10 Actually Useful Things You Can Do With Pennies

The fact that you have to consider whether it's even worth bending over to pick up a stray penny is proof enough that those shiny Lincoln heads are a lousy excuse for currency. But with a little creativity, here are 10 legitimately useful things you can do with pennies, other than lose them.

1. Use them as a tire tread gauge

Hold a penny with Lincoln's head facing toward the rim of the wheel and place it between several of the grooves in your tire. If you can still see his head and read most of "In God We Trust," you'll know your treads have worn down significantly and it's time to switch 'em out.

2. Weigh down your curtains

If you're sick and tired of your window curtains flailing around at the slightest hint of wind, glue a few pennies to a paper clip and slide it onto either edge of the bottom of the fabric. Crisis averted.

3. Make cool drink coasters

Entomb your spare change in a bath of resin and create a set of unique coasters. All you need is some vaseline, a small plastic plate, resin, and a handful of cents.

4. Use them as washers

Considering a standard washer will set you back a whopping $0.33 each, you can save some pretty real money by simply punching a hole through the center of a stack.

5. Make your own wall art

This mosaic of Honest Abe looks like it might require actual artistic skill, but it turns out there's a special kit you can buy that'll guide any beginner from start to finish. Plus there's a whole range of awesome 8-bit characters that wouldn't be too hard to freehand.

6. Create a unique floor, wall, or backsplash

If you're really feeling the copper look, a spate of artfully arranged pennies can transform an entire room, especially bathrooms and kitchens. To install a floor, you'll want to create square sheets of meticulously arranged pennies before laying them down on the floor. For less uniform surfaces like kitchen countertops and backsplashes, the process can be a little more complex

7. Fix a wobbly table or chair

Find the short leg(s) that're causing it to bounce around and stack as many pennies beneath as needed to keep it stable. 

8. Make a bowl for your keys, wallet, and sunglasses

For under $15 worth of coinage, you can make your own bowl for everything you need to keep handy when walking out the door, including the spare change you actually use. Just superglue them in a carefully arranged circular stack.

9. Create custom-painted decor

Copper doesn't always jive with the design you have in mind, so try treating pennies as a texture rather than a found object. Stick them to the surface you want to transform, then prime and paint them whatever color you want.

10. Use as a makeshift screwdriver

In a pinch, a penny becomes a remarkably effective flathead screwdriver for wide-grooved screws, and a great tool to pry open battery compartments on everything from your TV remote to a keyless entry fob.

Joe McGauley is a penny-loathing senior editor at Supercompressor.

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