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Picking up pennies makes cents

By Crystalee Beck, KSL.com Contributor  |  Posted Mar 5th, 2012 @ 12:20pm


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I believe in picking up pennies.

This personal stance goes back to high school days when I rescued left-behind coins on campus and deposited them in a jar at home. Over four years, the jar grew heavy. By cap and gown time, I’d collected more than $80, quite a nice graduation bonus for an 18-year-old.

Spare change waits to be found. I’m talking more than sums sprinkled on sidewalks or cents congregating below fast-food drive-in windows. Did you know airports, apparently, are gold mines? According to an article in The Hill last month, the Transportation Security Administration found more than $400,000 in spare change in 2011.

To be exact, travelers left $409,085.56 behind in the security bins — quite a mighty load of pocket change!

And right now if no one comes back to get the left-behind change, the TSA gets to keep it. Just more of your money going to the federal government.

Online Poll

How often do you pick up loose change?
1. whenever I find it
2. Sometimes, depends on the value
3. Sometimes, depends on where it is
4. Rarely, little return on my investment
5. Never, nor worth the effort
How often do you pick up loose change?
1. whenever I find it
2. Sometimes, depends on the value
3. Sometimes, depends on where it is
4. Rarely, little return on my investment
5. Never, nor worth the effort

Talking about a hefty sum, one Utah man last year allegedly used pennies in retaliation. Jason West paid a disputed $25 medical bill with 2,500 pennies, resulting “in him being charged with disorderly conduct.”

On the flip side, your spare change can help many good causes. Under the charitable organizations umbrella of the Network for Good, yoursparechange.org poses the question, “What’s your spare change?” and provides a link to donate to education efforts in Sierra Leone. A running tally of donations shows $25,706 has been donated so far.

“With 150 wooden boards, 50 bags of cement, six trips of sand, six trips of marble, 25 bundles of zinc, five iron doors, handmade wooden benches, 16 workmen, dawn to dusk, 10 days and over 200 donors, we built a school, “ the website said.

Are coins really worth all the trouble of bending over? The Peter, a young YouTube moviemaker, quite cleverly calculates in his short clip “Picking Up Pennies” that if you were to take an average of three seconds to pick up a penny, and do so for an hour, you’d be making $12 an hour. If it’s a nickel, your hourly rate jumps to $60 an hour.

And that, coin finders, is my two cents on the matter.



Crystalee Beck is a writer and penny rescuer living with her husband in Ogden. Follow her handle @Crystaleelee on Twitter, and email her at delightedtowrite@gmail.com

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