1. Alma Alexander on #

    Sing it, sister. It’s been driving me nuts ever since I got here.

    The “new improved” American money is not really a help. They are psychologically wedded to the idea of the “greenback”, and even when they make a gesture to fixing the colour (the new 20s and 10s and I’ve even seen a new 5 recently) it merely looks like someone spilled weak tea on an ordinary bill.

    I dream of Canadian money.

  2. Marko on #

    American money is deliberately designed to confuse foreigners. All the bills are the same size and color, none of the coins have an actual numerical value on them (all have their values written out in English), and the size of the coins do not correspond to their value (the dime is smaller than the nickel, yet worth more.)

    It’s like some committee sat down and tried to make our currency as difficult to learn as possible, especially for non-English speakers.

  3. Camille on #

    Honey, what the heck are you doing to the money to be ripping it???

    (I concede that to people used to colorful, pretty, different sized money, Yank money can be hard to distinguish. Not so much for me, I grew up on it. But…I like it ugly. Keeps me in the mindset of what a rough, hard, soulless, un-cute thing commerce is. [/kidding])

    I think they’ve officially ruled it’s unfair to the blind and are going to introduce different sizes?

    All I want out of the whole shebang is a dollar coin, though. I’m easy to please.

  4. Justine on #

    Alma Alexander: I’ve travelled a lot and I’ve never come across money so confusing and flimsy as US money. I will never understand it. Those new bills are a step in the right direction though.

    Marko: Yup. It’s probably the Committee For Making Everything As Confusing As Possible.

    It took me ages to remember what a “dime” and a “nickel” are. And the irony is that pennies and nickels cost more to make now than they’re worth. Abolish them I say!

    Camille: I wasn’t doing anything unusual. The bill was old and very very worn. Just breathing on it would’ve ripped it. I have no idea why it was still circulating. Sadly this is not the first time it’s happened to me. Nor am I the only one I know who’s experienced it.

    Before we replaced our currency with plastic bills the same thing used to happen back home. Paper and paper-like substance are not the most durable things to be making money out of.

    As for USians not being confused by the money. I’ve been at two restaurant meals now where everyone’s put in their money and the bill’s come up massively short because someone put in the wrong denomination. I know it wasn’t me the dumb foreignor because both times a friend was paying for me. (I paid for them the previous times.)

    Either that or USians use the confusion to be cheap. Either way is bad.

  5. doselle on #

    Hey, Justine!

    I think the least you could do is post PIX of your amusing native currency so we drab, dull USAians can revel in the rainbow play money that passes for cold, hard cash down under in the Bizarro World. 🙂


  6. Justine on #

    Doselle: What? Your google’s broken? Me, I have a book to write.

    Though, I’ll have you know that the US is the only country in the world with drab currency. Everyone else’s employs more than one colour. Many more than one!

  7. nadai on #

    I wouldn’t mind making the different denominations different colors, but I would hate it if they were different sizes. That’s just wrong. I like to put all the bills in my wallet in order by value (all turned the same way, of course) in one neat little stack. Different sizes would just mess that right up.

    Of course, I alphabetize my spices, so I’m perhaps a little neurotic.

  8. emzzy on #

    just get a credit card. no bills involved!

    well, yeah, actually there are. but thats bills white…

  9. lili on #

    i just can’t believe there are still countries that haven’t gotten rid of the brown money.

    so useless!
    rid yourself of pennies!

  10. Patrick on #

    I think the solution is clear. Everyone who dislikes US currency should send me all that they have. Someone needs to get a hold of this situation.

  11. JS Bangs on #

    Everything you say is true Justine (and other dollar-haters), but as a born-and-bred American, I can say that I have a deep and wholly irrational affection for the colors of our currency. Yes, other countries have money that’s easier to tell apart, more durable, and harder to counterfeit. I don’t care. You can have my soft paper greenbacks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

  12. Camille on #

    *stands firm at JS Bangs’s side*

    Either that or USians use the confusion to be cheap. Either way is bad.

    But just think — if the money were different sizes and colors, all the confidence tricksters would be out of work! That whole chapter in “Paper Moon” would be obsolete! [/making Justine’s argument for her]

    Scottish pounds are pretty. If we HAVE to change, can we have something like those?

