View Full Version : How Much Change Will a 5-Gallon Bucket Hold?

09-30-2001, 12:49 AM
I've stolen a 5-gallon bucket (in its previous life it was a conveyance for pickles) from Subway®. I've decided to throw all the change I generate into it, and when it fills up, take it to the Coinstar® machine and see how much I've got.

As of right now, I've got about $21 in there, and I can still see the bottom. The challenge to you Straight Dope math types is to estimate how much money it will hold. Granted, it will be at least a year before I fill it up, but still...

Pertinent Information

It's a 5-gallon bucket.
Its diameter is approximately 13 inches.
It is approximately 18 inches tall.
I expect the distribution of coins to be consistent with the distribution of coins currently circulating in the US economy (translation: it should be a pretty even mix of quarters, dimes, nickels & pennies, relative to the prevalence of such coins in my daily life).

My WAG: $700

Let's hear yours.....

09-30-2001, 12:56 AM
My guess is more than $700. I never spend change and keep it in a big 48 oz. pickle jar. When I bring it in three-quarters full it is usually $250-$300. Of course it depends if you have a lot of quarters or if it's mostly pennies. If you do fill it you'll have a heck of a time carrying it.

10-01-2001, 08:11 PM
I use a 3-liter jar for the same purpose. I've filled it up two or three times now, and it usually comes out to about $300-$350. Let's see...how many liters in a gallon? 3.785, so 5 gallons equals 18.925 liters, which equals 6.3 of my bottles, so I'd guess between $1892 and $2205. Geek mode off.

10-01-2001, 08:38 PM
I'm going to guess about $2500 based on my experience filling up coffee cans with change. As a word of advice see if you can get your bank to take the change. I seem to remember Coinstar takes a cut of the money. I realize that not all banks will take it but with a 5 gallon bucket full of change the amount you would be losing to the machine could be quite large.

10-01-2001, 09:14 PM
I take it to Coinstar myself, because it's such a pain in the ass to roll all those coins. IIRC, the cut they take is like 1%. Or 10%. One of those.

10-01-2001, 09:22 PM
My bank won't take rolled coins, they have a big change counting machine and I don't get charged for the service. I try and go when there are no other customers there, I feel silly walking in with a pickle jar full of change. :o

What's a Coinstar? Is that like those aluminum can recyclers, the Golden Goat?

10-01-2001, 09:25 PM
Originally posted by Smeghead
I take it to Coinstar myself, because it's such a pain in the ass to roll all those coins. IIRC, the cut they take is like 1%. Or 10%. One of those. WRONG!!!

The cut they take is effing 15%! NEVER use coinstar, what a rip off!

While we're at it, how many pennies fill a glass 5 gallon water cooler bottle? I got one that's completely full and am starting on another. My guess is around $300.00 worth of pennies.

My latest money jar gets all of my fives, ones and coins. There's about $600.00 in it now plus the coins. I'm going to use it to change my world completely.

10-01-2001, 09:26 PM
At the bank I go to the have a machine similar to Coinstar so you don't have to roll them all up. I would definitly go to Coinstar if I had to wrape a 5-gallon bucket's worth of coins.

10-01-2001, 10:25 PM
Originally posted by Boscibo
What's a Coinstar? Is that like those aluminum can recyclers, the Golden Goat?

Coinstar® is this big green machine that they have at Cub Foods, 2900 S. Veteran's Parkway, Springfield, IL, 6270-something. You pour your coins into it, it counts them, and then it gives you a little voucher to take to a cash register to get your money.

The ones at Cub Foods, at least in this town, take 8.9¢ on the dollar. Which means that, if I really save $2000 :eek: in loose change, Coinstar's cut will be about $178.

My bank, FTR, won't count change for you. Instead, they'll give you a big-ass handful of coin wrappers to wrap your coins in, and then when you bring them back to the bank, they meticulously weigh each wrapper, one at a time, until you're ready to slap somebody.

If you ask me, Coinstar's cut is worth the convenience.

10-01-2001, 11:53 PM
rasta, I have a half gallon jug I do this with and last time I took it in, it was worth $348. Yours will deflinately be in the ballpark of $3000, give or take $500. DO NOT do this with Coinstar, you'll be throwing away your money.

If your bank won't accept your change, go to a bank that will. Open an account (if only for a few wdays) with a competing bank that will do it for free. Most smaller, regional banks are happy to do this for you. Mine actually lets you feed your money into their machine for free, they don't have to waste the time to do it, and you don't have to waste the time with the coin rolls.

Give those banks that actually still value customer service your business, they deserve it.

