I think just about every house has one. I know we have two: the household coin jar. The small dish that sits on the kitchen counter or on top of the dresser waiting patiently to collect the spare change left over in pockets at the end of the day. Little by little it adds up, until one day, it is ready to be emptied.

In our home there is great excitement that buzzes around the family coin jar, as we all make our estimates as to how much money it holds. Luckily, gone are the old days of having to count and wrap coins in paper tubes by hand in order to cash them in at the bank. Like you might know, with cashing stations such as Cointstar available in most grocery stores and retail stores, cashing in your change is a simple way to make the most out of your money. What you may not know, though, is how beneficial these little machines just might be!

So now you might be saying, “But doesn’t Coinstar charge me to cash in my coins?”  The answer to this is yes. In most areas, a fee of 9.8 percent is charged. However, what you may not know is Coinstar coin counting is free when you exchange your coins for a branded gift card or eCertificate!

Coinstar now offers gift cards to numerous retailers for simply the cost of the value of the card. For example, if you cash in $15.34 worth of pennies, you can get a gift card to the retailer of your choice for $15.34. Retailers include some fantastic choices like CVS, Amazon, Starbucks, JC Penney, GAP, Lowe’s, iTunes, Overstock, and many more!

We regularly take advantage of some of Amazon.com’s Subscribe and Save grocery deals, so cashing in our spare change for Amazon gift cards helps stretch our grocery budget! With the holidays quickly approaching, our spare change will help us purchase gift cards that are perfect stocking stuffers for family and friends.

In addition, if you visit Coinstar online you can get information about the many deals and specials they run. For example, right now if you purchase a GAP gift card you’ll receive a coupon good for 10% off your purchase.  Make sure to sign up on their email list to get the inside scoop on their specials.  They change about every 10 days.

I recently opened an email from Coinstar that read “Look for a $1 off 2 Welch's Sparkling Juice Cocktails coupon on your next Coinstar cash voucher!” Grocery coupons are often printed on the receipts and range from $1-$2 off certain products. Not a bad little bonus!

Coinstar has also partnered up with some major charities to offer you another way to put your spare change to good use. On their site you’ll see the many avenues to donate to great causes such as UNICEF, March of Dimes, Feeding America and Jumpstart. Through the American Red Cross $3 in coins provides 1 comfort kit containing hygiene items for one person. These kits contain deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, facial tissues, wash cloth, shampoo, liquid soap, lotion, comb, razor and shaving cream.

So start flipping over those couch cushions and digging deep in those pockets! Gather your coins and take them to the Coinstar machine at your local retailer and cash in on some fantastic deals, walk away with a no fee gift card, and see why saving your change just makes “cents.”

This has been a guest post by Katie from South Bend, IN
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