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Insight Center Community Bank

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Worthless Cash?

Returning from a business trip, I was heading up an escalator to catch the train from the airport. What appeared to be a college girl turned around, held out her hand and said, “Here.”

I instinctively held out my hand as she dropped five gold coins into my hand. I thought they were subway tokens, only we don’t use subway tokens in Atlanta. We use RFID cards. We tap.

“I don’t need these,” she said.

“What are they?” I responded looking closer. “Hey, these are dollars. You keep these,” I said, dropping them back into her hand.

“I don’t need them,” she repeated.

“Well give them to someone who needs the money, but not me.”

(One of my kids later asked if I looked homeless.)

I found my place on the train and sat down. The girl walked by, looked down at me, held out her hand again, and said “I don’t need these.” Again my hand caught the five coins.

Thinking about a man I know in a shelter near our church, I said, “Well I know someone who does. I’ll give them to him.”

She looked at me for a second and said, “Good.”

Telling this story at home, my twenty-something daughter immediately said, “The subway gives change in one dollar coins. Nobody wants those or even knows what to do with them.”

I was dumbfounded. At least toss your coins in a jar and Coinstar them into a gift card every now and then. (No fees for gift cards.)

On the surface is the failure by the U.S. Mint to make dollar coins work. They have over one billion coins stuck in storage!

But what worries me more is people not having time to think about $5 and saving better (or giving better.)