Coins of the Realm

Now that I’m back to pinching pennies, I realize that most US coins are archaic. What can you buy for less than a dollar the 21st century? Only the occasional lottery ticket or newspaper.

Quarters still come in handy, even though I no longer need to save them for coin washing machines. Sometimes I need them to park downtown when I’m running errands. Some parking meters accept only quarters these days. Mostly I save quarters for those rare visits to relatives in Nevada. My only adventure in gambling is playing the quarter slot machines. I used to think that that was a lot of money and preferred nickel slots. But now it’s hard to find nickel slots (although there were a lot in the Reno Hilton). Generally, quarter slots have replaced them, just as dollar slots have replaced the quarter machines. I can’t imagine ever playing dollar slot machines. Quarters are also good for playing games at the video arcade.

The only way to get rid of pennies these days is to take them a supermarket that has a coin counter. They take a 8 cents on a dollar. But the banks don’t take pennies in bulk anymore. So the joy of saving them all year and giving them to your kid to count into penny rolls and cash in are gone. Besides, most kids these days aren’t impressed with ten dollars–certainly not impressed enough to count and roll up pennies.

Dimes are completely worthless. I keep those in my purse so that I can get rid of them when I buy anything less than a dollar.

Still, every evening, I sort the Mancunian’s pocket change, put quarters and nickels into the little Navajo basket, put the pennies into an old cookie tin for the boy S., and keep the dimes for myself.

Update: 2008-01-23

The stamp dispensers at the post office take pennies, the only machines I’ve ever known to do so. I go there before the counter opens and no one is waiting to buy stamps and pump 410 pennies into the machine to get ten first class stamps.

One Response to “Coins of the Realm”

  1. Dana Scragg Frank Responds:

    I love your article about coins. I find them to be annoying when they are lying around the house. Especially the pennies. It seems to require more energy than it’s worth to bend over and pick one up and then open zippers of my purse and wallet to deposit it there. I mean, a penny? It is like all the energy required to chew celery–what’s the payoff? Although pennies can come in handy, and I have no shame when it comes to using seventeen of them at one time when necessary. Like to buy celery.

    The other coins that fall from laundry or appear on horizontal spaces in my house go directly to the kitty bank, which my mom gave to us this summer. She had filled it with lots of money, rebates that she got, senior discounts, spare change, errant bills. It all totalled about $375, and Raymond and I let the children count it and divide it between them. Lucky ones. So now it is our turn to fill the kitty, and the only rule I have is no pennies. Why take up the space?

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