Excuse Me, My Penny Please

I don’t understand why some local businesses think it is okay to place a price ending with 49 cents or 99 cents, and then ring up the item after rounding up the price to 50 cents or $1.00. It is at times like this when I have to say, “Excuse me, my penny please.”

Now, some store owners will say sorry and give you the penny. 
Then there are those who act as though the penny is no big deal, so why are you making a big deal about it?

Why A Penny Is A Big Deal

First off, it’s a big deal to me because I have to generate no less than 60 cents in premium income to generate income of six cents. Then, after income taxes, (State, Federal and Local), and setting aside 15.3% of that for the full FICA payment (No employer to pay half. And you wonder why your boss isn’t so happy about big raises. Any raise, you see, generates an additional 7.65% increase in the amount they have to send to Social Security on your behalf.), and thinking about things like rent for home and office, office supplies, utilities for home and office, insurance for car, home and business, and oh yes, food, I am left with my penny.

Why This Post, and Why Tonight?

When my daughter bakes apple pies, it is now traditional I walk at least one slice down to my friend Stepfon, the station agent at my local train station. We became friends after he observed me swiping into the subway every night and then sitting on the bench while waiting for my daughter to return home after rehearsals which would go late into the night.

One night, as I was getting ready to swipe in, he informed me as I never got on the train, and was simply waiting for my daughter, he could extend certain courtesies to me to help me save some money.

While I appreciated his kind offer, I refused, telling him how my father worked for Transit for 20 years and didn’t take any sick time until he was on the job for about seven (7) years. Many a morning he got dressed and went to work even when ill because that was a point of pride for him. The first time he took days to recover from a most terrible flu,  the dreaded “Bee-Keys” showed up at our house to make sure he was actually home. I was home and answered the door for them.

Well, let me tell you after he finished his tirade spraying snot and spittle all over them and his Bajan temper blazing hot enough to launch a rocket ship into space, those two guys took off apologizing, running for their lives.

Even though he took sick days in later years, they never sent anyone to the house again.

I also pointed out all the cameras around the station, and remarked some minor functionary with a bone to pick might just pick on Stepfon and ruin his good service record.

From this, we became fast friends. When I wasn’t at the station to meet my daughter one night, and she told him I was in the hospital, he came to the hospital the next day before his shift to check on me.

Not many people like Stepfon left in this world.

Back To The Pie

So after I left the station to return home, I realized there were no Brillo pads in the house. Carl’s store, my regular go-to convenience store closed early because of the cold, so I went to another store on the strip. I walked in, saw the box of Brillo on the shelf, walked over and saw the price was $2.49. Now I love coupons which only the supermarkets and larger pharmacies accept, but I’d forgotten to include Brillo on my shopping list the day before.

The price of $2.49 didn’t seem so bad for ten (10) pads so I went to the counter and handed the box to the proprietor.

She rang it up for $2.50, and looked me dead in the eyes as if to say, “Argue with me.”

Price of $2.49 is clearly marked on the Brillo box

I was about to raise hell for my penny, and then, thought wiser of such a move. Never again will I purchase coffee and a croissant from this store while waiting on my laundry. I will bring my tea or coffee in a thermos, and I’ll bring toast or a slice of cake which I will buy at a supermarket where the scanner, for the most part, charges the correct price.

Most importantly, this store, which essentially stole my penny, will never see another penny of my money again. There are three other convenience stores at the station, giving me options about who will get my business.

Watch Your Pennies And The Dollars Will Grow

Years ago, there was a television commercial which spoke about sound financial management. One of the actors, dressed as a fly fisherman said, “Watch your pennies, and the dollars will grow.” I try to follow this advice and share it with my clients.

So think about it, 99 more pennies like mine and the proprietor has one dollar. The same thing happens when you put 20 nickels or 10 dimes together.

Which is fine and dandy, as long as I’m not getting ripped off for my penny. Believe me, I can find more friends for that penny to use for my own purposes.

Ten Brillo pads for $2.49, I mean, $2.50

The Moral Of The Story

To business owners everywhere, do yourselves a favor. I don’t care what you want to charge or whether it is overpriced, just don’t play the penny game.

In the end, the penny you take will cost you many, many dollars.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a New York State licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker, a Defensive Driving Instructor and Delivery Agent and an Annual Filing Season Program Income Tax Preparer. 

You can reach Eustace by email eustace@insuremeeg.com  or telephone 917-783-7209, to make an appointment to review your insurance program and close any insurance gaps in your insurance program.

About Eustace L. Greaves Jr.

Risk is a fact of life. Those who recognize and best manage their particular risks, i.e. disability, death, the need for skilled nursing care, income in retirement, fire, theft, and flood, just to name a few, will live better lives. Eustace L. Greaves, Jr. works with his clients to manage their risks by combining insurance and income tax solutions in integrated strategies designed to assist them in reaching their financial goals.
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