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.
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)