Never Throw Away a Single Penny: learning the value of money

single penny

When it comes to life’s most important lessons our upbringing remains the most valuable learning curve throughout. There are many great things we learn from those we look up to the most, and for a lot of people that is a beloved grandparent – A senior and wise figure that is very much larger than life to us in those precious early years.

I remember my Nana more than I remember large segments of my childhood. The times I spent with her always had me laughing and learning, and of course being duly spoilt with chocolate biscuits and the best homemade apple pie you’d ever taste.

Nana is no longer with us but what stays with me is not only her wit, charm and love for her family, but also one valuable little nugget of a lesson. And that lesson is; never throw away a single penny.

On a recent trip to the bank I was rather heavier than usual, but this time it was the sort of weight you’d want on you. I had £22 in coppers and other coins bagged up in my pockets, and no doubt it made me look like I was being defeated by gravity. In retrospect I should have taken the coins in a rucksack.

On receiving the £20note and a couple of pound coins in exchange I realised that this meant I wouldn’t have to withdraw any money from my account for at least two days. Another way to see it is it would practically pay for a whole week’s groceries. All this brought me back to a memory of how I came to relentlessly keep hold of all my change and store it in jars and tupperware.

Picture this…

My brother, my cousin and I were all with our Nana on one of our many cherished weekends staying with her. There was a park with swings nearby her house and she would be sitting on a bench, smoking her fags and watching us with a big smile on her face whilst we ran around like chaotic kids do. She always let us get a 99p ice cream each from the van that turned up every Saturday. “One each, but don’t tell your mam.” She would say jokingly.

I remember on one of these occasions I did something silly from which I’ve learnt a fundamental but useful rule. Being a little twerp, I started throwing some copper coins I had left over from the ice creams towards a bin that had wasps hovering over it. I was obviously aiming for the wasps but right then my Nana did something I thought she’d never do. She grabbed me firmly by the arm and shouted at me, furious that I would be stupid enough to throw money away.

That very afternoon I was given a punishment. Instead of playing football with my brother and cousin in her garden Nana told me to go up and down the local streets and pick up all the coins I could see until I collected £1. I managed to find a few pennies but nowhere near the whole pound, so I went back to her house and cried in frustration. She hugged me and said “Now you know the value of money”.

So for the last couple of days I’ve been spending very carefully. Not that I have to, but out of curiosity I wanted to see how far this £22 would go. I’m glad to inform that I have £4.57 left and may reward myself tomorrow by withdrawing a bit more. On a few occasions taking pennies to the bank has actually helped me out when I really was scarce, and like with all the people I love dearly and look up to, I have my Nana to thank for such a basic but important life lesson.

Do you have any memories of the important lessons you’ve learnt? Who has taught you these lessons, and who do you look up to the most? It would be great to hear of your story and how these same lessons are passed down to your own children.

photo credit: CR Artist via photopin cc

14 thoughts on “Never Throw Away a Single Penny: learning the value of money”

  1. Yes I do this also…..I have a quality street jar that I put all loose change under a £1 into at the end of each day. Firstly it stops ruining my wallet but more importantly a quality street jar of silver adds up to serious £££’s

    1. So long as you don’t get too disappointed that there’s no sweeties in there anymore, this is a sure way to keep it organised and keep a small but worthy reserve.

  2. We’ve got a big glass bottle we save all our 1ps and 2ps in and, although it takes some time, they add up to significant amounts eventually.

  3. If I see a penny on the floor/ground, I always pick it up, much to my friends’ disgust.

    I try to deflect this with the rhyme “See a penny pick it up, all day long you have good luck.” And if said friends aren’t convinced, I carry on with “Give the penny to a friend and then your luck will never end!” No one ever wants to take the penny off me! I can’t remember who taught me that!

    1. Heh, as kids we used to always say “turn around” and throw the pennies at each others back. I suppose boys have a more violent and destructive style of humour, but I never enjoyed that game really. Instead it’s good to pick up the shrapnel you find and keep hold of it, and good to remember that no penny is worthless.

  4. That’s cute 🙂 I’m also glad Nana doesn’t see me giving all my pennies to my son now to throw in our local water fountain! He gets such a kick out of it that I can’t help but take him there every week now and watch his joy, haha… Perhaps she’d count it as paying for “entertainment?” 🙂

    1. Superstitions can be more expensive than first thought, but for children the real reward is to see a smile on their face. The only thing with these fountains is that you’re not really ‘buying’ anything, and so they’re full of money and broken promises.
      Come to think of it, if one was to somehow harvest all the coins from fountains they could feed themselves for days 🙂 ….Probably a dangerous and silly thing to do though.

  5. I always bend over to pick up coins, unless I’m in the middle of traffic, of course. I call them pennies from heaven! Every day I empty my loose change in to our (pink) piggy bank and a couple of times a year take it to the bank. It adds up a nearly a couple of hundred dollars each time. A real easy way to add to the savings account!

  6. @weenie – too cute!

    I too save change. Not hugely focused on it, but I add quarters, loonies and twoonies ($1 and $2 CDN coins) to a wallet I keep in the kitchen. Those coins are heavy and take too much room in my small change purse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dipped into it to find $20 or more when I was in a pinch and needed cash. It’s always there for me at the right time.

  7. It sounds like your Nana taught you a very valuable lesson. So many people casually waste money. Its really useful to be mindful of just how hard finding/making money can be. When you get down to the last few coins, its important to know how, and how not, to use them.

  8. Whenever I see any money on the ground, I always pick it up. I have no shame. It could be in the middle of the street, at a restaurant, or even at the laundry facility. I always put it in my change jar with the hopes that I will be able to turn in that change soon!

  9. I used to throw my change in a jar every month and cash it in once a month. To my surprise, it would add up to $40- 50. My Dad left me his Indian Head penny coin collection. It dates back to the late 1800’s. Although it is valued much more that the face value, I hang on to it for sentimental reasons. Besides my Dad’s (good) watch, it is the only other thing I have of him.

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