A few weeks ago* I was in the supermarket buying some delicious food. Mmmmm, delicious food. When it came time to pay, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my wallet and coin purse. I’ve gotten into the habit of paying for things in cash, using exact change if I have it, so in order to pay one really needs to have both bills and coin in readily-accessible locations. As I was starting to pay, I realized that there were several people waiting in line and was worried about holding them up, so I just handed the clerk some bills and got back 87 cents in change, which I jammed into my pocket as quickly as possible. Once I had loaded my car with bags I dug the change out of my pocket and added it to my already-full coin purse. Paying in cash wasn’t working out. I needed a new plan.
My father has always been a strong believer in paying in cash. “If you use a credit card,” he told me once, “then the credit card companies can keep track of what you purchased and when you purchased it.” Which is true. But of course in order to maintain your privacy you’d probably also have to give up using the loyalty cards that all of the supermarkets have these days, and thus pay a kind of “privacy tax” as you don’t get the price break when items are on sale. Sadness.
My friend Chris is also a strong believer in paying in cash, but for a different reason: Chris is an avid Georger, a group of people who write little notes on bills and track them as they travel around the US (and even to foreign countries). After a while, Chris managed to get me intrigued enough with the concept that I do a bit of Georging myself now. The idea of tracking bills might seem somewhat at odds with retaining privacy, to be true, however there are currently so few people actually participating in this “online currency tracking study” that bills generally pass though several hands between they get a hit, providing a fair bit of anonymity.
My…myself (sorry, just trying to keep the paragraph pattern progressing there), I know that many of the stores I frequent are pleased when I pay in cash. Credit card processing has a per-transaction and percentage cost, so every time I pay in cash it’s saving the store a certain amount of money. For big international corporations perhaps it doesn’t matter that much, but when it’s the friendly coop grocery store, I’d like to help them keep that money.
So I’ve got plenty of reasons why I’d like to continue paying for things with cash, but what am I supposed to do with all of the change? I could take it to the Coinstar machine, but they take a percentage off the top. I could take it to the auto-checkout machines at Shaw’s or Home Despot, but unfortunately those don’t have a bulk change feeder… o O (… Hmmm… maybe I could make some kind of detachable change feeder for one of those machines? …)
Putting aside the production of “nifty homemade tools that might get me banned from the supermarket”, I need to do something with all of my change. And I think I have just the ticket…. which I’ll tell you all about tomorrow.
* Actually it was longer than that, but I refuse to accept that I’ve waited this long before actually writing a blog post.