I-Team: Should the penny be retired? - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

I-Team: Should the penny be retired?

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You see them piled up next to the store clerk in the give-a-penny, take-a-penny tray.

You hear the old adages: "A penny for your thoughts" or "I'll give you my two cents."

The coin is as old and familiar as Honest Abe.

"I feel like it's a lucky omen to find a penny," said Denise Neri in Cranston.

Yet there are some who frankly don't want the penny around anymore.

"There's really that moment when you buy something and the amount comes out to $1.02. You look at the cashier and you're like kind of hoping they're like, 'Oh, just a dollar would be OK.' But then you kind of wait a second or two. They don't say anything. You fish out that second dollar bill. You're getting 98 cents back in change. To me, this drives me up the wall," said Jeff Gore, MIT physicist and de facto spokesman for getting rid of the US penny.

Workers at the Milford Federal Savings and Loan would probably agree, after a Massachusetts man dropped off 62,000 pennies -- his last mortgage payment tightly rolled and ready to be counted.

Gore said he thinks it's time for the penny to go away.

"Well first of all, I like to think of it as a retirement, because certainly the penny served a useful purpose for many, many years," said Gore.

But he said those days are long gone and cost is one of the biggest reasons why.

The U.S. Mint spends almost two and a half cents to make just one penny. Our Canadian neighbors eliminated their one cent coin this year.

The Canadian Department of Finance estimates the savings for taxpayers will be about $11 million a year.

"There's probably a 100 of them in my car, spread around. I don't really use them," said Paul Sauco in Cranston.

"So, this is really a ridiculous situation, where the U.S. government is spending money in order to make this coin that nobody actually wants to use," Gore said.

Recently, the I-Team found the business Brewed Awakenings rounding up all of their transactions to the next nickel.

They've since stopped, but owner David Levesque said he put a rounding policy in place to avoid those pesky pennies.

"Hey, what do we do in order not to carry pennies or take pennies, which was a nuisance or a hassle with a lot of people?" Levesque said.

He's not alone.

There's an organized movement: Citizens to Retire the U.S. Penny.

"It makes cents," according to group's website, all that wasted time digging in your pocket or purse, fumbling around for a few pennies.

And a study by Walgreen's and the National Association of Convenience Stores says handling pennies adds more than an hour to our own time each year.

Time is money, says the group.

Neri has a different idea.

"Maybe the government should have a program, recycle the penny, give it back to Uncle Sam, get them out of cookie jars and into the economy," she said.

President Obama's 2012 budget proposal allows the U.S. Mint to make a switch to using less expensive metals.

Pennies are made almost entirely from zinc, not copper. Estimates show the move could save the U.S. $75 million.

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  • Should the U.S. retire the penny?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes
    55%
    22 votes
    No
    45%
    18 votes
  • The I-TeamMore>>

  • Katie Davis

    Katie Davis

    Katie Davis is an I-Team reporter at NBC 10. She joined the team in January 2010 and is excited to live and work in New England.
    Katie Davis is an I-Team reporter at NBC 10. She joined the team in January 2010 and is excited to live and work in New England.
  • Parker Gavigan

    Parker Gavigan

    Parker Gavigan is an Associated Press award-winning journalist, and was named to the NBC 10 I-Team in January 2013. Parker digs deeper to get the answers that matter to you.
    Parker Gavigan is an Associated Press award-winning journalist, and was named to the NBC 10 I-Team in January 2013. Parker digs deeper to get the answers that matter to you.
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