Dime Time

It all started with a simple chocolate craving at a roadside rest-stop. I had scrounged up all the random coins that had been collecting dust for years in my vehicle. I ventured inside prepared to re-live that nostalgic experience of vending machine anxiety: Will the change get stuck? Will the machine randomly reject my selection? Will the dispensing wire-spiral spin enough times or will the snack just hang there, teasing you? Life is grand.

The Peanut M&Ms cost $1.75 and I proceeded to insert: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 quarters. And fortunately the anxiety was not reinforced; the candies were mine. But, I couldn't get the absurdity of 7 quarters out of my head. That's a lot. I don't mean in terms of buying power, just in the number of tokens. Ye Olde Gumball Machines took a single 5 cent coin. That makes sense. A single "money token" should get you something. Sadly, despite experiencing decades of inflation, we (in the USA) haven't bothered to update our coins. In fact, many Americans just see them as useless junk: "worthless change".

So what good are they? It got me thinking.

Two days later, I slid a $20 paper banknote across the counter to pay for breakfest and the cashier exclaimed: "Argh, we've run out of quarters. I'll have to make change in dimes". Excellent. Next time I'm craving a roadside stack, I'll get to slide 17.5 dimes into the machine. One. At. A. Time.

Three days later, I was sorting through laundry and re-discovered these dimes. Upon walking them over to deposit in my desk's "Change Mug", I wondered if this time investment in Change Collection even had a positive ROI.

And thus was born the "Dime Time" measure, which I believe to be one of the few, possibly only, useful things for dimes in 2023. Now, many people measure recurring income/expense in units of "dollars/hour" or "dollars/month" or "dollars/year". Today we will be exploring the measurements of "dimes/min" and "dimes/sec", that is Dime Time

For annual incomes (assuming 40 hr/wk, 52 wk)

Dollar/Year Dimes/Min (dm)
$ 12,500 dm 1.0 (roughly the poverty line)
$ 25,000 dm 2.0
$ 50,000 dm 4.0
$ 100,000 dm 8.0
$ 200,000 dm 16.0

The USA poverty line for individuals is $14,580 or about 1.1 dime/min !

The USA 1% income is ~$800k or about 64 dime/min => ~ 1 dime/sec !

Let's look at large budgets in Dime Time (using 24 hrs / 365 days):

Budget Dollar Dimes/Sec (ds)
Pawnee, Indiana $100 million (??) ds ~31 (link)
Witchita, Kansas $600 million ds ~190
USA DoD $840 billion ds ~267,000 (267 dime/ms)
USA Federal Govt $3.61 trillian ds ~1,140,000 (roughly 1 million or 1 dime/μs)

1 dime/μs is my new favorite way to think about US Government spending :-)

Now let's say you found a fabulous arbitrage opportunity for that $1.75 pack of M&Ms, selling for N dimes. But, the vending machine only accepts dimes and you have to physically stand there and insert them, each taking one second. So, inserting 17.5 dimes takes 17.5 seconds, plus some extra for the vending action. Let's call it 20 seconds.

We can define our return rate R as:

R = (N - 17.5)/20*60 dime/min

N Return (R)
17.5 dm 0.000
20.0 dm 7.500
25.0 dm 22.500
30.0 dm 40.500

When is this information useful? Probably never.

But it might be a fun way to amuse yourself while inserting 17.5 dimes into a vending machine. Who said spare change wasn't good for something?

And that's all the time I have to opine and rhyme on the decline of the dime.

Have a nice day!