Friday, February 24, 2012

Wait! Don’t Take that Spare Change to the Bank Just Yet

Besides buying rolls of forever stamps or investing in government savings bonds, there may be few low initial capital investment/savings options out there for the common person.

For those of us that don’t have thousands of dollars to toss at investments -- or just don’t want to -- there are still great ways out there to save without having to sink the family nest egg into an investment in which a stable return might not be guaranteed.

Spare change is one of my favorites, and is probably one of the easiest as well. And while we can’t go melting down all our coinage just yet, the day has arrived when certain metals contained within our daily pocket change are worth more than the actual change itself. While I don’t plan on getting rich off of saving 25 tons of pennies and nickels, considering the other investment options out there right now, saving a few of these coins in a jar or bucket might be a nice little hedge against inflation and rising commodity prices.

A Penny Saved is…2.5 Pennies Earned?
I think that word is starting to spread, but if you hadn’t yet heard, the metal value of a 1909-1982 cent is currently hovering right around 2.5 cents. Kind of strange isn’t it? The metals comprising this coin are worth more than the face value of the coin itself.

While this is only true if you were able to actually melt down the penny for its metal (which is currently prohibited by law in the United States), should that law change, we might see pennies from this time period start to disappear from circulation rather quickly.

Even newer cents from 1982-2012 (which are mostly Zinc -- 97.5% to be exact) are worth ½ a cent, since zinc prices -- like many other commodities recently -- have been on the rise. These cents’ metal value might soon join the ranks of other coins that have their melt value be worth more than their face value.

Don’t Discount Those Nickels
One of these other coins is the 1946-2012 nickel. Even though most of the nickel’s composition (non-1942-45) is mostly copper, between the copper and nickel mix content, and the current price of commodities, the melt value of the US five cent piece is now nearly six cents.

Just Look at Silver
If you want a reference on how things have changed when it comes to our pocket change over the years, consider some of the pre-1965 coins that were made largely from silver. Got a dime from that time period? It could have a silver content worth nearly $2.50. Have a quarter from the 1950s or early 60s? Its melt value could be worth over $6.

So before you go tossing that change away or pass up a coin on the sidewalk, you might want to take a closer look. There might be more value in that pocket change that you think.

The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. The author is not advocating the melting of US currency or the breaking of any laws. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.


  1. I admire your work on Yahoo but absolutely LOVED this little gem. This discalimer rocks!

  2. We recently found a silver war nickel. I'm holding onto that sucker!

  3. Thanks Dalia! Glad you liked the disclaimer.

  4. That's great Halina! Silver war nickels are hard to find since they weren't manufactured for very long. Worth about $2 melt value the last time I looked, but it's value to a collector could be more.

    Thanks for sharing!