$50 million is a lot of pennies

Alright, do something for me.  I need you to really think about this.  Reach in your pocket, the one where you keep your change–or find your change jar or whatever you use–and fish out a few pennies.  Look at them closely.  What are you planning on doing with them?  Think about what you are saving up for.  And answer honestly, do you really need the penny?

I mean, if you are like me, you collect a few pennies each day when you get change from your coffee, or your lunch, or your newspaper, and at the end of the day you drop the loose coins in a jar (I actually use a small vase that I got with a wedding centerpiece) and one day, months from now, you’ll find yourself with a few hours to waste and you’ll count up all the pennies you have collected. You might even roll them!  And you might even get excited about the $6.53 windfall you’ve come into.  Or maybe you’re not like me and you’ll just head to the coin star machine at the grocery store, which will count your change and then take a chunk right off the top (in this case 58 cents*) and you’ll get excited about your $5.95 windfall.

And who wouldn’t be excited about an extra $6?  That’s a $5 footlong at Subway, plus tax, plus a cookie!  But here’s the thing: that six dollars you just saved cost the US Government ten dollars!  (and we all know where the government gets their money)  It seems because of rising material costs, every penny now costs 1.67 cents to produce.  (Actually that was in 2007, apparently costs have gone down a bit in 2008, but it’s still way above the face value of a penny.)  The US minted 7.4 billion pennies in 2007, and some basic math reveals that that $74 million in pennies cost taxpayers an additional $50 million.  Just so we can all enjoy that pleasant jingle in our pockets and continue to fill up our coin jars.

$50 million isn’t going to solve our national debt, but it will go a long way towards any number of public service projects like schools, homeless shelters, disaster relief, or AIDS/Cancer research.  And why do we continue to waste $50 million every year?  Because our government believes we can’t live without our pennies.

So take a look at that pocket change, and ask yourself, “What has the penny done for me, lately?”

If you want to see where I got my numbers check out this CNN article from last May.

*Coinstar stated fee

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One Response to “$50 million is a lot of pennies”

  1. Renee Bouchard Says:

    Fascinating! Your blog is great, btw!

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