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A new way to bring home the bacon

You'll be amazed how much money disappears down the back of the sofa. Alison Brace tells you how to make the most of your loose change

Children are traditionally given piggy banks to teach them the value of money. But you don't have to be fresh out of nappies to enjoy the simple art of saving.

Whether you're three or 63, putting loose change to good use is an easy way of seeing pennies make pounds.

It may sound old-fashioned - but it works.

The piggy bank dates back to the 15th Century and takes its name from "pygg", the orange clay used to make cooking pots and storage jars. Only in the 1700s did the trend take off for pots to be made in the shape of animals and the "piggy bank" was born.

But if you have outgrown the idea of a ceramic pink pig on the sideboard, just go for a humble jam jar.

Or to really set yourself a challenge, how about a 4.5-litre bottle of whisky or a Nebuchadnezzar - that's a giant 15-litre champagne bottle?

So, where to find all that loose change? According to Coinstar, the company which operates self-service, coin-counter machines in 800 UK supermarkets, there is pound;380 million worth of coins lost in our homes and belongings. Try down the back of the sofa, the bottom of briefcases or in coat pockets.

Lynette Bridgeman, a primary school teacher from south-east London and a lifelong piggy bank devotee, says: "I save everything less than a pound;1 coin and regularly clear out the bottom of my bag to find untold riches!"

You could also try giving up something. If it's smoking, then slap a sticker on your coin jar and call it Cash for Ash. Champagne? Then how about Lolly for Bolly?

When the jar is full, start to count. You will be amazed how much you have saved. Bag up the coins and take them along to your bank, or for 7.9p per pound;1, process the lot through a Coinstar machine and turn your change into supermarket vouchers, notes or a charity donation. See to find your nearest machine.

If you really get the coin-saving bug, you can always join Coinstar's challenge to find the UK's biggest hoarder of cash. But you might need a few years to beat the world record holder. Edmond Knowles from Alabama saved $13,084.59 (pound;6,859.55) in one cent coins - known as "pennies" - and filled seven oil barrels in his garage. It took him 38 years - and he never wants to see a penny again


24 million people keep money in piggy banks and jam jars - making it more popular than saving accounts.

Of the 22 billion coins in circulation in the UK, 13 billion are not in use.

The average UK household has about pound;35 in spare change lying around.

What they hold

Large bottle (15,000ml) pound;394.80

Shoe box (3,500ml) pound;92.48

Ice-cream tub (1,000ml) pound;26.32

Coffee jar (700ml) pound;18.34

Jam jar (454ml) pound;11.92

(Source: Coinstar)

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