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For most banks, cashing in your penny jar is something they do only reluctantly. You have to manually sort the coins into single denominations. You must manually bag them into precise quantities. Even though they have the high-tech, industry-precision, scales to do it automatically.

There are some machines in supermarkets which will process your pennies automatically... for a 10% fee. This, to me, is as bad as cash machines which charge you �2 for access to your own money. So I always sort and bag my own penny jar.

This Instructable details some ideas, tricks, and tips, on how to this quickly, efficiently, and accurately. For example, I recently sorted 3650 coins into money bags totaling �242, in an hour and a half... without miscounting a single penny!

Step 1: Prepare your area

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This is fairly simple, but has some common-sense rules:

  • Find a flat surface - this ensures each pile is equal in height, making it easy to spot missed coins. Carpets are generally not good for this. Kitchen lino is good, and large enough.
  • Tip the coins from the jar/bag/whisky bottle onto the surface, and make it fairly flat - this ensures maximum visibility.
  • Put on a good LP. Don't use an MP3 player! An LP forces you to get up, and change posture, every 20 minutes giving you body and mind a quick break.
  • Plan additional areas for:
    • shiny new coins you want to keep/display
    • foreign coins (there will always be some)
    • stacks of sorted coins
    • empty bags (usually behind you)
    • full bags (these don't need to be close, as they can be thrown)
    • large denomination coins. There's not usually enough in a penny jar to make up a full bag, so don't waste time sorting these out until the end.
    • one empty bag, with the coin legend visible. i.e.. �1 of 1p or 2p
    • Sit in the middle of these areas, with each section in easy reach.

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globogym2 years ago
has no one seen the zoom episode where they sorted change? took them 10 minutes to build something and 5 minutes to sort. you should take a leaf from their book.
mjd5 years ago
Many of the PNC Banks in my area have a coin counting machine like the ones you see in grocery stores, but free for use by account holders.
yongoro5 years ago
My credit union has a sorting machine we can use for no fee. Also, our food market has a machine which doesn't charge if you get a gift card for that store. Be careful though, some coin sorting machines charge a hefty fee. Read the small print.
lemonie5 years ago
You have a large penny-jar?

My dad uses a 5 gallon water jug, and the only time he's had it counted was when he had nearly two of them full.
5 gal of metal isn't that easy to lift?! L
hehe, not at all. I think we may have separated it into smaller quantities for transportation.
Yes, but emptying it?

Tip it over!
ironsmiter5 years ago
One small step, that may aid in foreign/collectible currency sorting... Grab a HDD magnet, and pass it over the pile of loose change. It should pick up steel us pennies, Canadian currency, and probably a few others i don't know about. Thos sorting machines, and even some vending machines, use a magnet(or magnetic coil) for exactly that purpose. Any currency with iron content is rejected(or in your case, picked out for preservation/sale)
UK "copper" is currently a mix of copper and plated-steel, depending upon when they were minted. That's about the only use for a magnet here, which I do use 'co I'm collecting copper while it's still in circulation. L
NachoMahma5 years ago
. Good job and I really like the LP tip. . . It's been a few years, but I took a 5-gallon water jug, about ¾ full of assorted change, to my bank and they took them as-is (after I poured them into some canvas bags they had) and charged me a small fee to sort/count/wrap them (they have a machine that will do it). I just dropped them off and they credited my checking acct a couple of days later. . I can't remember how much they charged, but I remember thinking "That's not too bad."
implaxis5 years ago
I just went through something like this myself. I just dumped them out on a table and took all the pennies out first (easiest to sort by color). Then I did all the silver by taking out the quarters (largest) and dimes (smallest), and brushing aside the remaining nickels. On a large flat surface it's easy to get five of a single value on each and (five fingers, for most people!) and slide them into a corresponding pile. The counting comes later, but again, is easy to do by the fives-method.