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The Penny Challenge: Save nearly $668 this year using spare change

Penny Challenge
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Image Credit: TheLatinaNextDoor/Pinterest
Theo Thimou |
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OK, OK, we've heard you loud and clear!

After presenting you with the 52-week challenge to save $5,000 this year and then with the $5 a week savings challenge to save nearly $7,000 in 2017, we get the point…

Some of you on our Facebook page want a yearlong savings plan that won't require you to go without eating or to skip a utility bill in order to make it work for your budget!

So today we present you with the 2017 Penny Challenge.

Read more: How much you can save in 2017 by starting with just $1 a week

Introducing the 2017 Penny Challenge

This chart below from TheLatinaNextDoor/Pinterest really puts the emphasis on "micro" in the idea of micro-savings.

It all starts with socking away just 28 cents during the first week of January. Almost anybody can do that, right?

Then during the second week, you save 77 cents. And during the third week you save $1.26, and on and on as detailed in the chart.

If you stick with this slow and steady approach, you'll wind up with $667.95 by the end of 2017!

penny challenge save 668

What's a penny really worth?

Remember the story of 70-year-old Otha Anders a few years ago? He was a man who cashed in all the pennies he's saved for over 45 years and wound up with a small windfall.

Otha originally started saving pennies when he'd find them on the ground. Then he decided to save whatever other pennies he had around the house. This went on for decades.

Finally, one day in 2015, he hauled 15 five-gallon plastic water jugs filled with pennies to the bank and cashed them in. His total haul? More than $5,100!

Today we tend to think of the penny as having next to no value. Some have even advocated the idea of doing away with it entirely as a currency and just rounding prices up or down to the nearest nickel.

"When I was a kid," consumer expert Clark Howard says, "I can remember walking to a country store where we got a little bag to pick out penny candy. Depending on the size of the candy, you got several pieces for a penny and walked out with a little paper bag full of sweet stuff. A penny actually had value."

"Then I can remember when I was first driving and a penny would buy 15 minutes of parking at a meter. Now you can't even put a penny into a parking meter anywhere that I know of!"

The new reality of the ol' honest Abe coin is that it costs more than one cent to make and manufacture a penny. In fact, a single penny costs 1.7 cents to make, according to the latest numbers available from the Government Accountability Office.

That's because the penny is really a piece of copper-plated zinc that's about 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper, the GAO report says. As the price of those metals has risen over the years, so has the cost to manufacture the humble penny.

And to add insult to injury, consumers reportedly lose about one in four pennies that pass through their hands!

But if you can manage to hold onto yours, you might be $667.95 richer this year. Just something to think about as you start in on those New Year's resolutions…

Read more: 7 ways to start investing when you only have $100 or less

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