Now, I rarely have a quarrel with these tasks, but I hope the next version of the G.S. badge book revises this language. You can’t seriously look at this without knitting the brow and asking: Really? REALLY?
This got me to thinking about savings, poverty, and the true value of a penny.
The idea of savings is an important one and central to this task. We’re lucky if we catch on to savings as adults. But the kids I know are pretty smart, and I think most are smart enough to know pennies probably don’t add up.
All that aside, there was a potent byproduct of this task work. Turns out you can’t really think about the buying power of money–even loose change–without also thinking about what it means to have none in your pocket.
BADGE WORK REPORT: CONSUMER POWER
If you aren’t convinced that pennies are fairly worthless except for making very specific correct change, then please note: in 2008, the U.S. Mint acknowledged that it costs 1.7 cents to make one penny. Eight billion pennies are minted annually at a cost of $130 million — and an annual loss to taxpayers of $50 million* (source: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=4460935).
Yeah, it’s not $50 billion, but it’s no chump change, either. It’s the equivalent of 1,000 much-needed middle class jobs.
Anyway, back to the task at hand…
I embarked on the task under the assumption that pennies wouldn’t yield much at the end of a month. I also hoped I’d be wrong–it’s always good to have our assumptions smashed to bits. Let’s see what happened:
And Now, a Penny for YOUR Thoughts
(did you really think I’d get through this post without using this cliché?)
A couple of questions emerge from this for me. Chime in on one or all if you like:
- If you were a kid, what would/should you buy with this money (68 pennies… or the whole $18.83)? Or what would you save for?
- If you only had $18.83 in your pocket for the next week of your life, how would you prioritize that money?
- What message do we want to share with youth re: the value of a dollar (or penny)? How we can best teach them to become informed consumers. This activity suggests that those pennies “really add up,” but we know that they don’t. And kids are killer smart; they know when we’re not being honest with them. So how should we really be talking to youth about the realities of consumerism and money? I’m not saying we need to explain the Frank-Dodd Financial Services Regulation legislation’s answer to credit default swaps, but are kids too young to maybe open a and set some goals? (I don’t think so, but I’ll let actual parents do the talking on this.)
- One other question to ponder. Should we stop minting pennies, or substitute them for something that costs less to make? And if that nets a surplus, how would you like to see that money spent or saved? Here’s a really interesting article on the debate…
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