Rules for Penny Luck

Image by EG Camera Girl
Fig. 1 – A Canadian penny on the sidewalk

In which are explained the various rules, and variations, of luck-obtention in the finding and picking up pennies on the street

When I was growing up, in Montreal, and old enough to just have learned where babies come from, I also learned about penny luck.

The idea is simple. If you find a penny on the street, and pick it up, it brings you good luck for one day.

Since then I’ve grown a lot older and learned a lot about the way the world works. It turns out that, like so many things, penny-picking-up-luck is more complicated and subtle than it appears at first. I’ve given this matter considerable thought and engaged in over 20 years of penny-luck experimentation. So I thought I’d clear up the rules.

Rule 1. Luck is redeemable at a rate of one day per penny. 

This one is pretty obvious. One penny = one day of good luck. One penny is worth one cent. Therefore if you find a five cent coin, it confers five days of luck. A quarter is worth 25 cents and so covers you for the better part of a month. If you find a loonie or a toonie, they convey 100 and 200 days of good luck, respectively. By the same token, I am still riding on the wave of the $10 bill I found in the parking lot of the Angrignon Mall Future Shop on the 10th of January 2011. (So far it has pretty much worked.)

Rule 2. Exchange rates apply.

As stipulated in Rule 1, luck accrues at a rate of one day per penny, or one day per cent. But whose pennies are we talking about here? It seems logical that the pennies you grew up with are the luck standard for you. Of course, I grew up in Canada, so in my case we’re talking Canadian pennies here. But I live in London now. If I went out in the street today and found a British penny in the street, that would count for 1.56113 days of good luck, at current rates. (Which is a bit of a bummer, ’cause when I moved to London in 2005 one British penny equaled 2.45 days of good luck. If I found a two-penny coin back then, I was set for like a whole week.)

Rule 2, Corollary: exchange rates apply in reverse, too.

If you grew up in Britain or the USA and you come to Canada and find pennies on the sidewalk, you’re sort of getting ripped off. At current rates, if you’re British, a Canadian penny only gives you 0.640563 days of good luck. That’s about enough to get you to three-thirty in the afternoon or so.

Rule 3. Luck is bankable until the finder decides to use it.

This one is a real surprise, but I assure you that the logic holds. This is Science here people, and we all know you can’t argue with Science. As the saying goes, finding a penny makes that day lucky. But what if you find another penny that day? (This has, in fact, happened to me several times during my years of experimentation.) Your current day is already lucky, so the second penny’s lucky day must fall on another date. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that it the luck should accrue on the next day. Logically, it follows that any luck past the first penny is bankable, and can be redeemed at a future date of the finder’s choosing. By extension, any penny luck is bankable – including the luck from the first penny. This is really convenient, because it’s a great idea to save luck up until you need it – for example, for a big presentation, a hot date, or an appointment with your bail board.

Rule 4. Luck must be redeemed consecutively.

Though luck is bankable and can be called on at any time, you can’t cut up luck from multiple-cent finds into smaller chunks. That means that if you find a dime, you have to use all ten days in one go. You can’t use one or two of them and keep the other nine or eight for later.

Rule 4, Corollary: luck need not be redeemed at a rate of one luck-day per calendar day.

If you’ve banked a lot of luck, and have something really big coming up, and you really really need a lot of luck, you can focus all your luck from a particular find into one day. For example, I found a pound coin on Carnaby street the other day. I’m saving that one up to use in one go – next time I play poker I am makin’ it, baby.

Rule 4, CoroCorollary: Focused luck has to all be spent on the same day.

Because seriously. You can’t go spending all your luck in some sort of like twice normal concentration or some random shit like that. That’s just silly. It’s one day per penny, or all at once. Your choice, punk.

Rule 5. Redeemed luck lasts 24 hours from the moment of redemption.

Because otherwise time zones would apply, and that would just be weird. And confusing. Like I’m supposed to keep track of where I’m from and use the time zone from there? But there are like 12 time zones in Canada. So that clearly doesn’t work. It has to just last 24 hours.

