If you’re like most of us, you probably have a jar full of pennies around the house somewhere gathering dust. It’s not like you set out to be in the business of penny storage, but they’ve just sort of accumulated over a period of time.
It’s true that most of us recognize that the lowly penny has value, but it’s equally true that there is some real hostility out there for the one-cent coin. There is an entire group of people out there that absolutely hates pennies, viewing them as a waste.
In fact, there is a growing movement to dispose of the penny altogether. A group called Citizens Against Public Waste says that suspending production of the penny would save American taxpayers $1 billion over the next 10 years, simply because it cost the government way more than a penny to make a penny.
The number of pennies lost in circulation annually might surprise you
Some critics even point to the amount of time it takes to fiddle in your pocket for pennies, saying that it increases commerce transaction inefficiency. "The National Association of Convenience Stores did a study showing that pennies extended transactions by two to two-and-a-half seconds," Jeff Gore told the New York Post. "You lose an hour or two per year dealing with pennies that you happily leave in jars or under the cushion of your sofa. Those couple of hours might not sound like much, but if your time is worth something, we're talking about billions of dollars."
The thing is, if we got over the hate and pooled all the coins in our homes, well, we’d have a pretty penny in hand.
The U.S. government reported in 2016 that an estimated $62 million in pennies are lost every year in circulation, according to Bloomberg.
As a result of the dwindling amount of coins in the U.S. economy, production is being curtailed systematically. We got in touch with the U.S. Mint on Monday and they directed us to 2017 coin production figures that show that their two coin-producing factories in Philadelphia and Denver produced more than 8 billion pennies last year. As has become an American habit, many of them end up totally removed from the commerce cycle. That means that there is a windfall out there in our collective piggy banks.
What to do with those pennies you’ve got
What if instead of perennially storing those pennies, you took time out to actually roll them and take them to the bank or visit one of those machines that counts them for you? You might be surprised surprised how many dollars you'd have right now if you took all your coins and cashed them in.
Try the Penny Challenge
Another way to save throughout the year is to participate in Team Clark's Penny Challenge. The basic strategy here is to put away small amounts of change each week in order to save hundreds of dollars over the course of the year. There's a chart in the link above that can show you how to save week by week.
And the Penny-Saving Challenge
Another strategy involving turning pennies to dollars is the Penny-Saving Challenge, which we found on Truecouponing.com. With this method, you save one penny on January 1, but compound it each day. You can catch up easily. This is how it goes, according to the site:
“On day one, 1/1/17 you put $.01 in a jar. Then each day after that you put the same penny amount as the day that it is, compounding your penny savings and giving you a total of $667.95 by the end of the year! The most you would ever have to drop into the jar is $3.65 on the last day. Now, that’s easier to swallow.”
Okay, now, penny for your thoughts: How much money in coins do you estimate you have in your home?