10 Ways to Put Your Spare Change to Work Around the House

While it’s true that spare change—those pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters that seem to multiply in your pockets—doesn’t stretch as far at the grocery store as it used to, that doesn’t mean your coins lack value. In fact, beyond their obvious use as legal tender, there are quite a few ways to put your metal money to work around the house. Try some of these 10 uses for spare change that don’t involve spending it.

  1. Check Your Treads

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    Check Your Treads

    Driving on worn or bald tires is a huge safety hazard. Tire treads help your car maintain traction on wet or snowy roads. When treads are worn away, you’re likelier to lose control of the car, experience a blowout, or spin out in the snow. Stay safe on the road by letting Honest Abe check the tread on your car’s tires. Simply insert a penny, with Abraham Lincoln’s head upside down, into the tread on each tire. If you can still see his whole head, it's time for a new tire.

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  2. Keep Shower Curtains in Place

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    Keep Shower Curtains in Place

    Your colorful new shower curtain looks great, but it keeps blowing in and clinging to you while you bathe—a common and annoying problem, particularly with lightweight shower curtains and liners. To keep the curtain in place, glue small stacks of coins to four or five large paper clips, and then slide the weighted clips onto the bottom of the shower curtain, spacing them evenly. Now you can shower without having to battle the curtain. 

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  3. Turn of the Screw

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    Turn of the Screw

    Need to tighten up a loose screw, but don’t want to be bothered hunting down the screwdriver? No problem! Just pull a spare coin out of your pocket. Pennies and dimes are often thin enough to serve as makeshift screwdrivers. They’re also handy for prying up pop-tops on beverage or pet food cans.

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  4. Penny Tile

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    Penny Tile

    Penny tile is back in a big way for flooring, backsplashes, and tub or shower surrounds. While the term “penny tile” normally refers to ceramic tiles the size of a penny, some creative do-it-yourselfers have taken the term literally and have used actual pennies to fashion copper-colored floors, countertops, backsplashes, and tabletops. You’ll need a lot of pennies—250 to 275 per square foot, in fact—and a lot of patience to glue the coins into position. Once you're done, cover the coins with clear epoxy to create a smooth surface and hold everything in place. Then get ready for compliments, because you’re going to get a lot of them.

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  5. On-the-Fly Ruler

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    On-the-Fly Ruler

    If you need a close-but-not-exact measurement—for example, if you want to know if the desk you’re eyeing at the thrift store will fit in the corner of your living room—but you don’t have a ruler nearby, just dig a quarter out of your wallet. At its widest point, the coin is almost exactly one inch across.

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  6. Repel Slugs

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    Repel Slugs

    While there’s no hard science to prove it, many gardeners swear by copper to repel ravaging slugs. Protect your delicate seedlings by surrounding them with a ring of pennies dated 1982 or earlier; coins produced during that era were 95 percent copper, while today's pennies are made mostly of zinc. It is said that hungry slugs will get an unpleasant sensation, similar to an electric shock, when they try to cross the coins, and will then head elsewhere for their meal. 

    Related: 8 Ways to Combat Garden Pests

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  7. Stabilize a Wobbly Table

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    Stabilize a Wobbly Table

    A wobbly table can sour even the most delicious dinner. For a quick, temporary solution, slide a small stack of coins underneath the offending table leg. For a permanent fix, superglue the coins into place.

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  8. Loosen a Jar Lid

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    Loosen a Jar Lid

    Everyone has experienced the frustration of a jar that just won’t open, leaving the contents tantalizingly out of reach and your hand and wrist sore. To the rescue: one thin dime. Just slip the coin under the edge of the lid, and gently twist the dime to break the jar’s vacuum seal. You might need to repeat in more than one spot around the lid, but once you hear the air release from the jar, you should be able to give the lid a good turn and remove it.

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  9. Keep Cut Flowers Fresh

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    Keep Cut Flowers Fresh

    Your sweetie just brought you a beautiful bouquet, and you’d like it to last as long as possible. To help extend the life of your cut flowers, drop a penny dated 1982 or earlier into the vase along with the water. Those old pennies were made mostly of copper, which is a mild fungicide. The metal will help cut down on the growth of mold and fungus in the water, so your flowers may be able to look their best a few days longer than they would without the penny.

    istockphoto.com

  10. Remove Carpet Divots

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    Remove Carpet Divots

    Rearranging your furniture is a great way to get a new-looking space without spending any money, but after the big move you can be left with ugly divots in the carpet. All it takes to get those fibers back in shape is a little ice and a coin. Set ice cubes in the dents and let them melt. Once the ice is completely melted, blot away the excess moisture with a cloth and then use a quarter to gently scrape the nap back and forth until the divot is gone and the pile blends in with the rest of the carpet.  

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  11. Don't Miss!

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    Even if you've got your heart set on hardwood flooring, it's worth considering the alternatives. Sometimes, materials that only look like wood can be just as good as—or even better than—the real thing. Explore your options now!