Being a real penny, quarter-pincher

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2008

As everyone can tell, our economy is in bad shape. Some major banks and investment firms are failing due to risky and bad management practices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is as volatile as it’s ever been. It could implode one day and then be right back up to the same level the next.

It seems like we don’t have much money to spend, or do we? Ten years ago, the U.S. Treasury Department began the 50 states program to design quarters over the next decade. People who are coin collectors and many who aren’t have been collecting these coins. Many have been collecting at least two per state because they are trying to keep one of each state from both of the Philadelphia and Denver mints. The final quarter in the series, Hawaii, will be released later this year.

While it might be great to hold on to these coins for keepsakes, that is money that could be spent in the economy. If you collect all 50 coins with one from each mint, then you have $25 that you can spend.

If there are 1 million people doing that, then that’s $25 million that people are hoarding. I’m sure that number is much higher than that.

Considering that there are more than 300 million people in the U.S., it is conceivable that 40 million people might be holding this money. If that were true, then that is $1 billion that could be spent. Now, I realize that money wouldn’t be enough to bail us out of a recession, but it would help soften the blow in our current recession.

In addition to the quarters, everyone probably has $2 bills, silver dollars, wheat pennies and other currency or coins that could be spent. I’m sure everyone in the U.S. has at least one $2 bill. If we spent that money, then there is another $1 billion. Everyone has his or her own jar of coins. If we rolled it up and took it to the bank, then there would probably be another $1 billion out there for people to spend.

I know we would always want to have that special coin that every collector wants to have, but when everyone is strapped for money, you get a little desperate.