Man charges more than $ 5,000 in exchange due to shortage of coins

His name is Jim Holton, but he was called “the coin master” by friends and family after he exchanged more than $ 5,000 in an effort to address the national coin shortage caused by the coronavirus.

“I was saving my change after having coffee or running errands,” Holton, a Wisconsin-based painting contractor, told NBC News. “I was hoping to save so that my wife and I could do something fun after our kids graduated from high school.”

Holton, the father of four, started saving when his oldest son, Cameron, was born. Holton had been given a piggy bank from the Green Bay Packers to commemorate Cameron’s birth, but it wasn’t long before he filled the container and needed to search more.

Holton said that over the course of two decades he would fill “any container” he could find with the change, including ice cream containers, buckets and other cans. Still, he was surprised to learn that he had accumulated $ 5,366.05.

“I just thought that when the kids graduated, we could do something fun like going to Europe or something else we never dreamed of doing,” Holton said. “I thought maybe it would be $ 1,000 or $ 1,500 at most.”

Holton kept the change in his basement and had no intention of touching it for a few more years – his youngest daughter, Holly, is currently 15 years old. However, when he learned of the national shortage of coins, he felt compelled to help. He called North Shore Bank in Wauwatosa to see if they could exchange the coins last week and by Friday he was loading three five-gallon buckets and other containers to the bank.

“It felt like it weighed 300 pounds,” said Holton. “I was sweating while pushing the wheelbarrow.”

Jim Holton said the empty containers he filled with coins were difficult to transport.Courtesy of Jim Holton.

The pandemic continues to affect the economy, and currency circulation is no exception. As companies close or implement cashless policies, there is a shortage of change. Last month, the Federal Reserve established a United States Coin Task Force to “mitigate the effects of low coin inventories caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While the Federal Reserve said in a statement that it “is confident that currency inventory problems will be solved once the economy opens up more broadly,” some banks have asked customers to deposit their change due to shortages. .

Holton, meanwhile, has deposited his windfall into a separate account, one he still hopes to use for a special occasion.

“I won’t be saving coins for a while because of the shortage, but maybe I’ll find another creative way to save money,” said Holton. “If we all do something small in our own communities and help each other, that is what makes the world better.”

The current coin shortage parallels the “penny drought” of 1999, during which companies had to ask customers to stop accumulating coins.