Change tends to pile up in my apartment. If I go for a while without straightening up, change gathers on my dresser, my kitchen counter, my nightstand and about a dozen other places within my domicile. This past weekend, I stayed in the city instead of going out to Long Island because I needed to straighten up my place and finish working on my taxes. After visiting all the change repositories in my apartment, I found I had a huge load that needs to be transmuted back into bills.
Enter Coinstar. These machines have been around a while, but they're notoriously difficult to find in New York City. Once you know where to go, though, you can turn the little metal bits in your couch cushions into beer money. And that rocks.
Almost everyone I've talked to about Coinstar thinks it's a ripoff. I don't know why. They say, "It takes almost nine cents on the dollar. Wouldn't you rather keep that money?"
Nope. The last time I manually rolled coins, it took me the better part of a day. Once I got to the bank to turn in the rolled change for real cash, they made me write my name, social security number, address, phone number and signature on every single roll before they'd take it. This is one of those obscure "bank policies" designed to discourage people from using a valuable bank service, but I digress...
Personally, I'd rather let Coinstar take its 8.9 cents on the dollar. If I were to turn in $400 in change, rolling all of those coins (counting the coins, getting them into the paper tubes, writing all that crap down on each paper tube) takes a lot of time that I'd rather spend doing less tedious things, like sipping boat drinks in my hammock.
Even with the assistance of a coin-rolling machine, it's waaaaaaay too tedious a job. I had one of those little plastic machines that runs on 2 C batteries and actually puts the coins into a roll for you. About halfway through my last batch of change, the thing choked on a peso somebody had slipped me, made this really evil "GRRRRRRRRRNNNNT!" sound and promptly died on the spot.
I'd rather dump my whole change collection into a gym bag and find my closest Coinstar machine. If I'm turning in $400 worth of change, I'd rather give Coinstar $35.60 than have to sit around all day putting coins in stupid paper tubes. It's also a bonus when you don't have to endure dirty looks from the bank teller when you plop down 300 coin rolls at her window and ask for paper money.
This weekend, the piles of change I found lying around my apartment will go to Coinstar and the proceeds will be spent on kegs for the summer party at the end of the month. And I don't care if anyone calls it a rip-off. I've got better things to do with my time than stuff nickels into paper rolls.