Coin Shortage (2020 USA)

How crazy is that ? I always figured we had too much coinage in supply.

Well…fuck. I don’t use cash for much, but I kind of need quarters to do laundry. There is no alternative. It’s been the source of much frustration for me because it’s a pain in the ass to actually have quarters when you don’t use cash and you bank online, but I never expected lack of quarters to be the issue.

Who is still using coins or paper money during a pandemic? That’s insanity.

I think that’s the problem? People aren’t using them, so they’re not circulating. So they’re not available for the things people do still use them for. Like my building’s laundry machines, which are coin operated and don’t function without the coins. There’s no tokens, no card payment, no change machine, nothin’. I get quarters somewhere (Trader Joe’s has been my only reliable source lately) or I don’t do laundry.

There is also a local laundromat but as far as I can tell it’s also quarter-based, it just costs twice as much.

Do you not carry a pouch of coin on your person, to pay for fulfilled quests?


Sounds like First Citiwide Change Bank finally found its niche.

Yeah, I have a big jar of assorted change. It’s essentially the ‘broke before payday fund’. Haven’t had to use it for a while, but it’s damned good to have.

I have one of those jars too. i haven’t put anything into it in a few years. Before the pandemic, I’d use under $300 of cash a year, and now i use 0. Contactless payment has sprung up for an incredible number of things, and I prefer to use that whenever available.

I pay cash for almost everything when I’m in a store. Even groceries. The few places that won’t take cash lately I don’t go to.

Keeps me connected to what I’m spending in a visceral way that even a debit card doesn’t do.

I haven’t noticed a coin shortage where I go yet. But maybe stores can help alleviate this by just pricing stuff so it rounds off (after taxes) to sane amounts instead of crap like $18.42. Much of the time I have the coins on hand to make the total, and I HAVE noticed that vendors are thanking me more than they used to for exact change.

Getting serious now, local Chick Fil A , giving out a free meal with your coin for paper cash trade.

Does this mean there is gonna be a rush on coins? People will be trading their hoarded toilet paper for a roll of nickels?

At least they’re not asking for bottle caps.

Seeing the day a major fast food chain had to go online and beg for ziplock bags full of coins was the Covid twist I never saw coming.


I was discussing this with a friend the other day and he brought up something I’ve also noticed recently. Maybe it’s just in my neck of the woods, but every time I’ve hit the ATM in at least the last month every single bill I’ve gotten out has been brand spankin’ new. Crispy with that new money smell. So there’s no coins but apparently tons of new paper currency in circulation? Anyone else noticed this?

I mentioned to a few people the other day, I haven’t touched paper money since like March.

Heh, yeah. At the hotel last night (my AC’s been out all week and we finally broke an went to a nearby hotel for the night), I was surprised to find 4 $1 bills in my wallet. I guess I must have gotten some to use for parking/bar tips before the concerts I went to the first week of March, and ever since then, it’s just. . . languished.

The sum total of my interaction with paper money in the last decade or more is 1) exchanging them for quarters for laundry and 2) having people I’m eating out with give me paper money as their end of the bill like it’s at all useful to me. If it’s not enough for quarters I tend to just tip with it until it’s gone. Obviously neither eating out with people nor cash tips have been a thing for me since March.

This reminds me of a joke Paul Reiser used to tell in his standup routine, and it’s been so long ago I heard it I can’t remember it all that well. But he said he was always confused reading about people dying penniless in the obituary, and how sad that made people. But to him that was perfect, he was always accumulating all these pennies in his pockets and never had anything to spend them on, and ending up with no pennies must be the goal to aim for.

I often wonder how busqers and pan handlers get money anymore. I basically almost never walk around with cash/change on my person and I assume that a lot of people are the same. That must really hurt the people who rely on handouts.