83 Things You Can Do With a Penny

what you can do with pennies

Many people assume that the penny is no longer good for anything, but not according to members from the forums – there are still a lot of things that you can do with a penny. Here are 83 of them (Disclaimer: Some of these activities involve defacing pennies which may be illegal):

1. Clean dirty pennies instantly by dropping them into a saucer of vinegar with table salt stirred in.

2. Use for leverage to pry off the lid from a difficult “line-up-the-arrows” childproof medication bottle.

3. Slip one under a vase that sits a little wobbly to steady it.

4. Tape one to the tail of your kite for a little more stabilizing weight.

5. Teach your toddler to count with them.

6. Teach your little bit older child a little culture and history by looking in the dictionary to find that the American coin is only called a “penny” in slang, and that its proper name is “cent.”

7. Use as an impromptu screwdriver in a wide slotted bolt.

8. Trace around to make small circles for crafts (appliqué, scrap booking, etc.).

9. Collect in your change jar and cash in when full.

10. Scratch off lottery tickets.

11. Make sculptures like penny towers.

12. For good luck, place one over every doorway when you move into a home.

13. Fill a sock with pennies for self defense.

14. Play penny poker.

15. Over a concrete surface, hold a penny with pliers and melt it with a torch. It will drip down, nearly cool before it hits the ground, then instantly form a beautiful shiny, lacy, silver-colored foil as it spreads on but does not get stuck to the concrete.

16. Toss them in wishing wells.

17. Collect rare, valuable pennies.

18. To make an old lawn mower easier to start, rub a penny between the points (or condenser) on the engine to help them conduct better.

19. Put one behind a fuse in the fuse box.

20. Use to make crafts and jewelry.

21. Check your car’s tires by placing one head down between the tire tread grooves. Replace the tires if you can see Lincoln’s whole head or any of the “In God We Trust” letters above his head.

22. Use to open the battery compartment of a remote control.

23. Toss one to see which side starts the soccer game.

24. Increase the pH of soil for hydrangeas.

25. Throw handfuls to the crowd of spectators at a parade.

26. Superglue one over the spring-loaded latch on the cabinet if you don’t want it to close with a catch.

27. Mix them in the grab bag of Halloween candy for trick-or-treaters.

28. Nail through one when you need to spread the holding force of the nail head over a greater area.

29. Spin them on the table for entertainment while waiting for your order at a diner.

30. Toss into the deep end of the pool and challenge the kids to dive and get them.

31. Drill a hole through opposite edges of many pennies and string them together to make a little rain chain.

32. Put them all around vulnerable garden seedlings to repel slugs. The folklore is that slugs touching copper will experience a tiny electric shock as electrons are exchanged between a slimy slug and copper.

33. Find one heads up to have good luck.

34. Prompt your backstabbing workmate to pick up the one that is tails side up on the sidewalk so that he will have bad luck.

35. Place one on your loved one’s grave to let them know you have been there and think of them.

36. Use one as inspiration for song. “Pennies … pennies from heaven.”

37. Visit another country and give them to children for the novelty of foreign coinage.

38. Use a small collection to entertain a young child by encouraging them to make designs.

39. Sew them onto your belt for decoration.

40. Place them in the hems of your draperies to make them hang smoothly.

41. Put one on the back of your hand. Quickly drop your hand downward while turning it over to catch the penny on the flat palm of your hand. Reverse the action to catch it on the back of your hand.

42. Bend your arm up with your fingers close to your ear on the same side. Place one or a stack of pennies close to your elbow. All in one motion, snap your hand forward to catch them.

43. Get a big silky scarf and rubber band a penny into each corner. Holding the corners together, roll up the scarf over the pennies. Thrown it as high into the air as you can, and then watch the scarf float slowly down like a parachute.

44. Pour a patio and put one penny for each of your kids into a discrete spot before the concrete sets. Pennies should be dated with the kids’ birth years.

45. Wrap one or more in electrical tape to make a heavier “cork ball” for that baseball- like game.

46. Demonstrate transfer of energy by making a short line of them on a table, then slide one penny forcefully onto the end of the line. See how at the far end of the line one penny then scoots away from the rest of the line.

