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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Contributor

Get rid of pennies

In the 1990s in Germany, the U.S. military got rid of pennies in their customer operations.  The PX and commissary rang all prices up just like normal, and when the bill came you rounded up or down.  If the bill was $4.42, you paid $4.40.  If the bill was $4.43, you had the option of paying $4.43 or you could pay $4.45.  Pennies were never given as change, so you ended up without any.


It worked like a charm.  No one missed pennies.


Of course, we could (I hope) trust the military to not fudge the prices.  There is no doubt in my mind that if we tried that in the states, every store would go crazy making sure it was always $4.43 and never $4.42.


So, no, it won't work, but it was a good deal.


As we all know, it costs more to make a penny than a penny is worth.   Duh.

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3 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: Get rid of pennies

Maybe we should start making wooden pennies. Should be worth less than .01 and easier to dispose of too.

Honestly with all of the different local and sales taxes, who would really know if the reduced cost would be passed onto the customer or government debt. People howl if sales taxes go up .05%. What would they do if they knew they couldn't get every cent they believe is due? I would love if the Post Office would have gone to 5 cent increments for stamps, but that extra penny would add up for those who send lots of mail. Have you looked at the stamped postage lately? It goes to tenths of cents.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Get rid of pennies

The idea of getting rid of pennies has been floated in Canada recently.

I would have no objection but I wonder if they would only round off the price if you were using cash and leave the price exact for other forms of payment?

If you tried to keep exact books it would be a bit of a problem although I expect rounding up and down would still average out with in a dollar or two in a days business and probably most cash registers have that kind of difference with errors in change at least on occasion..


As for postage Canada now sells you stamps with no value on the face.

This got over the inconvenience of having to buy penny stamps to add to postage when rates rose to allow you to use up old inventory. Now if you have stamps on hand when rates rise you just keep using them and the next purchase is sold to you at the new rate. Stamps still look just the same.

That I suppose was one way of getting rid of 'pennies', at least penny stamps which were not cost effective for the post office to print and distribute.

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Re: Get rid of pennies

Don't most places where you'd need a penny have a "leave a penny/take a penny" dish by the register?  '

So little commerce is done in cash anymore movie today told me that 97% of money is digital now, so the cost of creating any currency is not as material as it once was, for sure. 

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