When I was a kid, I collected coins. I’d stuff a handful in my pocket and jangle my way down to the store to buy candy, or I’d get bank wrappers in assorted colors and carefully count out the 40 quarters or the 50 dimes required to fill a roll, which I’d save for larger purchases.
The thrill never wore off for me—until recently. A container in my office held the collection of the past few years, which would be used toward an upcoming vacation. I took the sealed jar into my bank, assuming the teller would toss my hard-earned change into a high-tech coin counter, then sweeten my bank account with this windfall. Instead, I got the bad news:
“Mr. Wolfsie, we can count this for you, but we’ll have to subtract 7 percent for administrative costs and wear and tear on our counting machine.”
“You’re going to charge customers to put money into your bank? Are people that dumb?”
“Apparently. That’s why it’s called chump change.”
I just dumped the money on my carpet and counted a total of $432.50. Now, I knew exactly how much change I had, but I was in the identical predicament I was in before I added it up. I knew what I had. But the bank wasn’t going to trust me.
One option was using the Coinstar machine at the supermarket. They charge 9 percent, but you can get all your money back if you take it in the form of a gift certificate to a restaurant. Nope: I was looking forward to using that cash for a romantic meal and a fine bottle of wine in Italy, not 25 fried catfish specials at MCL.
I wondered if I could sell the money on Craigslist or eBay. But how would I word the ad?
$432.50 for sale. $410.00 or best offer.*
*In fair condition; some scratches and smudges. Hand-counted. Cash only.
I tried to convince my bank manager to count it for free. No luck. And to make matters worse, I got a parking ticket. The meter had expired.