Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Learning to Spend Copper

I never spent my change in the US. Only the quarters were used for anything, and that was just the laundry machine. The pennies, nickels, and dimes just piled up in little containers I set aside for each of them. Then I rolled them up and took them in to the bank in exchange for "real money" - paper, of course.
Learning to spend even just the 1 and 2 Euro coins was a big change for someone used to dumping it all at the end of every day. It took a few more months to start spending the 50, 20, and 10 cent coins too. But the copper - 5, 2, and 1 cent coins - is still building up on my bedroom windowsill, while every day in the store the cashiers want to know if I have exact change instead of that 5 EUR bill I'm about to hand them. The last 5 people before me paid, painstakingly, in exact change, and now it's my turn. I really need to get this process down. First, how to store the change? A coin purse? I don't want to replace my wallet, but it's of the small American variety, and has no coin pouch like the German wallets I always see. Then, I will have to start finding the prices of things I buy so I can count up my exact change before I get to the front of the line and back everyone up sifting through all those little coins. Maybe this is why tax is already included in German prices.

Blogger seems slow this evening and I am short on time again, but I swear the other topics I mentioned will soon be addressed, in addition to some info on finding a doctor!


  1. Hi there, great post. I never thought about that. Every German should understand your situation since the whole country was completely mystified by the new money back in 2002. Every grocery check-out was a big quiz show.

    My change tactics are:

    1. I think no one is counting up the prices actually. But when standing in line I look into my wallet and keep my coins in mind, so that I can select the right change quickly when the sum is displayed.

    2. I also take out the copper coins out of my wallet into an box (never emptied since euro introduction). But I leave one 5, one 2 and two 1 cent coins in it. This enables me to give the correct change for every sum if asked for. Or if it is an .x1 value that would otherwise pour out at least three new tiny coins on me. The absurdity of the copper is: If you ignore it, it increases even more ;)

    3. I really use the different coins shapes to identify them in my wallet.

    4. If I have to or want to pay with a bill for an evident small amount, I look demonstrative into my coin pocket, shake my head slightly and then give the cashier the 5-euro-bill with a subservient facial expression. This prevents me from the cashiers displeasure. ;)

    (Sorry, if this post is lacking the use of correct English syntax or prepositions. I practiced French the whole day and just can't switch yet.)

  2. I hate change too - but react by spending it as quickly as possible in order to get rid of it.

  3. oh no! not a doctor!! that's so interesting.. one of those "little differences"... tonight i was at supper with robert my german friend and we kept bumping elbows and i asked if he was left handed... but no, it's european.. he was using a knife to cut his food and thus holding his fork in his left hand and his knife in his right... we had quite the discussion about it. as well as how i should go to germany SOON, and fly lufthansa ;)

  4. One thing that really galls me is that the biggest supermarkets here expect people to be so careless as not to compare the shelf price with what's being scanned in. At least once a week I catch them out on it. At one store, I had the same item *three weeks in a row* scanned in at a higher price than on the shelf. I'm beginning to think it's deliberate. When I pointed out that my store in Canada not only gives you the item for free, but gives you an extra one besides when this sort of thing happens, they looked at me as if I were lying.

  5. Everyone in Italy was pretty messed up by the introduction of the Euro when Michelle and I were there too. Of course, they were used to dealing with things in hundreds of Lire. Often times we would have everything added up before they did, or would be able to figure out the change before they would. It was also funny to note that smaller stores would just completely ignore that the money system had changed and leave everything priced in Lire.

    I really liked the one and two euro coins. When I used them, I didn't feel like I was spending "real" money. It's just pocket change after all. The down side was that you could lose about five Euro just by sitting down and having it fall out of your pocket. I think that's probably how I disposed of all me copper coins. I just lost them.

  6. My boyfriend hates copper coins and spends them as soon as possible. Another technique I use is to put my coppers in the collection box at our local church.

    Try to use them as often as you can, I swear nothing increases an annoying "coin collection" than by paying with paper all the time!

    P.S. There are still some stores here in the East (aside from the drugstore DM) that tags their prices both in Euro and in DeutschMark! And some stores (even the C&A in Jena!) accept old DM money during "limited promos."

  7. All my relatives from the "older" generation, meaning 50 and up, are still thinking in the old currency when talking about prices.

  8. German Guy: Good tips, thanks :) I try the subservient expression too but with some particularly cranky cashiers this doesn't work :/

    Mary: Down with pennies, eh?

    Sara: They eat everything with utensils! I'm a total barbarian in comparison. I agree that Lufthansa is awesome. You have to find a deal though because they are usually a little more expensive. British Air has good prices right now and they're also really nice.

    Ian: Ugh - This hasn't happened to me yet. Kaufland?

    Nathan: Good idea. *starts filling couch with copper*

    Arashi: I can't believe people still have DM sitting around! I don't even know what one looks like.

    Bek: Ah, the good old days ;) But there wasn't the fun back then of finding a cool foreign-pressed Euro now and again. (Anyone ever see Portugal or Finland Euros in Germany??)


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