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Where to Spend $1 Coins

The US Mint’s $1 Direct Ship program [3] is back with several options (Native American, Golden Dollars with Sacagawea, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington and Andrew Jackson), meaning you can bust through some of those cash back tiers by purchasing money. These are regular circulation coins available in increments of $250.

In addition to killing cashback tiers, I recommended buying dollar coins to help kill the penny [4] because it reduces our use of paper currency, which has a much shorter lifespan. I bought some of these dollar coins because of the small environmental impact, none of our cards have cashback tiers.

We didn’t want to go the route of depositing it at the bank because it’s against the spirit of the program and because we want to see them go into general circulation. It doesn’t bother me that people are instantly depositing the coins but that wasn’t my goal. Our goal was to get them into the world so we use fewer dollar bills.

The tricky part is that they come in $250 increments. You have to start getting creative and here is where I intend to use them.

Farmer’s Market

At the local farmer’s market, none of the vendors take credit cards. It’s partly because they’re set up in the parking lot of our local library but also because of the fees. Whenever I go to the farmer’s market, I always bring change from my charge jar because it’s a chance for me to run through all that loose change we have. By bringing along few dollar coins, I don’t have to sort through quarters to pay for things. Also, the vendors always appreciate getting change because they hate having to sell a $3 box of green beans only to have the buyer hand them a twenty dollar bill.

Stores You Like

When you use a credit card, the merchant is charged a transaction fee. The fee is usually around 3%, which can really eat into the profit margins of the smallest of stores. So if there is a local store that you like and you want to give them a hand, why not get some $1 coins from the Mint and use those instead of credit? You still get whatever cashback you’d get with a credit card but you also save the vendor some money. With the recession cutting into everyone’s wallets these days, shaving a few bucks off their expenses each month certainly helps them out.

Small Purchases

The next time you head to the grocery store or local convenience store to make a small purchase, bring a few dollar coins in your pocket. Sometimes I feel silly pulling out a credit card to pay $2.19 for a couple bottles of Gatorade (it’s mostly to avoid getting 81 cents in change) but it’s a prime example of where using dollar coins and taking the change means I’m finished a lot faster. Sure, I have to take the 81 cents in change but it’s small price to pay.

Ultimately, i t comes down to looking at your regular purchases and trying to find places where you have no choice, or prefer, but to pay with cash. The coins themselves are quite fun, “E Pluribus Unum” is inscribed on the edges giving it a very European feel. I really hope dollar coins take off because the idea of replacing billions in paper bills every 18 months, rather than 30 years, is very unappealing to me. Plus, when you think about it, coins are probably cleaner given their hard surface compared to the porous cotton paper mix of bills.

(Photo: SqueakyMarmot [5])