Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dedicating Change

When we were in college, my roommate's brother was doing his residency for medical school. During that time, he hit a point when he was completely broke, so he turned to his father for help.

Neither of them were too pleased with this situation -- their father, because he had already paid for his son's medical school and an allowance, and his son, because he didn't really want to ask. So instead of pulling out his checkbook, my friend's father handed over a huge container of change.

For years, my friend's father came home and emptied his pocket change into this large container, and over that time, it grew into a very large pile of coins. He did not expect to do anything in particular with this change, so giving it to his son did not feel like an inconvenience -- in fact, it saved him from having to take the container to the bank. Because he had forgotten about it, it didn't really feel to him like he was going beyond the amount he had agreed to pay to help his son through school. And of course, my friend's brother was thankful for the coins because he needed the additional support for groceries. When he exchanged the coins for bills at the bank, it turned out to be over $100, and that was just what he needed to pull him through a rough time.

Dedicating one's pocket change means that there is "extra" money suddenly available for use. My coin collections have always been used to pay for laundry -- first by turning it into quarters for the machines at the laundromat, and now in exchange for the cost of our laundry service. Because the container of change grows slowly and is forgotten about, it feels like we don't pay for our laundry service -- it feels as though it's being paid for with money we just happened to find. This makes paying for a slightly more expensive service feel acceptable, because it does not interfere with our budget.

While our collection never gets as grand as $100, it is always handy to have some "extra" money that doesn't affect one's budget, and there are so many uses one could dedicate her change to -- and even if it doesn't cover the whole cost, using it toward laundry, groceries, or holiday gifts could even work. Is there something for which you always use your change?

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"There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- God damn it, you've got to be kind."
-Kurt Vonnegut