Glenn's Junk Chest

An assortment of Glenn's writings, photography, gaming resources, flash movies, and other creative output.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Family: Cracking Open the Piggy Bank

When I graduated from high school in 1987, one of the graduation gifts I was given was a small wooden chest. I don't have as much detail on the chest as I might like, but it was brought over to America from Europe by one of my paternal ancestors, and so is quite old, if not exactly valuable. Not having any immediate use for it, I kept important papers in it for a while, and then decided to use it to store spare change.

The Mighty Money Bin
All of my spare change, in fact, for the next ten years or so. During that time, I ate a fair amount of fast food, and it seemed like every time I'd pay with cash, I'd get a bunch of change, and then I'd stick it in my pocket. Periodically, I'd notice that my pockets were too full of change, and I'd drop it in the box. I'm not really dedicated to any kind of coin collecting, but when an interesting coin came my way, I'd throw it in the chest as well. The resulting box full of money was actually kind of fun to play with, in an Uncle Scrooge's money bin kind of way. (Something I'd always wanted.)

Eventually, the box was too full of change to be used for important papers anymore. I got married, stopped eating so much crappy food, and the rate of accumulation slowed, then all but stopped. (When you buy food at a nicer restaurant using a plastic card, there's rarely change, after all)

Recently, money's been kind of tight. Very recently, it's become extremely tight. Enough so, that we've made some tough decisions, like giving up our South Beach diet (meat is expensive) and deciding not to go to Gen Con this year. And with some sorrow, I decided to convert the contents of the box into something more spendable. Liana, the kids, and I spent about an hour and a half sorting through the coins, removing all the silver dollars, half dollars, Aladdin's Castle tokens, and miscellaneous foreign coinage. When we were done, Liana suggested weighing the bag, since it was nearly too heavy to lift. How much does 15 years of pocket change weigh, anyway?

It turned out to be 78 pounds, about as heavy as my two daughters combined.

How much is that worth? I wondered. Trying to be conservative with my wife, I guessed two hundred. On the phone with my brother, I was less guarded, and I guessed four to five hundred. The actual total of 1430 quarters, 2027 dimes, 1261 nickles, and 5296 pennies was six hundred seventy six dollars and twenty one cents, which, while it doesn't solve any of our longer-term financial problems, will certainly buy a lot of groceries.


At 11:59 PM, Blogger Glenn said...

And, if you're curious about how big Uncle Scrooge's money bin was, or how much money it contained, well, check out this collection of old letters on the subject.

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to my calculations and your numbers above:
      Value = $676.21
      Weight = 32.26 kg (71.12 lbs)
      Volume Displaced (no spaces) = 5054 cubic cm (0.179 cubic ft)
      Rectangular Volume (spaces) = 6436 cubic cm (0.227 cubic ft)
      Portion of Uncle Scrooge's Money Bin = 36.67E-6 %

That's 37 millionths of one percent of Uncle Scrooge's wealth. Volumetricly speaking, that makes Uncle Scrooge worth approximately $1.8 billion, if his ratio of quarters, dimes, etc. are similar to yours. Of course, most of his money is in silver, gold, and green.

If you had, instead, put that money in a simple savings account (3% interest) evenly over the ten years, it would now be approximately $798. Imagine what it could have been if you had invested that spare change in a money market, mutual fund, or even treasury bonds.

Food for thought...

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to where we cashed them in, we did not have the record for most change either. Apparently, a man rolled in a large trashcan and counted coins until he had over $900. Glenn and I guessed that he had been saving the change for awhile or he was a vending machine operator.

--- Liana


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