April 7, 2012

The ‘penny’ issue…  continued.

When I was in my ‘adulthood’, I made a conscious effort to do what, obviously, a lot of other people do.  Save the pennies.  From the first day I moved into my very first apartment, and even to this day, the lowest piece of currency for the country I either visit or live in, is not saved.  Canadian ‘pennies’, American ‘pennies’, Taiwan ‘1 yuan piece’…  I still have ‘coppers’ from Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand.  In each of these countries, these little coins are basically worthless on their own.

Back to saving these little coins.  About 2 years after moving out on my own, I had decided I needed a change.  I had been saving all these little coins in jars.  I had about five or six of these jars.  Once, I decided to count  one jar and see how much I had ‘saved’.  I figured each jar contained about $100.00 in ‘pennies’.  Intriguing.  Without really thinking about it, and consciously keeping in mind that these coins were ‘worthless’, in unity, they were quite valuable.

I cashed in the coins at the bank for paper money.  Then, went to the train station and booked a train (return) to Ottawa.  Why Ottawa?  I don’t know.  When I got to Ottawa, I stayed at the “Y”.  I was there for four days, three nights, before returning to London.  During that time, I went job hunting, doing interviews and taking test after test, until finally, I realized that Ottawa was where I would move to.

The whole point here was that, these little coins paid for the train fare, three nights stay at the “Y”, food and coffee during that time.  My ‘love’ of ‘pennies’ was solidified.  Once I moved to Ottawa, I  then made the effort to not only save pennies, but save nickels as well.  By this point, I was now using two-litre bottles.  At one point, cashing in the ‘nickel’ bottle, I realized there was over $500!  After that, then dimes were next.  I figured that since the dime is smaller than the nickel and penny, then a bottle full of dimes was going to be a lot more!  Sure enough, when the time came, over $1500!!

This obsession of saving coin currency increased over the years.  Now, here I am in Taiwan.  I have done the same thing – saving all coins.

Sometimes, it has been a bit tough.  Saving is not the issue… it’s the resisting to spend the money.  In Taiwan, there are four coins of currency:  1nt, 5nt, 10nt, and 50nt.  Unlike Canada and the States, these coins have a value.  There are still things, like LUNCH, that one can purchase for 40-50nt.  Therefore, saving 50nt coins is proving difficult at times.  The ‘pennies’ and ‘nickels’ is easy.

If I have been saving these coins over my years as an adult, and reading that the Royal Canadian Mint and Government of Canada estimate that billions of ‘pennies’ are still in circulation, that tells me I’m not the ONLY person saving them.  Thousands of other people do the same thing.  When I purchase something, whether the amount is 199nt or 101nt, I will always give the clerk 200nt and get the change.  Very rare will I ever use coin.  When I get home at night, the coin I’ve collected through the day gets emptied out of my pockets and bookbag, and sorted into its respective banks.  When the banks get too full, the coin is deposited to my account.

Should Canada (or the U.S.) abolish the ‘penny’?  From a government spending point of view, yes.  From the view of people like me, a forced savings, no!  In reality though, what would really change?  Instead of collecting pennies, I’d be collecting nickels.  When it comes time to cash in these jars/bottles/banks, it just means I would have more cash.

I suppose I would suggest to anyone looking for a way to save money these days, is follow my (and many others) lead… find a jar or bottle (plastic preferably) that you can easily put money in, but not as easily take out.  Save all those little coins.  Don’t expect that you’ll make a million dollars or anything, but every year, being able to cash in enough to pay for a train ticket or plane ticket somewhere…

That’s it, that’s all… for now!


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