  13. Justine on #

    Camille: I do not hold with grifters. They make for good novel and movie plots but in real life they are bad, bad people.

  14. Gabrielle on #

    I know! Even Canadian money is pretty pretty different colors. Even our coins have some gold in them.

  15. Don Vaillancourt on #

    I know that several times I have pulled my closed out of the drier and my Canadian money is clean and still in one piece. As close as I’ll ever get to laundering money.

    Went to New York this weekend and got 10 $1 dollar bills in change from a $20 when I paid the cab fair. I felt rich, even if US money is worth less than Canadian. 😉

  16. Jason Erik Lundberg on #

    After living in Singapore for more than a year, I have to agree. It’s so much easier to get out the right notes when you can identify them by color and size.

  17. Camille on #

    Camille: I do not hold with grifters. They make for good novel and movie plots but in real life they are bad, bad people.

    @Justine — I hope it was clear I was not serious and do not support crime and the bilking of innocent people out of their hard earned money!!

    I was, for humor, purposefully putting forth a bad argument: nostalgia. And the resizing of all our wallets. Won’t someone think of the landfills! Plus we’ll become complacent! (Heh — part of childhood in NYC is learning to always count your change before you take one step away from the register.)

  18. Merrie Haskell on #

    I suspect our money is ugly because that keeps us all Puritan-clear on the fact that work is for work’s sake, NOTHING ELSE. I mean, sure now we’re the most conspicuous consumers that the world has ever known, but the Puritans are still there in the past, shaming us.

    Of course, being raised on American money, I find sensible money schemes to be counterintuitive, and once stood in the door of a bus in England trying to figure out my fare so long that the driver asked me if I was Welsh.

    (The beautiful thing about being an American at that point was thinking that the Welsh thing was a compliment.)

    Final thoughts:
    1) I’ve never once accidentally ripped a bill. Realizing this put an end to my theory that the flimsiness is to remind us all that the material world is fleeting… I think we’re just all trained from birth that the stuff is delicate.

    2) I feel rather like a mother who has produced an ugly baby. *sniffle* “It’s MY baby, and I LURVE it.”


  19. emmaco on #

    Here’s to abolishing pennies! When I moved to the UK I had fun reminiscing about when I was a small child in Australia and one and two cent coins were still around, but now I am over that and am so tired of digging out change or dragging it around!

  20. Don MacDonald on #

    I like the design of US bills (the giant Helvetica 5 on the five dollar bill excepted.) It is a design truism that form follows function, and money is no exception. American money is designed to give an impression of seriousness and stability. Money, at least to the American mind, is not supposed to have a sense of frivolity or fun. The design of American money succeds in what it sets out to do: to impart to the user that Money is serious business and everything about the design of American bill reinforces this, from the almost non-existent color palette to the Victorian typefaces used throughout. Successful design is good design.

  21. C.B. James on #

    Don sums my view up nicely. I’ve dealt with Euros, Marks, Pounds, Canadian Dollars and they all seem like play money. American money is serious stuff. Well, it used to be, back in the day, before our current administration took away all its value.

    That said we really should give up printing ones and fives and make them coins like the rest of the world does.

  22. Justine on #

    Camille: Gambling and grifter-like activities are two areas where my sense of humour disappears. They gives me the heebeegeebes.

  23. Camille on #

    @Justine — Sorry about pushing your buttons. I did mean to imply that you were in some ways quite right about the drawbacks of Yank money.

    (My heart of hearts agrees with Don, Merrie and CB, though. MY ugly baby!)

  24. Justine on #

    Camille: No need to apologise! I was just explaining my humour lapse.

    I understand you USians clinging to the ugly bad design. I quite like that Sydney, once you get out of the city proper (what you yanquis call Downtown) has pretty much no street signs, which drives the foreignors crazy. i also love pronouncing “lieutenant” “leftenant” because it’s such a nutty pronunciation —even though hardly anyone does anymore anywhere in the English speaking world.

  25. fran on #

    Nice clear numbers in all four corners. Don’t see what the problem is.

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