Saturday, November 27, 2004

Homework: Money, money, money

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #36: I have a mug on my desk with $70.65 in change in it. What should I do with the money? The only unacceptable answer is "give it to me." Honestly. You can do better.

Extra Credit: If you've got a picture of your own loose change storage device, show it.

To which I respond:  $70.65, is that all

I have rather a lot of change, in various stages of rolledness.  Here's the change I've already rolled -- there's $87.50 of it, and it's only pennies, nickels and dimes.  (I've sold several rolls of quarters to my boss -- she gave them to her daughter for the coin-operated washing machines at college.)

I've also got coins that are partially sorted and waiting to be rolled (pennies in one jar, quarters in another -- the nickels and dimes are still partying together) ...

and, finally, the containers that haven't been sorted yet.  This assignment surprised me on this one, as I had the taller container in plain view on my shelf, but I found the stouter one when I was taking out the rolled coins to take pictures.

(That's, of course, just the stuff at home.  I also have a coffee mug about half-full of quarters, and a tin two-thirds full of unsorted other coinage, at work.)

As you might have noticed, I don't spend my change.

When I was in college, I needed to save my coins for laundry (the washers took quarters and the dryers took dimes -- I ended up filling my pockets with nickels whenever I went out and gave a few to the homeless people who'd ask for money).  By the time I was out of school, saving my change was a habit, and I then decided to make a conscious decision to never spend change and save up that money for charity.  (It's really easy to get in the habit of always paying with bills and saving the change.  It makes your wallet lighter, too.)

Once I made this decision, however, the two sticking points have always been rolling it (I hate giving up nearly 10% to Coinstar) and figuring out which charity should get it.

As it turns out, I now know what I'm going to do with my change this time around.  I doubt this will help John with his dilemma, but I'm happy to share my current project...

Last year at about this time, I was on vacation in Fiji.  One of the things I noticed there was how astonishingly expensive books were.  I mean, there was a paperback copy of the first Harry Potter book in the hotel gift shop (which wasn't the cheapest place to buy stuff on the island, but still) for, like, over $20.  Thinking about it, it made some level of sense -- I mean, they don't have a publishing house anywhere on Fiji, and probably have to ship everything over from Australia.

On my trip, we visited one little island and met the locals.  They were extremely poor, but very nice and welcoming.  And spoke English.  And I thought, "Damn.  My mom used to teach elementary school.  I bet just one of her classes would have enough gently-used copies of Harry Potter to give one to every kid on this island." 

So, we contacted the school and it turns out they're always looking for charitable things for the kids to do -- and they think a book drive for Fiji would be great.  And I contacted the cruise company who took me to the little island in the first place, and they said that if I sent the books to their main office in Nadi, they would take the books out to the island. 

The one sticking point seems to be the same one that keeps books so expensive in Fiji in the first place -- the cost of shipping books to Fiji.  Shipping heavy boxes of books out there isn't cheap.

But I bet I could send a lot of books with all my spare change.


mavarin said...

Big sticking point, that, but if you can solve that. it's a great idea. I heard a story on NPR once about a guy who used to work at the Los Angeles Public Library, but later moved to a country in Africa (Ethiopia, perhaps; I forget) and started a library there with donated books. Now kids come in to read and study for exams and so on. Good on him! - Karen

kiskar said...

Like you, I never spend my change. My bank will take my change, feed it into their machine and give me the money or deposit it in my account without charging a dime (or any other amount) because I am a loyal account holder! I felt the same way about Coinstar, so never took my money there, and I hated spending all the time rolling it up and signing each sleeve like I used to do. So I called my bank and asked and sure enough, they do it for free and actually prefer it not to be rolled. So maybe that's an option for you! - K. :)