Coin Shortage…What?

Toilet paper. Meat. Coins.

What do these 3 things have in common? They have all been the subject of a significant shortage during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Toilet paper shortages were pretty amusing at first with classic memes being rolled out left and right. Vegans were rooting for meat shortages, so excited they could wet their plants. But coin shortages? That really benefits no one. Some grocery stores and restaurants are so coin-strapped they are requiring customers to pay with exact change in order to make a purchase. It truly is a cents-less time we live in.

Let’s break down why we are experiencing a coin shortage in the first place. The main problem is that people are not spending with cash right now. Many stores have been encouraging credit card use in lieu of cash for sanitary purposes. With the LA Times even branding cash as the new “Typhoid Mary”. Consumers have used cash very sparingly, if at all, and many are favoring online shopping and grocery pickups which do not utilize physical money.

In a normal world, grocery stores request their coins from banks, and banks request theirs from the Federal Reserve Bank. Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve Bank announced in June that they were placing temporary limits on what banks could request in quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, noting the pandemic has “significantly disrupted the supply chain.”

This is a two-fold issue. The pandemic decreased the general flow of coins throughout the system because customers have been heavily using credit and other digital transactions which limit human interaction. On the other side of the coin, the number of coins being produced has fallen dramatically. Banks are simply unable to provide the amount of coin that is being requested by businesses and consumers. It doesn’t look like this situation will change soon either, with businesses being informed that the shortage may last until November at the earliest.

Howard Headlee, president of the Utah Bankers Association said, “We are encouraging folks if they’ve been saving their pennies and they have the classic penny jar at home, this would be a good time to cash that in”.

Even the president of the Utah Bankers Association recognizes that there is true value in coin jars. Although they may seem silly and not worth the effort, spare change over time really does add up, so much so that businesses like Winco are requesting customers exchange their coins for cash at the register so they have more coins to work with. They realize people with change jars don’t just have $10 sitting around. Some people’s coin jars have accumulated hundreds and thousands of dollars over time that can be used to legitimately help businesses during this shortage.

I am seeing more and more headlines about a lack of coins and the unsure future ahead regarding physical money. This is exactly why I think PennyProfit users are so smart! They realize cash and coins will likely not be the primary method of payment that we use in the near future. As dramatic as it may sound, this coin shortage could be the beginning of the end for physical money, which is such a bummer for all those out there who love their spare change jar tucked away at home! Luckily, PennyProfit users can continue to keep accumulating their spare change from digital transactions. It’s a win-win in that you will never have to worry about not having the correct amount of spare change when making a purchase at a store and you will be constantly accumulating more savings in your Jars.

In a world as unsure as the one we live in right now, it really does make cents to change with the times and pursue digital savings in addition to, or as a replacement for, physical coins. Join PennyProfit today and start building up your savings!