A Penny Saved is Just a Penny but a Lot of Pennies is a Dollar

I have this penny that won’t go away.  I know that I should pick the damn thing up and put it in my son’s bank but for some reason I just leave it sitting there.  I mean, it’s to the point that I will be washing down my kitchen counters and I’ll just clean around it.  It would literally take me ten seconds to walk down the hall and place it in the bank, but I just don’t want to do it.  It made me stop and think about why that is. The easy thing would be to say that I just don’t give a shit about that penny but I know that’s not it, because I am forever picking pennies off the ground.  Laziness.  I’m just being lazy, right?  That might be half of it, but I’m not completely sold on that either.  Maybe I am subconsciously giving power to that penny.  Maybe I’m trying to remind myself of something…

As I started to think on that penny I started having many vivid memories of times that pennies played an important part in my life.  Money is money and I never had a lot of it when I was growing up so I knew pretty early on that one penny plus one penny equaled two pennies and another penny would make three (and I’m pretty sure you know how to do simple math, so I’ll stop now) and pretty soon I would have enough money to get a piece of candy or trade it to my siblings for something cool.  I started looking for pennies everywhere –under couches, on the ground, in the gutters…  and it’s not like this practice ended when I got older, I mean, I will still stop to pick up a penny, even if I’m going through a crosswalk and the light is about to turn green.  “See a penny, pick it up; all day long you’ll have good luck!” (Thanks, Marty!)

I don’t love doing it, but I’ll even pick up the black pennies that probably have been pissed on, spit on, and covered in who knows what and put them in my pocket.  Sometimes I’ll clean them and sometimes I won’t (sorry to the poor kid in the fast food drive thru that had to take those pennies as payment) because either way, its money and it still counts.  I find that this attitude helps me a lot, especially at work, when a patron needs to get a copy made but only has pennies.  More often than not that person will kind of shuffle over and look at me with a “Hey, I’m sorry I’ve only got these stupid pennies” look on his face and I will just reassure them that we’re not picky—money is money.  I happily trade the dime or nickel he needs to use the copy machine and he will happily take the money and be on his way.  It’s a win, win baby!

My oldest memory having to do with pennies was set back when I was in kindergarten (don’t strain your brain here– it was about 37 years ago. Ouch!) My mom had to send in twenty cents every day in order for me to get a carton of milk with my lunch.  It was a practice that I never even thought about until the day my mom only had pennies to send with me.  I was a freaking five year old who probably couldn’t even be trusted to have shoes on by the time I got to class, so giving me twenty pennies and having them actually get to my teacher was a dilemma.  However, I have the cleverest mom in the world (and one who doesn’t really care how I might be scarred for life over one of those clever ideas) and she decided to tape those twenty pennies to my shirt. Yes, I was a five year old with two rows of ten pennies attached to my shirt with masking tape!  I remember snickers (all from adults) and getting a lot of attention.  (Hmmm, maybe I found the root of the whole I Want Your Attention but Stop Looking at Me thing.)  As a parent I can now appreciate how brilliant my mom was and sometimes you just can’t think about your kid’s cool factor when making a decision like that.

Pennies played a huge role in my later elementary school years as well. Back in the early 80’s a kid could still get “penny candy” for a few pennies.  Our neighborhood was small and everybody knew everybody and it was really easy for my brothers and sisters and I to take a quick afternoon trip to the local store for a treat.  We didn’t get to go to the store all that often, but when we did we usually had jars, bags, and pockets full of pennies and small change.  Most of this was change we found here and there but sometimes it consisted of borrowed…okay, okay, anonymously repurposed money from mom and dad.  (Mom, Dad, your child was a thief—just in case you didn’t know.) I would get more money for my fund when they would send us to the store to purchase things and they would get all of the paper change back—I (we!) just kept the jingling stuff.  When we had enough money we headed to the store.

