A Penny Saved Is A Penny…Wasted?

I have this little habit that annoys Jim to no end. I use change*. I will, if I can do it quickly, dig correct change out of my purse when I’m paying for something so I can get dollar bills back…and NOT more change. If I’m going to get change back no matter what, like if my purchase costs $4.62 and I’m paying with a $5 bill, I will actually try and locate twelve cents in the bottom of my purse so I can get two quarters back instead of three pennies, a dime, and one quarter. He thinks that’s a waste of time, and could care less about getting change back. I’m okay with that, for him. (Nice of me, don’t you think?)

I had no idea how or when I started doing this, though I have vivid memories of going to the mall with a friend when I was about 8 or 9 (back in the 70’s it was nothing unusual to let kids of that age walk around the mall alone!), stopping at the new in-the-mall McDonalds, and paying for my cheeseburger and fries with ALL PENNIES. If that happened today, I would have been beaten fifty times with a wet, smelly dishrag handed over by the McD’s dishwasher in back. But back then, though I held up the line while the cashier counted (and sighed), it wasn’t a big deal.

Or maybe I was too young to notice. Bygones.

Anyway, the point is, I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with spending change. Even the beleaguered penny.

Use what you’ve got, you know?

Recently, the older boy and I were putting stamps on some outgoing mail for his Boy Scout Eagle project. I didn’t have enough 42-cent first class stamps, but I DID have some in smaller amounts, so we set about putting stamp combos on the envelopes. For the most part, it wasn’t crazy amounts, mostly no more than two stamps per envelope to make sure there was enough postage. On one or two, I had to put four stamps on to get it right. He looked at me and said, “You’re kidding me, right?” (He gets it from his father, I guess.)

I said, “Hey, no big deal…one stamp or two, the letter will get there either way.”

He shook his head and kept stamping.

And I kept giggling.

A couple of days ago, the younger boy got a birthday card and a couple of gift cards from my parents. I laughed my head off when I opened the mailbox.

Seems like I learned from the best.

*That is, on the rare occasions when I carry cash. These days, I use my debit card 98% of the time. I miss cash.



  • Kat

    Haha I do that too. Hold up the line at the register I mean :). People in Ireland loved that especially. The cashier actually yells “next” to the next customer in line, while I was still digging thus forcing me to b e c o m e s l o w e r and s l o w e r digging out my change just to annoy them. Ha

  • WeaselMomma

    I can see you in 30 years with a houseful of cats and shopping bags full of old stamps and a change jar next to your rocking chair. It’s a funny picture in my head.

  • Sue

    I can’t say I go that far with the stamps, but I do with the change. I like having bills, even if they are dollar bills. My husband, on the other hand, has never paid for anything with change. I put all his change into a jar when I do laundry and then periodically turn it into bills and keep it for myself. Ha!

  • mel

    You are not alone. Reducing the amount of change in my wallet makes me happy in an odd, compulsive kind of way. Aren’t you amazed, though, at the number of cashiers who are befuddled by your spare coins? I’ve had to explain how it works several times, to my amazement. It’s not rocket science, just elementary math.
    And good grief, I just sent out several letters using a beautiful mashup of aurora borealis and tiffany lamp stamps. Much prettier that the forever stamps.
    Thanks for sharing the stories!

  • k a t i e

    I detest shrapnel – hence why I try to get of it by making up the correct amount like you said…on the rare occasions I actually carry cash.

    All the leftovers live in my car, for emergency’s on the way home like today. I find there’s nothing a service station attendant enjoys more* than being handed over $9.65 in 5 and ten cent pieces (we don’t have dimes, and pennies and what not!) when I run out of fuel on the way home and don’t want to break a note.

    *note the use of sarcasm.

  • Troop 542

    I count the change out, too girl!

    I remember when I was 11 and my parents had left me at home alone to babysit my brother (what were they thinking?) and we snuck into my Dad’s change jar (he hated change, too) and counted enough change to order a medium Domino’s pepperoni! Needless to say the delivery guy was not happy! Good times!!

  • nonnasnonsense

    that reminded me of my poor step-father trying to pound it into my head that if the bill was 1.51 you gave 1 penny so you’d get back 50 cents. for some reason, even though i am great at math i could never grasp that concept then. now i am the queen of it.

    i love confusing these poor, ignorant, TN educated, employees at sonic who have to figure it out without a cash register 🙂

  • seashore subjects

    LOL! I remember some friends and I buying a pizza with all change (a lot of pennies)when we were teens!

  • Melisa with one S

    Kat: I can totally see you doing that. 😉

    Weaselmomma: Ha ha very funny. But I would never be a cat lady because I’m a dog person. How about a houseful of dogs and shopping bags full of old stamps and a change jar next to my rocking chair?

    Sue: You go girl! That’s a great way to do it, too! (men can be so funny with that)

    Hishappyapple: Yes, it does take some time. Sometimes you’ve just gotta stop and…smell the change? Eew.

    Mel: YES! I’ve seen those looks before. First they think you are totally out of your mind for giving them “too much money”. Then they have to figure it out, which sometimes looks like their brain is blowing a fuse all over the place!

    Katie: Whoa! At least you had it in the car, huh?

    Jen: You’ve always been so resourceful. 🙂

    Nonna: That last sentence? Ooh, ouchie! I guess you’re not from TN, then? HA HA

    Seashore: Resourceful like Jen! I bet the delivery man was ticked about all those pennies.

  • Michelle

    Ahhh, my dear twin.

    Yep, I have the same habit. Why waste money? What are you going to do with the change otherwise? Store it up for the fun of it? “Lose” money because you won’t spend it? Silly.

    And I rarely use anything but my credit card. I haven’t been to the ATM since August? May? It’s been a really long time, needless to say.

  • nonnasnonsense

    i was actually born in TN but raised and educated in FL. i moved back to TN for my senior year. it was a total joke compared to FL and that was in Nashville. now i live in the country in middle TN and i swear these kids that we play darts with, pull out their CELL PHONES to use the CALCULATOR function to add and subtract their dart scores. come on people!!