Copper Penny Sorting
Copper Penny Buying
To sort, or not to sort: copper pennies.
Copper pennies are worth their weight in copper. In fact, so much so, that the copper value far exceeds the face value of the copper penny. Because of this, people are sorting pennies to pull out the copper ones.
This article is a guide, not a rule. Take what is presented here as thoughts to help you make your own determination on the best option for you.
The question here is should you sort pennies for copper or buy them:
The Penny Factors
There are a number of factors that go into whether the best way for you is to sort or buy. Not every person is the same. Medical conditions, transportation available, geography, finances, jobs, family, and a number of other factors play a role.
To simply, we have deemed all these various things and more into variables of a math equation that you can calculate to determine whether sorting or buying is the best route for you. The only way to really do this is to remove the human equation by turning all human factors and non-human factors into the following one term:
Time is important. Your time is really the only thing you have that is a constant figure to compare all else to. How much time is what changes based on the individual person, and that is what we are going to calculate here by diving into all of the factors that are added together to equal your time.
When we have accomplished that, your copper penny sorting time is either going to be less than or greater than your copper penny buying time. Logic would dictate that whichever requires less of your time is the route to go.
You are going to be asked to assign actual numbers to do this equation. If you aren’t sure, time yourself or take your best guess.
Assumption: We assume you are sorting pennies between copper pennies and zinc pennies to keep the copper cents and that you are doing so mechanically with machinery.
Another assumption: Calculate time in terms of months. Meaning if you are asked what the total transportation time is then calculate that in terms of how much time you spend monthly on transportation.
When asked how much time is involved in an activity, assign that time in terms of minutes and hours.
So let’s begin.
Copper Penny Sorting Time
Transportation time – how much time does it take you to get your pennies between the time it takes you to acquire pennies (placing an order online, driving to and from the bank or where ever, filling up your gas tank, waiting in a bank teller line, hauling in bags to your sorting location, etc).
Geography plays a huge role here because the ratio of zinc pennies to copper pennies changes based on you physical location in the United States.
You need to also include transportation time to dispose of any pennies you are not keeping (ie: zinc pennies), particularly if you have a pick up location and dump location (meaning you deposit your zinc pennies to a different location taking more time).
Equipment time – To sort out copper pennies by any reasonable scale, you need sorting equipment or machinery. This requires cost in purchasing, maintaining, and replacement parts.
Yes. This is a money number. But time = money. How much time does it take you to make the money you need to buy and upkeep this machinery? That is the time amount you will put here.
One way to calculate this would be to take the total cost and maintenance cost and divide it by your income source. Hourly wages make this easy. If you are retired, take your retirement income monthly, divide by 4.33 (number of weeks in a month), divide by 40 (assume working 40 hours a week). That gives you an hourly wage to calculate out your time needed in hours to purchase and maintain this machinery.
Note: Common question we are asked: Isn’t this a one-time expense so it isn’t really a long-term factor and should not be included?
Answer: Yes and no. Machines break all the time. You cannot make the assumption you will buy one machine and it will just work forever. Therefore, you need to incorporate this figure to be conservative in your equation. The point is to realistically determine numbers here. By being conservative, you are better ensuring you make the right decision.
If you choose to do the sorting yourself, you can always recalculate this equation based on updated costs involved in machinery and transportation.
How long does it take you to sort coin. This is a tough one as sorting $100 is much different than $1,000 and certainly different than $100,000. You need to choose what your goal is. How much do you want to sort in a given month?
Pick what is a realistic amount as things always take longer than anticipated in this type of operation.
Include everything. Examples are: Cracking open rolls, placing coin in machinery, machinery jams, machinery cleaning, fixing errors and having to resort already sorted coin, double sorting if that is done, hand sorting through any of it, bathroom breaks (even washing hands due to handling dirty coin), and any other time taken as a result of doing coin sorting you would not have normally done if you were not doing coin sorting (no matter how insignificant it may seem).
Depending on how you dispose of coin, you may also need to involve re-rolling coin or however else the receiving location requires your coin to be handled.
Take the total time and there you go. That’s how long it takes you, per month, to sort copper pennies. You’ll notice that sorting time is drastically different between individuals based on geography (how much total pennies do you need to sort to get X amount of copper pennies) and total copper penny goal (how many copper pennies are you actually trying to sort).
Copper Penny Buying Time
This one is easy to calculate.
How much money does it cost you, over face value, to buy copper pennies, for the same amount of copper pennies you stated above you were realistically going to sort monthly. Take that cost and divide it by your monthly income turned into an hourly wage. If retired, take your retirement income monthly, divide by 4.33 (number of weeks in a month), divide by 40 (assume working 40 hours a week). That gives you an hourly wage to calculate out your time needed in hours to buy copper pennies.
Why do we say over face value? Because getting copper pennies to sort still costs face value. Therefore, the face value time number for both sorting and buying are equal and negate themselves, mathematically not being relevant for comparison.
Yes, you could simply withdraw money from a savings account to buy them, however, the idea is to compare buying versus sorting, so you need to base this on income sources. If you do not have an income source, base your income amount on your previous income source.
Remember, the amount of hours you calculated is how much extra time you would have to work to buy copper pennies from a cost perspective.
The extra hours worked could mean having to pick up an extra day of work which means you should also add the time it takes to get to and from work. The idea here is not to take away from your already existing disposable income, but rather what it would cost in time to buy with additional disposable income.
Only you know this answer. However, time and time again, it has been proven sorting just is not time efficient. People specialize in the areas they are good at and excel with what they are good at. They become efficient and accomplished because of this. Sure, hobby sorting can be fun. If fun is what you’re going for, that’s fantastic and we wish you the best. This article is on deciding which is more efficient from a time perspective.
Take care of yourself. Sorting coin involves lots of repetitive lifting of coin which can get heavy. Coin is also dirty and not only can you get dirt on your hands, but you can literally breathe in excessive dirt due to long exposure of coin sorting. Be safe. Your health is important!
The main thing to take away here is opportunity cost. This means when given a choice between only doing either Option 1 or Option 2, you only get to choose one. Therefore, if you choose Option 1, your cost is that you no longer have the opportunity to do Option 2. And vice versa, if you choose Option 2, your cost is you no longer have the opportunity to do Option 1.
That is why time is a recommended fashion for choosing whether to sort copper pennies or buy copper pennies: Whichever route takes the least time means the less opportunity cost. Or rather, gives you more time to do other things.
Clearly, the more copper pennies you wish to sort, the vast amount more time it takes to do so. It is plausible that there is an inverse relationship where sorting smaller amounts such as $100 a week may be more beneficial to sort where as sorting thousands upon thousands is not practical.
After all, time equals money. So if you save time, you’re saving money.
We sell copper pennies. That means we have a vested interest in you buying copper pennies. That being said, our goal is for you to save money and save time. If you are in the vast minority of people that save both time and money by doing the sorting yourself, then we are happy to encourage you to continue to do what is in your best interest.
Just keep in mind your goals. If you are looking to seriously invest and prosper on copper pennies in numbers reaching over $100,000 then it may no longer be realistic to be able to personally sort and store copper pennies. At that point, buying may truly be your best option.
After all, we specialize in copper pennies and therefore, our ability to sort and process is very efficiently and extremely well priced in the market. Why compete when you can join.
Have questions? Contact us and we would be happy to help.
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