Farewell to the lowly penny

Does a penny for your thoughts now cost a nickel?
Is penny wise and pound foolish now nickel wise and kilo foolish?
Monday marked the end of the penny in Canada as banks no longer will issue this historic piece of Canadian money. Since 1858, the coins have jingled in everyone’s pocket.
More recently, though, many Canadians have chosen to leave the penny behind. In fact, few today would stoop to pick up what once was known as a “lucky penny” (it is just too much work).
The penny today costs more to create than its value.
Listening to CBC Sunday call-in this past weekend, a caller let it be known that he has been buying pennies from the bank, drilling them, and using them as washers because washers cost almost a nickel each compared to a penny.
Alas, his savings may be coming to an end.
When I was a youngster, I would be sent to the store to buy a quart of milk or a loaf of bread with a quarter for each. And with the change of three or four pennies, I was rewarded with up to 20 pieces of candy in a little brown bag (that was my payment for running an errand for my mother).
I wonder today if you still can buy any candy for a penny. An economist on the call-in show let it be known that you would require 20 pennies today to buy what you could have bought with that single penny 50 years ago.
The Canadian penny still remains legal tender. Businesses still will accept the penny, as will banks.
The mint made its last penny in May, 2012 and since then, the penny has been on borrowed time. Annually, the mint produced more than 150 million pennies for circulation and it estimates Canadians have hoarded over nine billion of those coins in jars, cans, drawers, and cupboards across the country.
Those nine billion coins would be worth $90 million.
What would happen if everyone across Rainy River District lightened the load on their floors by turning over their hoards of pennies to the Riverside Foundation for Health Care or the local “Community Chest”? It could be a windfall for either organization.
It would make the pennies valuable for one last time and at the same time help the families of Rainy River District. I am certain that other charities also would be glad to accept pennies.
Canada is not the first nation to do away with its penny. Australia and New Zealand did away with theirs several years ago and everyone adjusted to it.
At some stores in those two countries, businesses actually round down everything to the nickel. In Canada, several businesses have indicated they only will round down to the nearest nickel.
They see that as a reward to attract cash-paying customers.
For those using credit or debit cards, there will be no rounding up or down of transactions. You will be charged the exact amount, as you would be if you wrote a cheque.

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