A Penny Saved…

Our anniversary loot.

Today Lizard and I hit the casino.


Not to rob it, and, oddly enough, not to gamble. We had weightier issues on our mind.




Let me tell you about a little eccentricity we have. (Besides watching movies through swim goggles, a hidden talent Lizard exposed last night while watching Luke Skywalker moan like a little baby and kiss his sister on Star Wars.)


We try our very best to operate our family on an all-cash basis. We’ve been doing this for several years and it’s helped us A) keep a handle on our budget and B) save for our anniversary.


“How can paying with cash help celebrate our anniversary?” you may ask. Simple – we never spend our change.


Example: I take a little detour through the Taco Bell drive thru, which is God’s blessing to his people who like to pretend they’re eating Mexican food but really aren’t at all and are instead consuming beef made from cow cheeks. My total is $3.56.


(Just hazarding a guess here. I don’t always get the exact same order every single time I visit Taco Bell. That would be boring. And anal retentive… right?)


I pop over a $5 bill and get my paper change and… 44¢. (Had to pull out the calculator on that and make sure it was correct. It would be terribly embarrassing to make a mistake in counting change in this very public venue.)


I put the dollar in my wallet and set the 44¢ aside. When I get home I deposit all the pennies into a 5-gallon cider jar and the silver coins into a huge piggy bank. (It’s a soccer ball. That’s because my husband loves soccer and has even been accused of being athletic. If the piggy bank matched my interests it would be either a MacbookAir or a Coca-Cola can – definitely nothing associated with sweat and athleticism.)


(I am all about the parenthesis tonight. Sorry. I can’t promise I’ll change this moment but I will hold out hope for the future.) (Promise.)


Over the course of a year Lizard and I keep all of our spare change in these jars and then, when our anniversary rolls around, we empty all the coins, cash them in, and that’s our budget for the celebration. It’s a painless way to collect extra spending money for a good cause.


We average about $250 in change each year, which is plenty if we wanted to do an overnight or fancy-pants dinner plus a babysitter. Life is good!


Our anniversary is next week so today it was time to cash it all in. Usually we go to the credit union, but they have some strange rules about their change so we decided to head to the casino and see if we could quickly get cash for our coins.


It didn’t work out.


Part of the problem was Lizard decided it was time to empty the 5-gallon jar of pennies. He’s been filling it for 10 years. Our entire married life we’ve been dumping pennies into the jar and it’s finally hit the narrow neck.


That’s 35 pounds of pennies, folks. He put it in a heavy cloth bag and carried it into the casino over his shoulder like a skinny Santa Claus (but he wasn’t wearing his goggles any longer. That would have been weird).


I waddled next to him with 14 pounds of silver coins. (I know the poundage because my husband weighed himself with the coins on the bathroom scale before we left the house. He then came up with a really strange equation guessing how much money we had in change. I eyeballed the Ziploc bags of coins, licked my finger to test the wind direction, burned some sage incense and guessed.)


My guess was off by $100. His was off by $13. You judge whose method was more effective. (But, remember, I’m the one who hands out imaginary golden stars. You wouldn’t want to miss out on any of those, now, would you?)


When we carted our payload into the casino we felt a little silly, because, well, we showed up with a pillow case full of metal and two Ziploc baggies. Undaunted by censuring public opinion and geriatrics giving us the stink-eye, we pranced through the smoke-filled air right on up to the cashier’s cage.


They don’t accept pennies.


Or dimes.


I see.


We then spent 10 minutes separating all the dimes from the nickels and quarters with the large pouch of pennies in between our feet. People stared. I looked for all-silver dimes as I pawed through the coins.


I didn’t find any all-silver dimes, but we finally got our coins exchanged for cash. We washed our grubby little fingertips so we wouldn’t inadvertently get metal poisoning. We snuck out of the casino as quietly as we could, still carting the pillowcase of copper.


Lizard was frustrated about the pennies. Those pennies are the result of 10 years of savings. When would we see the profit??


In our brilliance, we decided to text ChaCha to find out how much money 35 pounds of pennies would equal anyway. Again, this is 10 years of saving! 35 pounds of pennies is heavier than our 4-year-old daughter!


(Do you know about ChaCha? If you don’t, you simply must try it. You text ChaCha (242242) any question and they’ll send you the answer for free. It’s lovely and 98% accurate.)


Our pennies — our 6,000+ pennies collected over 10 years — are worth $63.50. Approximately. According to ChaCha. (Our 4-year-old is worth substantially more than that.)


Lizard is still in grief-stricken shock. He is of the opinion $63.50 is not a proper amount of money for the effort of 10 years worth of finding a penny and picking it up.


But there you have it. That’s the story of our trip to the casino.


How do you celebrate your anniversary or save money for special occasions?

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