loose changeWhen my father passed away suddenly in December, we faced the inevitable task of cleaning out a house lived in for 45 years. Furniture filled spaces. Old bank statements and tax returns spilled over file boxes.

One of the surprising finds was the small changes in all kinds of places.

My parents just dropped pocket change into boxes, bowls, drawers, and jewelry boxes. Two small banks were broken open. Some coins were interesting (such as a steel penny from World War II when copper was in short supply). Most formed the overlooked pennies, nickels and dimes which loiter in our pockets.

Loose change doesn’t buy much today. With plastic, coins are becoming extinct. Yet, we had mounds of them. So we did what anyone would do. We headed to the grocery store to convert them into bills at a Coinstar machine.

Slowly the bags were emptied into the trays, With a push of a button, the belt started drawing coins into the bowels of the machine. The clickety-clack of coins hitting the metal container provided an unique percussion symphony. A least a dozen times, it had to stop to tell us, “you have a lot of coins, don’t you?”

Finally, after several minutes of feeding and watching the totals accumulate, the machine ceased its labor and spit out the total.

Forty-five years of small change came to $83.

I never thought much about all those coins until the total was complete. We all have change around our house…and littering our lives.

What good is “small change” beyond the pennies, nickels and dimes?

  • What’s a letter worth to a person who is down and thinks no one cares?
  • What’s a card worth to someone who has lost a loved one?
  • What do a few minutes playing with a child make?
  • What does a polite thank you do for a harried restaurant server who has just been chewed out by an angry guest?

We never spend small change, but we accumulate it. We never know how much it is worth until cashed in at the end of life. Lives get touches. Destinies are altered. Feelings are mended.

We all empty out change from time to time and don’t think about it. More importantly, we all have opportunities daily to accumulate the small change of actions unnoticed until totaled at the end of life.

How much small change do you have?