The Power of a Penny

You all asked me to share some of my old Penny Ann Poundwise writings.  I've edited the post below slightly.  I used to call my family by fictitious names to protect their privacy, so that may read strange to you.  Chance (John), Kay (Katie), Amie (Susan), Jd (Doug), and Sam (Alan) were their former names. 

We no longer save our change for vacations but donate it to charitable ministry programs that we feel are worthwhile.  It still adds up to a decent sum of money and I'm always surprised each month when we cash in the coins so we can write our checks.

What I find more puzzling today is that it's often coins of all denominations that people feel is not worth picking up.  I mentioned a few months ago about a woman dropping a handful of quarters and walking away as they rolled across the pavement.  John related this past week that he stopped in a parking lot and picked up $.78...which a man who'd been sitting in the corner of the store then said "Give that to me..."  John pointed out that he'd been the one doing the work of picking it up, to which the man had no reply.  John is not uncharitable but it seemed to him that the man might at any point have picked up those coins.  Instead he waited for someone else to do it and then asked for it!   John also finds change at work, dropped by co-workers, who feel it isn't worthwhile to bend over and pick it up.  Of the saved change we donate to charity each month, I can say sincerely that $5 a month or more is change John picks up off the floor at work!

Last, the link in the first paragraph is good for the blog mentioned.  The Boomer House is listed on the right sidebar of the linked blog.  Donna doesn't blog there any longer but there are loads of good posts well worth reading.

The Power of A Penny  (originally posted August 18, 2009 @ PennyAnn Poundwise blog)


In between rounds of housework this morning I was visiting and watching some of the videos she's posted.  Two I found most interesting were about Home Economics (and the many avenues that home economics cover) and another she's tagged as Boomer Housewife which is all about the value of savings and thrift.

Well this led, naturally, to my thinking about pennies.  Pennies these days are considered a nuisance.  In fact, the government nearly stopped minting pennies this year.  The cost of minting a penny costs roughly $.02 these days.  And the government seriously considered the value of pennies worthless in today's society.  However, the American public was polled and it was discovered that they couldn't imagine a penniless world.  I found this quite interesting in light of the out of whack spending habits of most Americans.  And good thing.  Do you realize that had the penny lost it's place in our monetary system that all costs would have risen?  Why?  Because with the loss of the penny, all our prices would have been rounded up to an even number, and so would our taxes!
Chance(John) and I have long saved our pennies (and dimes, nickels and quarters) to use for vacation spending each year.  Over a year's time the coins we saved often added up to $200 or more.  Of that, often the pennies alone made up 1/3 of the money saved. 

When our children were little, they often distrusted anyone who wanted to give them a quarter instead of the lovely copper penny.  They instinctively felt the penny, due to it's different appearance was far superior to the silver colored nickel, dime and quarter.  And forget paper money!  Pennies in a little hand could be made to rattle.  Dollars tore and were no longer useful.  A penny was so coveted that Daddy's pockets were eagerly emptied of all pennies and  the few coins collected were safely stowed away in a piggy bank.

Marketing experts long ago determined that the difference between $29.99 and $30.00 on a pricing sign would make or break a sale.  People actually consider the prices ending in the number '9' to be a better buy than those ending in '0'.  That is one reason why Walmart has made such a huge market for themselves.  Think about it.  Given the opportunity to pay $2.49 for an item, or $2.46 for the same thing at Walmart which would you choose.  To save the extra $.03 naturally.  Pennies.   The  mind set that a penny saved is a penny earned still exists, even today in our world of overspending and economic irresponsibility.

What I have found interesting though, is the mind set doesn't extend to the actual penny itself.  How many times have I walked across a parking lot and picked up pennies?  Most people consider them worthless and so when dropped they leave them lying on the ground.  This attitude puzzles me.  Considering what my husband does each day on his job to earn his pay, I figure that bending over to pick up a penny, which will likely get tossed in our vacation jar, requires far less labor than any portion of his job.

It takes me one second to bend over and pick up a penny.  One  second.  If I spent one hour picking up pennies off the ground, the return rate would be $36.00/hour for that work (and I'd likely have a great deal smaller waistline than I do at present!).  Now my husband works hard for his pay.  He makes a LOT less than $36.00 an hour.  Yet, people will willingly ignore pennies literally right under their feet, because they feel it isn't worthwhile to pick them up!

