the game.

Ask your bank for some snap lock plastic bags with denominations printed on the outside and use them. Do the tellers a favour and count and bag it all before you cash it in.

Reward your patience by doing something really nice with your nest egg. Take a weekend break, see a few movies, buy yourself a lavish gift - something you wouldn't normally do, but will give you pleasure. After all, you earned it.
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Why? Because every little bit counts
When: Whenever it jingles
Where: At home or work
Cost: just small change
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