10 Other Uses For The Canadian Penny

5 Apr

In case you haven’t heard, all of Canada are losing their cents (ha- puns on the name of my blog!).  Apparently, they’ve run into the same problem that we have here in the US- it costs more than a penny to make a penny.  This is due to the rising costs of metals and various other economic factors (like the Canadians’ need to reclaim the space on top of their dressers).  The estimated savings for the Canadian federal government from killing the penny is $11 million dollars per year.  That’s no small change (pun #3).

So the question now is what will the Canadians do with all their pennies?  There is a social push right now to donate them to charity, and donation bins have been set up all across the Great White North to help encourage this behavior.  This is arguably the best thing you could do with your pennies, but for the fun of it- let’s brainstorm some other uses for the dearly departed Canadian penny.

10. Set up a hilarious Twitter account.  Oh wait, someone has already done this.  You can follow @CDN_Penny for such gems as “I’ve been at work for 154 years, which coincidentally is how long Canadians must work before retirement” and “I will live forever in your old purses and seasonal coats.”  The anonymous author behind the account has also started showyourroll.ca to connect potential donors to worthy charities.

9. Wallpaper your house.  What better way to increase the market value of your home than by making each room a veritable copper mine?  Folks in Canada (seriously. Can’t make this stuff up) did just that.  They took an abandoned bungalow slated for demolition and wallpapered a room with white painted pennies.  The end result actually looked pretty cool. (photo credit: http://viewoncanadianart.com/2009/11/05/urban-art-the-leona-drive-project-toronto/)

Presumably until the wrecking ball came through the wall.

8. Massive-scale Penny Personality Test.  Those of you who have been following along with me will remember this gem of a post.  It details how to run your own low-cost personality test on coworkers, friends, family members, or even strangers.  Essentially, 1) put a penny in plain view on the ground.  2) Watch to see who notices it.  3) Draw your own conclusions about who is too busy to notice the small things in life.  Now imagine that you had hundreds of pennies at your disposal.  You could line an entire sidewalk and see if anyone notices.  You could also modify the test and throw the coins at unsuspecting passersby, but I think that might skew the results.  (Note- if you attempt the previous modification, save some of those pennies. You’ll need them to bail you out of jail.)  (Note part II: don’t attempt the previous modification.)

7. Declare it a rainy day.  Remember how we were always told to “save our pennies for a rainy day”?  Well, I say we make our own rainy day.  Gather up the pennies and hit the local shops.  There’s a thing here in the US called a cashmob, where shoppers gather together and descend upon locally-owned shops in an attempt to inject some life into the sluggish economy.  I’m not saying this is the best idea, especially since shop owners might really hate you if you and 30 of your friends insist on paying in pennies, but you’ve gotta get rid of those pennies somehow and ultimately income is income when you’re running a small business.

6. Make a ton of wishes.  There’s not a one of us who hasn’t chucked a penny into a fountain at one point or another.  Some of us have undoubtedly attached wishes to those coins.  I personally have thrown quarters or half-dollars into fountains in the vain hope that the increased value of my bribe will make the fountain spirit guardians look favorably upon my wish.  (Since my adulthood wishes usually involve having more money, throwing larger coins may actually be counterproductive, but whatever.)  If you find yourself with dozens of coins lying around and you know of a fountain nearby, go ahead and make wishes.  Better yet, take a bag of pennies and start handing them out to strangers so everyone can make a wish.  The simple act of throwing a coin into a fountain can make anyone smile.  Plus, the owners of those fountains usually donate the coins to charity or back to the community (my local library uses the coins from their fountain to buy more books.)

5. Googly eyes.  There’s not a single thing that is productive about doing this, but let’s be honest here- googly eyes make everything better.  Just ask Anne Wheaton and her one-woman crusade to make the world a funnier place (check out #vandaleyes on Twitter if you don’t believe me.)  Get some self-adhesive mini-googly eyes (please do not hot glue things onto actual coins.  That’s probably illegal) and have fun.  Bonus points if you do this prior to doing any of the other items on the list.

Who says crappy photoshop pictures are out of style?

4. Do some gardening.  Did you know that pennies will increase the pH of the soil in your garden?  If you’re growing hydrangeas and having issues reaching that perfect pH balance, bury a few pennies near the roots.  There’s also an old wives’ tale that pennies will repel slugs.  If you have little ones who love to “help” in the garden, let them bury a few pennies around.  It will keep the slugs away, add some acidity to your soil, and keep their little fingers busy for hours.  Plus, you can let the kids dig up the pennies later when it’s time to plant new things.

3. Visit the graveyard.  A few weeks back I wrote a post about leaving pennies on my grandfather’s grave when I was a child.  I heard from a lot of you that it’s a fairly common practice.  If you live near the grave site of a family member or friend, why not go visit?  Leave a penny from a year that had some significance to both of you (their birth year, the year you two met, etc.).  It’s a great way of showing that the person is still remembered, and it may let you relive some happy memories.

2. Do some math or science.  Using pennies is a great way to introduce kids to the concept of money and counting.  Kids can easily grasp the idea that each coin is worth “one,” and using tangibles can be helpful in learning to count.  For an easy science lesson, take some tarnished pennies and drop them in a bath of vinegar and table salt.  The reaction is quick, and the pennies will get their shine back.  The reaction is fairly temporary, so the kids can watch the pennies turn back to tarnished, and then “clean” them all over again.

1. Get some good luck.  Time for some more old wives’ tales.  Putting a penny over each doorway of a house will ensure good luck for all inhabitants.  Dropping a penny on the floor and sweeping it under a couch or table will ensure the household will always have money.  Picking up a heads-up penny off the ground will bring good luck.  Leaving a heads-up penny on the ground for someone else will bring good luck to you both.

Whatever you decide to do with your pennies, make sure that it makes you happy.  A smile may be free, but come on- a smile doesn’t make a happy jingling noise in your pocket like a penny does.  Oh, and in case you still need a smile: click on this link to see that the Canadian government has a better sense of humor than the US.  (This is the only time that I’ve ever laughed while listening to NPR.)

Do you have other uses for the Canadian penny (or pennies in general?)  Drop me a comment and let me know.

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