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How to Do Coinstar

Everybody has a change purse. Some look like this:

or this:

Mine looks like this:

That’s Lacy, the NGIP mascot, if you haven’t met her yet.

Time to cash it in! And if you can get your butt over to a Coinstar machine by December 6, they will give you an extra $10.00 if you cash in $40.00 or more. The official rules regarding the $10 Coinstar rebate can be found at

You might be saying, “But Margaret (or Nanny Goats, or Hey You, or whatever) I’m scared of those machines. I’ll do it all wrong and lose ten dollars in the process. Can you help me?”

But of course! Here’s what you do.

First, find the closest Coinstar location near you by visiting Mine was a Raley’s grocery store.

Second, put your money in one of those green recyclable shopping bags. Go to the appointed grocery store and as you enter, avert your eyes away from the panhandler who will ask if you have any spare change.

Next, wander around the store, tasting all the food in the bulk aisle, until you encounter the Coinstar machine.

Cue Heavenly chorus music

Approach the machine with awed reverence. You may wish to kiss it or not. It’s up to you, but it’s about to give you ten free dollars, pal. Whip out your money jar with a flourish and press the START button on the screen.

Right about now, you’re probably saying, “Hey, I just want to cash in my coins.” No you don’t. There is a reason you should choose Buy Prepaid Products and not Cash in Coins.

But there is no fee if you take the money in the form of a Prepaid Product, such as a gift card. So just let me finish and stop interrupting. If you have any questions, just save them for the end. Now where was I? Oh yeah. Select eCertificates.

Then select your gift card destination of choice, such as

I realize you’re tempted to interrupt here and ask me if it’s true that Nanny Goats in Panties is available on the Amazon Kindle, but that would be rude because I’m in a real groove here so, less of the talking and more of the listening, okay?

You’ll go through a couple more screens and then it’s time to start pouring it in!

Lift up that red handle on the left periodically to facilitate the process.

Watch the money add up on the screen.

Keep pouring and realize that those stupid penny rolls you’ve had since college have once again presented themselves.

Notice that there is someone else now waiting to use the machine as you stop to break open these pesky logs o’ pennies. (Not to mention the fact that you keep stopping to snap a picture of this mundane exercise every 90 seconds)

Take too long to open the pennies and snap pictures so that the machine thinks you’re done and starts printing out your gift card receipt even though you haven’t reached the $40 minimum for the $10 rebate.

Curse under your breath.

Start the whole process again and worry that you won’t make it to the $40 minimum this time. Apologize to the woman behind you. Debate telling her that you’re doing this for your readers, that you have a blog. Imagine the strange looks you’ll get from her as her patient smile fades, giving way to irritation. Decide not to say anything and press the stupid buttons as fast as you can to show how earnest you are in letting her have her turn already. Check her grocery cart to make sure she doesn’t have ice cream melting onto the floor.

Grab your receipts, thank the lady behind you for her patience, and get out of her way.

And now for the fun part. Can you guess how much total money I had in my money jar? Here’s the picture again.

The FIFTEEN closest guesses will get a personally signed copy of Amy Ferris’ awesomely funny memoir, Marrying George Clooney.    Click here to enter: Enter Marrying George Clooney Giveaway.


Also: My review of Marrying George Clooney, by Amy Ferris. Her book is also available on Kindle.

And: Amy Ferris’ blog, Marrying George Clooney.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


  1. garrettsambo says:

    I guess you had $78.12.

  2. naynays1 says:

    I'm guessing $76.01

  3. Swtlilchick says:

    My guess is $125

  4. lancepearson says:
    i would say about $147.35

  5. susansmoaks says:

    i'm guessing 73.65

  6. Lisa R says:


    sibabe64 at ptd dot net

  7. timhughes says:

    I'll go with 69.97

  8. wendy wallach says:


    madamerkf at aol dot com

  9. Susan Smith says:


  10. Melanie says:

    Im going with 41 bucks.

  11. dorothy l says:

    I would guess $72.15

  12. Ed Nemmers says:

    $ 65.55

  13. hrbeck says:

    I'm guessing $49.19.

  14. Rachel says:


  15. Rachel says:

    $67.23 – for sure

  16. jasonnickolay says:

    73.27 is in the jar. That is my guess


  17. Ladytink_534 says:

    I see a lot of silver so I'm going to guess $55.

  18. Michele says:

    I just found your blog, and holy crap girl… I'm so glad I did.
    You crack me up. I absolutely LOVE your writing. Your voice and spirit shne through. Way to go.

    Thanks for the late night chuckle.
    As for how much the coins add up to…. I have no idea. So, i'm just gonna close my eyes, and see which numbers I hit on the keyboard 😉

    $ 78.04
    But, I'm buying your book regardless 😉

  19. Kathy says:

    I am guessing $109.

  20. winey_mommy says:

    I think you have $64.59 cents. And maybe some Chuck E. Cheese coins, too. Hey–it happens!

  21. Jenny says:

    $93 ????

    Oh… and I had some nast varicose veins out.

  22. heather says:

    I'm guessing $42.18…Having seen and spoken to George Clooney a couple years ago, I believe Marrying George Clooney is the best title for a book ever! Cause I want to!!

  23. Marilyn says:


  24. Collette says:

    OK, I'm getting in here late. I'm going to say $ 57.69.

  25. sherri419 says:

    I am the world's worst at guessing like this, but I will give it a shot! I am going with $43.27. By the way, I love your post…made me crack up! Thanks!

    sherri419 at gmail dot com

  26. Alicia Schenbeck says:


  27. mrs k says:

    I hate these contests because I'm too damn competitive for my own good- you don't even know how long I've been studying this picture….I'm going to say- $126.49

  28. MommyTime says:

    I guess $54.43, including both receipts, not just the second one, but not including the free $10. This is a great deal from Coinstar. I wonder if I can convince the kids to cash in their piggy banks and get $10 extra to open real bank accounts? Probably not.

