Not Martha

how much is a pound of coins worth?

Scott and I keep a big jar of loose change. We usually let it fill up and just take it to a Coinstar machine and accept the 10% charge. But this time we ignored the jar until it was overflowing and we’d moved on to just adding to the pile of change next to the jar. I suspected we had over $200 and didn’t really want to give Coinstar $20. So we counted and rolled it ourselves. I discovered that some banks (First Tech Credit Union here in Seattle) will let you hand over a big bag of coins and they’ll run through a sorting machine. But not our bank, of course. Our bank did give us as many free coin rolls as we could possibly want.

Lauren (thanks Lauren!) pointed me towards this page on the distribution of coin types in a jar that estimates mixed coins would average out to $12.96 a pound. I wanted to know how our jar compared so I kept notes. One thing, we regularly took quarters out of the jar to use for parking meters.

Total weight before sorting: about 22 pounds and 3 ounces

Number of rolled tubes (all had a few coins left over):
Quarters: 13 tubes
Dimes: 14 tubes
Nickels: 10 tubes
Pennies: 24 tubes

Number of one dollar coins: 7
Number of fifty cent pieces: 1

Canadian coins: $1.98 cents (one dollar coin, two quarters, four dimes, one nickel, three pennies)

Number of wheat pennies: 4
Oldest penny: 1936

Non-monetary: two guitar picks, two rubber bands, one small washer

Too disgusting to touch: approximately twenty pennies and one very beat up dime

Amount per pound: just over $11.27

Worth the time spent rolling the coins? Yes. A partner and a glass of wine and the exercise of counting out pennies is very satisfying.

Total bankable amount: $248.02

This will go into our sofa fund (I secretly think of it as half the cost of the matching ottoman). Our coins averaged to just a little over $11.27 per pound, less than the $12.96 average and probably the result of our poaching quarters out of the jar to use for parking. So there we go, next time we are eyeing our pile of change and trying to decide if the fee for the Coinstar is worth the convenience we can weigh things out and have a good idea.

Note: Coinstar doesn’t take the 10% if you exchange your coins for a gift certificate to a number of places, including Amazon, Starbucks and iTunes.

· comments [42] · 10-10-2008 · categories:mumbling ·

42 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dana McCauley // Oct 10, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    I hope you go out and get that sofa soon – personally, I’d recommend blowing the cash on a night out since it’s ‘found’ money but I applaud your responsible impulse!

  • 2 Kelly Anne // Oct 10, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Bonus if you live around New Jersey or either of it’s “Tri-state areas” (SW CT / NY 5 Boroughs / North NJ or Philly / Wilmington / South Jersey), your local Commerce Bank will do this for free. And you don’t even have to belong to that bank! And you can get a prize if you guess within a certain dollar amount how much your coins are worth.

    ( – full disclosure – I am not a Commerce Bank member, but I do love their coin counter)

  • 3 Emily // Oct 10, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Dang! I thought I was good with my little cup – if it’s full and I haven’t poached quarters for meters I can generally get a good $20-$25 out of it.

    My mom did a similar thing with a larger jar and her coins paid for a weekend cruise – everything from airfare to souvenirs.

    Good for you! Can’t wait to see your new couch!

  • 4 katie e. // Oct 10, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    to readers… do check with your bank before you roll (or don’t roll) your coins! i was a bank teller for a stretch and people used to be very pleased with themselves to have brought in tidily rolled coins… only to have to help me assist in unrolling them to have them counted. we weren’t allowed to take coins unless they ran through our machine, and the rolls ended up being a great waste of time for all involved.

  • 5 Linda // Oct 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    We get gc for Amazon through Coinstar. We use them spurge on fun things!

  • 6 Rachel // Oct 10, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    What a fun post. I love the fact about how much an average pound of change weighs-cool! A nice (and educational) chunk for your fund!

  • 7 Monica // Oct 10, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I learned this tip from my friend for quicker coin rolling. Buy the plastic coin wrappers in addition to the paper ones. As the plastic ones are sized for the right amount of coins, all you have to do is transfer them to the paper ones.

  • 8 bella // Oct 10, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    My brother bought the coolest digital coin counter for about $25. Here’s the link:

  • 9 Allie // Oct 10, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Really cool, plus I love the non-monetary items picture! ;) My husband and I dropped change into a big glass bottle for almost a year and fought the urge to count it all up everytime we’d notice it. When it got to the point that no more coins could fit in, we counted it all up. We had enough money to drive to the beach, stay in a cheap motel, eat out, shop, and drive back home in one weekend! I definitely recommend savin’ up change!

  • 10 Tiffany S. // Oct 10, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    I think you can also get it counted through the machine in the Wallingford Verity Credit Union for free! May be worth a call. We’re members so we get it for free, but I think anyone can.

