Saturday, February 26, 2011

Get to Giving-Coinstar Edition

For a blog about money, I don't talk about giving enough. Actually, I don't do enough giving, so that's probably why I don't talk about it much. I think there is a tendency among the frugal world to focus on ways to scrimp and save in order to pay down debt or save for retirement, sometimes at the expense of helping others.

I know I can get caught up in thinking, "I'll give after I'm out of debt." And I certainly hope to give more, but generosity is a habit, and I think it's important to give something, even when you don't have a lot. Building the habit matters, and even a very small amount can make a difference.

So, this is my first in a series of posts called Get to Giving. I am going to start giving $100 per month starting with my March paycheck. I'll post where I gave and give information about how you too can give, in case any of you are looking for ideas.

Today's idea falls into the relatively painless category. I am partly in charge of Pennies for Patients at my school, a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Our school collects tons of change, and one of the options is to take it to a Coinstar machine (located in most grocery stores) and donate it directly to LLS.

I didn't know about this option, but there are many charities you can give to. It's really easy, they take out no fees, and you get a tax deductible receipt right there. I didn't budget for giving in February, so I took my spare change jar and added it to the kids amount for the week. I didn't have any plans for this money anyway, and it was a really simple way to donate.

I think a lot of us keep our spare change around the house, and cash it in eventually. I'd challenge you to take yours to Coinstar and see which charity you'd like to support. I'd recommend The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, but there are quite a few to choose from. For more information, click here!

If any of you decide to go the Coinstar route, please comment and let me know! Also, I'd love to hear about any other giving ideas you have!


  1. Hmm...very interesting post. I didn't know that you could use coin star to donate for charities. I've always shied away from Coin Star in the past because I know that they take a percentage of your total amount of coins as a fee. I always just used my banks coin machine since there is no fee. However, I like the idea of being able to make a quick donation without having to do it online. Thanks for the tip!

  2. I agree with you, I think that there's a lot of giving to do around our communities, which will improve the quality of life of others and help us make a difference for those that need it most. I actually just signed up for an account with Aurora Bank, which has a robust community program as well. Thank you for the tips on the Coinstar fund! Look forward to your future post on this series :)

  3. What a great idea for a post series! I look forward to reading it.

    Over the pasy 4 years I have been actively involved in rasining money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through the Team In Training program.

    Currently, I give to Mission to the World. (

  4. It's nice that coinstar has partnered with non-profits.

    We give to several organizations monthly. Most of the organizations we give to we either have a relationship with or feel deeply about the cause. We usually set up payment account online- it's convenient, and that way we don't forget to give monthly!

    Here's who we give to-
    -our church
    -alameda county food bank
    -international justice ministry
    -Harbor house (local non-profit; i used to work here)
    -world vision
    -We give to this catholic urban mission in camden, nj that my husband used to volunteer for...i forget the name
    -Starfish (an after-school program in chicago my husband used to volunteer for)

    I worked for a non-profit for 5 years and saw the positive impact giving can have on the local community...

    Can't wait to read more posts like this.

    ps. i really don't like when orgs ask cashiers to solicit donations at grocery stores. I've read that this can be very bad for non-profits in general. folks feel like they've done good- when they've only given $1 a month. many of the local orgs aren't supported this way...and an individual ends up giving less than they would have. what are your thoughts on that?

    pps. the one downside of the coinstar model is that you end up giving to the big non-profits, and many of the local ones go unsupported. i think it we be great if we all gave both to these recognized non-profits and to programs that are making an impact on your immediate community