47. Put one or more inside a couple of foil pie pans taped together to make a rhythm toy.

48. Make pretend spurs: flatten two pennies on a railroad track, then bend them. Pierce a hole through them and also through a third flattened but unbent penny. Stack the pennies together over a paperclip with the flat one in the middle. Slip a piece of string through the opposite end of the paperclip and tie around your kid’s ankle.

49. Get one to cling to the end of your nose without tilting your head back.

50. Fill the slots of your penny loafers.

51. Ask someone much older than you what a penny used to buy.

52. Find a place that still sells penny candy and buy a piece!

53. Quintuple your money: find someone who will give you a nickel for your penny.

54. See how far you can roll a penny down a hard floored hallway.

55. If you need brass washers to help rehang some loose gingerbread (fancy woodwork) on your house, drill holes in pennies. Brass washers cost about 4 cents each and pennies cost – well, a penny.

56. Use financial education. If you start with one penny on day one of a month and double that amount every day, how much do you have at the end of the month? If it’s a 30-day month: $5,368,709.12. If it’s a 31-day month: $10,737,418.24.

57. A penny says “In God we Trust”. Every time you pick one up, say a little prayer.

58. Use in a toll booth in the states where they are still accepted, like Illinois.

59. Trap someone in their room by forcing three or four pennies stacked together between the door and door jam.

60. Old wives’ tale: if you drop a penny on the floor in your home, don’t pick it up. Kick it under a piece of furniture or into a corner of the room out of sight. After cleaning, throw it back down. You will always have money.

61. Toss in fountains to make wishes. Just make sure there are no signs prohibiting it, especially if there are live fish in the water.

62. Use as a spacer when laying tile.

63. Play beer games: bounce a penny on the table and into a shot glass. If you make it, you get a drink. If not, you get a drink …

64. Snap a penny in your fingers and make it shoot like a projectile. A well-placed hit can sting quite a bit.

65. Five pennies can substitute for a die (as in singular of dice). Heads counts as 1 and tails count as zero. You start at 1, and add up the number of heads.

66. If you’re really mischievous and peeved, use them as revenge payment for money owed.

67. Play spin the top. Each person holds a penny upright with one finger, and flicks it with a finger in the other hand. You win if your penny spins the longest.

68. Play curling. Draw a circle on a smooth surface and flick pennies from a distance. Whoever gets the most into the circle wins. You can knock your opponent’s pennies out of the circle as well.

69. Learn how to do cool sleight-of-hand magic tricks.

70. Insert a shiny penny in a machine at amusement parks which run a small press to flatten it into an oval and then imprint the amusement park’s logo on it.

71. Use as a bookmark.

72. Freeze them and drop down the shirts of unsuspecting victims.

73. Pay for things with exact change.

74. Buy stamps at vending machines at post offices.

75. Use as replacement checkers when you lose some.

76. Weigh down hems from dresses. Open up the hemline and drop a penny in.

77. Glue one onto a shoe for a tap dance shoe.

78. A penny saved is a penny earned. In fact, it is even more than a penny earned since a penny earned will have taxes taken out.

79. To make round corners on a photo, put the penny on the photo, trace lightly around the edge, and then cut on the line.

80. Play penny-pitch.

81. Donate to charities that leave change jars near cash registers, or to the Salvation Army or other charities at Christmas.

82. Let your child throw them into the garden to magically find again next spring, as if the fairies seeded the garden with pennies.

83. Give someone a penny for their thoughts!

We’re sure there are a lot more uses for pennies out there – if you use pennies in a way not mentioned above, leave a comment so we can add it to our list.

(Photo courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker)

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66 Responses to 83 Things You Can Do With a Penny

  1. A Tentative Personal Finance Blog says:

    If you’re a coin collector looking to sell… DO NOT clean that penny. If you do, the value of the coin actually decreases a lot! Coin collections are a dirty bunch.

  2. poundwise says:

    “Snap a penny in your fingers and make it shoot like a projectile. A well-placed hit can sting quite a bit.”

    Ah yes, school days. Good times.


