February 10, 2013

Penny Pinching

This week in Canada the penny - our one cent currency - was officially halted in production. Apparently, it had become too expensive to manufacture the penny, and it reportedly cost more to make a penny than a penny is worth. This change in Canadian currently has obvious implications for the way we spend out money and the way that things are priced. Though the penny remains valid as Canadian currency and will be excepted at stores and banks, it is officially being phased out of circulation. In order to accommodate this change, the Canadian government has provided guidelines for stores and other retailers with respect to altering their prices in order to help phase out the use of pennies. No longer will Canadians have to pay prices that would require the use of a penny; this means that prices will be rounded wither up or down in order to ensure that they end in 0.05. Officially, it has been declared that all prices ending in 0.01 or 0.02 will be rounded down to 0.00, and all prices ending in 0.03 and 0.04 will be rounded up to 0.05.

We all know that with any big change comes confusion. Though you would think that this policy is pretty straight-forward, there are clearly some concerns in application. On Monday, when this change officially rolled out, several prominent country-wide grocery store chains refused to accept the penny, but still charged customers prices that did not follow the round-up or round-down policy. This basically forced customers to over-pay for their products. On Thursday, I attended a large national brand sandwich shop, and was informed that my lunch came to a total of $5.35. When I informed the cashier that I would be paying via my debt card, she apparently changed her mind, and re-informed me that the price of my lunch was $5.37. I don't care about the extra two cents that I was required to pay, but the fact that my method of payment changed the price of my lunch stuck me as strange.

I am sure that all of this confusion will be sorted out within the coming weeks, as stores and retailers will make more sense of the government polices and will be able to implement them seamlessly. However, this change leaves me with a problem of my own: The large penny collection that I have at home. Both my husband and I were avid penny collectors as children, and as a result we have a mountain of pennies stored in various containers around the house. Initially I thought that perhaps I should hold onto all of these pennies, as they would likely increase in value since they are no longer in production. However, the general consensus is that pennies will be nothing special, and they really won't increase at all. In fact, it's likely that they will decrease and only be as worth as much as the tiny bit of copper used to make them. So, my options are as follows: I could keep holing onto this collection and never spend it, or I could roll them and deposit them at the bank. Or I could be that person at the grocery store. You know the one I mean: The one who brings a massive bag of change to the store during the Saturday morning grocery rush, and proceeds to enter the express lane and dump and count this copious amount of coin on the conveyor belt, thus ruining any notion of express for anyone in line behind them. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we are going to be seeing a lot of these people in the very near future...

Photo Credit: Skeptikai

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