## Monday, May 19, 2014

### When Does 5 Minus 3.50 Equal 8?

There's a great little pizza place near my office in Evanston that I stop in for lunch about once a week.  Recently, I picked up a slice of pizza for \$3.50 and was given \$1.50 back in change for my \$5 bill.  On the face of things, I was given the right amount of change but in reality, the cashier actually handed me about \$8.  Keeping in mind the cashier correctly handed me a \$1 bill and two quarters, how did I end up with \$8?
Pre-1965 dimes, quarters, and Kennedy half-dollars have a silver content of 90%.  The content of every dollar made up of these pre-1965 coins is about .715 ounces of silver, so almost three-quarters of an ounce.  If you have four quarters that were made before 1965, even though the face value is \$1, a local coin shop will give you about \$14 for those quarters (minus a small transaction charge).  At the time of this writing, an ounce of silver is worth about \$20, so if you take .715 times \$20, you get roughly \$14.  What happened at the pizza place was the cashier gave me a \$1 bill and two pre-1965 quarters.  Those two quarters weigh about a third of an ounce, and with silver at \$20 an ounce, he gave me around \$8 in real change back (including the \$1 bill)!

If you want to try making money looking for silver coins, call your local bank and ask them to put aside rolls of Kennedy half-dollars.  You can do this with quarters and dimes too, but half-dollars will obviously save you a lot of time and effort.  The number of coins you want to look through depends on your time and patience, but I think \$200-\$300 worth of coins is a good start.  Even though the coins you're looking for will be few and far between, it may be worth the time considering it's very possible you could come across a valuable batch of coins.  If you happen to come across 1965-1970 Kennedy half-dollars, put those aside also.  Those are comprised of 40% silver, so even though their silver content is less, \$1 in face value is still worth about \$7 (at the time of this writing).  Money doesn't grow on trees, but anytime you pay cash for something, take a quick look at the change you get from the cashier; you could get a nice surprise from time to time!

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