If you are like me you probably keep some sort of jar, bowl, or piggy bank someplace where you throw all your loose change into at the end of the day. Then every once in a while you take that container and pour all the change onto a table where you roll your fingers through it and giggle like you have a lot of money. The container was usually pretty heavy with all that shiny metal inside. Then you have a wrapping party where you get some coin wrappers, roll all the change up and take the few dollars to the bank. (By the way, never use those damn coin counters you see at the stores. They take 10%. Rip off.) When I was but a wee lad, my old man used to have a coin wrapping party a couple times a year. He used an old Maxwell House coffee can, which we had dozens in the house because my parents are coffee junkies, and I got to help him wrap the coins. Actually he was too lazy to do it himself so I got to do it while he sat back and downed another hot cup of joe. At the end of the grand wrapping I was always amazed at how much money we had. It never amounted to much more than $20 or $30 dollars but back in the late ’50’s, (1950’s smart ass) that was a lot of dough.
In those simpler times if you had pennies you had usable cash. You could head to the candy store and walk away with a bag full of tooth rotting sugar. If you bought a bottle of soda, which back then came in an actual glass bottle, not these plastic monstrosities or aluminum cans that destroy the taste, you could take the bottle back to the store and get a couple pennies back. Once in a while if you were able to score a full six pack of empty bottles that was gold, at least to an 8 year old. Today, not so much. Although that candy store still has a penny candy counter, pennies themselves have become worthless.
I still save my change, putting it in a bowl at the moment, but I use cash much less than in the past so it takes quite a while to save up enough coins to even wrap. I did a wrap party the other day and noticed that the pennies, while they accumulated the fastest, were hardly worth the effort anymore. I did some computatating and figgered that over the course of a year I might save up almost $3 worth of pennies. I’m thinking, “What’s the point?”. It’s not like they are worth the time it takes to even throw them in my pocket. So, I have decided to give up on the penny. Why bother. The Canadians did it recently. They dropped the penny from their currency. Good enough for me. It’s something this country should do. Hell, it costs a nickel just to make a penny. That’s some pretty sound business practices there. Try running your own business where it costs you 5 times the selling price to make your product and see how long you stay in business. Anyways, from now on, when I get any pennies I’ll just leave them at the counter for the cashier to keep on the side, or drop them in some donation jar, or throw them out. It’s not like I’m throwing away money.
As for the other coins I’m going to keep an eye on how long it takes to save up enough to wrap. Nickels will probably be next. I don’t get too many as nobody else wants to give up the penny and just round off to the nearest nickel. Dimes seem to gather a little faster and at least you have $5 when you get enough to wrap. Not much but $5 does pay for a couple bus rides or a half gallon of milk. It all depends on how long it takes to save up enough to fill a coin wrapper as too whether they are worth keeping or not. Running around with a pocket full of change is a waste of time. Nothing more irritating than waiting in line while the person in front of you is counting out enough change to purchase another lottery ticket or a pack of cigarettes. Even banks are suspicious when you walk in with a hand full of wrapped coins. Darwin forbid you should sneak a Canadian penny in there someplace. Most banks make you write your account number on the wrapper so they can track you down later and beat the penny out of you.
Quarters still have some value, not necessarily monetary, but I use them for the laundry. Beyond that they don’t accumulate very quickly. If I could, I would do away with all coins completely but the rest of the country don’t seem to want to go there just yet. I still use cash now and then either by necessity or because I don’t trust that sleazy looking cashier who seems to be eyeing up my debit card numbers just a bit too close for comfort.
There does seem to be a slow move towards a cashless society. Even credit and debit cards are going to eventually be phased out as people like Apple continue to come up with new ways to pay for stuff simply by waving your iPhone in the general direction of whatever it is you want to buy. Until then we are still stuck with cash. A dirty, (literally) pain in the ass way of paying for stuff. You have to mint cash, distribute it, account for it, store it, physically carry it, and argue over putting religious messages on it. It costs fuel, resources, and manpower to create, (physically create, not the earning part). We as a country and a people ain’t quite ready to go completely cashless yet. Some may never be. But that is the direction we are heading too.
Personally, I’m getting a head start on going cashless by giving up the penny. Then I’ll work my way up from there. Although I will miss the coin wrapping parties. And that penny candy counter.