Most of you have probably heard of Coinstar and seen the machines in your local supermarkets, but we'll start with a brief introduction for those who haven't. Basically, if you don't feel like rolling up all your loose change in paper wrappers and exchanging it down at the bank, you can take your coin jar to a Coinstar machine and just dump it in. Of course, Coinstar takes a cut for its troubles: 8.9 cents per dollar in the States. But a while back, the company introduced a gift-card option (I think Amazon.com was the first) that let you avoid the fee if you opted for the card instead of cash.
A couple of weeks ago, Coinstar introduced yet another incentive: turn your loose change into digital music. Participating music stores are iTunes and Virgin Digital, which is nice because that means you can take advantage of this service whether you have an Apple iPod or one of the many WMA players out there (or if you just prefer to listen to tunes on your computer). Better yet, chances are you have at least a few dollars of spare change floating around, meaning you can pick up some new music without even noticing a dent in your wallet. In fact, you may be able to get lots of new music, since apparently, the average American household has $99 in loose change sitting around. That converts to 99 songs or about 5 hours of music--not too shabby. Here are some other Fun Coin Facts from Coinstar:
- There is approximately $10.5 billion of unused change lying idle in the United States.
- Approximately 80 percent of U.S. households accumulate coins, of which roughly one-quarter do nothing with them.
- 64 percent of Americans still own a piggy bank and use it to collect change.
- The average household accumulates $5.50 in change each week.
- A 16-ounce jar (about the size of a mayonnaise jar), filled with an average mix of coins, contains an estimated value of $28.54. It is estimated that a 32-ounce container has $57.08; a half-gallon container holds $114.17; and a 1-gallon container holds $228.34. This is based on the size and an average coin mix (33 percent silver, 67 percent pennies).
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