Andy has been annoyed with me for hoarding aluminum cans in our garage for a couple of months now. I decided I would start saving cans to cash in after I saw a coupon in the Valpak for an extra 5 cents per pound of aluminum cans at a scrap metal recycling place. My parents always saved cans when I was growing up, and then we’d go cash them in once we had filled up a trash bag. After seeing the coupon, I realized how many cans were just going into the recycle bin at our house–money being wasted! After having Andy’s birthday party, I fished a ton of, ahem, soda cans out of the recycle bin (yeah, we’ll go with soda…craft soda. We were most definitely not drinking Genesee…) and had enough to fill up a big trash bag when it was combined with my hoard from the last few months. I convinced him to go with me so he could see how easy and painless it was, and that we could make some money back off the cost of the “soda.”
It took all of 30 seconds for the guy at the scrap place to weigh the bag of cans and give us a slip for $6.00. We took that to the cashier, gave them the coupon, and walked away with $6.60 in cash! That is basically a free burrito, people! Andy quickly forgave me for all the can hoarding and sifting through the recycle bin, and got excited about all the potential money to be made off of…soda. We decided that all can money will go directly into Change Jar!, which is what we call the Carlo Rossi jug that we put all our spare change into. We love Change Jar! so much that it has an exclamation point in its name because that’s how excitedly we talk about it.
Change Jar! has played a critical role in vacation and house funding. When I was scraping together everything I could for the down payment on our house, we were nearing the top of Change Jar! and cashed it in for a couple extra hundred bucks that we didn’t have in our wallets before. After that cash out, we made it a rule to stop raiding it if we needed quarters for pinball because we were missing out on the best change. It also helped that we were no longer living within walking distance of both Chipper’s and Pinball Jones, so the temptation has been mitigated. When we went to Boston this summer, we cashed in Change Jar! again for a couple hundred to help feed us while we were out and about. It wasn’t even nearing the top! Amazing how much some quarters can boost the cash value.
Now we’re starting to throw in bills to help maximize the money we save with Change Jar! A certain someone who shall remain nameless but is the only guy who lives in our house has a tendency to leave pants wherever they may fall after he gets home from work and changes into comfy clothes. So I instituted a rule that if either of us finds clothes with money in them not in our room, we can put the money straight into Change Jar!, even if it’s all bills. It has cut down on the frequency of finding pants on the couch and adds up. Money found in the laundry also goes to Change Jar! Now that can money will be added in the mix, we hope we’ll be able to use Change Jar! to help save up for something a little bigger, like a weekend getaway or something. It’s not money we miss in our day-to-day lives, collecting change and cans require very little effort, and it all adds up. Plus, it’s really fun in a super nerdy kind of way to watch the change go into the hopper at the bank and watch the counter go up, and really fun in a sadistic kind of way to show up with huge bags of coins and hand them over to the bank teller to be counted.
Frugal in FoCo pro tip: If you’re in Fort Collins and decide to save cans to get a little cash, look in the Valpak that comes to your house for a coupon for additional $$$/lb to maximize the amount you receive. And New Belgium sells canned craft beers, along with many other craft breweries, so you can maintain your standards while saving the planet and getting some cash back.