  29. bobbinlalaland says:


  30. Hurdler4eva says:


  31. cooel says:

    $75 ???

  32. kelharl says:

    $99.50. For sure.

  33. kathcom says:

    Commerce –er, TD–Bank has a “Penny Arcade” where you can change your coins to cash with no fee. If you can get past the silly cartoon that plays and assumes you're a child, you'll notice that everybody standing around weighed down by bags or jars of coins are adults just like you. And everyone on line will root for you as if you just won at the one-armed bandit. They'll ooh and ah over your total. (The cartoon character will try to get you to bet some of your earnings on guessing how much you've poured in. Don't fall for that.)

    It's really fun, I promise. It makes it worth it to hump the change over there. But for God's sake, go soon. Who knows who'll own that bank next week. Thanks for the tip on Coinstar. The gift card angle is a good one!

  34. Mellissa C says:

    My guess is $46.72

  35. emily8463 says:

    $81.00. Definitely.

  36. Hannah N. says:


  37. Jen F says:

    I am going with 40.46

  38. Megan May says:

    That appears to be about $87.50.

  39. Stimey says:

    Darn it. I just looked at your other comments and see that someone else guessed $68. So I'm going to Price is Right her and guess $68.01.

    Also, I love the brilliant suggestion to go buy four rolls of quarters to turn them in for the extra $10. Is that fraud?

  40. Stimey says:

    $68! It's totally $68!

    You should have brought a photographer so as not to slow you down. Maybe you could have hired the panhandler.

  41. $26.19

    Had no idea about the gift cards! Good to know. I used to keep my change in a Rolling Rock bucket back in the days I used to sling drinks. I never would change in my quarters at the end of the night. I'd just take em home and throw them in the bucket. Well I filled that thing and it turned out to be over 1200 bucks! Wish I had that bucket (and the quarters) again!

  42. Thanks for the tip on COINSTAR. I've never used it before but if you give it a thumbs up, I'll give it a try.


  43. Pseudo says:

    I'm going to guess $106.56

    Love your goat mascot. she looks a little pissed about being stuck up on that jar…

  44. amanda says:

    Oh. I thought I totally had a chance of marrying George Clooney. Crap.

  45. goatgirl says:


  46. I'm gonna say $53.75 I'm havin' a great day today so I just might be right on!

    I really like your blog, you're quite talented… there's not many people who could make something boring into a great read, but you've done it!

  47. Sparky says:

    I'm gonna say … oh …. $111.29. I dream big! 🙂

    I gotta try one of those Coinstars. We have on in at Kroger in Waycross, GA. Thanks for the instructions! You had me in stitches.

  48. swirl girl says:

    Price is Right rules? You know, the closest to the actual amount without going over?

    I guess $37.15.

    1. I was going to make a comment about how it is not like The Price is Right.
      It's the 15 closest whether you go over or not. So, thanks for asking!

  49. Gladys says:

    I say 57.23 because I know I saw at least 3 loose pennies. Also What kind of jar is that? My change is in a pickeled artichoke heart jar. Everytime I open it I want a salad. 🙂

  50. glitterbygrammie says:

    i am guessing 68.00 without the extra 10 dollars at the end

  51. Dale Ottley says:

    Well I followed directions and clicked on the MGC giveaway link. Do I still qualify if I don't leave my guess here?

    1. Yes. Actually you're supposed to leave your guess on the other page that I
      linked to, but I will be collecting the guesses from this page as well, so
      you're good.

      Nanny Goats in Panties <>
      Follow me on Twitter <>
      Follow me on Facebook <>

  52. Surfie says:

    I didn't know you could choose gift cards at Coinstar! I never have enough coins to bother with the machines since I rarely use cash. But I like Tracy's idea to get rolls of quarters from the bank.

    I'm going to guess $74.83.

  53. feefifoto says:

    I'm going to guess $40.01, and one goat.

  54. Why the hell didn't you tell me about this before I gave all my change to my kids to put in assorted buckets and cauldrons for the “needy”. You know who is needy? Me. Mama needs a $10 rebate.

    Would it be breaking the spirit of the offer to go to the bank and buy four rolls of quarters to put into the coinstar machine?

    And my vote is 48.32 No reason, it was just easy to type.

  55. Pricilla says:

    I'm still not sure if NGIP is available on the kindle….
    heh heh

  56. IDoThings says:

    But Hey You, what if the pennies my husband has been collecting since before we were married are too heavy to carry much less put into the handy green bag?

    My first Coinstar experience was a scary one. My aunt asked me to do it for her when I visited her recently. I had to act like I knew what I was doing. Luckily it went OK, but I would've been a lot less terrified if I'd had these handy instructions.

    OK, I'm off to go collect my free book now!

  57. vodkalogic says:


    Great demo and I know right where our coin star is thanks

  58. I'm going to guess $52.73, for no discernible reason other than it popped into my head 🙂

  59. Fluffbrain says:

    $87.13 — let's just call me the winner, shall we?

  60. angelabailey says:


  61. Oh, what the heck? $51.73

    I'm as bad at these as I am in Junk Drawer Kathy's “Guess what this weird bit of stuff I had around the house is?” contests. But I'm a sucker for punishment. 🙂

  62. FreaKeroppi says:

    I'm gonna say about $60. That's assuming that most of your silver coins were quarters. It's difficult to tell.

  63. I'm going wit $39 I'm thinking you just missed it.