#819 The Take a Penny, Leave a Penny bowl

take-that-pennyNobody likes pennies.

Sure, maybe in the 1800s they scored you a handful of gumballs or the evening edition of your local Times-Express, but these days they’re barely worth 1% of a Snickers bar. Go on, lick the edge of a Snickers next time and scrape off a few molecules of chocolate with your tongue. That, that right there. That’s a penny.

Of course, having said that, there is one moment where the value of a penny shoots sky-high, and that’s when the beef jerky and Red Bull at the gas station rings up to $5.01. Yeah, if you’re cringing right now, it’s because you know that’s a terrible price leading to a few Checkout Possibilities:

1. By The Rules. One option is just to roll with it. Break that ten and get ready for a mittful of change back, including the dreaded 4-Penny Punchout. Now your pocket is bursting and your hand smells like dirty copper, but what are you going to do? You played by the rules and you lost.

2. The Cashier Cheat. You can never predict when this will happen. Sometimes you’re expecting to play by the rules but the cashier will just round around for you. When Bill-Counting Betty don’t care about the till balance, she just drop you a nickel and a wink.

3. The Bowl. Finally, we come to the main attraction. Since you don’t want ninety-nine cents jingle-jangling around your pocket, you eye the Take a Penny, Leave a Penny bowl and see what it’s offering. You know you’ve made your deposits over the years, so you don’t feel guilty about a little withdrawal now.

Yes, the Take a Penny, Leave a Penny bowl brings out the best in us. Just remember: take a penny, leave a penny?

Take a favor. Leave a legacy.



Photos from: here, here, and here

209 thoughts on “#819 The Take a Penny, Leave a Penny bowl

  1. I know this wasn’t the point of the post, but if you know of a gas station where I can get beef jerky and a red bull for $5.01, tell me where it is because I’m THERE! (I don’t even like Red Bull, but we’re talking about some cheap jerky!)

    So, tell me where I can score me a cheap Jack Link’s “Mega Pack”, and I promise to return the karma by filling the tray with pennies!

      1. Not any more. At the top.. BOOYAH!

        (argh.. I feel like one of those 12-year olds compelled to write “First!” on blog comments. I’m so glad that’s never caught on here.. *knocks wood*)

  2. Whaaat? You guys don’t round officially? That must be damn annoying. We did away with 1 cent and 2 cent coins ages ago, too painful.

  3. We lose money on pennies anyway. Each penny costs something like 1.2 cents to make, and the copper they’re made out of is worth more than the value of the coin.

  4. Some establishments have replaced the take/leave penny trays with charity boxes that you can drop your change into. This is great for the kids who need to go to summer camp and everything, but what about when you need a penny? You are left high and dry.

    Keep the penny trays, too, that’s what I think we should do. Give the kids your other change, because seriously, they need more than one lick of a snickers bar to have a good time at camp.

  5. When I get to the register, the amount of change I’ll get back if I pay by cash determines if I use my debit card. If I will get back more than 50¢, I take out my handy dandy debit card. And voila! No change left jangling in my pocket.

    The absolute best outcome is if you get the magical total of an Even Dollar Amount. You’ve hit the jackpot! “You want $4.00 for my lunch? Well that is exactly what you’re going to get!”

    In high school I used to take two quarters with me everyday, which helped keep the number of coins in my pocket low. Instead of dreading a total like $3.13 because of how many useless coins I’d get back, I just give them one quarter with my dollar bills and get back a very manageable set of change.

    Great post, 1000 Awesome Things!

  6. There is a crabby old man (in a cute way!) who works at my post office. He altered the penny tray on his station to say “Got a penny? Leave a penny! Need a penny? Get a job!” I think it’s terribly adorable!

  7. I had a friend run into an imposed take a penny limit. He needed like 12 cents, and attempted to swoop them from the tray (bursting with pennies), but was quickly and stubbornly thwarted by the no-nonsense cashier. Which BEGS the question, WHAT IS THE TAKE A PENNY LIMIT????

