I LIKE TO KEEP my wallet organized. It’s a bit obsessive. All my bills must face the same direction and be upright, with the 20s in the back and singles in front. I’m thinking that means something. Turns out an organized wallet is indeed a .
I also save my change. All those little coins add up. To what purpose? Before we travel, I take the coins to the bank and then add the proceeds to our spending money. Once, they added $700 to the pot.
If you received a cash gift, would you be offended if the bills weren’t brand new? Not me. Still, I’m sent to the bank to get new 50s around the holidays. My wife insists new bills are essential for gifts. Apparently, she’s not alone. They’re hard to get. The bank teller says they run out quickly. As for me, donations of old, crumbled bills in any denomination are welcome.
The shekel was the first known form of currency. That was nearly 5,000 years ago. The Hoxne Hoard is the biggest collection of late Roman gold and silver coins discovered in Britain, as well as the largest collection of coins of the fourth and fifth centuries found anywhere. It contained 14,865 gold, silver and bronze coins. For any number of reasons, burying money seemed the thing to do. I watch old shows on YouTube. Medieval coins are a common archeological find, many with pictures of the king of the day.
The world has 164 national . But thanks to the euro, travel today in Europe is less confusing—usually. Scandinavia has its own way with money. You cannot use the euro or Danish krone when paying in Sweden. It uses the krona, which is not to be confused with the krone. I once took the train from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Malmo, Sweden. I went to buy the return trip ticket with a Danish krone and it took 10 minutes for my American way of thinking to grasp the difference. I didn’t have any other money, and ended up paying a premium to use my krone.
Money around the world has different colors, shapes and sizes. Some of the coins have holes in the middle. I find myself not taking foreign cash seriously. It doesn’t feel like I’m spending real money. I’m sure I’ve occasionally paid too much as a result, especially when some foreign coin is worth more than a U.S. dollar.
Does a pound sound like money? How about a ruble? And that’s not counting slang—quid, smacker, buck. Australia is especially colorful. Can you say lobster, which is $20 in Australian slang, or pineapple, which is $50?
It’s not only foreign money that can be confusing. Recently, I tried to spend a U.S. gold-colored dollar coin. The clerk didn’t want to take it. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t try a $2 bill.
How would you like to be the person who decides whose picture is on the money? The U.K. has it easy. It’s mostly the Queen, though even there a statesman and author have snuck in. The U.S. used to stick mostly with . Even some of those have fallen out of favor and several have disappeared because the denominations with their likeness were eliminated. I’ll never see Woodrow Wilson on the $100,000 bill. Having your picture on U.S. currency is a risky goal. You have to be dead.
Hard cash, it seems, may be on its way out. What do they call it? Cryptocurrency? That’s any form of currency that exists digitally or virtually, and uses cryptography to secure transactions. It’s Greek to me. No size, shape or color. What fun is that? What’s next, virtual gift giving?
Not wanting to be left behind, I bought $10 of bitcoin in my PayPal account. The last time I looked, it was worth $9.13. I should learn not to invest in something I don’t understand. Last year, some kind of a partnership lost me $25,000.