If you elect to receive a cash voucher, the machine keeps almost nine cents of every dollar, but it just doesn’t seem right to clip coupons and then turn around and leave what amounts to a tithe in the Coinstar till. The Coinstar machine at Bruno’s in Hoover (across from the Galleria) gives you the full value of your coins as long as you accept the amount in a gift certificate to Overstock.com or Lowe’s.
Just dump your change into the collection chamber and it spins and clinks like it’s manufacturing something wonderful. (This is great fun, by the way, for a kid who is old enough to scoop the coins into the tray and watch as the Chuck E. Cheese tokens are rejected into another pile – a real jackpot as far as he’s concerned.) Once the counting is done, you have a choice of whether to accept a cash voucher less the processing fee, donate to charity (which just souned too vague for me), or accept the full amount as a gift certificate.
I choose the last option, a Lowe’s gift card, and received a printout that explained to the Lowe’s cashier exactly how to process the certificate, which we all know is the key to properly executing a program like this.
As enjoyable as it was to reclaim the spending power of $160, it was even more thrilling to imagine all the things I could buy from Lowe’s when the time was right. A pull-out ironing board? A closet storage system? Maybe a few new planters for the back patio?
Sadly, during the time I spent savoring the possibilities, something broke. I wound up having to spend the gift card replacing a door handle that suddenly quit working (a door handle! how does that happen?) and this put an end to my found-money joy. On the bright side, I was able to upgrade without any impact to the household budget. Even brighter was the fact that the Lowe’s associate was able to walk right through the instructions so I had an uneventful checkout.
As you start your spring cleaning, collect all your coins and turn them into a useful gift card via a Coinstar or similar machine. Then immediately spend your booty – that’s in the pirate sense of the word – on something to spruce up your house before you are cursed with a repair or replacement.