Several facts and uses for 1-cent piece are worth every penny

Everyday Cheapskate

By Mary Hunt

For some people, pennies are so annoying they don’t even bother picking them up on sidewalks and streets. Then there are those who are nearly fanatical about the copper coin, living up to the old phrase “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few facts and practical uses for the coin of lowest value in the U.S. currency lineup.

∫ Four no more. Carry four pennies with you at all times so you always have just enough to avoid paying the odd cents when you make a purchase. This way, you avoid getting pennies back in change.

Serious change savers save other coins but want to get rid of the pennies as quickly as possible. This method will do it.

∫ Tons of copper. It has been reported that the U.S. Mint has produced more than 288.7 billion pennies. If lined up edge to edge, they would circle the Earth 137 times. The average penny lasts 25 years.

∫ Big waste. It now costs more than 1 cent to produce a penny. In 2007, the U.S. Mint lost $31 million while making 6.6 billion new pennies.

∫ Some rarities. In 1943, at the peak of World War II, pennies were made of steel-coated zinc for a short time due to war demands for copper. A few 1943 pennies were produced by accident from the 1942 copper planchets remaining in the bins. Only 40 1943 copper pennies are known to remain in existence.

∫ Nickname. We call it a penny, but that’s only a nickname. The U.S. Treasury’s official name for the coin is “one-cent piece.”

∫ Make a washer. If you don’t have washers on hand and just have to finish a project, you can drill holes into coins and use them instead. Use a dime or a penny for a small washer, and a quarter or half dollar to simulate a larger flange washer. Brass washers cost about 4 cents each, and pennies cost, well, a penny.

∫ Road safety. Place a penny in tire tread with Abe Lincoln’s head facing right side up. If you can only see the top of his head, then you should replace the tires because they could blow out.

∫ Party entertainment. Grasp a penny with the thumb and middle finger of the hand you snap better with. Bend your forearm back and lift your arm so your elbow is parallel to the ground.

Snap your fingers and they’ll launch the penny. Aim and repeat until you have everyone at the party engaged, amazed and having fun.

∫ As a tool. Use a penny for leverage to pry the lid from a difficult childproof medication bottle. Or, use it as a spacer when laying tile.

∫ Balancing act. Slip a penny under a wobbly vase to steady it.

∫ Create a ballast. Tape a penny to the tail of your kite for a little more stabilizing weight.

∫ Remove a bolt. Use it as an impromptu screwdriver in a wide-slotted bolt or screw.

∫ Build a sculpture. Follow this link for inspiration to make a penny sculpture that will amaze your friends and make your mother proud: http://www.fincher. org/Misc/Pennies.

∫ Leave a sign. Lay a penny on your loved one’s grave marker each time you visit. Those who follow will catch on and follow suit.

∫ Copper flooring. Are you looking for something new in your bathroom or kitchen? If you have lots of spare pennies, perhaps you should try the copper penny flooring, as seen on Pinterest. At $2.56 per square foot (256 pennies laid in 16-by-16 squares), that’s about as cheap as flooring gets. Not that ambitious? Go for a shiny new countertop instead, as seen on the EPBOT website.

Got a question? Ask me anything at mary@everydaycheapskate.com.