pt97201x_atomic_fire_ballsdownload

Tootsie rolls, lollipops, Sixlets, Atomic Fireballs, bubblegum…we went wild!  We’d rush home with our small brown paper bags and then the real fun began—the trading of candy with the siblings. I’ll give you two tootsie rolls for a banana B-B-Bat (anyone remember those?) and one Fireball for two pieces of gum.  This game could go on forever.  Then we’d gobble them all up and start saving for the next awesome trip to the store.  Watch out if mom or dad ever gave you fifty cents to add to your collection. Party rockers in the house tonight!  Then things started getting expensive and we couldn’t afford to get so much candy.  Talk about a downer.  To this day I get depressed when I want to buy a Big Hunk and it costs me $1.39 at the local store.  I almost have to break out the credit card.  For shame!

My last strong memory regarding pennies was when my siblings and I were trying to earn enough money to go to the local water park, Water World.  The notion of saving pennies to get more pennies to get nickels and dimes and quarters was well engrained by then (I think I must have been 8th or 9th grade) and we started to actually save dollars.  Now we could get into some real purchasing.  It was hard to keep hands off of the larger sums of money (I mean, our family practically lived at the local flea market and there was all kinds of crap to waste our money on there) but for the most part we kept our desire to save until we could get what we really wanted.

The summer was super-hot that year and we had yet to get to Water World.  At about $20.00 a person to get in for the day (I’m just guessing here based on what we pay nowadays) it wasn’t a place we got to very often.  Aside from saving all of our pennies and change we would spend hours walking up and down roads collecting cans, pop-top lids and sometimes bottles.  It was hard work that everyone was pretty much sick of within the first ten minutes, but we kept at it.  When it was a good day of searching and we had a nice collection of cans we were so happy and revved up to go out again.  However, if it was hours of walking in the heat and not getting much to show for it we were ready to give up forever.

The nastiest part was when I started to jump into big dumpsters to root around for recyclables.  Not the brightest thing I could have ever done, but it had results. When we were done searching we would go to the closest grocery store where in the parking lot they used to have a big, hulking square machine that you would have to feed the aluminum cans into.  Bags of cans that had been stinking the inside of my mom’s car disappeared into the loud, smelly monstrosity and beautiful, beautiful coins started to spill out.  Twenty five quarters, two dimes and four pennies later we would head home and add to our savings.  With a little bit of a cash advance from the parental units we were able to have our day at Water World.  It would have been a perfect day if I hadn’t scratched the shit out of my back in an extremely dangerous pool during a simulated tidal wave, but that’s a story for another time.  Our saving of pennies had worked and we had created for ourselves a very fun and exciting day.  Ah, memories.

So here I am again just thinking about that silly penny.  I’m going to have to do something with it, even though I don’t have a need to save it like I used to.  I’ll probably take the boy aside and tell him some of these stories and perhaps he’ll understand why I am always trying to teach him how to save money.  I know I can convince him how paying attention to and valuing those little copper thingies can lead to bigger and better results.  Maybe.  But then again, maybe I’ll just throw it in my purse so that I can buy a taco later and not have to break a twenty.

© DRB 2015

Bonus: Click here to enjoy one of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems: SMART. It totally relates to this post. I hope you enjoy!

Want to comment?

Photos: popcultureaffidavit.com, vermontcountrystore.com, cliparthut.com

29 Comments

  1. It totally makes sense that you would give power to that penny after having pennies taped to your shirt – now THAT was funny!! Thank you for the laughs this was a hoot!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s still a fun family that gets told every few years. It was truly an informative moment for me! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The pleasure was mine. Looking forward to many more.

