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Your Kids Can Help With the Nationwide Coin Shortage

Illustration for article titled Your Kids Can Help With the Nationwide Coin Shortage

Photo: Billion Photos (Shutterstock)

The coronavirus has gifted us many tragedies and inconveniences both large and small this year, and among the latest is one that most of us probably wouldn’t have predicted a few months ago—a nationwide coin shortage.

Reduced retail sales activity this year has slowed the pace of coin circulation to the degree that adequate amounts are no longer available in some areas, causing businesses to request or require that customers pay for purchases with cards or exact change. But the U.S. Mint says in a recent statement that the coin shortage is one part of this pandemic that we can solve, if we each do our part:

You can do so by paying for things with exact change and by returning spare change to circulation. Until coin circulation patterns return to normal, it may be more difficult for retailers and small businesses to accept cash payments. For millions of Americans, cash is the only form of payment and cash transactions rely on coins to make change. We ask that the American public start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin redemption kiosk.

You know who has a lot of change lying around? Kids. The filling up of the piggy bank is a time-honored childhood tradition that can now be put to actual good use. And trading in those coins is something tangible kids can do to help their communities during a time when it seems like everything is out of their (and our) control.

So how should they get their coins back into circulation? Well, they may want to go to the nearest quarter vending machine and buy a lifetime supply of gum balls, rubber bouncy balls and food-shaped erasers, but you can steer them in another direction.

They could simply trade the coins in at the bank for paper money—some banks are actually paying people a little extra for their coins right now. Or they could have more fun with it by, say, going to the local ice cream parlor and buying themself a treat with all change. Or they could trade it in to their parents for some new Minecraft skins or Robux (and then you take it to the bank to trade it in).

You know what’s also fun? Those coin-counting machines you often see in front of grocery stores. (You can search for a Coinstar kiosk here.) Or, if your kids really want to make a difference right now, they can donate their change by filling up one of those charity donation boxes you often see in retail or fast food check-out lines. Many local non-profit organizations would probably also be happy to receive a coin donation right now.

However they choose to spend their stash will help to get more coins back into circulation so that one tiny sliver of life can start to feel normal again.


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