Where have all the nickels gone?

So it’s been awhile of change finding for me and I thought I would give some reports. My Internet friend Carey has been tasked with creating a website to track change finding and I am pleased to report that this morning he made some good progress on it.

In the meantime, I am just using a spreadsheet. So, in 54 separate occurrences (on 29 distinct days) I have found $4.29. That’s 67 days since I started on June 28th, meaning there have been more zero days than coin finding days.

Breaking it down, I have found coins in 15 different municipalities in 5 states. 3 different people have found coins for me (I count coins found by me ever-growing army of minions) and an additional 4 people have tipped me off to coins.

Breaking it down another way, that’s 7 quarters, 16 dimes, 6 nickels and 64 pennies (12 of them being pre-1982 copper pennies.

So it got me to wondering, why have I found so few nickels? I had an interesting conversation yesterday with my friend Jeff who writes an incredibly boring blog about Microsoft stuff (). Since he lives in (near) Columbus, I was IMing him to ask what city / township / municipality the rest stop on I-71 just north of Columbus was. See on the way back from Cleve-o Sunday night I found a dime there and so I needed to ensure accurate reporting for my log.

In the end, we decided on “Sunbury” but that is neither here nor there. After we decided on that, the conversation went towards my dearth of nickels. He said that he also gets fewer nickels back in change. We started talking about the various price endings (00, 01 … 99) and how you only get nickels if it ends in 5-9. So I started writing up a spreadsheet with the different values and what coins you might get. Then I slapped myself and remembered Dan’s first law of the Internet. Naturally that was already done.

So what about you, dear readers? Do you also find that nickels are the least-used coin?

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  2. Hitting for the coin cycle Yes, yesterday was a great day in the coin finding world. While it seems obvious to me, allow me to explain that hitting for the coin cycle in this case means finding a penny, nickel, dime and quarter, all in the same day. I mixed my sports metaphors last night while explaining it to Carolyn [...]...
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Comments (4) left to “Where have all the nickels gone?”

  1. Carolyn wrote:

    But what about the awesomeness of the old time buffalo nickles?!

    Perhaps fewer nickels are actually minted because they are used less often.

    I think very few people, when shopping, give the exact total in cash. If they’re digging for coins, I think people are more likely to dig out a dime to round up, rather than having to dig out nickle and pennies to give the exact amount.

    I don’t know if that has anything to do with why you’re finding so few nickles. But that’s my 5 cents!

  2. Braden wrote:

    Well when you elect me President, I’ll do away with the Penny… seriously – why do we even have pennies anymore?

    And then everything will round out to the nearest 5 cents and nickels will reclaim the glory that they have lost thanks to the inept policies of the Bush Administration.

    No, really, why do we even have pennies? Think about it. The reason that you have found 64 pennies (4 times more than the next highest total number of coins) is that they are worthless. When I buy anything at the cafeteria at work, any pennies that they give back go into the give-a-penny jar because they mean nothing to me.

    So what would be the downfall of the no-more-penny law? I suppose that retail establishments might try to take advantage of it by making sure items come out to a total ending in 8 so that they can round up and get two free cents. Doing the math, and assuming a super-shopper who makes 10 retail transactions with cash every day (after all, there would be no need to change the credit card transactions). If, in each of these transactions, the customer lost 2 cents that she otherwise would have retained, then our shopper is losing 20 cents every day. If our shopper is doing this every day, including Sunday (bad, bad Mormon!), then they are losing 1.40 every week. That comes out to a total of a little over 70 dollars every year.

    Or perhaps a more reasonable transaction rate of 3 transactions per day 5 days a week would come out to 30 cents per week or 15 dollars per year. As president I would sign an executive order to give a universal tax rebate to everybody for 15 dollars. This would be paid for with the savings from stopping production of pennies and from the money made by collecting all old pennies and selling them to China.

    Vote Ellis/Elmo 2008!

  3. Carey wrote:

    1 penny is worthless, but 64 pennies will buy a candy bar.

    I think it would be odd to always have everything in a 5 or a 0. It’s very unclean. I think pennies are around to stay until inflation is such that nickles are also worthless. Then just get rid of pennies and nickles and everything will end in 0. Ahhh I can almost taste it! So clean! So clean!

    Hey Carolyn, if you ever need Dan to take the garbage out to the curb, you could just leave a trail of pennies from his car door to the garbage can :)

  4. dan wrote:

    To propose a possible answer myself:

    According to coinflation.com a nickel is now worth just over 5 cents in nickel (the metal).

    So people could be holding on to those (just like people including me hold on to pre-1982 copper pennies (that are worth about 2.2 cents in copper)

    See Gresham’s Law

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