  3. Last time I went, there were penny slot machines in the downtown Las Vegas casinos.

  4. cheetahwoman7 says:

    Use a penny as part of a science experiment to show how water tension works. With an eye dropper, see how many drops of water each side can hold. Think about and explain why one side (heads or tails, you figure it out *smie*) can hold more drops of water than the other.

    I use this simple experiment every year and the students are always amazed that each side doesn’t hold the same amount. They really enjoy seeing how high they can get the “bubble” of water to stand over the edges of the penny before the “drop that breaks the penny’s back”. :)

  5. aname says:

    Some of these are really bad ideas. Using a penny instead of a fuse? Throw them at spectators in a crowd? Lots of superstitious stuff as well.

    Save them, and exchange them for cash. Very little can be bought for a dollar, let alone one hundredth of a dollar, but a few thousand pennies would be nice to have for nothing.

  6. viola says:

    Every night I take my cash out of my purse and sort the pennies into a little bag and give them to my 21 months old grandaughter. You be amazed how the penny’s add up :-)

  7. Pingback: Stop Spending Start Saving » Blog Archive » Suggested Reading For 06/24/07

  8. Pingback: Festival of Frugality: #80 | Money for the Rest of Us

  9. Josh More says:

    “19. Put one behind a fuse in the fuse box.”

    This is a good way to burn down your house. Fuses exist for a reason.

  10. Pingback: Mapgirl’s Fiscal Challenge / Festival of Frugality #80 is Up!

  11. Roxanne says:

    You can check the tread wear on your vehicle’s tires. Just insert the penny between the tread, if the top of the Lincoln’s head is visible, it’s time for new tires!

  12. Pingback: » 80th Festival of Frugality on the Festival of Frugality Blog

  13. Laura says:

    You can add one to tulips in a vase and it will prevent them from drooping (really works!).

  14. wildeyes says:

    Put a penny on the top of the needle of a record player to make it follow the groove better.

    Bears repeating; Please do NOT put one in your fusbox!!

  15. Valerie S. Johnson says:

    About the fusebox … as indicated, these suggestions were taken from SavingAdvice forum readers. I didn’t test each one and apologize if someone contributed an unsafe activity. Sounds like the fusebox is no place for a penny!!

  16. floriduh! says:

    NEVER give to a todler to use for anything. Bet you (a penny) you’ll soon be missing a few. Too easily swallowed.

    Also, what about using it for table top football. A great time killer, especially at a restaurant (w/o tablecloths)

  17. Coolpop says:

    I convert pennies into nickles, dimes, and quarters by using the appropriate amount of cents to round down a cash purchase to the nearest $.05 amount. The resulting “silver” change from the paper money given to the merchant goes into a jar for the grandkids to dip their hand into for some “fun” money when they visit.

  18. ben says:

    Actually, it’s not illegal to deface coinage unless it’s done with fraudulent intent. (e.g. trying to make a dime out of it)

  19. Tina D says:

    Toss several pennies on your each side of your house roof. The copper oxide will remove black roof stains and keep others from appearing. Difficult to do on steep pitched roofs, but this is where it is needed most because you can see so much of the roof.

  20. RealityBytes says:

    My grandfather used to work retail. He would check the till for older coins each night. He had an impressive and valuable collection.

  21. Celeste says:

    Thanks. I needed this page. 😀

  22. Pingback: Should The Penny Go? - SavingAdvice.com Blog

  23. bob says:

    this is great!
    how about this:
    try super-gluing a penny to a busy sidewalk. stand on it inconspicuously for about 5 -10 minutes to let the glue dry. then hide and watch the fun as your unsuspecting victims try to pick it up!



  25. dr.lucky says:

    use penny to scratch the burned milk or curry from the sauce pan.Also put a hole and wear it as a pendant.

  26. BARRY COHEN says:


  27. c taggart says:

    What happen to putting a penny in your penny loafers.. Very entertaining article.

  28. John Kennedy says:

    Am curious about nickles, dimes, quarters, pennies, and dollars that I have had for a long time, and wonder if possible to get something concerning ones that I have had since 1961. Please let me know.

  29. Tyrell says:

    How do u snap the penny???

