Sunday, September 07, 2003

Pennies and Pounds

While the wife was in NashVegas this weekend, I started the very involved task of packing up for our impending move. The plan is to use our third bedroom - heretofore our "office" - as the staging area for boxes and miscellany as we pack up the house.

The office works out well because we haven't painted it and it wasn't very well decorated, either. Thus, it does not lose much appeal as a box-storage room when we show the house.

So I start in on the process of breaking down the room. I get my ugly OfficeMax modular desk taken down; pack up the books from the Home Depot shelves and take the boxes out of the closet, repack them into new boxes and stack them in the corner. But also among the break-down tasks was dealing with the ugly "loving cup" full of pennies that has sat on my desk for three years.

The "loving cup" was a shower gift from my first marriage. I think it's supposed to be a vase, but it's an ugly metal bucket with handles. When it was opened at the (co-ed) shower, my buddy Lee remarked "You know, Ken, you're going to have to defend that next year." The old man - a business associate of my thankfully former father-in-law - who gave it to us was not amused.

In any case, the loving cup has become a repository for pennies. Lots of pennies. I used to think a whisky bottle was a good place to store pennies, but then the brother of a friend of mine got cracked over the head with a penny-filled Jack Daniel's bottle during a robbery, and the resulting scars made me think better of that idea.

And with 98% of the office packed and boxed up, I was left with a loving cup full of pennies sitting in the middle of the floor. Couple with that my (plastic) Coke bottle coin bank, and I had a lot of change to deal with. For this purpose, I had bought a box of one-gallon Ziplocs. After running my mixed-up change through my change sorter, I was left with six big Ziplocs full (by weight, not volume) of little Abes.

Ever curious, I toted the bags into the bathroom to give them a weigh. The bathroom scale only ways in half-pound increments - so we're not talking precision here - but what we have is 37 pounds of pennies.

That's two Dobies worth of pennies (Dobie, for those of you who do not know, is my wife's horrible little MinPin. Yes, he's fat). So how much is 37 pounds of pennies worth?

The answer is not as easy as you might think. According to the U.S. Mint, pennies made up until 1982 weighed 3.11 grams (.006856 pounds). After that, a new mix of metal was used, dropping the weight down to 2.5 grams (.005512 pounds).

So, if all of my pennies are from 1983 and later, 37 pounds of pennies is $67.13. All made before 1983: $53.96. The actual number, of course, is somewhere between. The weight is also not exactly 37 pounds, of course.

And now that I have $54 - $67 worth of pennies, what do I do with them? I'm thinking CoinStar. Apparently both the Ghetto Kroger and Super Giant Foods have these money suckers installed now. I'm much too cheap to ever drop quarters, dimes or even nickels into those things (I think the fee is something like 6%), but I think it's well worth it to recoup the cash from the little copper paperweights.

I think I'll go to Super Giant, as to avoid the potential embarassment of Will or Charles seeing me cashing in.

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