Coin Jar Date Night.

It litters the bottom of your purse. It hides in the couch, lurks in the junk drawer, and waits in the nooks and crannies of your car. It accumulates. It gets shuffled around. It's rather filthy.

It's change. And you have more of it than you think.

We've been collecting our coins for a few years now. There is a glass jar in our pantry, and we toss coins in every now and then when we actually think about it. Otherwise the change filters into the recesses of our home and lies in wait like Gollum's ring. Since I have an almost-crawler on my hands, I am frantically trying to clean out my house and get rid of anything excessive that my little boy will most definitely want to put into his teething mouth. This decluttering sparked a great idea. I'd like to be able to take credit for it, but I'll admit that it was Stevie's brilliant idea:

Why don't we take all the coins in the jar (which had turned into two jars), and use the money to go on a date?

We set the rules - we could only use the cash in the jars. No extra spending. So if it was $15 or $50, that was all the money we could use on the date. We drove our golf cart (no gas needed, so no $ spent there), and we went to the local Kroger where there is a Coinstar. If you aren't familiar with Coinstar, it's one of those kiosks where you can dump your change in and it counts it for you and then gives you a ticket to take to the cashier, where you collect your moola. Of course, Coinstar takes a pretty percentage (almost 12%!!!), but I wasn't going to take the time to roll all the coins and take them into the bank. Hello, I have two children. So Coinstar took its commission and I was very fine with it.

So we went on our coin jar date! Coinstar counted our two jars of change and awarded us $43.81, which we decided to use at our favorite local Mexican restaurant. Thankfully, our waitress was a doll and let us ask her really annoying questions about the pricing of everything - we just wanted to make sure we weren't over-ordering so we could still leave enough to tip her 20%! Oh math. It wasn't my strong suit in school. Thank goodness for Stevie's brain - he calculated up front and we were able to order everything we wanted! Guacamole, drinks (margarita for him, sparkly water for me - I'm not drinking alcohol right now), and then fajitas for the two of us. It was sooooo good. And really fun and funny.

This date reminded me of the early days when we were married and living on very little. Our first year of marriage we were both in ministry school in California and working part-time jobs, so we lived on a tight budget and there was obviously very little extra for extravagant dates. Back then one of our standard Friday night dates was go to Chipotle, split a burrito (but we each got our own chips and guac - I don't share guac), and then go next store to Jamba Juice and each get our own smoothie. We would take everything to go and then head home and binge-watch Jack Bauer saving the country on 24. This was in the days before Netflix, and certainly before the practice of "Netflix and chill". Those times were challenging in a lot of ways, but now when I look back, I am so glad that we had those experiences. We were super budgeted and we still found ways to laugh and date and enjoy our life together, sans shopping and extras. Nowadays we aren't living that tight, but this date reminded me of those sweet early days when we were just kids, starting out and trying to live responsibly and take good care of each other. Now we have babies and a mortgage and we are pretending to be grown-ups - life has gone by so fast!

This was a really fun idea and I think we are going to try to make it an annual thing - our coin jar date night! I dare you to join me - if you decide to give it a try, make sure to post about it on instagram and tag me, along with #coinjardatenight. It will be fun to see what you're able to do with all the money found in between your couch cushions, don't you think?

P.S. - Just wanted to mention that this post isn't sponsored by Kroger or Coinstar (although I wish - I spend half my life at Kroger).

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