  • 11 Desiree Fawn // Oct 10, 2008 at 3:40 pm


    What’s a coinstar?
    This sounds magical!

  • 12 Susan Gibbs // Oct 10, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    My favorite post since bacon cups.

  • 13 laurie // Oct 10, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Washington residents are eligible for accounts at First Tech. Take your coins, open an account with $5 of it, and get free coin counting whenever you want. (Yes, I work for First Tech – in Portland, though.)

  • 14 knitopia // Oct 10, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    I love to get the and Starbucks gift cards with my change. Just a warning, though: not all Coinstar machines have the no-fee gift card option. Check to find one that will get you what you want.

  • 15 Valencia // Oct 11, 2008 at 4:34 am

    I thought I was the only one who rolled coins! Nice!

  • 16 Maureen // Oct 11, 2008 at 7:09 am

    We each save coins tho dh is the quarter user for parking too.

    It does make a nice evening just sitting and rolling them AND just talking. A relaxing profitable night.

    My mother had an old milk tin(?) barrel(?), well the kind that is about 3′ tall, and she filled that one up for years. Her first grandchild, my 40+ yr old son, now uses it for his children.

  • 17 Jen // Oct 11, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I’m not a coin hoarder myself (spend it as I go, use credit card a lot and thus don’t get change in hand as much) but I have on a number of occasions rolled coins:
    -a bag given to me when I was a kid by a friend of my grandma’s who didn’t want to roll it. It was mostly pennies, but I thought I did pretty well getting around $20 more or less for free.
    -lots of rolling in college of vending machine coins for a club I belonged to: a session of rolling was paid with a submarine sandwich for dinner.
    -rolling for a broke boyfriend who was a coin hoarder.

    I can’t remember how much money that boyfriend had hoarded in coins, but it quickly piled up to a very impressive sum and he was very grateful I was making him do it. Some of the coins were stored in a large coffee can, and I think the weight of the coins somehow accelerated metal oxidation, and the pennies towards the bottom were really frightful.

  • 18 Amy // Oct 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    I sorted our some coins awhile ago and ended up just throwing them in separate jars. So I took the nickel jar and bought truffles with it. Luckily it was a slow moment, so she didn’t mind me counting out my nickels on the counter :)

  • 19 ellen // Oct 11, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Our whole family collects our coins in a jar to use as spending money on our annual trip to Disneyland. It amazing how coins can add up!

  • 20 Vincci // Oct 11, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    That’s crazy! I used to keep only pennies in a jar because I’m pretty good about using up my change (now I just toss my pennies whenever I see a tip jar)

    Now I’m thinking I should re-think my change habits!

  • 21 starry // Oct 12, 2008 at 8:33 am


    Coinstar only takes 6% at my local supermarket I thought that was interesting.

    Oh and yes counting out pennies is always very satisfying. They really do add up.

  • 22 Kaylen // Oct 12, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I also find coin-rolling to be a relaxing activity (once or twice a year) and LOVE how quickly things add up with “just a little spare change.”

  • 23 missy // Oct 12, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    LIke Katie E, i was once a bank teller. Absolutely check with your bank first… and if they take unrolled coin be nice and sort through it for junk first! And don’t get upset when they won’t take Canadian coins…

    But yeah, if you have a rainy/snowy sunday with not much else to do- rolling/sorting coins while watching a movie is a good way to spend it :)

  • 24 phillygirl64 // Oct 13, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I have a magic Coinstar across the street…My penny jars paid for more than half of the last Harry Potter book…many many moons ago, we used to roll pennies and use them like cash for stuff like gas…but then, gas was like, less than 1.50/gal

    I tend to only do pennies because I use up the silver coinage where I can…especially in the vending machines at work and the Pepsi machine in the laundry room

  • 25 Christi // Oct 13, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Loved this post. Two comments: I always start out just counting, but, ever since I was a little kid, end up wasting hours separating by dates, counting by kind, etc. We save all of our State quarters in our five-year-old’s Disney fund. We manage to save about $150/year. I figure we’ll be resting comfortably in a penthouse by the time we actually get to go. When I count his quarters (our bank does this for us for free BTW, I’m just into it), I look for a PA quarter that I heard they stamped incorrectly. If spun on its NS axis both side face up. It’s supposed to be valuable! LIke probably $5 or something, but I still search diligently.

  • 26 Maria // Oct 13, 2008 at 8:54 am

    If I am feeling ambitious, I take my pile of change to the post office and stuff it all in the machine, and get as many stamps as I can. That is one of the few vending machines that accepts pennies.

  • 27 Tara Diane // Oct 13, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    The bank down here won’t even let us roll coins anymore! They make you bring in the loose coins to run through the machine, but they also charge you a fee. Smaller than coinstar, but still, isn’t that their job? It’s a bummer :(.

