A Penny For My Thoughts

Find a penny and pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.  I repeat this little rhyme whenever I see a penny on the sidewalk and pick it up.  I’m not sure about the luck, but I do know it’s getting a little harder to stoop down to pick them up.  Is it worth it?

Pennies can be a nuisance – you always get some in change – and they can weigh a ton if you don’t empty out your wallet regularly.  A good idea from US finance columnist Liz Weston is to always carry four pennies with you so you never get them in change.

There have been repeated talks about getting rid of the penny and using the nickel as our smallest coin.  In fact, New Zealand and Australia have already eliminated their one-cent coins.

Penny Facts

  • From 1982 to 1996 the coin was twelve sided to help the visually impaired identify it.  They now are produced with a round smooth edge.
  • The Royal Canadian Mint produces about 816 million pennies per year because there continues to be a demand.  Also they simply disappear.  Canadians hoard them, or just throw them away.
  • It is estimated that it costs 1.8 cents to produce a one-cent coin.
  • The average coin last for 25 years of regular use.
  • They are not copper pennies anymore.  Pennies are actually made of 94% steel, 1.5% nickel and 4.5% copper plating.
  • A 2007 survey shows that only 37% of Canadians use and would miss them, 10% toss them and 41% want to eliminate them.

Penny Trivia

  • If you stretched pennies out for one mile, you would have $844.80.
  • A convenience store glued down pennies to the floor for the employees’ enjoyment as they watched their customers’ attempts to pick the money up.
  • A US study found that using a penny increases the amount of time store clerks spend with their customers by approximately 3 seconds each.  No wonder I spend so much time in line!
  • I was surprised to learn that merchants are not required by law to give you change (any change) but they do so because it’s good store policy.  In fact merchants can refuse to take payment of more than 25 pennies at one time, and they can lawfully refuse to take pennies for a $5 purchase (bad PR is another issue).

Other Uses For Pennies

  • Scratching lottery tickets.
  • Flipping a coin.
  • Wishing well sacrifice.
  • Wear in a shoe for luck, or add to penny loafers (if they come back in style).
  • Increase bloom time of cut flowers by adding a penny to the water in your vase.  However, you need an old copper penny for this trick.

Will the days of .99 cent pricing eventually disappear?  Opponents say that with the tax (GST, PST, HST) consumers will get ripped off because stores will always round up.  Fans like to accumulate them in jars or put them in the charity fundraiser bins at the checkouts.

Do you support the idea of getting rid of pennies?

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  1. Andrea on November 3, 2011 at 2:13 am

    I like pennies, every time I find one I say penny, penny pick me up, penny penny, wish me luck.

    Every time I find a penny I consider myself 1 cent richer than I was before, and penny’s also come in handy in the ashtray of my car when I need extra change.

  2. Alina on November 3, 2011 at 3:03 am

    To be honest I think finding a penny on the sidewalk brings a lot more good luck than finding a quarter :).


  3. cashflowmantra on November 3, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Well, I wouldn’t mind getting rid of the penny, but I would first like to get rid of the dollar bill and get the dollar coin like you have in Canada.

    • K on November 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      I wish you guys would get rid of the $1 bill too.

      I really want the penny to disappear. I don’t ever use them, or pick them up off the ground. I’m one of those people that hoards them until I have a few bucks in rolls of them that I can then exchange at the bank for coins or bills. I also think it’s stupid how it costs more than they are worth to make them. Seems silly to me.

    • Elizabeth on November 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm

      American money confuses me — it all looks alike! I hate have a bunch of U.S. bills and then realizing they’re just ones! 🙂

      In Canada, green is $20.

  4. bbrian017 on November 3, 2011 at 8:17 am

    You know if we could all agree the products or services would be a flat rate then it would be fine but what will they do with the 6 cents I’m supposed to get back on a regular basis. I don’t know how our society has become a 1.99 or 19.99 industry but perhaps we can just start paying 2.00 and 20.00

    • Boomer on November 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm

      @bbrian017: It seems the .99 ending is a marketing ploy to make consumers think they are paying less – i.e. 9.99 seems less than paying the double digit of $10. Nuts I know.
      Any price that has a cents component (e.g.$1.50) will generate pennies for change due to our tax. I don’t know if people are ready to round to the nearest dollar though.

  5. SE Book on November 3, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I could honestly car either way, but it might make metal sums easier if the nickel were to be the lowest form of money. Very interesting facts that you have listed, where did you find these facts?, I would love to know a bit more trivia. It was highly entertaining.

  6. krantcents on November 3, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Yes! It would make my collection of Indian head pennies more valuable! I very rarely use cash, so I would not even notic the change.

    • Boomer on November 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      @krantcents: There are some very rare and valuable pennies out there. Both my parents and in-laws had jars and jars of pennies they had saved over the years. Most were newer and not of value except to roll up and cash in. But some were very old and distinct – it was fun looking through a coin book to see what we had.

  7. rob on November 3, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Save your penny & sell them for scrape in 10 year & you will come out with a tidy profit. If the price of metal
    Continues to rise, which it will so start hoarding! in the 80’s the US Treasury saved around around $25m / £14m swapping from mainly copper to zinc. But the price of zinc is on the rise.

  8. Caroline Hanna on November 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Fun topic! I am definitely not a fan of pennies however I do try to use them! They are money and are undervalued! Free the Children is an incredible Canadian charity where you can donate your penny’s to their coin drives. http://www.freethechildren.com/aboutus/financials/qa/


  9. T.M @ My University Money on November 3, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    It’s almost to irrelevant to me, and most people in my generation because we use cards to pay for everything anyway (why wouldn’t I when those people at the credit card company keep giving me sweet stuff even though I pay off my balance monthly?).

  10. Credit Cards Canada on November 4, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    We actually took a stand on this a few months back. Time to get rid of the penny: http://www.creditcardscanada.ca/news/2011-02-15-penny-brief

  11. Jean on November 5, 2011 at 5:07 am

    I think I’ll have to agree with you that it’s time for dear miss penny to go. It really is just a nuisance anymore than anything else.


  12. Simple Rich Living on November 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I am for getting rid of the penny. It costs 1.5 cents (or maybe even more) to make 1 penny. The math tells me it’s not worth it. Generation Y and future generations will most likely use plastic or smart phones to tap and go. If stores have a tendency to round up the price when the penny is gone, I am willing to pay the extra few bucks a year. It’s a waste of our natural resources from the raw material copper and the energy involved in the manufacturing process to produce something that fewer and fewer citizens care to use.

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