Loose Change Gets Us Free Meals On Vacation

So we usually go on vacation in the Summer.

Every time we get free meals from loose change!

Let me explain – We have two change jars in the house: one for quarters and one for all other change. This gets filled up whenever we come home for the day with change in our pockets. The quarters are for laundry so those get used pretty quick and isn’t part of our free meals. The other jar though slowly fills up over the course of the year and is usually filled to the brim by the Summer.

All year we watch the jar fill up higher and higher. It almost becomes a calendar for us to tell when it’s time for vacation! The week before our trip my wife and daughter will go to the local Commerce Online bank (yeah, it says online but they have a ton of brick and mortar locations where I live) and use their coin counting machine which is free for anyone! [This is better than Coinstar since Coinstar charges 8.9% to count your change (though if you convert your change to a gift card or eCertificate the counting is free)].

Now with cash in hand we’re ready to go on vacation.

We can usually get anywhere from $60-$100 depending on the change that’s in the jar. Maybe this only covers one special dinner or maybe this covers the first few meals for us. Either way we look at the meals as being free, paid for by change that accumulated in our pockets over the year.

Of course we understand that the meals aren’t really free.

What’s important is this is another small, disciplined way for us to save some money that we get to use on vacation. What’s more is it’s fun to watch the change grow and fun for our daughter to pour the change in the counting machine (extra bonus here is that she gets to see how saving small amounts can turn into large amounts in time).

What small tricks do you use to save money? Let me know!

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Published or updated February 17, 2015.


  1. I love your coin saving jar with a specific purpose. Another trick you might use is to look for coupons for restaurants that have locations nationally. Before one of our last trips, I found coupons in the newspaper at home for a free breakfast sandwich and a free lunch sandwich at MacDonald’s when you purchased a drink. I bought 2 newspapers so I had doubles of the coupons. We made a breakfast stop and a lunch stop at McD’s while we were on the road, and we only had to pay for our drinks. Search out those national restaurant coupons for on-the-road meal savings!

  2. Here’s another money-saving tip. Look at the websites of restaurants at your destination. See if they offer children’s meals for free (many do) with adult purchase of meals. They may have a customer loyalty club with punch cards for free meals or other promotions. Use the online information before you travel to find out hours of operation, locations, special promotions, or other discounts.

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