  • 28 Kristin // Oct 13, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    I love how you documented each item — what a hoot. I’m surprised you don’t have a paperclip in with your coins. That’s my most common find.

    I used to get tips in change (coffeehouse tips) and I would usually toss all of it into a very large container when I got home from work. This was my vacation money. I usually had $300 – 500 by not even trying to save.

  • 29 emielli // Oct 14, 2008 at 5:14 am

    I have so much change in boxes and jars around my house that I really need to take them to a coinstar.

  • 30 Kelley CSmith // Oct 14, 2008 at 10:42 am

    After you count your change, your hands smell like pennies.
    Not a good thing.

  • 31 powlita // Oct 16, 2008 at 9:06 am

    I am a coin hoarder and i’ve done this for a few years. I keep two jars – one for pennies and one for silver coins. The pennies seems to add up a lot quicker than anything else, and rather than rolling them, i take a huge jug of pennies to the coinstar. Never get more than 30 bucks for a large amount. I roll all the silvers and marvel at how much money is potentially lost between couch cushions.

  • 32 thursday // Oct 16, 2008 at 10:37 am

    I used coinstar to get an certificate (avoiding the fee) which covered the extra batteries/etc I got with my digital camera, so I consider that practical :)

  • 33 SimplySara // Oct 17, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    If you happen to be located next to a casino (we have several Native American casinos nearby), they will happily exchange your coins for bills (of course hoping that you spend it there).

    My boyfriend and I have identical coin jars and as soon as one is full, we take them to the casino and cash them in. The person who gets the most cash gets to buy dinner.

  • 34 Lisa // Oct 20, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Lots of people find loose change in their sofas. Not many find a sofa in their loose change! ;D Excellent!

  • 35 Land of Giants kennel // Aug 6, 2009 at 5:05 am

    I started saving all the state quarters when they came out. Still save most of them all in a glass jar with a sealed slotted lid.
    It now weighs 36 pounds. I guess i have 35 lbs of quarters. At $19.75 per pound, I now have near $700 in quarters and never missed the quarters as they were saved. We should all do something similar.

  • 36 x-waiter // Feb 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Thanks for all your comments, very helpful! I had been a waiter for YEARS! And I saved a TON of change. After the waitering ended, I just kept saving coins, eventually I filled a large Poland Spring water bottle. I put it aside, and have not touched it in years. Recently, the bottle has begun to crack from age, so I had to transfer all the change to new containers, giving me a chance to weight it. I could never weigh it before because it could not be lifted. In 3 separate containers now, the combined weight is 221 lbs. Because I was a waiter, I never really spent any of the change, so it is all random, which I’m hoping gives me a larger % of quarters. According to this and other sites. The average should fall between $10 – $13 per LB for this type of change, which is a pretty tidy sum. Problem is, I don’t think I want to trade it in. I have started a new jar and just want to see how far it goes; maybe I’ll give the whole pile to my kid some day, not sure. But thanks for the info on weight to value, because until now I really had no idea at all what it might be worth.

  • 37 Michael // Sep 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    go to TD Bank they offer free coin counting and all you do is go to the penny arcade machine and just drop your coins and it counts them free of charge and you get your receipt bring it up to the people at the counter and they give the full amount

  • 38 obviousadvice // Mar 8, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Go to this site:
    They have a calculator (VERY accurate) that will show value of MIXED COINS by weight.
    Eg: You have, say 3 pound bag or jar or box, etc. of mixed coins/ This site will calculate the dollar value of your stash. Really works well.

  • 39 SOMA // Jun 24, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks this is exactly what I was looking for. I think there’s a bank near me with a coin counter and no service fee. My coins are just over 30 lbs. We shall see what happens.

  • 40 Demaroge // Oct 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Our credit union has a ‘coinstar’ machine that is free to use for members. There is a fee for non-members but it is 10 or maybe 15%…. not 20%.

    It would be worth calling around or doing an internet search!

    ….also …. would be worth the $10 needed to open a savings account to use the coin machine for free!

  • 41 Alicia Jackson // Oct 14, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I had a large amc theatre cup full of pennies. Weight feels more than ten pounds. It totalled $17. :)

  • 42 Noodle // Jun 16, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Was getting ready for a trip to see my girl…Was running a little tight on funds,and decided I’d cash in my coin bucket…I have 21.7.lbs of mixed change.My local coinstar gets 10%,Free if you spend it all in store(Wal Mart…ugh!)So I was looking for a way to estimate it by weight,and determine if it was worth paying the fee,or trying to hunt down an alternative…After taking out all the pocket lint,3 washers,2 nuts(metal ones),valvestem cap,2 Masonic Trading coins,and a 1/4″ drive socket,I bought for my Harley,and haven’t seen it since I bought it,I think I’ll just go and pay the fee….Oh,btw,I did NOT find a couch in my coins either…

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