Thursday, February 19, 2009

Money on my mind

Perhaps it's because I'm currently looking for a job that I have money on my mind. I have to admit that when it comes to money, New Zealand knows how to do it. Pennies and nickels? They don't even bother. They round so you don't have to carry five pounds -- sorry, two and a half kilograms -- of change around everywhere. Here's what our cash looks like.

Also the tax, which is something like 12 percent, is included in the prices marked on everything, so you know exactly how much something will cost you. The smallest paper currency they have is the $5 bill, which features Sir Edmund Hillary. As one of New Zealand's biggest heros, of course Hillary and his sherpa colleague were the first climbers known to have reached the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953. But I digress...

Anything less than a $5 bill is in coins, including $2, $1, $.50, $.20 and $.10. I tried to send some coins home to show my parents, and was politely yet firmly informed at the post office that sending currency through the mail is highly "illegal." Sorry folks, you'll have to make due with a photo. The bills have little see-through spots that must make things difficult for the counterfeiters.

Just like in the States, most people rely on plastic, including credit and EFTPOS cards. EFTPOS is short for an Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale, same as a debit card. No cutesy name though ... a big ugly acronym seems to do the trick just fine. And if you need to pay someone for, let's say, rugby tickets or the cordless phone I just bought on (NZ's equivalent to eBay), you just "flick" it into their bank account. That's right... folks hand out their bank account numbers as often as their business cards. That's certainly new to us.

But best of all, there is absolutely no tipping here. Not for waitresses, hair dressers, shuttle drivers or hotel porters. Nothing. Every transaction still comes with the mental struggle of converting it to U.S. currency though, so it's not as easy as it sounds quite yet. At least not for me. Jake's accountant brain can calculate these amounts faster than you can say Tenzing Norgay (the name of Ed's faithful sherpa). But that's why he is making the big bucks and I'm still looking for a gig, I guess. 

I suppose you could even call Jake my faithful sherpa, since he's doing all the work and I am obviously getting all the credit. 


Corey said...

Spain is mighty similar. Rounding, tax included, no tipping. It certainly is a process I wish would be adopted here in the states.

Joggeli said...

this is some quality blog writing ... very engaging. you haven't lost your touch yet.

Anonymous said...


It's 'make do'.

Americans always get that wrong because they pronounce do, due, and dew all in the same way.