    1. I’m a cashier, and I hate the penny bowl. It is for people that have 4 dollars and don’t have the 3 cents. It’s not for the 12 cents that would round your change up to 5 dollars instead of 4.88. I’ve had a woman give me a $20 bill for a 2.87 item.. then steal 11 pennies out of the dish, leaving it with only 2 leftover pennies, laughing that she “doesn’t need the change”.
      Another lady came up with three quarters and a nickel, asking if she could take twenty pennies out of the bowl and get a dollar back. We pretty much told her to f*** off.
      So many people take out 10, 11… pennies out of the dish, because they don’t feel like going back to their car. They should have brought in enough money in the first place.

      When an incident like this happens, we just take the pennies out of the dish and divide it into each of our drawers. People like that ruin it for everyone. Don’t be that person, it’s incredibly rude. —We always, ALWAYS waive a penny or two when giving back change. I won’t count out 98 cents when I can just hand you a dollar (so many people let us “keep the change”, it all evens out at the end of the day).
      Another little tip: Don’t bring $100 bills to a gas station and act like it’s such a surprise that we can’t give you the change when you get a soda.

      1. I had a transaction just a week or so ago that really bothered me. It still bugs me. What bugs me more is the fact that I’m bugged. Why the hell would this bother me so much? It just keeps coming back no matter how hard I try to forget it. Maybe I’m neurotic. Here’s what happened. It involved exactly 9 cents.

        I was at a jewelry store picking up a watch that I had the battery replaced in. The charge came to $16.09. I had plenty of cash. This is not a large purchase for me at all. I knew if I gave her $17 I would end up with 6 coins. So I took 9 pennies from the take a penny tray. She said “no, you can’t do that”. I thought she was joking. So I put them on the counter and said “here, take these” going along with her joke. Then she said “no, I’m serious”. Stunned, I said “why” having absolutely no idea what was going on, thinking maybe there was a new law in place or something. She told me that the tray was for people that needed a penny not for those who were just “short”.

        I gave her a dollar and took 91 cents in change, and left embarrassed and insulted. I won’t be back. Over 9 cents. I’ve put countless amounts of change in those damn things including nickels, and dimes. And then when I want to use 9 cents!?

        I still don’t understand why this bothers me so much. I just find now that I don’t want to use them anymore at all. I’ll just put all my change in a jar and cash it in once a year.

  8. The Lincoln cent was first minted in 1909. It would have made an awful lot of sense to stop it in 2008, giving it a 100-year run. I think the Senators from Illinois (Lincoln’s home state) are responsible for foisting on us the need to continue with pennies. Round to a nickle (which costs more than 5 cents to make) for goodness sake!

  9. As a cashier, i often decide who i give charity based on a “read the book by the cover” basis….if u seem to be a cool person u get easy change, if u look like a bitchy soccermom : start diggin for change….

  10. I am always on the lookout for pennies and think it is a great day when I find one.

    I live by an extension of the adage …

    Find a penny pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck.

    I heard years ago an addition to that …

    Give a penny to a friend and your luck will never end.

    So not only do I enjoy finding pennies, but I then make sure I pass it on to a friend – usually my best friend – my husband – or my daughter.

    That’s what makes me feel AWESOME!

  11. Don’t you have 5c pieces in America??? god, theyre annoying in Australia, but i cant imagine having to carry pennies around everywhere! We round. its stupid that they still have prices like $9.99, if it’s only for psychological advertising-thingo or whatever they call it. But you dont have to break a 10, so thats cool with me.

    1. I am a business owner. I have a take a penny leave a penny tray. Most of the customers leave pennies and ASK can they have a penny, especially if they don’t want .99! That doesn’t bother me at all. Many time I voluntarily pitch in a penny or two to keep the change rounded. I do have one customer, who knows exactly how much her purchase is going to be. Instead of bringing the .08 with her she gets it out of the penny tray! I have confronted her on this and she keeps doing it. I have even gone so far as to when I see her pulling up, I empty out the penny tray! I just want her to have consideration for the next customer who made need to take a penny!

      1. How about this solution: Don’t treat customers like retards, and get rid of the $9.99 tricks.
        Round everything to the nearest nickle and be done with it. It will save everybody time, money and frustration.

  12. So a penny may not be worth what it used to be, however the concept of the bowl is what we should focus on. Whoever said, someone may need this and I don’t was truly a standup person.

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