the change jar

We toss all our spare change into a flower vase. It’s mostly for getting it out of the way, but I enjoy seeing how it adds up, and when I need money for school lunches it’s right there.

We’ve done this for four years now. The first year, when it filled, Kiddo#1 and I rolled all the change as a rainy-day project and ended up with $136.  The second time we rolled change, the vase wasn’t quite full, but he wanted to do it anyhow. That time we rolled about $80.

In the last two years, the vase has stopped filling. I’m not dipping into it any more often than I used to. It’s stayed at a third of the way full, for two years, and the level isn’t rising.

I’m baffled as to a cause. It may be that my daughter is getting fifty cents a week for ice cream, although that doesn’t make a lot of cents (er, sense.)  It might be that I’m not spending as much cash as I used to, since every place I might want to buy things is ten miles away and I don’t do little shopping trips any longer (hence, it’s all on the credit card.)

(But by the same “token,” I no longer need six quarters for tolls if I drive to the next-nearest city. So I should have more quarters.)

It might be that for the last 12 months, my Patient Husband is bringing lunch from home more often nowadays, since his commute is shorter and he consistently has time the night before to prepare lunches, hence less change from the cafeteria.

But in my flights of fancy, I have an explanation I like better. It appeals to the novelist and the philangelus in me, and I get warm fuzzies. I’m hoping my guardian angel is taking them.

About two years ago, I was half-asleep and joking around, and I thought, “So hey, if you want to take a quarter from the change jar, you can go light a candle in a church somewhere.”

You guys know how logical I am on a regular basis, so imagine me at two o’clock in the morning. (My poor guardian.) I think I followed it up with, Maybe that quarter would do more good for a homeless guy. I continued that with, American money is probably worth more in other countries, so you could take it around the world. And I know I ended up with “You know I’d give it if you asked, so you don’t have to ask. If you or any of the household angels or your friends need money, just go take it out of the change jar.”

It’s a neat idea, angels raiding the change jar and buying a homeless guy a cup of coffee (and maybe sticking around to talk to him), or angels showing up at a church in need of repair and dropping money into the donation box and then lingering for  awhile to pray for my family in an uncluttered environment.

Ideally we should function as a team, right? They have the reach and the knowledge, and I have the spare change. (Cue demented version of a Pet Shop Boys song here.)

The reality is probably more prosaic, as above. But in my heart, I like the idea of angels showing up and saying, “My charge needs a book of stamps. Can you spot me a dollar?”


  1. cricketB

    I envy you. I’m so obsessed with tracking where the money goes, that wouldn’t work here. Ever since we forgot the car insurance in our forecast and almost got too big a mortgage, I like to know where it goes. That way, I can plug leaks and know for certain if we can afford something. Did I just use the word “obsession”? Once again, you made me look at myself.

    1. philangelus

      It’s the stuff that ends up at the bottom of my purse or roaming around my wallet or in my husband’s pockets. If I find it in the washing machine, into the jar it goes. Etc. It’s not that much a little at a time, but when it’s stockpiled, it goes a long way.

      Or, it DID go a long way. 🙂 It may still be going a long way. I’m just not sure where it’s going or why it’s stopped coming. 🙂

  2. Selena Thomason

    Great post! Now I want to start my own change jar.

    1. philangelus

      If you have 50 flower vases lying around, I highly recommend them. 🙂 Maybe your guardian can come pick up a handful of change from here to get you started. 😉

  3. Diana

    I LOVE this idea! And I love the way your mind works! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  4. Ken Rolph

    Back in the seventies I was working in a Christian centre. Some of our staff went to Switzerland for a global conference. They were sharing a dormitory with some African people and discovered that the Africans were walking to far flung conference sites because they had no money.

    So they put a fruit bowl in the common area and tossed in their spare change. The deal was that people would put in any spare change and take out any they needed for small items, like bus fares. One of our staff later told me that the Africans probably took out more than they put in, but nobody noticed or really cared.

    Jan and I keep small change in a wooden box. The amount comes and goes more frequently now that we are just two in the house. I usually go to the DVD rental store with the correct change. Later today I’m going to walk over to the shops to get some tomatoes. Not the kind of transaction you really want to put on a credit card.

    I sometimes think that modern shopping is a conspiracy to load us all up with spare 5c pieces (our smallest coin). I have a small iron dog that is stuffed to the gills with 5c pieces. I don’t want to open it because I would have to count it, and besides, banks don’t want to see you bringing in currency anymore.