Counting coins

I’ve been accumulating found change for about two years now, and a few weeks back I figured it was time to liquidate it.

I hate rolling coins, in large part because I don’t think it’s worth the effort most of the time but also because it’s boring. So, I did the math to help me justify dumping them in a change machine.

I googled how long it took to roll coins, and the most common answer seemed to be two minutes.

I feel like it’s closer to three, especially when you’re like me and you have to sort through a lot of foreign coins / “imposters” that get mixed in, but let’s go with two. So, if a roll takes two minutes that means you can complete thirty in one hour. From that, you can calculate how much you make per hour via rolling:

Pennies – 15$ an hour (30 x .50 – 50 pennies per roll)

Nickels – 60$ an hour (30 x 2 – 40 nickels per roll)

Dimes – 150$ an hour (30 x 5 – 50 dimes per roll)

Quarters – 300$ an hour (30 x 10 – 40 quarters per roll).

That sounds pretty great. You could get paid like a lawyer if only you had an unlimited number of quarters. However, I don’t, those hours are grueling and the coins are all mixed up. More importantly, there’s an option that requires very little effort at all – the change machine. It takes 11.9 cents per dollar, which seems a little hefty, but it’s justifiable when you see the figures below.

Pennies – 15$ an hour x 12% (rounded up) = 1.80$ extra earned per hour via rolling

Nickles – 60$ an hour x 12% = 7.20$ extra earned per hour via rolling

Dimes – 150$ an hour x 12% = 18$ extra earned per hour via rolling.

Quarters – 300$ an hour x 12% = 36$ extra earned per hour via rolling.

Based on these numbers rolling pennies & nickels earns you below minimum wage. Dimes aren’t too bad, and quarters are pretty good.

But even so, if instead of rolling quarters I spent that hour looking for trash, or listing things on eBay I might make more than 36$. I guess a part of it is figuring out how much an hour of my work is worth, which is hard to calculate because all the different tasks (both profitable and not) blend into each other, as does the work / life balance at times.

Anywho, all in all I had just over 18kg in coins. My strategy was to dump them into the tray of the Coinstar and try to take out the quarters, loonies, and toonies before they went into the machine. I wanted to keep the quarters, but not try too hard doing so.

The strategy was fairly successful. All in all I made about 142$ and paid about 20$ in fees. Rolling those pennies alone would have taken about three hours according to my calculations, so assuming it would have taken four overall I saved myself four hours of work at about 5$ an hour. Plus, the machine sorted out the foreign coins for me which is a service in itself.

Anyways, the coin collection is slowly growing again. I found a ziplock bag with maybe 100 pennies in it last week, and there’s always a few kicking around at the bottom of those junk drawers.


14 thoughts on “Counting coins”

  1. Scrooge McDuck would have loved counting all that money, tedious as it is! 😊 Very interesting calculation process. Glad it paid off.

  2. My credit union has a coin counting machine as a free service for members. Also, CoinStars in my area (New England) charge the same service fee, but you can opt for a gift certificate in the exact amount of your coin trade in.

    1. TD Bank had free change machines for a while a few years back, but they got rid of them after getting sued because the machines were 3% off or something. I made an account with them just to use the machines, and frankly I’d be fine with them taking 3% for that service. No other bank offered that service here unfortunately, and Coinstar doesn’t offer gift certificates.

  3. I just feed the self-checkout machines at the grocery store when I make a purchase. No fees.

    1. Not a bad idea but how long does it take to put 585 nickels in a machine? Another calculation to make, lol. But if you have a more reasonable amount of nickels that would be a good way to unload them. I don’t think they take pennies anymore though (even if they did, I think I’d rather roll pennies that put them in a slot one by one)

  4. I’ve always rolled coins as a kind of soothing activity while I watch television. Just like washing dishes, it is a mindless activity that allows the mind to take a short vacation or go off in flights of fancy while doing something useful.

  5. How much did you have in quarters, Loonies and Twonies? I would opt for the Coinstar also. Ours here has the gift certificate option, although not always for a place where I’d want a gift certificate.

    1. I didn’t count the rest yet. For now I’m just happy that I reduced 18kg of coins to about 1kg. If I were to guess though, maybe 60-75$.

  6. Do these machine do coins from Europe? I have baskets full of coins from when I travelled–including before the Euro. Not sure what to do with them–any suggestions?

    Thank you for a great blog.

  7. Martin, I am hoping to buy your Euro coins when you have enough. Please let me know!! I’ll buy the British pound coins too. Maybe some day, travel will be possible … LOL.

  8. My fiance once saved all the change in his pocket for 3 years and came up with a little over $2300. He said that whenever he could during that time he would break dollars to get the change.

    1. Damn, that’s a lot. Good way to set aside some savings, though I guess if everyone did it you’d see coin shortages like they have in the US these days.

Comments are closed.