It was not uncommon in my childhood to buy a small brown paper bag of penny candy.  Given a dime we could pick and choose from a variety of candies for that price.  It took us no time at all to figure out that 1 penny equaled one piece of candy and we loved to save our pennies.  Now these days the penny candy is no longer a known item.  It takes more pennies to buy a piece of candy, that's for sure.  But given the power to buy no candy or purchase it only with saved pennies, would you go without candy and fail to save the pennies required?

Often in our households we must determine whether we are going to have this or that.  If our tastes run to caviar and we can only afford catfish we've got a problem. So what's the solution?  Cut down on catfish and a few other items and occasionally have caviar, would be the most reasonable.  How would we do that?  Buying catfish only when it's on sale would be one way.  The savings between buying at regular price and on sale could be set aside for caviar.  Finding a less expensive alternative to catfish would be another.  Either way, you'll get to have your caviar. 

Or you could follow the modern day thinking and buy caviar regardless of your budget, getting further behind and  deeper and deeper in debt and failing eventually to meet even basic family needs all because of your lack of regard for the common every day penny.

Let's start giving the penny the value it has once more!  Let us, as frugal and thrifty home makers, try our best to save the pennies and turn them into the dollars we can use to benefit our home and families. 


Lana said...

All our change goes to Rice Bowls to feed orphans overseas. One local diner here gets miffed if you don't have the change at the register until we told them where our change goes and then the attitude went away. Hubby and I think of Swagbucks as pennies. They do add up.

Anonymous said...

When we were small you could buy what we called dollars. Red candy harder than gummy bears Round and pressed with $1 silver dollar design on it. Mexican hats which were different colors and flavors then the dollars and other candy's 2 for 1cent. That was even more candy than the 1 cent kinds in the candy display. We loved the taste especially of the dollars. We would stand with our little paper bag looking in the glass counter at the corner store deciding which ones to buy with our money. Or should we get a big fat pretzel instead? Yet that Hershey bar or Clark bar or a Turkish Taffy, or Zagnut bar sounded good too but it cost 5 cents. I wish I could find someone who still made those dollars. :-)
It astounds us too the way people throw change down and don't both to even try to pick it up. I am scrambling to get it to give it to them and they don't even want it. Maybe as kids they never had to work and save up money for some thing they wanted. If they did they would understand how much any amount of money adds up to be 'spending money'. That is the ying to the yang, the flip side, of making sure you get the best price and the best quality for your money. You save for it, then watch you use it to it's best advantage. I have always thought of it as a fun game. Sarah

Lana said...

Check mastgeneralstore.Com for your candy. They have everything from childhood. When we go to the NC mountains for the day we love to stop in there and pick out a little paper sack of penny candy which is now sold by the pound. A little bit of nostalgia that makes our day special.

Lana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louise said...

LOL In Canada we no longer have the Penny... and I've heard mention that the powers that be are considering getting rid of the nickle as well... All my change in my purse goes into a change sorter and then I roll it and trade it in for paper.. much lighter to carry than coins, especially since we no longer have the $1 bill or the $2 bill.. we have a "loonie" which is $1 and the "toonie" which is $2.. so your wallet or purse gets quite heavy after awhile.

Debbie said...

My husband and I used to live near a park and we always found change in the grass under the swings. :) We averaged .65 each time we went. I taught at the elementary school across the street so if any of the students happened to be at the park when we were there, I would lead them on a "treasure hunt" to find that change. We lived in a low socioeconomic area and the kids were thrilled to find enough change to buy some candy at the store down the street. :)

Christie Hogan said...

We are all change picker-uppers here. My husband and I have a change jar as does our son. My husband and I save our change for a year and then do a project around the house. Our son saves his and then either deposits it into his savings account or saves it for a specific purchase. My mother was the same way. She saved her change in a butter tub and then used it plastic Easter eggs for the grandkids to hunt at Easter instead of filling the eggs with candy. The kids loved it!
The other day I saw something shiny sticking out of the sand and as I got closer I realized it was a quarter! I felt like I'd hit payfirt!! Lol

Anonymous said...

My mother kept any change that had our birth years as its date. That is what we used for the family vacation. So we all checked our change hoping for those 5 years to show up. Sarah

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