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How a Penny or Single Coin Can Motivate You to Save & Change Habits | Manage Money Better

by Julie Jaggernath

Do you remember the old rhyme, “See a penny, pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck?” It doesn't have quite the same ring if you substitute the word 'coin' or 'nickel' for 'penny', but many countries still use one cent coins. I couldn’t help but remember it the day my son was thrilled to find 9 pennies on a walk. Who finds 9 pennies on the ground on the same day?! He felt like the luckiest – and richest – tyke alive!

Collecting Pennies & Coins to Save and Manage Money Better

Pennies Have History

There was a time my son thought that he could “borrow” someone else’s penny to throw into a fountain. Borrowing their coin, though, meant hopping into the fountain! He was right, the fountain was so full of pennies and other coins that no one would have missed him re-using one or two, but as my daughter wisely interjected, would a borrowed penny still be able to deliver a wish? He decided not to risk it.

Pennies are firmly embedded in the memories of countless numbers of kids, who lined them up along the train tracks to be flattened by the next passing train. It was always a trick to try to find the pennies in the stones after the train had passed. A few were carried away each time, only to be dropped for someone else’s keen eye to discover.

Anyone who grew up in the 80’s would be hard-pressed to forget the penny’s addition to popular culture as a fashion accessory. Your loafers just weren’t cool if you didn’t slip a penny into the front. Now the penny has become a decorating accessory as people cover floors and walls with pennies.

Fostering a Fascination with Coins & Money

My kids are quite a few years older now, but that hasn’t changed their fascination with pennies and coins. They have a small collection, which they haul out from the depths of my son’s closet every so often, usually either at bed-time or when a grandparent is over and will admire their treasures with them. They pile their coins onto the kitchen table, sorting through their pennies to find the oldest one, one for each of our birth years, the newest, shiniest ones, and whatever other important date they come up with that day. It’s not long before everyone in earshot comes to help them sort and look.

It’s funny, I remember doing the same with my Opa when I was a little girl. My collection always grew the day he and I sorted pennies.

Is it Still Worth Picking a Penny or Coin Up?

However, now that the penny has been taken out of circulation in Canada, the allure of the one cent coin just isn’t what it used to be. Many people won’t even stoop to pick a measly penny or coin up anymore because they just don’t think it’s worth it. They’ve forgotten that one small coin is enough change to start change.

It's Easy to Start Saving with Only a Coin

A single coin is enough to start a collection. Canadians have collected pennies and coins for years. Think about all the jars, piggy banks, drawers and window ledges full or over-flowing with pennies and coins. It’s enough to help a tyke learn to keep their money safe. Have you ever seen a little one’s eyes twinkle at the sight of a shiny new coin? Or their tears when they realize it must have fallen out of their pocket as they tumbled and played? 

One Small Coin Can Start Changing How You Manage Your Money

A single coin is also enough to give yourself the proverbial kick-in-the-you-know-what to make some changes with how you manage your money. One coin is all it takes to start a savings jar. Not sure how that would work? Put a jar with a coin in it on the counter or somewhere else where you’ll see it every day. How long does it take before you add a few more coins to it, even start a collection? There’s no magic to saving money; just one coin after another.

Change & Motivation Starts with You

It’s easy to underestimate the value of a jar full of coins. The change you added a little at a time, day after day, isn’t any significant amount of money when taken piece by piece. But the change you started in yourself, by setting the coins aside so that you’d have a little extra to spend later, is significant.

Give Change a Try – You’d Only Have a Nickel to Lose

A jar of coins could easily amount to a couple hundred dollars, depending on how big your jar is and if you also added some loonies and toonies along the way. With that amount of money, you could start a vacation fund, make an extra payment to pay off debt a little sooner, or buy concert tickets you didn’t think you could afford. It might just be the missing link to make your budget work and change how you manage your money. But you won’t know unless you try….

The rest, as they say, is history. Just as the penny now is too.

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