How to Organize Loose Change


Just about everybody has a bowl or jar of loose change hanging around. What many don’t realize is how quickly all that change can be turned into extra cash! Instead of letting your jar of change serve as nothing but a paperweight, follow these simple steps to turn your copper and silver into green.


What You Will Need:

  • A large, flat surface
  • Coin wrappers
  • A box or sturdy bag
  • Plastic coin sorting tubes (optional)
  • Rubber bands

How to Get It Organized:

  1. Collect all your bottles, jars and bowls of loose change and bring them to your sorting area (large, flat surface, such as a dining room table or kitchen table. Even the floor will do in a pinch).
  2. Depending upon how much loose change you have, dump some or all of it into a pile in the center of your workspace. You should have enough room left in your work space to make four additional, smaller, piles.
  3. Divide the large pile into four smaller piles of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. If you have any half dollars (50 cent pieces), you may need a fifth pile.
  4. Once the coins are divided, they will need to be wrapped (While some banks will convert loose coins into cash, most do not, and the ones that do may charge you a fee). You should have paper wrappers in each of the four denominations (pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters). Coin wrappers are usually found at any variety store (such as K-Mart or Walmart), office supply stores (such as Staples or OfficeMax).
  5. Starting with one pile, count out the appropriate number of coins and stack them.
  6. Choose the wrapper for that denomination, place your finger in one end of the wrapper (some types of wrappers have a crimp in one end to hold the coins in so that you don’t have to hold them in with your finger). Pick up the stack with your other hand and gently drop into the open end of the wrapper (This may take some practice, and you may want to do half the stack at a time until you become more adept at this part). Your finger should still be in the bottom end so that the coins don’t fall out.
  7. Once the coins are in the wrapper, depending upon the type of wrapper you have, you will need to fold or crimp the open end. For plain paper wrappers (not crimped), the most effective way to close the open end is to fold it like a triangle (fold two sides like you were making a paper sailboat, then fold that triangular “sail” over). Turn the wrapper over, remove your finger, and fold the other end the same way as the first (unless it’s crimped already).
  8. If you are using plastic coin sorting tubes (again, available at most variety stores, such as Walmart or K-Mart and also at most office supply stores), it is not necessary to divide your coins into stacks of fifty. Most sorting tubes are marked so you know when you have fifty coins in the tube. Working one pile at a time, fill your tube with designated coins (i.e. you can either place the tube at the edge of the table and guide the coins into the opening, making sure they all lay flat once they’re in, or gather a fistful of coins and allow them to filter through you fist into the tube, again, making sure they are all laying flat).
  9. Once the designated amount of coins are in the tube, stand the tube up (opening facing up), open your paper wrapper, and slip it into the tube, around the coins (this may take a little jiggling and shaking of the tube to get the paper around the edges). Insert your finger into the end of the paper wrapper (again, unless it’s already crimped), turn the tube upside down (allowing the coins to fall against your fingertip in the other end), and remove the tube. All the coins should now be in the wrapper. Follow directions in step # 7 for folding the ends of the wrapper.
  10. Once you have wrapped all your piles, separate the wrapped coins by denominations and place a rubber band around each set of coins.
  11. Place the wrapped and banded coins in a box (or sturdy bag), and bring them to your bank to be exchanged for the green stuff.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Some banks and grocery stores offer automatic coin sorting machines for use by their customers. These machines are great if you want to save yourself the time and hassle of sorting and wrapping the coins yourself, but beware: there may be a fee involved (often up to 10 percent of your total amount). Also, some of these machines (especially the older models) malfunction frequently and sometimes give inaccurate amounts.
  • There are many types of personal coin-sorting machines available to the consumer, some more sophisticated than others (for an idea of the types available, visit the supply link for Coins 4 Me. These machines will sort your coins according to denomination, and some will even wrap them for you, but none of them are meant for high volume coin sorting. All sorting must be done small piles at a time.
  • Try making coin collection and sorting a family project! See who can collect the most loose change, have a sorting/wrapping party (pizza and snacks always offer great motivation), then cash in your rolls to indulge in a family treat (anything from family movie night to a trip to your favorite restaurant)!



  1. Tim says:

    Why would you bother doing this?

    Most banks or credit unions now have a machine in their lobby that you can dump your jar of mixed coins into, and it will count them all and print out a receipt for the total amount. And these machines are generally free for customers.

  2. Gene says:

    Which banks are you talking about? Most of the banks in our area require you to have an account to give you the time of day, let alone provide coin counting machines. Don’t know about the credit unions since I am not a member of one at this time.

  3. Fan says:

    They have, in stores, coin sorters that will sort all your coins at home… but if you don’t want to spend money, all you have to do is collect cereal box bottoms…

    Cut several cereal boxes (the same size) in half across the width; if need be, put a layer of clear packing tape across the bottom flaps to be sure they are secure. Trace on the bottom of the first box a loonie in several places (Canadian one dollar coin… Americans skip to quarters). On the second box, trace a quarter, next a nickle, then a penny, last of all a dime. Keep one box unmarked to be the very bottom. Now, cut out the traced circles a bit bigger then the tracings but not so big that the next larger size coin can fit through.

    This gets very tricky on the penny and dime sized holes, so try to stay as close to the tracings as possible with the dime holes to help keep pennies from mixing.

    Stack the cereal box halves so they are upright; the bottom of each cut box is in the top of the box for the next smaller coin with the uncut box as the very bottom.

    Then all you have to do is toss your spare change in it as it accumulates and give it a shake. The coins should fall through each layer until the holes are too small. To wrap them, simply unstack the boxes and count out however many is needed for each tube.

    Good Luck and happy counting

  4. Ken says:

    At my bank, they require you to bring your coins in a wrapper, but when they send them to another bank, they have to ship them loose in a bag, so the bank workers UNWRAP all the coins we take the trouble to wrap!

  5. Henry H. says:

    Go to any TD Bank. There’s a machine where you can dump in all your coins. It then prints a receipt; and you go to the teller, where they hand you cash.

    It’s completely free, and you don’t need to be a TD Bank customer. I’m not a TDBank customer, and I’ve used this many times.

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