10-02-2001, 12:03 AM
Originally posted by Zenster
While we're at it, how many pennies fill a glass 5 gallon water cooler bottle? I got one that's completely full and am starting on another. My guess is around $300.00 worth of pennies. <snipped>Well, according to The MegaPenny Project (http://www.kokogiak.com/megapenny/four.asp), a cubic foot of pennies totals 49,152 of the li'l Lincolns, or $491.52. Your five-gallon container is precipitously close to 2/3 of that, ergo, you'll be bringing home $327.68 if you roll 'em yourself.

Damn, Smeg, your Geek Mode goes off? I wish I could do that. Heh heh.

- Dave

10-02-2001, 12:30 AM
I wish I could save my change long enough to do this, but I use it.

C'est la vie.


10-02-2001, 12:51 AM
Originally posted by BigGiantHead
...you'll be bringing home $327.68 if you roll 'em yourself.

- Dave [/B]

$300.00 versus $327.68?

I've still got it! Off by about 9% for an eyeball guess, I like it. Thanks, BigGiant Head.

10-02-2001, 01:00 AM
My guess: $2987.53.

Why? Wause i'm one of them psychos' and i can see the futur!

10-02-2001, 03:00 AM
You'll take a lot more than a year to empty your pockets of $2500 in change. You'll pull the handle off the bucket (or the disks out of your spine) if you try to move it too. I'd be paranoid about sticky-fingered friends grabbing a pound or two of change while you're taking a leak - who's gonna notice $30 missing from 400lbs of spare change? But yeah, it'll be in the thousands for value.

10-02-2001, 05:46 AM
Are you sure you'll be able to *lift* a 5 gallon bucket once it's full of change?

Johnny L.A.
10-02-2001, 08:24 AM
My quarters are used for the washing machine and dryer. (Except for the state quarters and bicentennial ones -- they get hoarded because I think they're neat.) Half-dollars get saved. If vending machines accepted them and they were generall circulated, I would not. Again, I think they're neat. I got an old dollar coin with my change a couple of weeks ago. I save suzies, since they're not making them any more. I spend sackies because I want to see them in circulation.

That leaves nickles, dimes and pennies. These go into a glass one-quart milk bottle. (BTW, these are available at the local Vons store and have a $1 deposit.) The first time I filled the bottle with change I got about $70. A later time I got about $45. More pennies the second time. Coinstar® is a ripoff, charging about 9% here. But my time is worth more than their exhorbitant fee.

So if I get about $50/quart, then that would be $200/gallon. Five gallons would be about $1,000. But it depends on the denomination of the coins you're saving.

10-02-2001, 11:17 AM
Where are the banks that offer free machine counting? None here in East TN to my knowledge -- I've been taking Coinstar's 9% and running with it because of the time factor. If I had $2000-3000 worth, a short trip would be cost-effective.

10-02-2001, 12:12 PM
Extrapolating from Omniscient's experience (which closely parallels my own), $348/half gallon gives us $3480 for 5 gallons. Since I know those buckets actually hold a bit more than 5 gallons, my guess is $3665.23 and I'm very certain it'll take you more than a year to fill it.

The 2004 Spiffled is on Rastahomie!

10-02-2001, 12:27 PM
Once I had an old 5 gal. water bottle that was about 1/3 filled. When I cashed in the coins there was about $950- dollars in there.

10-02-2001, 01:15 PM
I put my change in an old glass orange juice bottle. I call it my cat's allowance since I fill it and buy things for him. Anyway, this last Saturday I cashed it in at Coinstar (8.9 cents per dollar) and got back just over $100 (total value was about $110 before their cut). It is a 2 quart bottle. I have consistently gotten between $100-150 per trip with this particular change bottle. I typically also have more quarters in it than pennies if that helps any. My guess would be that you would get about $250 per gallon if you put change in it like me. Oh, it also takes me about 8 months to fill it up.


10-02-2001, 01:22 PM
How come nobody's said 5 gallons?

The Great Gazoo
10-02-2001, 03:41 PM
Wouldn't it take several hours to dump 5 gallons of coins into one of those CoinStar machines?

I think the handle would break with 5 gallons of coins in one of those plastic buckets.

10-02-2001, 04:23 PM
Originally posted by Wump
My guess: $2987.53.

Why? Wause i'm one of them psychos' and i can see the futur!

In that case, I'm guessing $2987.54.


10-02-2001, 04:29 PM
I think Smeghead and everyone who's guessing high amounts are on the right track. My dad puts his money in a five-gallon water jug and every year he cashes it in before going on vacation. He doesn't come close to filling it up (maybe about a 1/3 full) and it's always around $600-$800.

10-02-2001, 05:59 PM
I'm guessing it's somewhere in between what a four gallon and a six gallon drum can hold.

