I tried the ‘save in a jar’ technique for a little while, wasn’t too impressed. I did end up collecting around 80 dollars in the jar, most of it in canadian 2-dollar coins, which became part of my wedding gift to my brother and his wife, who were asking for cash donations. (the rest was twenties in an envelope.)
It doesn’t really seem to fit my patterns with money… I might accumulate a lot in the jar, but then I just need to go and get bills out of the ATM sooner. Most of the big things I want to save up for, (whether it’d be investing, paying off debts or big splurge purchases) I don’t want to have in little coins - I want to have the funds available in my bank account.
I have developed, since then, a complicated way of dealing with change. Quarters, one and two-dollar coins get transferred regularly into my ‘laundry bag’… I do my clothes in the laundromat in the same stretch of buildings as my apartment, and the machines take quarters and one-dollar loonies, and the change machine is good with coins. (Trying to feed it bills can be a much more frustrating proposition, not to mention leaving you with a larger lump of quarters and loonies at a time.) If the laundry bag of change seems to be growing on the heavy side - more change coming in from my wallet than is getting spent on the laundry machines, then I transfer some of the most valuable coins back into the wallet.
Smaller change - pennies, nickels, and dimes, I use when I’m buying other things with cash - if the total on the till comes to $3.14, before handing over the five dollar bill I count out two nickels and four pennies and put them on top of it so the clerk can just hand me a two-dollar coin back. Either that, or sometimes I leave a tip in a lot of small change at a restaurant.