There, that’s all the rules that I’ve been able to determine from many years of observation and experimentation. I hope you find them useful.

22 thoughts on “Rules for Penny Luck

  1. Also, if it takes you five seconds to bend down and pick up a penny, you’re working at a rate of £7.20 an hour. Whether that’s worth it or not is your choice.

  2. I found a twonie on the bus today. How lucky that I should find this article to guide me in making the best of those 200 lucky days!

  3. So, I was just wondering, if the penny or coin as it may be is heads up, is that lucky or not. If the penny is face down, is that bad luck and should be left there for someone else to pick up.

    1. I don’t think that the way it lands makes a difference – it’s good luck to find one whichever way it faces!

      1. Actually, it does matter. If you find a penny “HEADS UP”, grab it. Now here is what most people dont know…if you find a penny “TAILS UP”, don’t pick it up. Just flip it over. Now the next person to find it can enjoy a little good luck. Dont you feel good.

    1. ABSOLUTELY!! If its tails up, flip it over. This way the next person to find it can enjoy a little good luck.

  4. Anybody else here have the curse of the Scots? I can spot a penny on the ground at 20 paces in pitch dark! I save them up in a once empty spaghetti sauce jar which I use as a door stop. Luck you say? Have you ever had lean times? Someday that jar of pennies may mean the difference between getting a meal or going hungry! They’re ALL lucky!

  5. New copper coinage in the US is over, as of April, 2015, which makes the penny so much more valuable as a witching tool. When someone loses a penny, they are either losing some of their bad luck or some of their good luck, depending on which side the coin drops. If the coin drops tails up, you shouldn’t pick it up and put it in your pocket but leave it there, because you’ve just gotten rid of some of your bad luck. The reverse is also true. If you drop a penny and it is heads up, you can’t leave it there because it’s your good luck dropping away from you.

    How do you change your luck? An old Roman method involved the copper coin known as the “Republican As.” Count out ten pennies (and no more than that), find a public square such as a parking lot and toss the pennies in the air. Then, pick up all the pennies that are face up and leave all the pennies that incorporate your bad luck. Then wait for someone else to pick up the bad luck you’ve left for their greed. VERY IMPORTANT! Do not repeat this procedure/ritual until all the coins have been picked up and not under that same sun or moon. Wait until you’ve slept and the coins are picked up by someone else. At that time, you can toss another ten pennies in the air and repeat until all your bad luck is gone. Let’s not forget, belief is half the battle.

    Now that you know, you will begin seeing three or more pennies tails up in a parking lot and realize that someone has just performed this ritual to get rid of bad luck. Personally, I wouldn’t touch those coins for fear of contamination. Maybe, you’re so generous that you will risk turning the coins over for somebody else. Do you feel lucky? Turning them over makes the pennies lucky at your expense, draining your good luck. Everybody knows this. Leave the coins alone!!!

  6. Yesterday I found 2 Penny’s face down in 2 separate spots I did pick them up ..then today I find 2 pennys face down nd one face up so am I gonna have bad luck ?

  7. Today I was in a parking lot looking for an earring that I lost. I found a half of a penny, and a foot away from it I found the other half. It was very rough like it had been run over many, many times, and it was broken in half!! Does this have meaning???

  8. After you found a good luck penny and you have exhausted the luck from that penny for the day, should you spend said penny, drop the penny or somehow remove the penny from your person? If you keep the penny, does that penny stay neutrally charged after the good luck has been dissolved from it or does it turn negatively charged, bringing small amounts of back luck with each passing hour or day?

  9. Also on Banked Luck.
    How would that work?

    Do you state to the Universe you do not want to use the luck from the penny you just found and you want to save it for another day?
    So the penny stays lucky until you decide to use said luck from that penny?

    Should you put the pennies (or any other coin found), in a certain location to use when “needed” for luck purposes?

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