Ah, the penny. The bright, shiny, Abraham Lincoln adorned, copper (cough, zinc) penny. If you haven’t already heard, the United States Mint announced four new one-cent coins for 2009. The redesign is in recognition of the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the first minted Lincoln penny. So, I guess, be on the lookout!
Long are the days of the 95% copper penny, which stopped in being minted in 1982 due to the rising costs of copper. Now, pennies are are composed of 97.5% zinc and only 2.5% copper. But the real issue here is the fact that it actually costs more to make each one-cent penny than it actually is worth and it has been for years! It is estimated that it costs 1.2 cents to create each penny, even with the lower amounts of copper. According to the 2007 U.S. Mint Annual report, the overall costs of production and shipping the minted pennies was $.0167.
Gone are the days of penny candy and gone are the days of buying a loaf of bread for a penny. So what exactly is the purpose of the penny if there are no products available for a penny? Pennies are littered on the ground almost everywhere. I can also think of several times where cashiers have failed to give me back my ‘penny’ change. Inflation isn’t going away and it seems the penny isn’t either.
I’m not exactly anti-penny, but I feel that it may be time to at least consider stopping the production of pennies. There are millions in circulation already and I think we can scale back a bit, especially since people don’t really care about the poor, poor penny. Polls have stated that Americans don’t want the penny to go away, 2/3 of those polled in fact. Not only that, but there is a pro-penny lobby, Americans for Common Cents. The advantage of keeping pennies around is to create an easy and simple way to save some money.
I understand the ultimate fear of abandoning the penny, the thought is everything will be more expensive, even if it is only a few cents. I really don’t think everything would have to be rounded up, but I do figure it would cause a little havoc at first to redesign all the point-of-sale infrastructure.
Maybe the real fear is that all the wonderful penny quotes that have been embedded in our fiscal advice all these years will have to be changed:
- A dime saved is a dime earned?
- A dollar for your thoughts?
- My two Sacagawea’s worth?
- Quarter wise is often pound foolish?
- Nickels on the dollar?
Of course, the thought is, what’s next? The nickel, dime or quarter? Might I add that is costs nearly $.10 to create a nickel! Can we really survive without the novelty machines to flatten the penny? Do dime loafers sound silly? Just trying to make cents of all of this, stupid cents.
So are pennies here to stay?