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Saturday, August 22, 2009

10, 20, 30, 40--Counting Spare Change

Do you have a jar or two of spare change sitting on your counter? Have you thought to yourself, "Gee, I should really count that, I bet it would add up," but haven't because you just don't have the time? Have you thought about dumping your jar in one of those Coinstar change counters but hesitate because you don't want to pay a percentage? If so, then I have the answer to your change counting woes--your kids.

Last week, my husband came up with this great idea. He was tired of hearing the kids whine, "I'm bored, there is nothing to do" and our coin jar was about to runneth over. So he put 2 + 2 together and got 4--4 nimble workers with small fingers that could easily stuff a coin roll. So on a Saturday afternoon, he stopped at the bank, picked up paper coin rolls and told the kids to get to work.

Well, it actually wasn't that easy. They needed an incentive. Something that would entice them to sit for an hour or more (without the distraction of the television, they needed to pay attention) and sort through the Lincolns, Washingtons, Jeffersons, Kennedys and Roosevelts (yes, I had to look). What was the motivator, you ask? As you might suspect, we had to pay them off and how we did was by letting them buy a "family gift" with the proceeds.

They were so excited by this prospect. I was amazed and wished that I had thought of this earlier. Counting all the coins, rolling them up and then adding up the stacks ended up being a great educational experience as well. Maybe I could say they kept up on their math skills this summer after all.

When the arduous task was complete, we all went to the bank (to get the full experience) and dropped our loot in front of the teller. And guess how much there was? $178.50. The teller (who happened to be a friend from school) asked my son if he would like a $100 bill and he quickly said "yes." He proudly took it from her and let each of his siblings hold it for a moment. Savoring its crispness, its scent, the number of zeros. I then placed it in my wallet (for safe keeping) and off we went to Target.

I didn't let the kids spend the entire amount--I'm not that generous or crazy. But we did buy the new Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Wii game and decided to earmark the rest for our next family dinner out. Who knew that having the kids count all that spare change would make so much cents?

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