Today may seem like any other day, but it isn’t.
Today’s the day the Royal Canadian Mint stops distributing pennies to banks and retailers.
From here on in, that pound of pocket fluff you’ve been carrying around will gradually dwindle into oblivion, putting all the heat on the nickel and the dime as the next candidates for cash extinction.
I knew the penny’s days were numbered the first time I walked past one on the ground, thought about it for a sec, then walked on by.
That was confirmed when I returned along the same route an hour later and the poor little coin was still there.
I felt sorry for it, picked it up and took it home, where it worthlessly continues to take up valuable space.
Even though it weighs about a kilo, my foundling change is worth a ride on the bus. For a moment, I thought I’d do exactly that, dump it all in a transit coin box, one penny at a time, one final protest against inflation. But lately my therapist says I’m showing real progress on overcoming my sociopathic tendencies, so I decided against it.
Instead, I got curious and examined my change, looking for a legendary 1936 dot or even a 1911 “godless” (printed without the Latin “dei gratia.” There was so much sanctimonious backlash, the mint restored the phrase in 1912 and it’s stayed there since.)
Sadly, no such luck. I did find a penny with no date on it, and was excited for a few minutes until I found a coin blog maintaining I was the proud possessor of one of 716,366,000 pennies commemorating the 50th year of our majesty’s reign over us. Worth exactly one cent. And sure enough, if you look closely on the heads side of the coin, there’s a tiny bit of commemorative data.
I guess this is progress. The penny costs 1.6 cents to produce, about $11 million a year to produce $6.9 million in penny purchase power, a losing proposition, to say the least. The penny has already been eliminated in New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway and Finland, and no doubt other nations usually thrust in our faces as progressive, clean, and nice to visit even if you wouldn’t want to live there.
It’s not as if the penny will disappear overnight — there are still 31,000 tonnes stuffed in jars and under sofa cushions across the nation. But it’s officially over. No more pretending things cost $99.99 because they sound easier to buy than at $100.
And no more penny for your thoughts. Now the minimum wage for your opinion should be rounded up to a nickel, at least until it makes the endangered currency list. But if we follow the government guidelines, it’s more likely our two cents will be rounded down… to what they’re really worth.