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Posted: 2:04 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

Should We Do Away With the Penny?



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Should we do away with the penny in the United States?

  See results

Yes, it's a pesky little coin that costs more to make than it's worth.

No, I'm worried its absence will lead to subtle price hikes at retail.

I'm not sure.

By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Years ago, I suggested that we do away with the penny in the United States. Boy, did I hear it from a lot of listeners. People were not happy with me!

Here's why the penny is near worthless

The reality is pennies actually cost more than one cent to make and manufacture. A single penny currently costs 1.63 cents to make in 2014, according to The Wall Street Journal. And consumers reportedly lose about 1 in 4 of them!

Think about how easy it would be to do away with the penny. Let's say you go to a store and the price of something is 11 or 12 cents, then it just rounds down to 10 cents. If it's 13 or 14 cents, it rounds up to 15 cents. That rounding makes us exactly even-steven over time.

When I was a kid, I can remember walking to a country store where we got a little bag to pick out penny candy. Depending on the size of the candy, you got several pieces for a penny and walked out with a little paper bag full of sweet stuff. A penny actually had value.

Then I can remember when I was first driving and a penny would buy 15 minutes of parking at a meter. Now you can't even put a penny into a parking meter anywhere that I know of.

Why do we hold onto this coin psychologically when, as a practical matter, we have to accept that neither a penny nor a dollar buy what they used to?

Vote in my poll on ClarkHoward.com and let me know what you think!

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