This is my first “financey-related” post because I’m now taking part in the Yakezie Challenge.
I hate change. Not the verb change, I love it when things change. It’s exciting. I hate the noun change, when you receive a bunch of coins in exchange for paper currency. That’s not exciting. I hate change because it’s like carrying around an infectious disease. Even trying to pay something that is a dollar with four quarters will probably upset someone out there.
When I was a kid, it was so exciting to save change in my piggy bank. Maybe it’s because I didn’t know any better or perhaps it was a time when establishments still happily accepted them as real money. These days, if you try to pay with loose change you are made to feel like you’ve given them a venereal disease.
Sure when you’re traveling, it’s acceptable that you can’t use foreign coins. Businesses just can’t bank or exchange foreign coins. (That also means that the more countries I visit, the more foreign change I leave with. Currently I have coins from 13 different countries, from New Zealand cents to Polish grosze to Mexican pesos to Euro cents. Even so, I’m fine with that.)
But when you can’t use change in it’s own country? Even if you’re tipping them. I’m sorry, that’s just fucked up.
This is the issue I’ve had in USA and Canada. Nothing is ever a round figure. It’s always $13.47 or some other stupid arbitrary number that leaves you with a bunch of pennies that you can’t use anywhere. This is why I avoid using cash as much as possible but rather use my credit card. If you are disciplined to pay off your full balance each month, you can use this to keep better track of your expenses and earn “cash-back” rewards. Plus you won’t have to deal with change. Unfortunately, on ships you only get paid in cash, so I’m stuck dealing with change again.
When I lived in Toronto, I seemed to always come home with pockets full of coins. Despite by best efforts to use up my coins, the piles of coins would mount up. It just seems socially unacceptable to use coins in restaurants and bars in North America, so I was left with using them at places like Walmart. I once paid $25 at Walmart with 100 quarters. I was like one of those penny-pinching grannies with my large purse of change. It was quite satisfying actually, being able to pay for stuff with loose change. It makes you feel like you’re getting something for free.
Anyway, one day I just gave up and found it easier to throw my change into a drawer and pretend it didn’t exist. Every so often, I’d ransack my horde of change for $1 and $2 coins but apart from that I left it largely untouched. In December 2009, I decided it was time to finally sort out this mess of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. If anything, it was because I needed to downsize as much as possible before leaving to join the cruise ship. And I didn’t want to take a pile of Canadian coins with me. So I got a bunch of those coin paper-wrapper things and counted the change I had accumulated over the past 2 years. Turns out I had accidentally saved over $400 in change! Considering that I had avoided using cash like the plague and had frequently razed my stash of all the biggest denominations, I was truly surprised.
So it’s not as impressive as saving $1039.70 but considering that I wasn’t even trying to save, it’s a fairly good result. I guess change can be useful after all. But I think from now on, I’ll horde all my US change and blow it at Walmart at the end of every month. It’s going to be awesome.
So…how about you? What do you do with your coins?
[cruisesurfer’s log sea-date: 77:7:2 | 4:48]