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The value of a penny

Updated on March 16, 2011

When I was little, my grandpa used to save up all his pennies (and an occasional nickel or dime) in a basket on the tv shelf.  When the basket got full, he dumped it into a coffee can, then the basket would start to fill up again.  He never spent any pennies if he could help it.

When Christmas came, my cousins and I would find something filled with pennies by our stockings.  Sometimes there was enough for a gunney sack, sometimes a knee sock, sometimes a ziploc bag full.  We'd ask Grandpa for penny rolls, and spend some time counting out the money and getting it ready for the bank.  Of course, when we were really young, an older relative would be there to make sure we were counting and rolling correctly, but we learned quickly.

Off to the bank we went, to get dollars that we put in our piggy banks.  When I was eight years old, I remember taking my rolled-up pennies to the bank, along with a check I'd received, and opening up my first savings account.  That year, there was amost $50 in pennies (a knee sock full) and the $15 check.

As we grew older, the amount of pennies decreased.  We had our allowances from chores and other jobs like taking cans and bottles to the store.  By giving us the pennies, Grandpa showed us early how to save and what the true value of a penny is. 

My dad's current job is as a parking garage attendant.  He worked as a grocery store clerk for most of his adult life before that.  Each job he's had, he buys the Susan B. Anthony dollars, Eisenhower half-dollars, and now the golden dollars from the till, exchanging bills for the coins.  Every so often, when I see him he gives me a plastic baggie full of these.  Sometimes I put them in the bank, sometimes they get spent.  It depends on how low I am on funds at the time.

When I was in college, the dollar coins paid for most of my book expenses every year.  Now, they usually go toward our cat care expenses.  Whenever I spend the coins, I smile.  Usually, the people at the stores ask me where I got so many coins from, and I tell them about my dad buying them for me.  Two other people I've talked with have told me they do the same thing.  One of them even pulled out a dollar bill and bought it from the till right then and there. 

My mom keeps her own coin jar. It is a plastic bank in the shape of a dog that she has named "Big Red". One time, its contents helped finance a trip to Hawaii. Another time, they went toward buying a new couch.

Whether it's pennies or dollars, if my husband or I have any loose change around the house it goes into our own coin jar. We have a 5-gallon water container that we use. It was about half full last week, so I took it in to the bank. Lo and behold, there was a sum total of $160.

Sometimes, money comes out of the coin jar to buy food or things around the house. That is just a necessity of life. But, when there is an opportunity to save, into the jar the coins go.

Not everyone saves their coins. Some people leave them at the "take a penny, give a penny" trays at businesses. Others donate them to the March of Dimes or other causes at the checkout counter or CoinStar machine. Some school programs like World Wildlife Fund's Pennies for the Planet encourage children to save pennies for good causes.

Whatever happens with pennies, they all add up.  I know I will never forget the lessons of my grandpa's pennies and my dad's dollar coins.  I hope to continue those lessons when I have children, so they can learn the value of a penny.  I don't save every coin, but enough of them get into the jar to make a difference. 

Do you save your pocket change?

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    • ameliejan profile image

      ameliejan 6 years ago from Alicante, Spain

      I save "copper" as we call it in England. It mounts up!

    • profile image

      edueck 7 years ago

      You have learned a valuable lesson in life that no one can take from you and I'm glad you shared it with us.

      Thank You

    • profile image

      antonio 7 years ago

      thank you for the hub im a growing boy thats 11 and im saving up for a mini flatscreen tv to go in my room so im saving up in a huge jar and ive got millions of pennies in a shoe box as well, thank you so much :)

    • ChloeP profile image

      ChloeP 7 years ago

      I save as much of my change as I can, and when a big need arises I get it cashed in. Last year it made a big contribution to our holiday spending money. Its amazing how it all adds up. "Keep an eye on the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves" as we say.

    • tangoshoes profile image

      tangoshoes 7 years ago

      one time my mom gave me a coffee can full of coins that she had been saving for helping her move... not that I needed any money for it but she thought it would help me out... come to find out it was worth $300! Imagine... a coffee can!

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 8 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      tiny steps lead to climbing mountains

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      It is amazing how the money mounts up even when the value of the individual coins is low.

    • profile image

      multimastery 9 years ago

      Great hub and very wise advice! ...Did you know that if you doubled a Penny every day for 30 days you would be a Millionaire?!

    • TeriB profile image

      TeriB 9 years ago from Jeffersonville Indiana

      I used to work with someone who never spent his change either. He and his wife saved it all year, then there was actually enough for their vacation each year (I'm not swearing it paid for everything, but they had quite a chunk of money). Both worked and if you think of all the times you bust a bill and have change, it really added up! Now, I live with a debit card, so I couldn't do this, but I do empty my coins out into a bank and roll them up--they go to savings! Pennies go to a big pickle jar! See how to save money on wardrobe expenses:

    • zenzer profile image

      zenzer 9 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      very nicely written! i find that when we pay for things in cash only - we spend less, plus are able to save up the change even faster :)

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 9 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      nice hub. each penny counts. there won't be a dollar if it lacks a penny.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      A penny saved is a penny earned. Great hub thanks.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Coin jars of mine have paid for many things in emergencies, and even vacations. Thanks for the Hub!

    • ajcor profile image

      ajcor 9 years ago from NSW. Australia

      and the old scottish saying comes into play again - "every mickle makes a muckle"! great hub - thanks.

    • guidebaba profile image

      guidebaba 9 years ago from India

      Yes, Every Penny Counts.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

      We save pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and have paid for holidays with them.