My dad used to ride the bus to work. He would always come home with spare change in his pocket and dump it into a change jar we had sitting on our counter. Over the years, every so often he has "gifted" me with this change jar when I was in a particularly obvious financial bind. Nearly every time, the change in that jar has totaled $100 or more! Here are some creative ideas to save up your own spare change.

How your bank can help you save

Some banks are partnering with customers to help them save. Here are a few of the best (if you don't see your bank listed here, be sure to ask what they can offer you).

  • U.S. Bank's S.T.A.R.T. Program: "Savings Today and Rewards Tomorrow" is the motto for U.S. Bank's savings incentive program. When you save up your first $1,000, U.S. Bank will give you a $50 Visa card. If you keep the $1,000 in your savings account for one year, you will receive a second $50 gift card—that's a 10% return on your savings!
  • Bank of America's "Keep the Change® Savings Program": This program saves your spare change for you by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and depositing the difference into your savings account via auto-draft.
  • Wells Fargo's Way2Save® Program, formerly a Wachovia bank program: When Wells Fargo bought Wachovia, they kept this popular savings method. The program permits you to set up daily transfers from your checking to your savings account and also to deposit $1 into your savings account every time you complete certain actions.

How rounding affects budgeting

While rounding up to the nearest dollar may be a nifty way to save a bit extra each month, it’s not the best strategy when it comes to balancing your monthly budget.With your budget, if you’re going to round at all, then round up for expenses and round down for income—this will keep you out of hot water if the former ever begins to exceed the latter. But for budgeting purposes, the ideal method is to input actual expenses and income down to the penny. Also, be sure to set your spreadsheet to display both dollars and cents by category and in totals.

Store your change where you can see it

Even if all this discussion about saving spare change sounds like music to your ears, the truth is that much of the battle to save your spare change is often simply remembering to do it!

Here are some ideas to jog your memory:

  • Place it where you walk past it daily. Daily visits can add up to daily deposits.
  • Make it part of your décor. Answering friends' questions can help keep you excited about your spare change project.
  • Get the kids involved. If you share your spare change savings with your kids, I promise they will not let you forget to deposit it!

Give your spare change a job to do

You will only feel motivated to save your change when you already know what you need it for…so brainstorm before you start your spare change savings program to give yourself extra incentive.

  • Some popular uses include: Pay down debt, save up for that-thing-you-want, donate to charity, contribute to your IRA, save for your kids' college tuition, fun money, start a "rainy day" fund.


Why Your Spare Change Is More Valuable Than You Think