Since my hubby and I have been married, we always had a place for loose change. He had his own “piggy bank” which he brought from his previous house and had my “rainy day jar.” It is amazing how quickly loose change can accumulate, and once a year we would take our loose change to the local bank and use it for “extra” things, such as going out for dinner, or items we needed around the house. I heard of the Coinstar kiosks and even pass by them at various supermarkets I shop, but I never thought to use the machine because I knew they charged a fee. Taking my loose change to the supermarket is much more convenient for me than going to the bank, but I wasn’t about to pay a fee.
When I learned that Coinstar would convert change for free if I chose a Stop & Shop gift card, I thought this was a great option for me. I’m going to do my food shopping anyway and by using all the loose change I accumulated, it would make my groceries feel “free” since I wasn’t using cash or a credit card. This past weekend I compile all my loose change, some of my hubby’s loose change, and even my toddler’s loose change, then headed to Stop & Shop. I chose not to bring all the loose change in my hubby’s pile because it would have been too heavy for me to carry, plus I didn’t think our groceries would have been so much and I wanted to save the change for our next shopping trip. I should have known that bringing my hubby with me would have meant that I needed a bigger shopping budget and probably would have been better off with bringing ALL the change with us!
At our local Stop & Shop, the coinstar machine is tucked away in the same room as the bottle redemption machine. There are no signs telling consumers where the machine is, and I had to ask customer service. Once we found the machine, it was time to get to business! I followed all of the easy on screen instructions which clearly laid out all my options for coin redemption along with fees I would incur and all the gift card options I had. Within seconds of flipping through screens and acknowledging their user agreement, I was ready to empty all my loose change and load up the machine. The machine quickly sorted all my coins and gave me an on-screen breakdown of what was placed in the coin basket. I was given a total and asked again if I wanted the gift card after all, or if I changed my mind and wanted cash instead. I confirmed my gift card selection and within about a minute, the machine gave me my Stop & Shop gift card and I was on my way to grocery shopping.
Have you ever gone to a supermarket with a list clearly outlined of what you needed, but ended up with a shopping cart full of things you never planned on purchasing? Well, that is what it is like to shop with my hubby! Before I headed out to Stop & Shop, I went to the Stop & Shop website and created my shopping list based on their circular. I always check the circular before I go shopping to ensure I get the best deals, and if there is a great sale I stock up at that time. This shopping trip I decided I was going to stock up on Barilla Whole Grain Pasta because it was on sale at 10/$10. We aren’t big pasta eaters but with a new baby arriving in just a few weeks, I know I will need quick meals that even hubby can help put together. Other items on my list included cantaloup, ice cream, cheese, and frozen veggies. Check out what I actually left the store with:
As my items were passing through checkout, I realized that the only fresh item on the conveyor belt was that lonely cantaloup. My grocery shopping NEVER looks this “prepackaged” and I chalked it up to having my husband present. My supermarket bags are usually full of fresh fruits and veggies along with milk for my toddler and meat options for our weekly meal plans. I ended up spending double what my gift card was worth, and felt I didn’t even get food that would last us a week! This shopping trip was mainly for “after baby stock ups” and I would need to make another trip just to get necessities for the week.
My thoughts on Coinstar: I was always intimidated by the green machine. I didn’t like the fees and I didn’t realize how easy it was to use. Now that I know I can get gift cards FOR FREE, I will be using Coinstar all the time. It is much more convenient, as it is located right in the supermarket that I frequent weekly and sometimes twice a week. Before babies, my hubby and I would use loose change for life’s “extras.” As many parents will tell you, necessities and putting food on the table quickly replace life’s extras when you you have children. I love the idea of using loose change to pay for basic necessities of grocery shopping and you really don’t feel that hit in your wallet!
You can check out my entire photo album documenting the process of converting coin to gift cards on Google Plus!
You can find out more information at Coinstar, plus be sure to check out Coinstar on Facebook and Twitter, as well as Stop & Shop on Facebook to stay up to date on their latest news and announcements.
Disclosure: I have been paid (at Coinstar’s request) to try and blog about Coinstar’s products/services as part of a Collective Bias shopper insights study. All opinions are my own.