man holding jar of coinsWhen I think about money, I don’t see coins. After all, it takes lots and lots of coins to equal one nice, neat pile of hundred dollar bills. If given a choice, I’ll take the cash over the coin!

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That’s not to say a pile of coins can’t be worth something. I learned recently that an old coffee can filled with coins can be worth $347 – and that’s after all the quarters were removed for trips to the car wash.

My husband, Jim, started saving coins when we first got married. He just didn’t like them in his pocket, he said, so the can was just a place to throw the change each night. I didn’t contribute to the can; my coins went back in my wallet, and I used them. Occasionally, Jim would stop by the bank to turn his coins into cash. When our kids were old enough, we’d make a game out of sorting and stacking the coins and even putting them into the little paper coin wrappers. This helped them learn to count money and helped keep the can of coins from getting too full.

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On a recent road trip, I was reading my office email and noticed a message from Kathy Greer who runs our retail operations. She had forwarded me an e-mail from our courier service explaining we may not be able to get the coins we need in the coming days because there’s a coin shortage. I immediately suggested to Jim that he help the cause by taking in his can of coins to one of our branches. He did, and to my surprise, he had $347 in the can, even though the coins were primarily pennies and nickels and dimes!

Why Is There a Coin Shortage?

No surprise, it’s the coronavirus. The U. S. Mint reports when the economy is running on all cylinders, retail transactions and coin recyclers are responsible for 80 percent of coins moving through the economy. But when the pandemic hit, retail sales dropped and so did deposits from third-party coin processors, slowing circulation. The U. S. Mint produces 20 percent of the coins, but like everyone else, the Mint staff wasn’t working at full capacity in March through May.

If banks can’t get the coins they need, many businesses won’t get coins either. Some establishments are asking customers to pay with a card or to have exact change.

Kathy says INB isn’t in a pinch yet, but she wants customers to know there could be a problem. And if you’re a customer with a can of coins around your house, consider bringing it by the bank.  We’ll give you some nice bills in return, or deposit the value in a checking or savings account.