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I accidentally dropped a penny once while fumbling for some loose change at a coffee shop. I ignored it, but the woman beside me didn't. She picked up the coin and handed it to me, saying, "Never be too proud to pick up a penny."

I smiled, because maybe it was a bit of a joke; I was no bigshot. However, it struck me soon after that she was right: The penny is an important symbol.

Apparently, the federal government disagrees. In its annual budget on Thursday, the government said one-cent coins would no longer be minted as of April and the Royal Canadian Mint will no longer distribute the coins in the autumn. Worse, the finance minister attacked pennies, calling them a "nuisance" and saying that they take up too much space on our dressers at home.

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For a government that has been warning Canadians against piling on too much debt, it seems like a contradiction to then denigrate the one-cent coin – hey, it's still money -- as nothing more than a waste of space. It isn't.

Okay, I'll admit to having a strange talent when it comes to moving pennies. I see every cash-purchase as an opportunity to lighten up on some and get my change in even dollars. And receiving pennies just gives me the means to make another change-perfect purchase down the road. So pennies don't tend to pile up on my dresser.

But I'll tell you this: Even if you do have a pile of change, pennies aren't the problem. Their copper hue makes them easy to pick out when you're in line to pay for something and someone behind you is breathing down your neck.

Nope, the real enemy in the change-world is the dime. Smaller than all other Canadian coins, they tend to get lost among nickels and quarters. They pile up.

And telling someone not to be too proud to pick up a dime doesn't sound quite right.



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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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