You may well be sitting on a gold silver and copper mine.

By Rory Evans
July 29, 2020
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Would you like to print money in your basement? So would I! (Especially in this economy, amirite?) Obviously, counterfeiting is illegal, but the *next* best thing is finding money under the couch cushions, bedside tables, atop the washer, and sometimes in the lint-catcher of the dryer. The U.S. is suffering from a coin shortage right now, and so many of us are sitting on, if not technically gold mines, at least big hidden piles of silver and copper.

You don't need to be a mobster to realize that nickels and dimes add up: When my daughter was a newborn, we opened a savings account in her name and only deposited birthday money from her grandparents, and whatever we got when we trade in our accumulated change. She is turning 11, and that account now has more than $14,000 in it. Early on, we used one of the dump-and-count machines, but they take such a chomp of the payout (7 percent at the place around our corner!). So we dropped $14 on this genius, time-saving coin counting kit and got some coin wrappers, and we keep it all!

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To buy: $14, amazon.com.

It bears mentioning: My husband and I use cash often, keep the change, and will also risk life and limb to stoop to pick up a traffic-battered, half-bald "Zincoln" in the crosswalk of the busy six-lane road we live off. It was one of my proudest moments in motherhood when, as we were trudging into the playground one day, my then three-year-old daughter abruptly stopped, put her doughy, dimpled hands up in that universal toddler signal for "hold up yo," and said, "Mumma, I just heard a quarter land." She had been watching me and my husband listen, pounce, and pick up for most of her life, so at three, she didn't simply have Bionic Woman abilities to hear that guhchung-guchung-guchung of a wobbling coin, she was also able to identify its particular pitch and timber as a quarter.

Of course, Covid-19 has put the kibosh on picking up any change I see on the ground. And clearly I'm not the only one avoiding handling change: There is a nationwide coin shortage due to the partial closure of the economy, and the circulation of coins has slowed significantly, according to the Federal Reserve. The U.S. Mint has issued a call for consumers to spend, exchange, or deposit their pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. This past week, while my daughter and I were holing up with my parents, we were discussing this shortage and my mom casually mentioned that she had boxes of change all over the house. She wasn't kidding! Like everyone else during quarantimes, she's been cleaning, purging, and organizing everything that's not nailed down. But she didn't have the mojo for the (no joke) hundreds of pounds of change. 

That's where my daughter and I came in. My daughter usually sleeps away at camp for six weeks in the summer. But not this year. She has nothing but time and, these days, my parents' coin money on her hands. While bingeing The Babysitters Club, we consolidated and sorted by denomination (and weeded out Canadian coins). Then we busted out the counting kit. Here is what is so genius about it: The tubes are essentially funnels, so you can just swipe coins off a tabletop into the opening. You know when you've hit the exact amount needed for a tube—$10 for quarters, $5 for dimes, $2 for nickels, 50 cents for pennies—when coins slip from a fill-line slit near the top. Then you simply take the wrapping tube, slide it onto the funnel, flip the whole thing over to remove the wrapped coins, and fold over the end. Voi-fricken-la: The tedious, time-consuming chore of manually counting and wrapping takes about 30 seconds. In case you need it to get more Real Simple up in here, the funnels are color coded to match the denomination on the tube. Quarter? Orange. Dimes? Blue, etc. And they nest for easy storage when not in use.

Not that we'll be putting our set away anytime soon. There's a coin shortage going on, remember? And my mom still has about 40 pounds of pennies to tube—though we're encouraged onward by the fact that just from the silver stuff, we're approaching $400.