Hmmm...I just gave myself a headache :(

10-02-2001, 07:24 PM
If we're guessing time, that's a whole other calculation. It usually takes me about 2 and a half years to fill up my 3-liter jar, but my change accumulation rate is probably well below the national average. Extrapolation to five gallons is left as an exercise for the reader.

And it usually takes about a half hour to dump the damn thing into Coinstar.

10-02-2001, 09:07 PM
Originally posted by NutWrench
Are you sure you'll be able to *lift* a 5 gallon bucket once it's full of change?

A 5 gallon bucket full of change should weigh in the neighborhood of 375 lbs. or so. Hope you have a hand truck, rastahomie.

And put me down for $3000.01 as my guess.

Mr. Blue Sky
10-02-2001, 10:14 PM
Just a thought, measure the volume of a roll of each coin. Measure the volume of the 5-gallon bucket. Divide appropiately. This should give a reasonable range of values.

Also, there's a drink machine where I work. Late last year, I discovered that the change had not been emptied in about 4 months, so I decided to tackle it since change was actually falling out og the machine. The metal box that holds the change is about 4"x6"x8" (192 cubic inches) and I ended up counting (and rolling) about $700 in quarters, dimes, and nickels.

10-03-2001, 02:38 AM
Based on the U.S. Mint's 1999 production figures (http://www.usmint.gov/about_the_mint/coin_production/index.cfm?action=production_figures) and the specifications for the coins' sizes and weights (http://www.usmint.gov/about_the_mint/index.cfm?action=coin_specifications), we can figure out the percentage of space that each coin occupies in the bucket, and therefore the values (the 2000 production figures include a very high number of Sackie dollars that I don't think is reflective of actual circulation). Assuming there is a 20% empty space between coins (a total wag), my calculation shows the bucket to contain $4721.51 and weigh 442.7 lbs.

10-03-2001, 04:23 AM
Try putting a dollar a day into a container, it has no real stress on your wallet, I've been doing that for a little while and i've got 50 some dollars already. I'll do that for a couple years.

10-03-2001, 04:49 AM
to answer the OP question:
a whole lot.


10-03-2001, 07:29 AM
Originally posted by mmmiiikkkeee
I'd be paranoid about sticky-fingered friends grabbing a pound or two of change while you're taking a leak - who's gonna notice $30 missing from 400lbs of spare change?

The lid is still on the bucket. In fact, I super-glued it on there and then duct-taped it; not to discourage my friends, but to discourage Mrs. Rastahomie :D. I merely cut a little hole, about 1 1/2 inches by 1/2 inch, to pour the change into.

Yeah, the weight of the bucket & coins is a concern, but if all else fails I can borrow my stepfather's dolly.

As for me- I should fill it up slightly faster than yer average Joe. You see, my night job is delivering pizza, and I generally come home each night with a buck and half to two bucks or thereabouts in change, and that's on a slow night.

10-03-2001, 08:12 AM
Rasta, having used an upside down bucket as a step stool, and seeing what 220 lbs spread out on size 11 feet does to it. I would not recommend even trying to transport the change in the bucket. Unless the bottom is completely supported, the weight of the coins may bust the bottom out. Oh, and my guess $3,333.33

10-03-2001, 10:43 AM
my guess is an assload of change.

one metric assload.

(sorry, but we think in metric here. most people aint got 12 fingers on their hands.. well unless they're from tasmania )

10-03-2001, 11:59 AM
Five Gallons, of course (there you go Ginger). When I read the thread title I thought it was some sort of lame joke a long the lines of, "what weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks."

Anyways, I used to work at an ice cream parlor, and at the end of the day we'd split the tips, and put all the pennies in a five gallon jug and throw a big party with the cash (um, change) once or twice a year. I think it totaled about 200-250 dollars. In pennies.

And I don't know how we lifted it, it was physically impossible to move by hand by the time it was full.

10-03-2001, 01:09 PM
Here's my numbers:

Pennies: 43% of coins, 33% of volume, 14163 coins, $141.63
Nickels: 9% of coins, 11% vol, 3026 coins, $151.30
Dimes: 17% of coins, 10% vol, 5566 coins, $556.66
Quarters: 32% of coins, 45% vol, 10541 coins, $2635.25

For le grande total of $3484.84. But alas, that assumes perfect packing, which is not the case. I'll take Philistine's guess and say 20%. So my guess is $2787.

(Key assumption is that you get every cent value between 0 and 99 equally in your change, which is fair due to tax. So you can just work out the coins in all 100 combos and get the percentages.)

10-03-2001, 06:52 PM
How about the closest guess gets the same amount as Coinstar keeps?? :D

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