Abolishing the Penny

November 6, 2002

Whenever I go out around my neighbourhood I find myself picking up spare change. No, not one of those Need a Penny Take a Penny thingies. You see we don’t own a vehicle so I’m either walking or taking transit. I see the ground, and not the car in front of me.

One of the quickest ways for me to add real hard cash to my purse is to walk past the high school just up the street! Good grief! These kids must have money coming out of every orifice! They throw it around and I lean over to pick it up! They chuck their pop bottles, cans and fruit juice boxes everywhere along the street, not to mention food they don’t like. (I’ve even found two separate cell phones over the last year!) Every couple of months the husband and I have enough, on the high school-ers leavings alone, for a cheap burger each.

Sometimes I find change in other ways like a bag credit at Safeway or Co-op grocery stores. Did you know you could take your own bags and get a 3 or 4-cent credit on each? Hey! It’s a few pennies off your bill, and maybe some help for the environment. I have been specifically told by Safeway managers to ask the cashier for the credit, “Because sometimes they forget.” I won’t go into my opinion of sleepy students working in cashier jobs, I’ll just say I wouldn’t want that means for cash. Unfortunately, some people have a very negative view of the lowly – or should that read, humble”?penny. One young check out clerk forgot to give me the credit and I politely reminded her. She snapped at me, “Oh all right! It’s only three cents!” “Yes,” I complained, “but it’smy three cents.”

So why am I having such “anal” behaviour over a penny? I have heard time and again that Donald Trump and other monster millionaires have made their millions by quibbling about and saving pennies. So “?scuze me, Miss Crabby, but I want my three pennies:and I want to be a millionaire.

None of these methods withstanding, think of how your life would be changed if they got rid of this tiny little financial chunk of history. First, would you be able to work out the 7% GST credit? No. You’d either have to hope that our politicians would bring it down to 5 and keep it there, or you’d have to expect that those %#$&! in Ottawa would raise it to 10. I’ll give you a guess which direction I think it would go.

Now let’s say you can deal with the change to the GST -so you turn on the TV and watch your favourite program, pop some popcorn and along comes one of those famous commercials that yell about the furniture on sale. “Only 500 dollars” they yell at you. “Huh,” you say in shock choking on your popcorn. Well, now they can’t holler “$499.98″ because there’s no such thing as a penny.

Are there any other situations for the lowly penny to be missed? Oh plenty:your personal taxes, dental bills, specific food items, etc. They’ll all change. Will they be okay to pay extra for? Probably not:it all adds up.

I ask you therefore to rethink chucking the humble little penny the next time you find them sitting in your pocket getting heavy. Take them out and put them in a safe place in a container or save and roll them. See how many you can save up every day. Can you buy burgers? Or can you buy a Mercedes and be the next millionaire without buying 649 tickets? Believe it or not:it is possible!

Penny for your thoughts!

Laura Seymour first published herself, at age 8. She has since gone on to publish a cookbook for the medical condition of Candida. She is working toward her B.A. (Psyc).