Everyone has a jar they use to collect loose change in the hope that one day they’ll have a bounty large enough to cash in big. I remember collecting change when I was in my late teens and early 20s. It wasn’t because I was an avid coin collector waiting for the rare 1915 penny to pop into my hand. I did it because of necessity. I was a struggling college student broke beyond fixing.

I’d visit the local grocery store every other month with my big bag of the jingle. As I approached this big green cash eating machine, my anxiety started rising. I think it’s because I looked around me and saw shopping carts full of groceries when I couldn’t even buy a number one meal at McDonald’s. While others around me were grocery shopping, cashing checks, and pushing their shopping carts out to their luxury SUVs, I was gathering what little change I had in the hopes of having a few bills that would get me a few meals and a drink.

My feelings would’ve been different had the obnoxious machine counted my bounty in silence, but no, the mean machine made it known when every penny, quarter, and dime was accounted for. This loud ding, ding, ding, ding caught the attention of several shoppers. Their eyes glanced directly at me. Why was I embarrassed? It took me years to accept that cashing in on loose change shouldn’t be a shameful transaction.

Fast forward to last week when I remembered my loose coin stash and quickly pulled it from the back of the closet. I had a few bills tucked away in the jar but the majority of the currency fell into the quarter category. I’d say I counted around 25 bucks worth of quarters. I transferred the quarters into a ziplock bag and placed it into my pocket. It was time for lunch and I knew how I’d be paying for it. This time though, it wasn’t because I was broke. I simply prided myself in collecting so many quarters in such a short period of time. Why not spend your hard-earned stash?

Jimmy Johns made my gigantic sub and handed me a cup while I grabbed my chips. At the time, there were three employees working, several tables full of hungry guests, and one customer behind me. Reluctantly, I grabbed my bag of quarters and begin handing them to the cashier by fours. That anxious feeling began to come over me, but I quickly made a joke to the cashier telling her that her register would be stocked with quarters for the rest of the week. She laughed, I laughed, I paid, she said thank you, and I left with food in hand … minus the side feelings of angst.

While many of us are ashamed of the circumstances we’re in, remember that we’ve all been in your shoes in one way or another. And always remember, quarters and other coins are still currency good at any location willing to take it! Four of them are just as valuable a one-dollar bill, and 80 of them can pass as 20 dollar bill. Never be ashamed to cash in your earnings no matter what form it’s in. We’ve all had to pinch pennies or cash in loose change but it doesn’t make us any less rich in life.

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