Making Change: Do We Need Pennies?

When making money involves…losing money.

June 2021


This video is part of our Kite & Key Shorts series—easy to understand...but hard to forget.
These days, your thoughts may be worth more than a penny.

Thanks to inflation, the one-cent piece is practically worthless.

How much has the penny’s value declined?

In 1900, a weekday edition of the New York Times cost just a cent.i

Today, the paper costs $2.50.

The craziest part: Pennies actually cost us money.

America spends around two cents producing a single penny.ii

In other words, making one penny costs...two pennies.

In 2019 alone, the United States lost over $72 million producing the coin.iii

So, why bother keeping it?

Some say that eliminating the penny will cost Americans money because sellers will round their prices up.

But research suggests that while some sellers may round up, others would round down. And consumers would break even.iv

Eliminating the penny would save the country a lot of money.

Even ‘Honest Abe’ would probably approve.



  1. It costs around two cents to produce a single penny.
  2. The United States lost over $72 million producing pennies in 2019 alone.
  3. Eliminating the penny likely wouldn’t raise costs for American consumers.






  1. New York Times
    "REFLECTIONS; 100 Years Ago, A Penny Bought the World" (Clyde Haberman)
  2. United States Mint
    "2020 Annual Report" (Page 10)
  3. United States Mint
    "2019 Annual Report" (Page 13)
  4. Wake Forest University
    "Time to Eliminate the Penny From the U.S. Coinage System: New Evidence" (Robert Whaples)

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