  30. Candace says:

    You snap a penny by putting it slightly in between your middle finger and your thumb like when you snap your fingers, than snap. You aim with your elbow, so your fingers end up by your face. It should go flying if you do it correctly.

  31. Duane Ausherman says:

    I have been entertaining children for many years with pennys. Hold your arm up so that at your elbow is a sort of flat spot. Put a penny there and quickly lower your arm and reach out with your hand to grab the penny before it goes far. It will probably be almost at waist level, so aim there. Once you have that down, add in a penny and keep practicing. Have each penny overlap the other by about half. I can do about 24. Do this in an area where there is room for them to fly around and not hurt anyone.

  32. philip dinoto says:

    i have a silver and gold penny

  33. Sean says:

    I keep my pennies and change in a large jar with a handle and use it as a weight to exercise with. Everyday it get’s a little heavier.

  34. joe says:

    spend it :)

  35. patricia says:

    most of these things were helpful but idk who would be dumb enought to trade a penny 4 a nickel unless the penny was rare

  36. Pingback: A penny saved « Word Nymph

  37. lazaro says:

    use a penny to buy thing ans when you get to the cashier take all of them out n see how they look at u 😛

  38. Mike says:

    The best! At beach concerts it never fails there is always metal detectors roaming around trying to find lost or dropped jewelry. We throw pennies out in front of them to ruin his night of digging a hole for a penny.

  39. mike h says:

    you can make a special friends neckless using one or two pennies a lanyard or chain.
    put one of them on put one in a keychain ring or those leather tab holder -things. also use them as weights in curtains.

  40. misa says:

    Penny can
    a game were you take pennies and toss them in to an empty coffee can. person with the most pennies in the can win all the pennies:D

  41. molly says:

    This is great! you can also use them as tiles!! super cheap and looks great.

  42. Tammy says:

    You can use pennies in scrapbooks to mark the dates of special occasions. Like a baby born in 2012 would have a 2012 penny on that page.

  43. Dougus says:

    You can put them in your nose so you can smell copper all day.

  44. Lauren says:

    When you are eating outside, and there are a lot of wasps swarming around you and your dinner, put 5 or 6 pennies in a glass of water on your table. I’m not sure why, but the wasps hate it, and they will fly away! It totally works!

  45. Cliff says:

    A really good idea’s, when the pennies are gone peoplle will weigh alot less?

  46. Shelley says:

    Colour the edge of a penny with a pencil and have someone try and roll it from their forehead to their chin. It leaves a line down the middle of their face and it’s funny to see how long it takes for them to find out why everyone’s laughing. Used to do this to my brothers, Great Fun!

  47. mike says:

    if you live in canada keep em because as of friday may 4th 2012 the canadian penny stopped being made so keep them and wait in a few years collectors might want them or bring them into a scrap yard (you need hundreds like me for this to be worth it) and sell them because as of today (may 6th 2012) its about 3 dollars per pound and if you have alot bring em in

  48. Mathematitian says:

    #65 is mathematically incorrect.
    In a die, there are 1/6 chance of getting any one of the 6 numbers.

    In your example, using 5 coins, and counting up from one, adding one per head, does not satisfy the 1/6 chance.

    There are 2 outcomes per coin, so 2 to the power of 5 = 32 outcomes for 5 coins.

    There is only 1 way you can “roll/flip” a 1: by flipping all tails. There is only 1 way of flipping 5 tails in 5 coins.

    Therefore, the probability of “rolling/flipping” a 1 is 1/32 =/= the 1/6 previously stated.

    Similarly, the probability of “rolling/flipping” a 6 is 1/32 =/= 1/6.

    Of course, for the mathematically challenged, you can trick them with this math trick.

  49. dingle nutts says:

    Pay the alimony

  50. chad says:

    some of the 1982s are also only 2.5% copper.
    its 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.

    if you throw the 82s on a table the higher pitch ones will be 95% copper.
    they are worth over 2 cents.

    1982 and older, iv been hording them. hopfully someday copper skyrockets.

    copper pennys are 3.11 grams (95% copper, 5% zinc)

    zinc with copper plate are 2.5 grams (97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper)

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