        Like

  2. Hi there! I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! You’re a deserving person so follow the link provided. You can choose to accept or decline or simply acknowledge it. You’re choice. Continue being an awesome blogger! –> https://thoughtsofatrainwreckedpineapple.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/three-cheers-for-liebster/

    Like

    1. Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your Mom’s subtle genius. Must be genetic, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really think that she is! I am going to take your comment as a compliment and make myself a button to put with my other collection of “librarian-ish”buttons I wear at work every day. It will be sparkly yellow and say “Subtle Genius at Work!” I apologize for the late reply–just getting back from vacation!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Make sure you get one of those buttons that light up! I love those things. Being easily distracted, I would sit in front of your desk mezmorized! But, you could tell people I was your loyal fan. Win/Win! Clare

        Like

  4. I had a huge Mayonaise jar….the kind in Walmart on the bulk items isle. I saved my pennies for years….just pennies…..it got so heavy and full that I had to have a male friend of mine help carry it in….the bank teller and I made a game of “how much” would the coin counter show…..I guessed $40 and she guessed a little more….the coin counter whirled and when it finished it was just over $80 dollars…I left the bank with a smile on my face 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, is there anything better than finding out you have more money than you originally thought? That is awesome! Do you still save your change now? If not, why not? It’s interesting that some of us lose that as a habit/hobby! BTW, sorry it took so long to respond, I am just getting back from vacation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will always save my change….you never know when it might come in handy 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I LOVED Atomic Fireballs! My cousin and I would have contests to see how many we could hold in our mouths at a time. (Like 13 or so….)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 13!!!!!!????? My head is hurting right now just thinking about it. If I tried even two, I would probably start choking on one of them once the heat started. You are a complete pro!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you hang on, the burn fades and it’s not so bad. I promise!

        Like

  6. I’m very willing to take pennies off your hands for you. I also accept nickels, dimes, quarters, bills and all major credit cards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I will keep that under advisement. That’s just a little more work than even walking to my son’s room to put the penny in the bank. I’m not sure I’m physically capable of sending them to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dang! I knew there was a flaw in my crafty scheme! 😀

        Like

  7. Loved the image of you going to school with those pennies taped to you! We were the same about money😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is more embarrassing to me now than it was back then! I hope I was grateful for all of the effort my mom went through to make sure I got my milk. Moms are awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Loved the story! My brothers and I would collect recyclables from a local beach park in Hawaii after a holiday weekend. It was hours of work and it stuck to high heaven, but money is money. We would giddily head to the Woolworth to buy our goodies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved Woolworth. I would get twenty Charms lollipops at a time when I went there! The work stinks, but the payoff is definitely worth it! (Sorry for such a late reply.)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Maybe the penny was saying “A penny for your thoughts”. Because it did provoke a very entertaining post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I hadn’t even thought about those stories for so long. It’s funny that one little penny could bring all of that back!

      Like

  10. I love your mothers ingenuity. Those pennies were used in rewarding us for running errands whilst growing up and indeed a penny save is a penny earned. I would put mine together to buy a book or candies, good memories. Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I love the idea of you saving enough money to get a book. I honestly can’t say I ever used my saved money for something like that! It fits you.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the poem and great post. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” – Benjamin Franklin
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Funny, so remember this. I think when I had a $2.00 worth of coin, I’d ride my bike to the local Stop-N-GO (equivalent of 7/11) and I’d buy .10 recess mini cups and tootsies, and then play the video game they had there Mr. Do for .25 cents a game. Why can’t we have things cheaper like that any more? I know our parents back then stated how expensive everything was getting…but now…shoot- it’s outrageous! Good luck with those pennies. What’s that phrase, a penny saved is a penny earned? It eventually adds up to a dollar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I forgot about the video games! My favorites were Tetris and Tron. I didn’t play them much though because it kept me from eating another piece of chocolate–and I couldn’t have that! It is amazing to me how much people want me to spend on a candy bar when it isn’t even as big as the ones we used to get as kids for a lot cheaper! Thank you for commenting and I am sorry for the late reply.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Or the packages look bigger, but filled with air, like peanut M&Ms.

        Like

Please feel free to comment. I would love to hear from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s