After a Year of Penny-Rounding, This Man is 89 Cents Richer

(Photo: Sophie Tremblay/CBC)

A penny can cost more to produce than it's worth, which is why Canada eliminated it in 2013. The Royal Canadian Mint stopped issuing them on Feb. 4, 2013. Since that time, Canadians have been rounding costs and payments to the nearest five cents.

Is it possible to optimize your purchases so that rounding ends up in your favor? Roger Guitar of Montreal decided to find out. He carefully tracked how penny-rounding effected his expenses over the course of the year. As a result, he's 89 cents richer. The CBC reports:

“Here, for example in April, I was up five cents," said Roger Guitar. "In February I was minus-23 cents.”

“Here, we bought some flowers for $11.48. They charged me $11.50, so I lost two cents.”

He began the experiment after the Royal Canadian Mint stopped circulating the penny in early 2013 to see whether rounding would favour the buyer or the seller.

Hypothetically, sellers could set prices in a manner to make the most out of rounding:

Store owner Dong Sheng Wang says he’s too busy to calculate what the real result of the phasing out of the penny has had.

“I think it’s the same," Wang said. "Sometimes I lose. Sometimes I really win."

Cash transactions are now rounded up or down to the nearest nickel — this means that $1.01 and $1.02 would be rounded down to $1, while $1.03 and $1.04 would be rounded up to $1.05.

Wang knows some dépanneur owners who use rounding to their advantage by fixing prices so that they can always round up and not down.

“My friend tells me if you set up the price good maybe you can make $300, $200 a year,” he said.

Guitar said that he figures most businesses don't round to make money, and figures the average consumer would come out as he did — plus or minus a buck.

-via Marginal Revolution

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This only applies to cash transactions. If you pay by debit or credit card, there is no rounding. Debit is used here probably more often than cash. Rounding might be marginally beneficial to smaller businesses, but nobody's going to get rich! On the plus side, there is less waiting for the person in front of you to search all their pockets for 4 pennies!
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