Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Change Jar

It seems every household has a change jar.  A tupperware bowl, a tin canister, a flour jar, a piggy bank, or, in our case, a three foot high, plastic container shaped like a beer bottle and decorated with a Philadelphia Flyers hockey logo.

Steadily, day by day, my husband Bob and I threw our spare quarters,  nickels, and dimes into the change jar, until the sea of coins began to slowly ascend towards the rim.

We were saving for something....anything! A rainy day! A vacation! A new car! A new home! Retirement!

More change!  More change!  More change!

Bob even started to throw dollar bills into the change jar.  Then $5 bills, and (gasp!) he even parted with a $20 now and then.

Finally, last month, as a family vacation beckoned, we decided that the contents of the change jar could provide some much-needed financial assistance.

That is why, on a summer evening, the neighbors gave strange looks to Bob, my 16-year old daughter Melissa, and me as we struggled to carry the 3,964 pound change jar to our car and place it gently in the trunk.  Onlookers continued to stare as we took our "treasure" out of the trunk and lugged it into the bank, where we exchanged enough coins to fill a baseball stadium ( or so it seemed) for crisp, clean paper money.

Yes, three years of emptying our wallets of coins had certainly paid off! We now had some unexpected cash that could surely be used to enhance our week-long stay in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.

Thank you to the change jar!!

It had not been the first time that Bob and I reaped the rewards of our "sophisticated" saving plan.  As we left the bank, I thought back to a time, long ago, when the money in the change jar gave us a gift much more valuable than vacation spending money.

Towards the middle of a difficult pregnancy that left me confined to bed and quite ill for several weeks, I finally felt well enough to take a temporary job as a receptionist at a library at Princeton University.  We had recently relocated to central New Jersey after spending 18 months living in Queens, NY.  Bob, looking to reinvent himself, had changed his career and now worked in a sales job that had, as yet, failed to deliver on its promise of huge commissions.

Our income barely covered the rent, let alone car insurance, the electric bill, the phone bill, the water bill, and a staggering amount of credit card debt that threatened to suffocate our future.  Reluctantly, we traded in the car we loved to avoid the monthly payments.  Week after week, we sat at the kitchen table, the stack of bills piled high, the check book in hand, as we determined which lucky utility or creditor would get paid that month.

Our financial situation reached its lowest point when Bob and I discovered we barely had enough for our next meal.

We had no choice but to turn to the change jar, which yielded a welcome $75. Certainly not a windfall, but enough for the basics -  milk, bread, eggs, cereal, and meat.  In short....enough to get by.

Thank you to the change jar!!

The lack of money caused worry, and stress, and yes, of course, a few tears.

We were poor. Yet.........we were happy.

We were young.  We were in love  We were waiting in anticipation for our baby Melissa to enter our lives.

We were happy.

Today, we're not quite so young anymore.  Our "baby" is now in high school.  Our two full-time jobs provide the financial security that allows us to use the coins from our change jar to fund a vacation, instead of food.

But most important, we are still happy....

And still very much in love!

Our Flyers "beer bottle"  change jar yielded enough nickles, dimes, and quarters to help pay for a family vacation!


  1. Subscribing from the group at vB.

    An excellent practice and outlook. Amazing how those coins add up, eh? What wonderful vacation memories you will have.

  2. Whao..the change put aside really did add up.. that's a really fun way of saving as a family.

  3. We have a change jar too! I can't tell you how many times it has bailed us out of hard has given my husband just enough gas money to make it to work before pay day, it's given us just enough to get us the "staples" (bread/milk/eggs/etc), etc". We've not yet been able to save enough for a vacation, but that day will come! BTW, you vacationed in what I consider my home! I don't actually live "in" the mountains...but it's just a short hour ride from me! I hope you had a great time in our neck of the woods!

    1. Hi April, we stayed in the Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg area and just loved it!!! Friendly people, reasonable prices, great family fun!!

  4. Wow! I never even thought about this. I'm sure not many people have. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!