Most people think of ATMs when they think of machines that are most valuable for money-education, but coin sorting machines can be important, too. These machines are available at banks, as well as major department stores (usually near the service desk).
How do coin sorting machines work?
Basic coin sorting machines work mainly based on coin size. They dump the coins into different channels based on how big they are, much the same way that regular vending machines do. These machines can involve a magnetic test. Every coin has slightly different magnetic properties due to the metals they’re made with, so by exposing the coins to a magnetic field and determining their dimensions, the coin machine can figure out which coins it’s dealing with and how much each one is worth.
After all the sorting is done, the majority of coin machines out there don’t dish out cash for change. Instead, they print out tickets or slips that include a transaction number and value amount to be paid. Your kids have to take the ticket or slip to a store or bank representative, who then trades your children money for it. Some machines allow your kids to get gift cards instead of cash, as well.
Why are coin sorting machines so awesome for kids to use?
Just about all really young kids enjoy coin sorting machines, if only to watch all the money disappear down the hole and listen to the cling-clang of the coins moving along. This matters more than you might think, because the more fun you can make money management initially seem, the more likely they’ll be to keep at it later on.
Outside of sensory fun, coin sorting machines encourage your kids to interact with store representatives or bank tellers, as they have to bring the transaction receipts to the main desk for cashing. Going through these interactions gets your kids familiar with service workers who eventually will help them through more complicated transactions, such as deposits, withdrawals or money transfers. Your children likely will feel more comfortable getting help from these professionals as a result.
Third, there’s the matter of convenience. Even though coins are better than, say, bags of potatoes you might use in a barter system, they’re still heavy compared to bills or cards. Once your kids use the machine, they can carry their cash or gift card without literally being weighed down by their currency, making shopping more enjoyable. Most kids also only have so much space in their purse, wallet or piggy bank, so taking coins to a machine for sorting lets your kids keep saving without creating clutter.
Convenience with coin sorting machines also connects to your kids’ time. These days, more families than ever struggle to beat the clock and get everything done. Even though you do want to give your children opportunities to count and sort coins manually, using a coin machine is an easy way for your kids to determine how much they’ve saved very quickly without having to go through hundreds of coins one by one. Kids who haven’t counted their coins by hand often happily are surprised by the total value the machines tally, so the machines can help you point out that saving even a few coins at a time really adds up over weeks and months.
How often should your kids use coin sorting machines?
There’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to how often your kids should use a coin sorter. Most parents simply adopt a “take your money in when your jar/bank” is full approach. Your kids also can go on a regular schedule, however, such as once a month, depending on what works for your family.
What about fees?
In a perfect world, no coin sorting machines would have fees, but many do. If you can, try to use machines that don’t have a service charge—most banks let you use the machines for free as long as you have an account. If you can’t avoid a charge, you might want to limit the number of trips you take with your kids, just to cut down on the expense of converting the coins.
Coin sorting machines can be a useful tool in helping young people stay organized with their money, get familiar with financial professionals and recognize the value of saving. As long as you look for ones that don’t have fees, using them can be a very enjoyable experience for your kids.