• Michelle Dawn Mooney

A Penny for Your Thoughts: Does Keeping the Cent Make Sense?

A recent study finds 7 in 10 adults over 55 say they stop for pennies, less than 4 in 10 millennials would do the same.

"Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you'll have good luck." Remember that saying? Well, depending on your age, you may look at that little Lincoln as more of a nuisance than a treasure. In a recent study, about 70% of adults over the age of 55 say they stop for pennies, but only 40% of millennials say they would do the same. Over the years the debate has grown over whether or not the penny has even grown obsolete.

Today is actually Take a Penny, Leave a Penny Day (no, I didn't make it up). It's an "observance" that reflects on those little trays or cups you often find at convenience stores that encourage people to take a penny if they need help making exact change, or leave one if they have a little extra. I've taken advantage of this system several times, using a free penny or two to avoid getting back a pocketful of change that would come from breaking a bill. On the flip-side I'm always happy to throw a few extra in if they're part of my change. I would like to think that it's 100% about wanting to help others, but the truth is there is a part of me that sometimes would just rather not carry around extra coins. Still, I can't imagine NOT having the penny, and I'm not alone.

More than 50% of Americans continue to see the value of the penny, despite the fact that the US Mint says the cost to produce one is more than double its face value - at 2.06 cents. Keep in mind however, that if the penny is eliminated, then all transactions would have to be rounded off to the nearest nickel. Sounds like a lot more money to me, but that's just my two cents (wink, wink). And so the debate continues.

Whether or not you choose to save your pennies for a rainy day or think their usefulness has gone by the wayside, the penny is still very much part of our financial culture. So for now I'll choose to pick one up and hope to find good luck. At the very least, it will give me something to throw into those little plastic trays at the register. ;)

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