Finances & Money

Why bother picking up pennies?

Although I don’t like to waste, I don’t generally find value in bending over and picking up a dirty penny. However, I do enjoy learning how others find loose change, such as My Good Cents. I figure, hey if you can make a story out of it, then at least it’s interesting to read.

Even I didn’t resist when my old coworker offered me about $5 worth of loose pennies that he collected during breakfast and lunch every day for 18 months at work. It was the last day of my last contract, and I had gone in to collect all my things, as did everyone else. My coworker didn’t have a bag (while I did), and even if he did I doubt he would have lugged around a couple pounds of coppery metal on his trek back home.

But imagine collecting 55,000 pennies over 19 years! You might immediately see that huge number and think it’s a fortune, but alas it’s only $550. I wonder if all that bending and squatting will cause more back problems than could be covered by $550. Now if it was anything higher than a penny, then I’d be impressed and even jealous. But 55,000 pennies is just a burden in my mind.

Here’s how much 55,000 coins in other denominations would be:

Nickels: $2,750
Dimes: $5,500
Quarters: $13,750
Half-dollars: $27,500
Dollar coins: $55,000…duh!

Unfortunately, other people find the value in silver- and gold-colored coins so you’d be hard-pressed to come by 55,000 nickels, much less dollar coins. But if you enjoy searching for spare change, then all for you. It’s just not for me unless they’re in large batches.

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Clever Dude


  • Whenever I go though the toll booth near my house, I’ll stop, open the door, and pick up any lose change I see. I usually come out with about 75 cents. It’s not much, but it sure ads up.

  • Quarters for us always go to laundry. The rest can go other places–periodically I’ll use it to recharge my SmarTrip. But that doesn’t take pennies, unfortunately.

    Lots of people use pennies to pay their library fines. I don’t mind, I think it’s creative.

  • ERE: At 2 seconds per penny, you would only earn $18 per hour if you had a line of 1800 pennies that kept you busy for that entire hour. Like I said, I’ll take a clump of coins if they’re offered or available, but I don’t think I’d just pick them up off the sidewalk or other perceived dirty place because the cost in handsoap and water or Purel is more than that one penny, I’m sure.

  • Yeah, I know it’s not a full time job. However, most likely I would not be paid to walk past the penny, so why not. I expect money to be dirty in general. After all how do you know that the penny you were just handed at the cashier didn’t spend time some time on the side walk.

  • I can’t help but think you are earning too much (or thinking too much) when the day comes you walk over money. How much time do you spend thinking about coupons and how much CFBs save you, but you won’t pick up a coin. Think of what happens if you don’t have that coin when it comes time to pay?

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