Loose Change

Do you have a luxury item which you have always wanted and never dared to buy? A day at a health spa? The best seats in the theatre? Here's one way of making your (modest) dream come true.

As a child, I remember my parents' bedroom having a light coloured tiled fireplace in which the open grate had been replaced with a gas fire although this was seldom lit.

In the hearth there usually stood a Dimple Bottle, emptied of its contents of whisky, into which my father and mother would place any spare sixpences in their possession.  Other coins (or notes) were safe from imprisonment but sixpences were destined for a four or five month incarceration in the Dimple Bottle until being released into the general economy.

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The emptying of the Dimple Bottle was awaited with great anticipation - after several months of disinterest in how the contents filled the enigmatic curvature of its frame there was a rush of attentiveness as the level of sixpences accelerated through the neck of the bottle.

Come the joyful day when the bottle was emptied and unaccustomed luxury items would be bought in a great flurry of excitement.

This was the nineteen sixties and, although the Second World War had ended twenty years earlier, rationing of some items had endured for a further ten years.

The material results of the emptying of the Dimple Bottle were smoked salmon sandwiches on the following Sunday evening and, probably, a steak dinner which would be home cooked - restaurant meals were rarer than even the emptying of the Dimple Bottle not because we were excessively poor but because the prevailing culture in post war Britain was less attuned to eating outside of the home.

My mother might have a new dress, I would be given a new toy truck or box game while my father, being a man of few material desires, would usually settle for the satisfaction of seeing our elation,.

I remember very clearly that the bottle would hold around £32 - which I was astonished to find is equivalent to more than £550 in 2016 (see Inflation Calculator).

Nearly fifty years later I introduced Mahtab to the concept although I used the cylinder which houses a bottle of Balvenie whisky instead of the bottle itself. I also decided to use all silver coinage rather than just one coin.

It was an idea with which she readily identified having lived in Iran during the eight year war with Iraq when - as my own mother had said under similar circumstances in the nineteen forties - bananas were not seen for several years at a time.

We didn't have a particular item in mind but we did target Tea at The Ritz - a luxury experience which had always seemed an extravagant indulgence to come out of the household budget.

We emptied the cask at about three quarters full and counted out something over £220. This more than covered the cost of our trip to The Ritz where, almost like a couple of naughty schoolchildren, we were able to enjoy the afternoon without feeling we had really had to pay for it!

The sixpence disappeared in 1971 when the UK changed to decimal coinage and is the equivalent of two and a half new pence. Neither, do I see many Dimple bottles these day but you can adapt the concept to your own preferences.

Give it a try - you will be amazed at how much loose change you have kicking around which almost gets in the way. Choose your own container and decide what coins you are going to save then, before going to bed each night, place all your designation of coinage into the container.

Have fun saving it and have fun spending it!

© Jonathon Clark 2016